Mini Review: “Doom The Mercenaries” (Mod For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

2015 Artwork Doom The Mercenaries review sketch

Well, rather than write that cynical rant about new years resolutions that I’ve been meaning to write for the past couple of years, I thought that I’d take a look at a really interesting “Doom II” mod that I found called “Doom The Mecenaries“, which turns “Doom” into a third-person action game.

As usual, I played this mod using the “GZ Doom” source port and the levels shown in this review are the standard level from “Doom II”. I also only had a chance to play this mod for a couple of hours before writing this review – so, this will be more of a “first impressions” article than a full review.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Doom The Mercenaries”:

Yes! It's "Doom II"... in the THIRD PERSON!

Yes! It’s “Doom II”… in the THIRD PERSON!

“Doom The Mercenaries” is an attempt at re-creating the “mercenaries” mini-game from the “Resident Evil” games using the “Doom” engine.

If you’ve never played this mini-game before, it’s an unlockable bonus game mode (that was introduced in “Resident Evil 3”, although it was foreshadowed by the “extreme battle” mode in the PC port of “Resident Evil 2”) where you fight zombies and monsters against the clock.

Like in the original mini-game, you can choose to play as one of several “Resident Evil” characters in this mod. These characters are Hunk from “Resident Evil 2”, Albert Wesker (yes, you can play as Wesker), some guy called “Krauser” (?), Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong.

 Stop! Don't... open... that... door!

Stop! Don’t… open… that… door!

In the original “mercenaries” mode, you’d earn extra time for each zombie you killed but, in “Doom The Mercenaries”, you just build up combinations and earn points based on the number of monsters you can shoot in a short amount of time.

 It's the counter that says "10 in a row"

It’s the counter that says “10 in a row”

This “Doom” mod seems to be based on one of the more modern “Resident Evil” games, since it uses an ‘over the shoulder’ perspective and your character can also move whilst shooting.

Although I miss the classic “Resident Evil” controls, I can see how this perspective would be more suited to an action game like “Doom” (but not a horror game like “Resident Evil”).

Modernity! Evil modernity!

Modernity! Evil modernity!

One of the first things I will say about this mod is that the controls take a bit of getting used to. You’ll need to manually change some of the controls yourself ( since, if you don’t, you won’t be able to reload your weapons), but you use the right mouse button to draw or holster your weapon.

When your weapon is drawn, you use the left mouse button to fire it. When your weapon is holstered, the left mouse button allows you to run. Some characters can also draw a knife by holding down the right “shift” key.

Unlike in the old games, you only have to slash zombies three times rather than thirty times.

Unlike in the old games, you only have to slash zombies three times rather than thirty times.

Another interesting feature is that, like in the original mini-game, you start each level with all of your weapons. Each character also has an exclusive special weapon too- for example, Ada has an infinite ammo explosive crossbow, Wesker has a powerful sniper rifle etc… So, instead of weapon pickups, you’ll find weird glowing columns that will add an extra thirty seconds to your clock:

Caught somewhere in time.

Caught somewhere in time.

As for the gameplay, it has it’s good and it’s bad elements. On the plus side, since the objective of “Doom The Mercenaries” is to get a high score before the time runs out, this requires a totally different gameplay style – with more emphasis on constant fast combat and a lot less emphasis on actually finishing the level properly. So, this mod can really breathe a lot of new life into even the most boring “Doom” level.

Likewise, the animation in this mod is absolutely excellent. All of the character movements (eg: walking animations, shooting animations etc..) are perfectly fluid and it really feels like you’re actually playing a third-person action game, rather than a FPS game with a few changes to the sprites.

- Modern reloading systems are annoying, but at least this one is well-animated.

– Modern reloading systems are annoying, but at least this one is well-animated.

However, the scoring system makes no distinction between low-level and high-level enemies. So, defeating one arch-vile or one baron of hell will earn you as many points as defeating a lost soul. [EDIT: However, defeating a cyberdemon will give you two points, rather than one]

So, instead of fighting the most powerful monsters first, the best strategy is to stick to fighting low-level monsters wherever possible:

For once, the pain elementals AREN'T a pain! Quite the opposite in fact. They're glorious floating high score generators :)

For once, the pain elementals AREN’T a pain! Quite the opposite in fact. They’re glorious floating high score generators 🙂

Still, I imagine that this mod would be a lot more fun on “slaughtermap” levels than on the standard “Doom II” levels. However, there’s one reason why you probably wouldn’t want to play it on a level with too many monsters.

Even the mighty Hunk can be easily felled by a small group of zombies.

Even the mighty Hunk can be easily felled by a small group of zombies.

When you get attacked by a monster, it will often send you flying – costing you precious seconds as you get up again. Whilst I can see how this is meant to fit in with the game’s time mechanics, when you’re surrounded by monsters you’ll often get attacked the instant you’ve got back on your feet.

Combine this with the second or two it takes to draw your weapons and the classic “Resident Evil” trick of making your character move slightly more slowly when they’re injured and you can probably see how this might cause problems.

However, this problem is mitigated slightly by the fact that each character has a “dodge” move that they can do just before a monster attacks them. Just before a monster attacks your character, a prompt will appear on the screen telling you to press the “A” and “D” keys. If you do this, you will be treated to some rather cool acrobatics:

Stop! Hammer time!

Stop! Hammer time!

Likewise, there’s at least a slight delay when you change weapons and you can only reload your weapons when they are drawn. Whilst this might be “realistic”, it also breaks up the gameplay slightly and forces you to use slightly different tactics in the middle of fights. But, this isn’t an entirely bad thing – it just takes a bit of getting used to.

All in all, despite my criticisms, this is one of the coolest “Doom II” mods that I’ve played in a while. With just a few changes, “Doom The Mercenaries” transforms “Doom” into an entirely different game, with totally different gameplay mechanics. And, let’s be honest, isn’t this what mods are supposed to do? If, like me, you’re a fan of both “Resident Evil” and “Doom”, then check this mod out!

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

3 comments on “Mini Review: “Doom The Mercenaries” (Mod For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

  1. nice review, i am the author of this mod, you should try my Resident Evil code name Hunk, i released a demo some days ago and also i am working on another update of this mod, you can check on my youtube channel called DooMero

    • pekoeblaze says:

      Thanks 🙂 It’s a really cool mod 🙂 Although I remember seeing a trailer for Code Name Hunk [or, looking on your Youtube page, it might have been “B.O.W Nation” instead] on the ZDoom forums quite a while ago (I think that it was what first made me interested in “Mercenaries”), I didn’t realise that there was a demo of it available.
      I’ll check the demo out, although it may or may not be a while before I post a “first impressions”/”mini review” or possibly a full review article about it – since I’ve got quite a large queue of articles that I plan to post, but it might end up jumping the queue. I don’t know. It certainly looks interesting though 🙂

    • pekoeblaze says:

      Update: I’ve just finished the demo of “Code Name Hunk” and I really enjoyed it 🙂 I’m still amazed that you’ve managed to create a “Resident Evil”-style game (with FMV cutscenes!) using GZDoom.

      I’ll probably post a more detailed “mini review”/”first impressions” article about it early next week, but although a few parts of the demo still have room for improvement, I really liked what I saw 🙂 I’m also intrigued about the second level too.

      [On an unrelated practical note, I don’t know whether the flickering effect in the cinema area (after the projector has been activated) is intense enough to cause problems for some players or not, but it might be worth adding some kind of warning to future versions of the demo about it.]

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