Review: “The Stranger” (Mod For “Doom II”/”GZDoom”/”ZDoom”)

2014 Artwork Doom Stranger review sketch

As some of my regular readers might know, I have surprisingly high standards when it comes to “Doom” WADs, TCs and mods. Unless fan-made content for “Doom” or “Doom II” features at least one or two new weapons and/or monsters, then I usually feel that it’s lacking something.

So, imagine my delight when I saw some footage of “The Stranger” in this old Youtube video by General Lotz. In order to use this mod, you will need to use a modern source port such as “GZDoom” or “ZDoom” – but, let’s face it, who plays “Doom” without using one of these source ports these days?

Although “The Stranger” doesn’t feature any new levels, it adds 20 new weapons and several new monster types to “Doom”. Yes, you heard me correctly, twenty new weapons.

Like this one from "Doom 3"...

Like this one from “Doom 3″…

My favourite new weapons in “The Stranger” are probably all of the various types of pistols that you can find. There’s a basic Luger-style pistol, a rather generic pistol that can only be accessed via cheat codes, revolvers, a shotgun-pistol and, best of all, a rapid-fire pistol.

This pistol is probably the most interesting out of all of them because it will occasionally jam whilst you’re firing it and you will have to tap the right mouse button in order to un-jam it.

Yes, it isn't as reliable as it looks....

Yes, it isn’t as reliable as it looks….

In addition to this, there is a vast array of well-animated machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers and more esoteric weapons too.

My favourite of these is probably a gun that allows you to shoot out a swarm of lost souls that will attack any monsters in the vicinity. Yes, it’s a skeleton gun that fires burning skulls – I can’t think of anything cooler!

Yes, it's as cool as it looks!

Yes, it’s as cool as it looks!

Another interesting new weapon is the “anti-tank rifle”. This is basically a hitscan rocket launcher (eg: it doesn’t fire a slow-moving projectile) that costs two rockets per shot.

Although it isn’t that accurate over long distances, it can demolish many types of mid-level monsters in a single shot and it’s basically like a much more badass version of the super shotgun:

Seriously, WHY wasn't this included in the original "Doom" games?

Seriously, WHY wasn’t this included in the original “Doom” games?

An interesting feature in “The Stranger” is that many of the new weapons feature a realistic reloading system and they will either reload automatically when you run out of ammo or you can reload manually by clicking the right mouse button.

Whilst this adds a certain level of realism to the game and most of the reloading animations are quite well-made, it also changes the gameplay quite significantly and I ended up dying more than once due to having to reload whilst I was surrounded by monsters. Whilst realistic reloading might work in most other FPS games, it’s slightly unsuited to the more fast-paced gameplay of “Doom”.

Yes, it might be "realistic" on level one. But, once you get further into the game, it just becomes an annoying hinderance....

Yes, it might be “realistic” on level one. But, once you get further into the game, it just becomes an annoying hinderance….

So, if you use this mod, you will have to play a lot more strategically than usual and find good hiding places to reload on a regular basis. Whilst this makes the game a bit more challenging, it can get frustrating sometimes.

Not only that, since some of the weapons use specific types of ammo, finding the right type of ammo for your weapons is more difficult than it is in “ordinary” Doom (where there are only four ammo types). So, you might find yourself frantically cycling through your weapons in the middle of a battle in order to find one that still has ammo.

A better alternative would have probably been to keep the original four types of ammo and to ensure that more powerful weapons use more ammunition per shot than weaker ones do (in order to keep the game balanced).

The only major technical flaw I could find with this mod was the fact that, if you pick up one of the green “invulnerability” spheres, then the inverted colour effect that accompanies it doesn’t work. In fact, picking up an “invulnerabilty” sphere makes the screen turn blue for thirty seconds:

Yes, you're invincible - but good luck finding anything...

Yes, you’re invincible – but good luck finding anything…

And, yes, you pretty much have to use the map screen to navigate when this happens. This isn’t a major flaw, since you can’t take any damage when the screen is blue, but it’s annoying nonetheless.

As for the new monsters, I haven’t seen all of them yet but the ones that I have seen were quite impressive.

This creepier version of the pain elemental spits clouds of poison gas at you.

This creepier version of the pain elemental spits clouds of poison gas at you.

Although many of them are just variations of the classic “Doom II” enemies, there are at least one or two totally new monsters (eg: a giant robot – which seems to be a replacement for the Arch-viles from the original games). Plus, many of the “zombie” enemies also now actually have dialogue.

Yes, most of the things that they shout at you are fairly generic (eg:” Stop right there!“), but this certainly adds an extra level of drama to the game.

My favourite new monster is probably the flamethrower zombies (which replace the “spectre” enemies from the original game). Not only do they have a surprisingly powerful short-range attack, but they will also burst into flames spectacularly whenever you defeat one of them. Seriously, this is one of the coolest death animations that I’ve seen in a “Doom” mod:

Fwoosh!

Fwoosh!

All in all, from what I’ve seen so far, this is a surprisingly fun mod for “Doom” which adds a plethora of interesting new stuff to a familiar game.

Yes, it would have been nicer if the reloading times had been slightly shorter, if the invulnerability spheres worked properly and the ammo types had been streamlined slightly, but this mod is still absolutely stunning nonetheless. And it’s well worth checking out if you’re getting bored of “ordinary” Doom.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.

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