Well, since I’m about twenty two levels into “Neo Doom“, I thought that I’d write a review of it. Although I found both of the secret levels by messing around with the “no clipping” cheat code after getting stuck on level fifteen, I haven’t played about seven or eight levels of “Neo Doom” yet, so this review reflects that fact.
Even so, what I’ve played so far is seriously impressive. In fact, this review may get fairly long since there is just so much cool stuff in this WAD.
“Neo Doom” is a 32-level WAD for “Doom II” which was made in 2006 by Daniel Lemos. Due to all of the additional textures, weapons etc…. and the fact that some levels require jumping, you need to use a source port like GZDoom in order to play it. But if, like me, you’re still playing “Doom” in 2013, then you’re probably using one of these anyway.
Interestingly, “Neo Doom” also has a storyline too – it’s pretty much the standard “aliens and demons invade the Earth” plot, but it’s a nice touch and it makes this WAD feel like it’s a game in and of it’s own right rather than just a fan-made mod for another game. This story is told through the occasional text screen, but it is mostly told through the changes in the levels throughout the game.
The level design in this WAD is absolutely astonishing and more than up to a professional standard. Although the first few levels have pretty standard “sci-fi moon base”-style settings (albeit with new textures for the walls, doors, switches etc…), the game quickly moves to a wide variety of different settings, such as city-based levels, outdoor levels and the occasional fantasy-themed level.
These changes in the level design happen relatively gradually and this gives you a sense that you are pretty much picking up from where the last level ended each time that you start a new level. There are usually several levels in a particular type of setting too (eg: at least 3-5 levels set in a city) which is quite reminiscent of the episodic structure of the original “Doom” and other classic 1990s FPS games too.
All of the levels are refreshingly non-linear, innovative and challenging too. The difficulty curve in “Neo Doom” is handled fairly well and it’s steep enough to be challenging, but never quite too difficult to be playable (especially when you pick up some of the more powerful weapons later in the game).
Even so, some of the levels are designed in fiendishly challenging ways – for example, in one of the city levels (level 13 or 14, I think) the only way to get the key you need to complete the level is to climb on top of a fence and then jump onto the balcony of another house. Of course, there are quite a few houses in this level (and “Doom” WADs don’t usually include jumping), so finding the right house and working out what to do can take a while.
Likewise, there is a room with two doors near the end of level fifteen which you can’t leave once you enter it, even though it’s the onlyaccessible part of the map you haven’t explored yet (if you get the map power-up earlier in the level). I’m sure there’s probably a way of getting past this room, but after lots of searching, I still couldn’t work it out and ended up using the “IDCLIP” cheat code. Although, on the plus side, I also discovered the game’s secret levels this way too.
Another great thing about “Neo Doom” is the sheer variety of weapons. Apart from the Doomguy’s fists, you won’t find a single weapon from the original “Doom” in this game. Even the basic pistol and the chainsaw have new textures and/or features (eg: you can dual-wield pistols if you find a second one). Some of the weapons also have alternate-fire modes too, which is a pretty cool touch.
One of the many fun things about this WAD is the fact that many of the new weapons are slightly altered (in terms of functionality) versions of weapons from other 1990s FPS games (eg: “Shadow Warrior”, “Rise Of The Triad”, “Duke Nukem 3D” , “Blood” etc…), so there is plenty of nostalgia value here too.
An interesting glitch I found when playing this WAD was the fact that, after a while, the grenade launcher seemed to have infinite ammo (I’m not complaining though). Plus, the version of the BFG in this mod allows for some truly amazing rocket jumps too (if you’ve found the “immortality chalice” power-up or have typed “IDDQD”, of course).
“Neo Doom” also includes a “Heretic”-style items system, where you can carry items that you pick up and use them later. This is a really useful feature for things like some of the health power-ups, the steroids from “Duke Nukem 3D” (which make you run faster), the night-vision goggles and the biohazard suit.
However, quite a few of the interesting-looking items that you can pick up don’t seem to have any use at all. This may just be due to the source port I used or it could be because they were planned to be useable in a future version of this WAD, but it was slightly annoying nonetheless. Even so, it’s amazingly innovative to see this type of item system in “Doom”.
The other main thing about “Neo Doom” which is worth mentioning are the enemies. There are lots of new enemies and almost all of the familiar enemies have been changed in some way too. For starters, the basic “zombie” enemies will now shout at you when they see you and there are at least seven different versions of them which carry a variety of different weapons (pistols, chainsaws, shotguns, rocket launchers, various sci-fi weapons etc…). In addition to this, there are also palette-swapped versions of the imps, demons and cacodemons too (along with the “ordinary” versions of these enemies too).
There are also a few enemies from different games too, such as the Vixen from “Redneck Rampage” (who is now 50 feet tall and almost invincible), a couple of the bosses from “Duke Nukem 3D” and modified versions of a few enemies from “Heretic” and “Hexen” too. In addition to this, expect to see the occasional Xenomorph (from the “Alien” films) and Predator too. The Xenomorphs also have an extremely annoying special ability which will catch you by surprise the first time you see it too…….
As you go through “Neo Doom”, you will keep discovering new enemies and this sheer level of variety keeps the game interestingly unpredictable since you never quite know how powerful a new type of enemy will be or what they are capable of doing.
As much as I absolutely love 90s FPS games, the limited number of enemy types often makes them slightly predictable after a while, so it’s great to see a modern sprite-based game which takes advantage of the fact that modern computers and source ports can easily handle 25+ different types of enemy.
All in all, “Neo Doom” is an absolutely outstanding and amazingly innovative WAD which everyone who owns a copy of “Doom II” should play. Yes, it’s challenging, but it’s extremely rewarding if you stick with it. Plus, it is absolutely crammed with nostalgic stuff from other 90s games too. What’s not to like?
If I had to give “Neo Doom” a rating out of five, then it would get five and a half.