Review: “Nerves Of Steel v1.5” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”)

2016 Artwork Nerves Of Steel WAD review

Well, I was in a “Doom” kind of mood again, so I thought that I’d check out an interesting-looking WAD for “Doom II” called “Nerves Of Steel v1.5” for today. Plus, a week or two before I posted this review, I also learnt that this WAD was made by the creator of “Strange Aeons“.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port when playing this WAD and this is actually the recommended source port for this WAD too. Plus, although I’ve played the vast majority of this WAD at the time of writing, I’m completely stuck on one part of the final boss battle.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Nerves Of Steel v1.5”:

Yay! Cheesy 80s sci-fi :)

Yay! Cheesy 80s sci-fi πŸ™‚

“Nerves Of Steel v1.5” is an 18-level WAD for “Doom II” featuring new weapons, textures, enemies, music and sounds, as well as a few very subtle gameplay changes too. The WAD itself is apparently also a re-make of an old FPS game from the 1990s called “Nerves Of Steel”.

However, as the WAD’s manual points out, this wasn’t a loving tribute to a forgotten game. Apparently, the maker of this WAD thought that the original game was so badly-made, that he wanted to make a better version using the “Doom” engine purely out of spite. Having never even heard of the original “Nerves Of Steel”, I can’t compare the two games. So, I’m judging this WAD on it’s own merits.

The WAD’s story is classic cheesy 1980s sci-fi action movie stuff. In the distant year of 200X, Japan has been taken over by a fascist dictator who has built an army of cyborgs and monsters in order to take over the world. It is, of course, up to a team of two elite American special forces operatives to stop him.

Yay! Selectable characters :)

Yay! Selectable characters πŸ™‚

One of the first things that I will say about this WAD is that it actually allows you to choose a character. You can play as Gale Torrez or Bobby Storm, although this doesn’t really seem to affect the gameplay much (other than changing a few sound effects), I always love it when FPS games include multiple characters – so, it’s really cool to see it here.

Ooh, remember the days when EVERY FPS game had an episodic structure?

Ooh, remember the days when EVERY FPS game had an episodic structure?

One other interesting thing about this WAD is that it uses a traditional 1990s-style episodic structure, with the game being divided into three six-level episodes.

This comes with the usual benefits and drawbacks that episodic FPS games are known for. Yes, each episode has a distinctive aesthetic and you’ll also get a large dose of 90s nostalgia too, but it also means that you lose all of your weapons every six levels – which can get annoying.

 Unless, of course, you love the basic pistol. Although, as basic pistols go, this one is kind of cool.

Unless, of course, you love the basic pistol. Although, as basic pistols go, this one is kind of cool.

In keeping with the traditional 1990s theme, jumping is disabled by default in this WAD too.

As for the level design, it’s really good. All of the levels are classic non-linear FPS game levels that are filled with intense combat and tricky puzzles (which require methodical exploration).

Although a couple of the levels can get a little bit visually monotonous, there’s a good variety of well-designed settings on offer here – from futuristic laboratories, to train stations, to rural fortresses, to old Japanese buildings.

Unfortunately, you can't actually drive the train though.

Unfortunately, you can’t actually drive the train though.

Yay! This lab looks wonderfully gothic :)

Yay! This lab looks wonderfully gothic πŸ™‚

In terms of the difficulty, this WAD can be surprisingly challenging. Although it’s not quite the most difficult “Doom” WAD that I’ve ever played, don’t expect it to be anything close to easy after the first couple of levels. In fact, as I said earlier, I’m still stuck on the final boss battle at the time of writing (mainly since there wasn’t quite enough ammo in the level). So if, like me, you like your FPS games to be challenging, then you’ll love this WAD πŸ™‚

Like any good FPS game, this WAD is filled with constant, frantic combat against a wide variety of powerful enemies. You’ll have to use tactics, strategy and perseverance if you want to get through some parts of this WAD in one piece. I really love WADs that are thrilling, but also make you think strategically at the same time and “Nerves Of Steel v1.5” doesn’t disappoint here.

Although some of the new monsters that you’ll be facing are ones that I’ve seen in other WADs (eg: the scientist zombies, the octobrain-style monsters etc...), there are at least a few all-new enemies that caught me totally by surprise. These include surprisingly powerful armoured stormtroopers that are armed with assault rifles and, later, automatic shotguns.

There’s also a modified version of the arch-vile who will shoot fireballs at you. There are ferocious attack dogs. There are merciless laser turrets. There are giant green cyborgs who can destroy you in seconds if you aren’t careful. There are also four new types of bosses too (although the first and final bosses are more powerful than the others).

They may LOOK like low-level enemies, but don't underestimate these guys!

They may LOOK like low-level enemies, but don’t underestimate these guys!

You will learn to loathe these laser turrets with a passion!

You will learn to loathe these laser turrets with a passion!

These new enemies really add some extra challenge and variety to the game, since they are often significantly more dangerous than you might initially expect.

However, these powerful enemies are balanced out slightly by a surprisingly badass arsenal of new weapons that you can use. Even the basic knife and basic pistol are surprisingly powerful, and they can fell many of the enemies surprisingly quickly. You’ll also find an assault rifle quite close to the beginning of each episode too. And then there’s the shotgun:

Seriously, this shotgun is a lot more impressive than you might think!

Seriously, this shotgun is a lot more impressive than you might think!

This is probably my favourite weapon in this WAD since, if you hold the left mouse button down, it will start firing continuously! Yes, you’ll run out of ammo after a few seconds but, wow! Just wow!

