Since I’ve only had the chance to play “Winter’s Fury” for about an hour and a half at the time of writing this review, this will probably be more of a rambling ‘first impressions’ article than a traditional review. Plus, I was kind of tired at the time of writing this review – hence the rambling.
Nonetheless, I still have a fair amount of both good and bad things to say about this WAD. So, let’s get started:
One of the very first things I’ll say about “Winter’s Fury” is that it looks spectacular. Well, actually, the very first thing I said when I saw this WAD was something along the lines of “this is SO f***ing cool!“. And it is!
Normally, I don’t really care about graphics in computer games, but “Winter’s Fury” is an absolute work of art! There’s lots of ambient lighting, fog, ice and bleak “Blade Runner”-style futuristic landscapes here, which makes it one of the most atmospheric and downright beautiful things that I’ve ever played.
But, all of this beauty comes at a cost. A terrible cost! Yes, you guessed it, the game runs a little bit more slowly than usual.
Even though I turned all of the graphics settings down to minimum – the second level of the game was pretty much unplayable on my (fairly old) computer. It got so bad that I actually had to use the level skip cheat after about five minutes.
Seriously, “Duke Nukem 3D” runs faster on a 486 computer than parts of “Winter’s Fury” do on a single core 1.8 ghz processor (that will quite happily run “Doom 3”!)
Unlike a lot of lesser FPS games – the old “Doom” games rely on speed and split-second reflexes. Any situation in “Doom”, no matter how hopeless, is solvable with the right tactics and the right timing. But this relies on the game running extremely well, so even the slightest slowdown can turn enjoyably challenging situations into unfairly impossible ones.
Still, that said, let’s take a look at the rest of the game. Interestingly, “Winter’s Fury” actually has a story of sorts and a surprisingly impressive introductory cutscene. Yes, the creator of this WAD actually managed to make something cinematic using the “Doom” engine:
When the first level began, I noticed a few invisible walls in front of areas that looked explorable and I started to worry that this would end up being a linear “Call of Duty”-style game.
But, whilst the very beginning of the first level is fairly linear, it quickly turns into a very well-designed traditional “Doom” level. Seriously, this level alone is an example of what modern FPS games should look like.
The monsters come at you thick and fast, but ammo is surprisingly scarce. So, even the first level manages to be fiendishly challenging as well as visually impressive.
As with most good “Doom” WADs, “Winter’s Fury” features lots of new weapons and enemies. Even though most of the new enemies are just palette-swaps of the traditional enemies, they still add a lot of variety to this WAD. Plus, you will find yourself facing large level bosses too.
Even though the only bosses that I’ve seen so far are slightly improved versions of the alien queen from “Duke Nukem 3D”, the inclusion of bosses gives “Winter’s Fury” a refreshingly old-school feel. But, again, the boss battles are fairly graphically-intensive, so expect a lot of slowdown if you’re using even a slightly old computer.
As for the new weapons, the ones that I’ve seen so far are incredibly impressive. Not only does the basic shotgun look cooler than usual, but the super shotgun is a really awesome double-barrelled version of the shotgun from “Duke Nukem 3D” too.
However, the best new weapon that I’ve seen so far is the slightly futuristic submachinegun that replaces the dowdy old chaingun. Even though it functions pretty much how you would expect, it really adds to the “modern” and “futuristic” atmosphere of the WAD.
Plus, unlike a lot of modern “Doom” WADs that feature new weapons, there are absolutely no annoying time-wasting reloading animations in “Winter’s Fury” (well, apart from the super shotgun obviously). Yes, this might not be “realistic”, but it’s great to see a modern WAD that recognises the value of fast, no-nonsense streamlined gameplay.
All in all, “Winter’s Fury” is a very impressive WAD which somehow manages to show off both the best aspects of 1990s FPS gaming and the worst aspects of modern FPS gaming.
It’s gloriously futuristic and atmospheric – but all of the fancy graphics in it come at the expense of fast and reliable gameplay. Unless, that is, you have an ultra-modern computer.
Even so, it also features the kind of good old-fashioned level design and refreshingly challenging gameplay that modern FPS games could learn a lot from.
If I had to give what I’ve seen so far a rating out of five, then it would get a five for graphics, a four for gameplay and a two for playability. Seriously, “Doom” should not run that slowly on any computer made after 1997!