Mini Review: “Resident Evil: Code Name Hunk [1.1 Demo]” [TC/ Mod For “Doom II”/”Final Doom”/ “GZDoom”]

2016 Artwork Code Name Hunk Mini review sketch

A while after my review of the “Mercenaries” mod for “Doom II” was posted here, the creator of this mod contacted me and asked if I wanted to check out a public demo of his latest “Resident Evil”-themed fan project called “Resident Evil Code Name Hunk [1.1 Demo]“. Being a fan of the zombie genre, “Doom” and the old “Resident Evil” games, I just had to check it out.

Although I usually tend to write articles, reviews and mini reviews quite far in advance of when I post them, I thought it best to post this (fairly long) mini review today whilst the demo is still current. I’ll probably reschedule the review I’d originally planned for today for sometime later in the year.
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Interestingly, the download of this demo actually comes with a copy of the source port (“GZDoom 1.9”) that you will need to run it. However, it isn’t a stand-alone game – so, you’ll still need to have “Doom II” or “Final Doom” if you want to play it.

Since this is a zombie-themed game, I should probably warn you that this review may contain some (unrealistic) GRUESOME IMAGES, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.

Likewise, I should probably also mention that the demo itself contains red/white FLICKERING LIGHTS/ STROBING EFFECTS and may not be suitable for players with photosensitive epilepsy and/or certain types of migraine (I’m not an expert on these subjects, so I don’t know if the part in question is intense enough to pose a problem or not).
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So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at “Resident Evil: Code Name Hunk [1.1 Demo]”:

Screenshot_Doom_20160109_025937

Since this is a demo of a much larger mod, “Code Name Hunk 1.1” only contains one level. Even so, there’s a surprising amount of content here – and the demo took me about an hour (or possibly slightly more) to complete.

The demo begins with a long FMV cutscene from one of the “Resident Evil” games. Yes, you heard me correctly, FMV – in “Doom”!

The story begins in 1998 when a group of commandos from the Umbrella Corporation have been sent to Racoon City to retrieve a sample of the G-Virus from William Birkin. This doesn’t go quite as planned and Birkin is shot, but – in the ensuing chaos – he is also also exposed to the virus and begins to mutate.

It's actual full motion video... in "Doom". What sorcery is this?!

It’s actual full motion video… in “Doom”. What sorcery is this?!

The intro then switches to an in-game cutscene showing Hunk (the main character) being killed by the monster that William Birkin has mutated into. This happens on the orders of the Red Queen (presumably the same one that appears in the first “Resident Evil” movie).

The game then shows the events of nine hours earlier, when Hunk and his team have been sent into Racoon City to retrieve the virus sample….

In addition to some fairly impressive introductory cutscenes, the demo also contains quite a few in-game cutscenes too. Although they’re really cool and they also help to add some character to the game, one slight problem is that most of these cutscenes seem to be unskippable.

So, it’s sometimes a good idea to save directly after the cutscene finishes – especially if it’s a cutscene that introduces a new type of monster!

Like this one. It'll make you feel nostalgic about "Resident Evil 2" when you see it for the first time, but if you don't save quickly or fight the licker well enough then you'll probably end up seeing it multiple times.

Like this one. It’ll make you feel nostalgic about “Resident Evil 2” when you see it for the first time, but if you don’t save quickly or fight the “licker” monster well enough, then you’ll probably end up seeing it multiple times.

In terms of the gameplay in this demo, I’ve got a lot – both good and bad- to say about it. Still, it’s a “work in progress” version of the game, so some of the problems I mention may not be an issue in later versions.

One of the first good things is that, although “Code Name Hunk 1.1” is a much more action-orientated game than the classic “Resident Evil” games were (eg: it uses the modern-style “Resident Evil” camera angles etc…), it’s still very much a “Resident Evil” game at heart.

In other words, you’ll also need to explore carefully, actually read any documents you find and solve several puzzles. This adds some variety to the gameplay and also helps to give the demo more of a classic “Resident Evil” kind of feel.

If you’ve played the classic “Resident Evil” games, then you’ll have no trouble solving the puzzles here. They’re complex enough to require a bit of thought, but they’re simple enough to be enjoyable rather than frustrating.

