Well, although I usually try to review at least one “Doom” WAD a month, it’s been a while since I reviewed any gameplay/weapon mods for “Doom II”. I mean, I’d planned to review both “Demonsteele” and one of the more modern versions of “Brutal Doom” at some point, but I never quite got round to it. So, instead, I thought that I’d take a quick look at a rather badass mod called “The Trailblazer“.
As usual, I used the “GZ Doom” source port whilst playing this mod, and the levels I used when reviewing this mod are just the ordinary “Doom II” levels (or, rather the first 11-13 of them). Although the site recommends using the very latest version of “GZDoom”, I was able to get this mod to work perfectly on version 1.8.10 of “GZDoom”.
Anyway, let’s take a look at “The Trailblazer”:
“Trailblazer” is a gameplay/weapon mod that is heavily inspired by old-school action movies. You play as a chain-smoking, eyepatch-wearing Snake Plissken-like action hero called Malcolm Striker who must take revenge on his nemesis Vladimir Vladimir….. by fighting hordes of demonic monsters. So, yes, this mod is pretty badass already.
As befitting a badass 1980s action hero, Malcolm Striker has an impressive array of weapons available to him. These include a combat knife, a basic pistol, dual revolvers, dual sawn-off shotguns, a pump-action shotgun that can shoot fire, dual uzis, an assault rifle, a revolver that shoots explosive bullets, a grenade launcher, a minigun and a blunderbuss of some kind.
Most of the weapons also have an alternate fire mode too. With dual-wielding weapons, the alternate fire just fires the gun in Malcolm’s right hand. Likewise, with the basic pistol and the assault rifle, the alternate fire just switches to a “Call Of Duty”-style aiming mode.
However, some of the alternate fires are pretty inventive, like the one for the explosive revolver. This alternate fire is so awesome that I actually made a small (badly-animated) animation to show you what it looks like:
In addition to this, you also have a melee attack that you can use with every weapon. Although you’ll have to set the keys for this yourself, all it really does is make Malcolm Striker punch whatever is in front of him.
Although the rate of punches increases when your health is low, this melee attack is only really useful when you have the “bezerker” power-up, since his fist glows and anything that Striker punches will explode. Like this:
All of these weapons feel satisfying to use and many of them either have fairly heavy recoils (that can knock you off ledges if you aren’t careful) or incredibly high rates of fire.
However, this also means that many of the weapons (eg: the dual uzis and the dual sawn-off shotguns especially) are at least slightly overpowered. In other words, this mod actually makes “Doom II” slightly less challenging than it should be.
My only other gripe with the weapons is that many of them feature a “realistic” reloading system, which can get in the way of the gameplay slightly. Even so, the reloading animations are surprisingly well-made, and some of them actually include motion blur effects to make them look smoother:
As for other gameplay changes, “The Trailblazer” includes a “Duke Nukem 3D”-style items system, where you can carry multiple items and choose when to use them. Like in classic 3D Realms games, “The Trailblazer” also has a slight sense of humour about this and the “portable medkit” item has been replaced with a bottle of cheap “piss”-brand whisky:
From what I’ve read, these items also include things like jetpacks, although I didn’t encounter any of these during my playthrough of the first third of “Doom II”. However, many of the power-ups are also slightly different too – such as the “Blazingsphere”, which allows you to run and punch much more quickly than usual:
There are also a couple of item replacements too, which fit in really well with Malcolm Striker’s cheesy 80s “action hero” character. Both the “+1” armour and health power-ups have been replaced by different brands of cigarettes and, if you use these, Malcolm Striker will even occasionally flick cigarette ends every few minutes:
All in all, “The Trailblazer” is a rather fun gameplay mod. If you feel that “Doom” needs a bit more old-school badassery, then you can’t go wrong with this mod. Yes, the novelty value wears off after a while and some of the weapons are a little bit overpowered, but it’s still a great way to add some extra fun to “Doom” levels that you’ve played many times before.
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it’d probably get a four.