There’s also a slightly more dramatic version of the plasma rifle, there are hand grenades (although they’re a little bit clunky to use) and then there’s a significantly improved version of the RPG from “Duke Nukem 3D”.

Not only does it fire heat-seeking rockets (which also have a chance of hitting you if you aren’t careful) but, it can also be used at close range during combat too – since the rocket acts like a giant bullet when it hits the first monster it finds, before turning into a rocket again. However, it also has a slower rate of fire to compensate for these new features.

I just expected this to be a copy of the RPG from "Duke Nukem 3D", but it's SO much more than that!

I just expected this to be a copy of the RPG from “Duke Nukem 3D”, but it’s SO much more than that!

As for the music in this WAD, I really liked it πŸ™‚ There’s classic 80s heavy metal/rock music and there’s also dramatic 80s synth music. However, some of the level music can be a little bit on the generic side. Even so, there’s some surprisingly cool music in this WAD.

All in all, this is a wonderfully fun WAD which reminded me of how great FPS games can be. Yes, it has a few small flaws (eg: the final boss battle doesn’t contain enough ammo, a few of the levels can look a little monotonous etc..) but it’s a brilliantly cheesy, extremely thrilling, enjoyably challenging and just wonderfully retro WAD. If you need some convincing that 1990s-style FPS games are the very best type of FPS games, then just play this WAD.

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

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10 comments on “Review: “Nerves Of Steel v1.5” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”)

  1. mikemacdee says:

    This mod was also updated before this review was posted: it is now version 2.3, and the boss fights for Episodes 2 and 3 are changed considerably. There’s also newly-phrased difficulty settings, with the hardest being “Fuck Mountain.”

    The trick to winning 1.5’s final boss rush is to get them to fight each other. That’s how you conserve ammo! Also find them secrets and save them nukes: they help a lot.

    I always loved the episodic structure BECAUSE you get to rediscover your arsenal all over again, usually in a different order. In linear games, once you find that rocket launcher…well, that’s it. and if you get all the guns early in the game, it can make the rest of the game lost its sparkle a little. Plus the break between episodes can keep you from getting burnt out.

    I’m pretty sure that shotgun is the best weapon in the mod, just because of its damage output. It even beats out the Plasma Repeater because it doesn’t have a warm-up period before firing.

    • pekoeblaze says:

      Thanks for mentioning this – as I’ve probably mentioned before, I often tend to write and schedule [edit: more accurately, I tend to save them as drafts ridiculously far in advance, and then schedule them nearer the time] my “Doom” reviews quite far in advance of publication – so, this probably explains the vast version difference.

      The new boss battles sound interesting, and the new difficulty setting sounds absolutely hilarious too. I don’t know when or if I’ll get round to playing the new version though since I’m one of those people who rarely tends to replay/rewatch/reread etc… longer things, even if they’re really great (it happens sometimes, and it’s the subject of an article [albeit one about books] that will appear here on Saturday, but it’s often the exception rather than the rule with me).

      Ah, now the final boss battle makes a lot more sense! I’m still surprised that I didn’t think of this – I mean, it’s probably a tactic that I used at least a couple of times when playing the rest of the WAD (and in almost every WAD that I’ve played before or since) LOL!!!!

      As for the thing about weapons and episodic games, I’d argue that there isn’t really the same sense of discovery if you’ve already used the weapon before in the previous episode and know what it does. Plus, most classic games used to spread the weapons out (or at least strictly ration the ammo of the more powerful ones) in order to prevent players getting all of the powerful weapons too early and/or using them too often early in the game.

      I can understand the pacing-based reasons behind an episodic structure though, and I love the fact that each episode of many older games used to have a slightly different theme and aesthetic from the previous episode.

      Yeah, the shotgun in “Nerves Of Steel” is certainly one of the best shotguns that I’ve seen in a WAD.

      • mikemacdee says:

        Yeah, you already know what all the guns do after first discovering them, but thats why you get excited to pick up a new one: cos you know it’s good!

      • pekoeblaze says:

        True. But, I’d argue that it doesn’t have quite the same sense of “Wow! I haven’t seen this before! I wonder what it does?” that the player experiences when they discover a new weapon for the very first time. I don’t know, I guess that it’s all a matter of personal preference though.

      • mikemacdee says:

        You can never experience it for the first time again, though. But you can always enjoy a scavenger hunt…while being hunted by hordes of monsters….

      • pekoeblaze says:

        Good point, I didn’t really think of it quite like that. But, yeah, I suppose that searching for things that you already know about can be almost as interesting. Plus, I guess that the beginning of each episode adds an extra challenge too (since the difficulty is usually slightly closer to the end of the previous episode, but you have fewer weapons).

  2. mikemacdee says:

    Oh yeah, and if you want a comparison:

    The music in the original gets old real quick, so I replaced it with Duke Nukem stuff. Ended up doing the same for the mod.

    • pekoeblaze says:

      Yeah, I can see how “Duke Nukem” music might fit in quite well with the ‘cheesy action movie’ story of the game – although the v1.5 music didn’t seem too bad from what I can remember of it though. I dread to think what the music was like in the game that the WAD is based on LOL!!!!

      • mikemacdee says:

        It wasn’t terrible, but there were only three tracks, and they played on infinite shuffle regardless of what level you were on. So it’s not that they were badly compose as much as they got tedious real quick.

      • pekoeblaze says:

        Yeah, I can see how that might get annoying after a while – if it’s any consolation though, I didn’t really have any problems with it when I was playing v1.5 (although, if I remember rightly, I liked some of the tracks better than others).

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