Most of them are simple item/key-based puzzles, although the game also contains a couple of slightly more complex and inventive puzzles where you have to find and use certain codes.

 One of the puzzles involves a film projector and it's really inventive. Although, again, I should probably warn you that it contains strobing effects.

One of the puzzles involves a film projector and it’s really inventive. Although, again, I should probably warn you that it contains flickering/strobing effects.

Amusingly, one of the characters even makes a sarcastic comment about "Resident Evil" puzzles LOL!

Amusingly, one of the characters even makes a sarcastic comment about “Resident Evil” puzzles LOL!

Interestingly, the most challenging part of these puzzles was finding exactly where I was supposed to enter the first code.

Another cool thing about the gameplay is that many of the classic monsters from “Resident Evil” 1-3 show up in the demo. There are zombies from “Resident Evil 2”, hunters, lickers, zombie dogs and the Nemesis. All of these monsters look and behave exactly as you would expect them to.

Although, I have to ask, why aren't there any zombie cats in the "Resident Evil" universe?

Although, I have to ask, why aren’t there any zombie cats in the “Resident Evil” universe?

It's great to see THESE zombies again too. Seriously, it's been way too long!

It’s great to see THESE zombies again too. Seriously, it’s been way too long!

However, even on “medium” difficulty, the difficulty curve in the demo can be slightly steep to say the least. Although you begin the level by fighting a few zombies, it isn’t long until you suddenly find yourself fighting against two hunters in a narrow street (with very little room to dodge or run).

Although I imagine that this part of the game would have been easier if I’d conserved my ammo slightly more carefully beforehand, it was still slightly too difficult for an early part of the level in my opinion. Another thing that makes this one part of the level significantly more challenging is that, unlike in the classic games, you don’t have the option to retreat to another room if you’re low on ammo.

This is probably one the most difficult part of the demo, and it's surprisingly close to the beginning. I only got through it by chance and a lot of trial-and-error.

This is probably one the most difficult parts of the demo, and it’s surprisingly close to the beginning. I only got through it by chance and a lot of trial-and-error.

 Even the Nemesis battle is surprisingly easy, when compared to fighting those two hunters!

Even the Nemesis battle is surprisingly easy, when compared to fighting those two hunters!

Another slight problem with the demo is the controls. Unlike many games, this is one where you should probably actually read the manual before you start playing.

Although you’ll probably get used to the controls after a while, some of them aren’t very intuitive (for example, in order to run – you need to press “forward” and “reload”). Not only that, you’ll also have to manually alter some of the controls before you begin playing (eg: you’ll have to enable “always mouselook”, otherwise you won’t be able to aim your weapons properly etc…).

Like in the classic “Resident Evil” games, the demo takes a slightly more realistic approach to combat. In other words, Hunk has to draw and aim his guns before he can reload or fire them. He also can’t change weapons whilst he’s aiming (and there’s also a slight delay when switching weapons). Although this is fairly faithful to the source material, it can get in the way of the gameplay slightly during some of the more frantic battles.

Despite the modern-style camera angles, this game is based on "Resident Evil 1-3". So, running and shooting at the same time is impossible.

Despite the modern-style camera angles, this game is based on “Resident Evil 1-3”. So, running and shooting at the same time is impossible.

However, when you are close to a monster, instructions will flash up on the screen and you will be give the option of either dodging or performing a melee attack. Interestingly, there are now two possible ways to dodge a monster (compared to just one in the “Mercenaries” mod).

Although this is a really cool addition, it was somewhat confusing at first due to the generic on-screen descriptions (unlike the clear “Press A + D” instructions in the “Mercenaries” mod).

 Ok, I have two seconds to dodge. Do I follow the manual or the instructions on screen? Or ... Ouch!

Ok, I have two seconds to dodge. Do I follow the manual or the instructions on screen? Or … Ouch!

As for the weapons in “Codename Hunk 1.1”, they’re fairly similar to the weapons in “Mercenaries”. Hunk can use a pistol, a shotgun and a submachinegun. Throughout the game, you’ll also find flash grenades that can be used to briefly stun any nearby monsters.

This is a really cool addition, although the grenades only stun larger monsters for 1-2 seconds, which doesn’t always give you enough time to switch to another weapon (if you’re out of SMG ammo).

