Back in summer 2013, when I was getting back into playing “Doom” WADs once again, I found and reviewed a WAD called “NeoDoom”. At the time, this was one of the best “Doom” WADs that I’d ever played and it’s something that I’ll forever associate with that particular summer.
Fast-forward to the day before I wrote this article (back in the summer) and I was constantly checking one of threads in the “ZDoom” forums to see when the sequel to “Reelism X2.1” will be released.
But, having no luck with that, I ended up checking the rest of the forum for any other WADs to fill the gap. So, imagine my surprise when I found that a sequel to NeoDoom had been released in July! It’s called “Final NeoDoom” and it can be downloaded here.
Before I go any further, I should probably point out that this will be more of a rambling “first impressions” article than a full review. This is because I only had the chance to play about half of this WAD before I wrote this review. Likewise, I played this WAD using the “GZDoom” source port and I’m not sure whether it will work on any other source ports.
Anyway, let’s take a look at “Final NeoDoom”:
“Final NeoDoom” is a 17-level WAD which features new weapons, textures, monsters, power-ups, music, gameplay features and… well…everything. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s somewhere between a sequel to and a remake of the original “NeoDoom”.
Like with the original “NeoDoom”, you shouldn’t judge this WAD based on the first few levels alone. Just like in the original game, “Final NeoDoom” begins with a few rather drab and understated “techbase” levels.
However, unlike in the original “NeoDoom”, these early levels now have more of a gloomily atmospheric “Quake”/ “Unreal”-style look to them, thanks to some excellent texture work.
My favourite one of the early levels is probably the third level. This level is set almost entirely in a giant multi-storey tower, which was very reminiscent of a film called “Dredd” from 2012. Since this film is one of my favourite sci-fi action movies, it was amazing to see a level that reminded me of it.
But, like with the original “NeoDoom”, these gloomy industrial levels quickly give way to a plethora of interesting and visually-stunning settings. So far, I’ve seen beaches, a vast open field, a small medieval village, caves, a sprawling city and several suburbs. I don’t usually obsess about graphics, but this WAD is a work of art! Seriously, just take a look:
Players of the original “NeoDoom” will probably recognise at least a couple of these levels too, since some of them are based on (but somewhat different to) the levels from the original “NeoDoom”. This is what a sequel should look like – it includes everything good about the original, but it also contains a plethora of new stuff and improvements.
As for the actual level design itself, it’s just as stunning as the graphics are. Not only is each level the kind of fiendishly difficult thing that will give even an experienced “Doom” player an enjoyable challenge but, as well as the usual hordes of monsters (including the occasional “slaughtermap”-style area) and cleverly-hidden keys, there are a few innovative new gameplay features too.
For starters, this WAD is a lot less linear than your might think. When you leave a level, the game seamlessly switches to the next level with only a slight pause. Not only that, you can also return to previous levels by pressing a switch near the start of each level. Although this is a neat feature on it’s own, you’ll actually have to use it during a couple of parts of the game. For example, one or two of the keys that you need to complete level six can only be found in level seven.
Not only that, the game also does something very interesting with the health system too. It’s almost like the exact opposite of *ugh* modern regenerating health. When your health drops below ten, your movement speed will slow dramatically. It’s kind of like in “Resident Evil 2“, when your character will start limping when they’re injured.
But, although this feature is quite realistic, it can get in the way of the gameplay slightly. Basically, you end up being something of a sitting duck at the time when you need to rely on your agility and fast movement the most. However, this gameplay mechanic doesn’t slow down strafing too much, so just run sideways when your health gets low.
In addition to this, the items system actually works properly in “Final NeoDoom”. Throughout the game, you’ll find a series of portable items that you’ll need to use. These can be selected from an in-game menu (although you’ll have to set up the keys for this yourself in the options menu, since they aren’t pre-set).
These include various types of grenades (that make fighting large groups of monsters even more fun than it already is), a portable energy shield, a “Brutal Doom“-style helper marine, portable medkits, an “Unreal Tournament 2004”-style teleporter and… best of all… an ankh that can freeze time for a few seconds:
As you would expect, “Final NeoDoom” contains a vast bestiary of new monsters to fight. Although some of these are the standard “new monsters” that we’ve all seen in countless other WADs, there are a few totally new additions – as well as some familiar faces from the original “NeoDoom”:
In addition to this, a couple of the monsters seem to only be vulnerable to certain types of weapons. The most notable example of this is probably the stone imp. As the name suggests, this is an imp that is made of stone – if you shoot it with some bullet-based weapons, it’ll just fall down for a few seconds and get up again. However, if you use certain other weapons, it will explode in a dramatic shower of gravel.
Talking of weapons, there are quite a few new ones here. From taking a quick look at all the weapons (using cheat codes), there seem to only be about half to three-quarters of the number of weapons in “Final NeoDoom” than there were in the original “NeoDoom”. However, what this game lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality.
Not only does almost every one of the new weapons have an alternate fire mode, but they’re all incredibly useful too. My favourite one of the new weapons is probably the rifle. Although it does exactly what you’d expect it to do (it’s a rifle that fires a single shot every time you click the mouse), it also fills a gap left by the standard “Doom” weapons.
This weapon shares ammo with the shotgun and it basically functions as an accurate long-range version of the basic shotgun. If you’ve ever played “Doom”, then you’ll know how useful something like this can be.
Other weapons include things like a “Duke Nukem 3D”-style shotgun (that can also fire five shots at once), a flamethrower, an “Unreal”-style bio-rifle and a souped-up version of the chaingun.
Finally, the music in this WAD is astonishingly good. It contains everything from vaguely Tarantino/Rodriguez movie-style rock music in the early levels, to every slightly eerie/disconcerting easy listening music in some of the suburban levels. It’s no understatement that “Final NeoDoom” contains one of the best soundtracks that I’ve heard in a “Doom” WAD.
All in all, from what I’ve played so far, “Final NeoDoom” is a worthy sequel to “NeoDoom”. Like with the original “NeoDoom”, it’s innovative, enjoyably challenging and surprisingly imaginative too. Some of the levels will make you feel nostalgic, some of the graphics will astonish you and all of the new gameplay mechanics keep everything interesting. Seriously, this is what a sequel should look like!
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get five and a half – like the original “NeoDoom” did.