Saturday, August 31

Sorry that I've been a stranger recently, got addicted to DOOM all over again...

Prepare for some potentially longwinded self centered talk. In some now terrible decision, I can remember pleading with my parents for "Santa" to bring a Sega 32X for Christmas of '94. Looking back, it's hard to fathom why I wanted the clunky add-on that quickly rode off into console abyss after a disastrous reception, but one of the reasons was the now iconic first person shooter Doom. My best friend was privileged enough to have a PC and had the shareware version which contained the first episode and I instantly fell in love.

Of course, the 32X version complete with its awful music blew donkey nuts, but ignorance was bliss and I ravenously played it anyway. That is until my parents finally ponied up nearly two thousand bucks on a 133Mhz Packard Bell when I was able to enjoy the shareware myself and eventually Doom II (once the price dropped a bit). Soon though, other PC shooters caught my attention; like Rise of the Triad, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Eradicator, Killing Time, Dark Forces, and Shadow Warrior. Okay, well, maybe that was pretty much all the ones I played on that dinosaur of a computer (along with Harvester, Carmaggedon, Strife, Hexen, and Diablo!).

Were my parents okay with all this digitized violence on my impressible young mind? My mom never quite
understood the point of blasting away for hours but in my mind there was always a huge chasm between the death witnessed in movies and games and grim reality. This was only reinforced when my uncle gave me a stack of movies with one inadvertently being a Faces of Death knock-off around that time. 

The contents of that tape, including Budd Dwyer's infamous press conference suicide, mortified the hell out of me in a way no simple video game ever could. Like with Doom, all the enemy sprites would without fail fall over dead in the exact way fashion to the exact same sound effect. Same with other shooters or other targeted games like Mortal Kombat. One could argue that with such huge advances in game "realism", kids could be more influenced to the "dark side" nowadays, but that's just the media treating kids like total idiots for the sake of sensationalism.

Getting back to Doom, I hadn't even thought about the game in years until recently when I was tasked toretrieve some MP3s off an ancient Windows 98 machine for a friend. No games were on the virus encrusted system but navigating the old OS made me nostalgic and I began searching YouTube for clips of the games I once played. That's when I ran across a fan made mod released just last year called Brutal Doom (download here). Despite Id Software encouraging the homebrew community, I never got into custom level and map making, unlike the friend mentioned prior who went wild with that aspect.

So instead of registering with Steam or visiting Pirate Bay for a "free" copy of Doom, I went the old fashion route and ordered the Collector's Edition CD-ROM with Doom, Doom II, and Final Doom released in '97 from eBay. This free and easy to install mod compatible with all three Dooms is jaw-dropping and along with source port Zandronum (download here) makes the experience less the usual letdown upon revisiting such an old game and more an incredibly fun testament to the game's enduring legacy. At its heart, it's a gore mod that skillfully ramps up the blood and grue to levels unfathomed in 1993. Yet there's much, much more improved upon or newly added.

Mouselook enables the player to target particular bodily areas causing heads to explode into splattery gibs smearing walls and detached limbs to fly everywhere. Sometimes zombie soldiers crawl around screaming after you kindly remove their legs or simply writhe in agony after a chunk of their head suddenly ends up ten feet away from them. Barrels erupt with much greater force and you can push them around or throw them in Berserk mode. Also in Berserk you can perform third-person "fatalities" like beating an Imp's face in with your bare hands until it's mush.

The pistol is gone and replaced with a far more useful assault rifle (pictured) that can used in an ironsight mode for long distance shots (same with the improved thunderous shotgun). Weapons are rebalanced and simply feel more modern with additions like reloading, new graphic skins, and ejecting shell casings complete with that badass "tinkling" sound. To offset this devastating firepower, enemies are now tougher and have revamped AI to evade attacks (soldiers can even barrel roll to avoid gunfire). Even with the increased difficulty, all the improvements and little touches, like flipping off baddies with a cruel "go fuck yourself!", always makes gameplay tremendous fun.

Doom purists may balk, but I'm glad to have had my interest rekindled in the game in such an unexpected way. If you have an old copy laying around or want to revisit the game, check out Brutal Doom, it's fucking badass deluxe. This instructional video on the installation process helps greatly and I was up and running within minutes of receiving my copy of Doom in the mail. Also this video detailing the slew of high quality resolution and graphics settings for modern PCs in Zandronum helps as well.


Anonymous said...

Brutal Doom is awesome. I've been playing it since it's release and STILL can't get enough of it. It's extremely easy to drop money on and get lost in old school games... especially over at Nostalgia at it's finest.

Sweetooth0 said...

This is kinda funny, I just tried out the Brutal Doom mod a day ago and now I see this article.

It's so AWESOME!! Only thing I wish is that it used the Playstation version's creepy music over the original PC MIDI tunes. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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