Graphically, “Code Name Hunk 1.1” is absolutely superb! The sprites are absolutely perfect and the animation is really smooth too.

In addition to this, there’s a surprising variety of locations in the demo level – including a cinema, a church, a creepy basement, an industrial freezer, a city street and a restaurant. All of these locations look like something that you might have seen in the original “Resident Evil” games.

 This is one of the coolest locations in the demo. Seriously, it's just like something you'd expect to see in the first two "Resident Evil" games.

This is one of the coolest locations in the demo. Seriously, it’s just like something you’d expect to see in the first two “Resident Evil” games.

This part of the level is wonderfully chilling, if you'll pardon the pun.

This part of the level is wonderfully chilling, if you’ll pardon the pun.

The level design is also fairly good too. Like in the classic games, the level is fairly non-linear and the locations all look fairly realistic. Although this level will require you to explore carefully, it’s relatively small size means that you won’t get lost for too long. In addition to this, the end of the demo also gives you an intriguing hint as to what the second level will be….

Musically, this demo also makes use of several pieces of classic “Resident Evil” music, as well as some more modern music. My favourite thing about the music is that the police station music from “Resident Evil 2” (my favourite piece of Resident Evil music) starts playing when Hunk enters the church about halfway through the level.

The voice acting in this demo is also fairly good too, considering that it’s a fan made game. Not only that, Hunk also gets to say several wonderfully badass lines of dialogue too.

"That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die...." - H. P. Lovecraft

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die….” – H. P. Lovecraft

All in all, this looks like a really interesting beginning to a really cool project. Like with the “Mercenaries” mod, I’m still astonished that anyone has been able to re-create the “Resident Evil” games so accurately and faithfully with nothing more than a source port for the “Doom” engine.

Yes, “Code Name Hunk 1.1” has a few small flaws (eg: the control scheme, the short stun times and the difficulty spikes in some areas), but it’s worth checking out if you’re a “Resident Evil” fan.

If I had to give what I’ve seen of “Code Name Hunk” so far a rating out of five, it would get a four.

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.

Mini Review: ” The Trailblazer (v1.2d)” (Mod For “Doom II”/”Final Doom”/ “GZDoom”)

2015 Artwork The Trailblazer WAD review sketch

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”:

Screenshot_Doom_20150819_190507

“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.

This is the super shotgun replacement. It's ACTUALLY a super shotgun, in the literal sense of the word !

This is the super shotgun replacement. It’s ACTUALLY a super shotgun, in the literal sense of the word !

 Sigmund Freud probably has a few things to say about this gun....

Sigmund Freud probably has a few things to say about this gun….

 But, who cares? There's a revolver that shoots explosions!!!

But, who cares? There’s a revolver that shoots explosions!!!

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.

Oh great! It looks like a MODERN game :(

Oh great! It looks like a MODERN game 😦

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:

I didn't really animate this very well but, yes, you can fan the explosive revolver!

I didn’t really animate this very well but, yes, you can fan the explosive revolver!

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:

Hadouken.

Hadouken.

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:

 Even the firing animation for the blunderbuss includes motion blur :)

Even the firing animation for the blunderbuss includes motion blur 🙂

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:

Hmmm... it looks more like a bottle of lager to me....

Hmmm… it looks more like a bottle of lager to me….

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:

And it looks a bit like Dark Eco from the old "Jak And Daxter" games too :)

And it looks a bit like Dark Eco from the old “Jak And Daxter” games too 🙂

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:

And, yes, he does this when he's holding two guns too. I'm not sure how he lights the next one, but somehow he does.

And, yes, he does this when he’s holding two guns too. I’m not sure how he lights the next one, but somehow he does.

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.

Mini Review: “Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0” (Mod For “Duke Nukem 3D”)

2015 Artwork Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0 review sketch

To me, “Duke Nukem 3D” and Christmas are inextricably connected. I can’t think of a cosier, warmer and more nostalgic game to play during the festive season than good old “Duke 3D”.

Fun fact: when I was a kid in the 1990s, I actually loaded up “Duke 3D” on Christmas day one year just to see if Duke would still say his “What are you waiting for? Christmas?” line. He did 🙂

So, imagine my delight when I recently discovered this Christmas-themed level for “Duke Nukem 3D” that was originally released in late 2013.

Running this mod is fairly easy, since it comes with a built-in launcher that uses the “eDuke32” source port. All you need to do is to unzip the download and then copy the “DUKE3D.grp” file from your registered copy of “Duke Nukem 3D” into the unzipped folder and you’re ready to go.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0”:

And, yes, that's snow falling on the menu :)

And, yes, that’s snow falling on the menu 🙂

Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0″ contains a single new leve for “Duke 3D” called “It’s A Wonderful Life”. In this level, Duke has to fight his way through a really awesome alien-infested town during the festive season. It also features custom weapons, dialogue, graphics and music too.

Although the level begins in a fairly linear fashion, with Duke standing next to a stopped train and working his way through a series of caves, the level quickly unfolds into something more non-linear.

One of the really cool things about the beginning of this level is that Duke will actually say an entirely new line of dialogue (that seems to have been spliced together from several other lines of dialogue). If I remember rightly, he says: “Damn, they’re gonna pay for shooting up this train“.

From the look of things, I'd guess that there was snow on the line.

From the look of things, I’d guess that there was snow on the line.

I love how you can see part of the town from this part of the level :)

I love how you can see part of the town from this part of the level 🙂

Although the town is relatively small, it looks absolutely spectacular. Everything from the falling snow, to the fairy lights and the old Christmas movie posters really help to give this level a nostalgic 1990s movie Christmas style atmosphere and I love it!

Ok, I haven't seen any of these movies, but the posters really add some atmosphere to the level.

Ok, I haven’t seen any of these movies, but the posters really add some atmosphere to the level.

Yay, it's like the town from "Gremlins"!

Yay, it’s like the town from “Gremlins”!

..But with fairy lights! Fairy lights!

..But with fairy lights! Fairy lights!

Another interesting feature in this level is that many of the buildings feature teleportation-based doors. Basically, you walk up to the door and press “action” and you’ll be teleported to the building’s interior.

Even though this allows the level designers to make the buildings bigger on the inside and to include multi-storey areas, it also has a few problems too.

The first is that getting into the right position to use the doors can be a somewhat finicky affair where you have to strafe across the door whilst hammering the action button until the teleporter decides to activate.

The interior areas look really cool, but getting in and out of them can be a little annoying.

The interior areas look really cool, but getting in and out of them can be a little annoying.

Not only that, it’s impossible to tell which doors are accessible and which ones aren’t. Whilst this normally wouldn’t be an issue, it can be a problem when you are under heavy fire from groups of monsters.

Plus, when you enter a building, groups of monsters can sometimes have a habit of gathering near the outside of the door- which can often result in an almost instant death when you leave the building later.

The level also includes lots of other cool touches, such as destructible Christmas presents that can give you health or ammo – as well as the occasional sprite or texture that has been borrowed from “Blood” or “Doom”.

A "Doom" keycard? But, HOW did you know?

A “Doom” keycard? But, HOW did you know?

 There's also a playable jukebox - or should it be a "Duke Box"?

There’s also a playable jukebox – or should it be a “Duke Box”?

And this Easter egg that I only found when I re-played the level a while after completing it.

And this Easter egg that I only found when I re-played the level a while after completing it.

As for the gameplay, this level is fairly challenging. Even though the only aliens you will encounter are assault troopers and pig cops, the level’s difficulty is increased quite significantly by the rather limited supplies of ammo and health on offer.

Or, after re-playing the level again, it’s more accurate to say that the amount of easily-accessible health and ammo in this level is fairly low. However, if you look around enough, you can find quite a bit of health and ammo hidden in various parts of the map.

So, unless you go secret-hunting, you will need to use quick thinking, tactics and strategy if you want to get through this level in one piece.

Yes, you can run out of ammo (and health) VERY easily in this level...

Yes, you can run out of ammo (and health) VERY easily in this level…

Talking of weapons, this level also includes a new weapon too. The RPG has been replaced with a “firework launcher”. Although this acts just like the RPG, the ammo sprites and explosion effects are significantly different and much cooler.

Fortunately, you don't have to light a blue touchpaper every time you want to fire it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to light a blue touchpaper every time you want to fire it.

Musically speaking, this level is pretty cool too. The background music is a jazzy MIDI version of that old 1940s/50s Christmas song that plays during the credits of “Die Hard” (along with “Gremlins”, this is one of my favourite Christmas movies). I can’t remember the title of this song, but it’s really nostalgic and it goes really well with the rest of the level.

All in all, this is a brilliant level which is an absolutely wonderful accompaniment to the festive season. If you’re a 1990s retro gamer, then I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than with this level. Yes, some features of this level don’t work absolutely perfectly, but it’s still absolutely amazing.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half. Merry Duke-mas everyone 🙂

Mini Review: “Reelism Gold” (Mod For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

2015 Artwork Reelism gold mini review

Yes! It’s here! As regular readers of this site probably know, I reviewed an astonishingly good “Doom” mod called “Reelism X2.1” last year. Seriously, it’s three times as enjoyable as “Brutal Doom” and the novelty value takes at least eight times as long to wear off. And, since I played “Brutal Doom” a ridiculous number of times in 2013, this should tell you how much I love the “Reelism” series.

Anyway, after a few weeks of frequently checking/ lurking in the “Reelism” thread on the “ZDoom” forums, I learnt that the long-awaited update to this mod (called “Reelism Gold”) was to be released today. I’ve been waiting for this for quite a while and, well, I couldn’t wait to review it. So, this will be more of a rambling “first impressions” article than a full review.

I played this mod using version 1.8.10 of the “GZDoom” source port and it’s great that, from what I read online, this mod was actually altered at the last minute to make it compatible with these older versions of GZ Doom (that will actually run on my computer). So, thanks 🙂

Anyway, let’s take a quick look at “Reelism Gold”:

Woo hoo! More "Reelism" :)

Woo hoo! More “Reelism” 🙂

If you’re unfamiliar with “Reelism”, the premise is fairly simple. You choose one of the mod’s arena-like maps and, when you start, a random number generator chooses three gameplay modifiers for you (one chooses the monsters you’ll face, one chooses the weapons you’ll find and one alters the gameplay in some way).

Every minute, the RNG starts up again and you get a new set of modifiers. After five rounds, you get to face a boss.

Yay! It's "Reelism". And, yes, I replaced the original screenshot I had here... because I'm a wimp.

Yay! It’s “Reelism”. And, yes, I replaced the screenshot I’d originally posted here… because I’m a wimp.

It’s kind of like a cross between a “casual” version of “Doom” and a mash-up of all the great FPS games from the 1990s. As a retro FPS gamer, it goes without saying, but I love this mod!

Anyway, what’s new in the update? Well, although the mod is still – for the most part- fairly similar to the previous version, there are new weapons, maps, monsters/bosses and gameplay modes. Since this is a “first impressions” article, I haven’t seen all of the new content yet, but what I have seen has seriously impressed me.

First of all, there are six new maps (and an arena for one of the new gameplay modes) to choose from.

These include a “Duke Nukem 3D”-style alien spaceship, a cool cyberpunk arena, a basketball court, a gigantic “Contra” (?)-style map, a modified version of the “Dead Simple” level from “Doom II” and a retro platform game style level.

Wow! It feels like Christmas day when I was a kid! This is SO awesome!

Wow! It feels like Christmas day when I was a kid! This is SO awesome!

As an artist, I love blue and orange colour schemes. So, it's great to see one here.

As an artist, I love blue and orange colour schemes. So, it’s great to see one here.

 It even has little screens where you can see your character from a third-person perspective. And a reflective floor. A reflective floor! In "Doom" !!!!!

It even has little screens where you can see your character from a third-person perspective. And a reflective floor. A reflective floor! In “Doom” !!!!!

I've never played "Contra", but now I kind of want to...

I’ve never played “Contra”, but now I kind of want to…

This level also includes a cool remixed version of the "Doom E1M1" theme tune :)

This level also includes a cool remixed version of the “Doom E1M1” theme tune 🙂

I don't know what this level is based on, but I feel nostalgic already!

I don’t know what this level is based on, but I feel nostalgic already!

There’s a surprising amount of variety in these levels – from tiny levels that force you to keep fighting continuously, to medium-sized levels that are a joy to play, to giant levels that encourage you to explore and find new stuff. Although there are only six new maps, they’ll probably keep you busy for quite a while.

As for the weapons, there are a few new ones here. They include things like “Wolf 3D”-style flamethrowers and rocket launchers, the M60 from “Exhumed”, a machinegun that fires short bursts, an explosive shotgun, weapons from the beta versions of “Duke 3D” and “Doom” etc… There are new types of grenades and a rocket launcher called “The Clustersucker” that fires multiple grenades:

Woo hoo! Lots of explosions!

Woo hoo! Lots of explosions!

The "Dog Mode" sprite has also been recoloured, so that it looks like the dogs from the "Dogged" modifier.

The “Dog Mode” sprite has also been recoloured, so that it looks like the dogs from the “Dogged” modifier.

Given that I played "Exhumed" obssessively during Christmas 2013/ New Year 2014, it's great to see THIS gun again :)

Given that I played “Exhumed” obssessively during Christmas 2013/ New Year 2014, it’s great to see THIS gun again 🙂

As for new monsters, I didn’t notice that many of them. There’s a new type of “skeleton” enemy and there are the cultists from “Blood” (who even shout their hilarious lines from the original game too) and there are new bosses too. Then again, I’ve only played this mod for an hour or so before writing this article, so I might have missed some of them.

Oooh, it's a new boss. Naturally, I died three seconds later!

Oooh, it’s a new boss. Naturally, I died three seconds later!

There are a few new gameplay modifiers too. Although I haven’t seen all of them, one of the more interesting ones is a modifier that replaces the blood with “Super Mario” style coins. This is pretty hilarious, although it can cause a bit of slowdown on some levels if you’re using an old computer:

It's only running at 10FPS but, who cares? This is amazing!

It’s only running at 10FPS but, who cares? This is amazing!

However, the most touted new feature in “Reelism Gold” is the famous “Boss Rush” mode. This is a gameplay mode where you have to fight all of the game’s bosses, in sequence, in a giant arena – whilst you’re being attacked by other monsters too.

It’s apparently so difficult that not even the creators of this mod have been able to finish it. Personally, I was able to get to round three before I fell to the evil Mecha-Hitler:

Nein!!!!

Nein!!!!

The update also includes a “Shuffle Mode” option where none of the modifiers are repeated and you only face a boss once you’ve played through all of the modifiers. I only had a chance to look at this briefly, but it certainly looks fun.

As you would expect from a “Reelism” update, this mod also contains a lot more eccentric humour too. This is one of the great things about “Reelism”, like the classic FPS games of old, it doesn’t take itself entirely seriously and there’s lots of new funny stuff here. Hell, even the “Municipal Transpo” level (my favourite from the previous version of “Reelism”) has received an update:

Ooooh, I remember when monitors had this option. Dammit, I miss CRT monitors!

Ooooh, I remember when monitors had this option. Dammit, I miss CRT monitors!

For a limited time only!

For a limited time only!

All in all, this is an improved version of an already perfect mod. I would say that I’d have expected more new content, but even if this mod contained 100+ new weapons, monsters etc… I’d probably still think that it wasn’t enough.

It’s such a brilliant concept and such an addictive game that you could pretty much play forever if you wanted to. So, if you like 1990s FPS games or if you just want some enjoyably mindless fun, then you can’t go wrong with what I’ve seen of “Reelism Gold”.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a six. Play it!

Review: “TiberiumDoom 1.9 (Beta)” (Mod for “GZDoom”/ “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”)

2014 Artwork TiberiumDoom review sketch

[NOTE: I originally wrote this review a few weeks ago and it is of a (now obsolete) beta version of the mod. I just checked the “ZDoom” site again about an hour before this review was scheduled to be posted and apparently the final version of this mod (version 2.0.1) was released on Friday. I haven’t had a chance to play the new version yet. As such, some of my criticisms of the beta version may not apply to the final version. ]

Well, it’s been a while since I last reviewed anything “Doom”-related, so I thought that I’d take a look at a rather interesting mod I found a few weeks ago called “TiberiumDoom 1.9 (Beta)“.

Before I go any further, I should point out that you will need the “GZDoom” source port in order to use this mod with your copy of “Doom II” or “Final Doom”. In addition to this, at the time of writing this review, I’ve only had a chance to play this mod for a few hours – so it will only reflect my experiences so far.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “TiberiumDoom”:

Tiberium Doom title screen

One of the first things you will notice when you start playing “TiberiumDoom” is that the HUD has been redesigned so that it actually looks like the inside of the Doomguy’s helmet.

This is pretty cool and it adds an extra level of realism and immersion to the game, although this subtle change also gives the game a slightly more “serious” atmosphere than I’m used to when I’m playing “Doom”.

Yes, the HUD is ACTUALLY a HUD!

Yes, the HUD is ACTUALLY a HUD!

Another thing you will notice when you start up this mod is that the Doomguy has a lot more health than he usually does. I think that both the health and armour meters now go up to a maximum of 999 (?) rather than just 200.

Whilst this change might sound like it makes the game a lot easier, the enemies deal a much larger amount of damage – so this extra health doesn’t give you as much of an advantage as you might think.

Talking about the enemies, this is one area where this mod does fairly well and there are quite a few new enemies here.

Whilst most of them are just palette-swaps of the familiar enemies that we all know and love (eg: there are now several varieties of cacodemons and hell knights) with slightly modified attacks and health levels, all of the “zombie” enemies have been redesigned so that they actually look like zombified space marines.

Yes, the zombie space marine in the distance ACTUALLY looks like a zombified space marine...

Yes, the zombie space marine in the distance ACTUALLY looks like a zombified space marine…

Again, this is a fairly small change, but it adds an extra level of realism to the game.

However (and I really I hope that this has been altered in the final version of “TiberiumDoom”), the text that appears at the top of the screen when you are killed by one of the shotgun zombies is… well.. not exactly great.

I understand that the designer of the mod was probably trying to be “funny” or “irreverent” – but using slightly threatening anti-LGBT language to do this just makes it look like this mod is aimed at immature people who enjoy playing certain other popular (and more modern) multiplayer FPS games, rather than at discerning “Doom” connoisseurs.

Yes, I’m probably making a mountain out of a molehill here, but it diminished my enjoyment of this mod very slightly. At the very least, I didn’t really like the fact that the game itself just assumed that I both didn’t like LGBT people and that I wasn’t LGBT myself. Both of these things are totally untrue for me!

Anyway, here’s the message in question. Again, I really hope that it has been amended in the latest version of the mod:

[Click for larger image] It's the text at the very top of the screen. Reader discretion is advised.

[Click for larger image]
It’s the text at the very top of the screen. Reader discretion is advised.

But, on the plus side, some of the palette-swapped cacodemons and lost souls have a really cool green and black colour scheme and – when you defeat one of these enemies, they will explode with a BFG-style blast, dealing damage to anything in the general vicinity. Seriously, this is one of the coolest things that I’ve ever seen in a “Doom” mod:

Not ONLY does this cacodemon look wonderfully gothic, but.....

Not ONLY does this cacodemon look wonderfully gothic, but…..

...look what it does when it dies! Yes, that's a BFG blast... from the Cacodemon!

…look what it does when it dies! Yes, that’s a BFG blast… from the cacodemon!

Another cool thing about “TiberiumDoom” is that it’s a lot more gruesome than most “Doom” mods that I’ve played.

Whilst you shouldn’t expect the kind of graphic dismemberments and detailed viscera that you can find in “Brutal Doom“, the monsters will leave large amounts of blood splatter on the walls and they will explode in a gigantic cloud of red mist when hit by a rocket or an exploding barrel.

As you would expect with a “Doom” mod, “TiberiumDoom” also features a vast array of new weapons too. Whilst I haven’t seen all of them yet, the ones that I have seen are fairly interesting variations on the standard weapons that we all know and love.

However, (and this is an issue with a lot of modern “Doom” mods) they almost all feature a “realistic” reloading system, which can get in the way of the gameplay during many of the frenetic battles that “Doom” is so famous for.

This is especially true for the standard “Doom” pump-action shotgun, since the Doomguy no longer automatically pumps the shotgun between shots in “TiberiumDoom”. You actually have to do this manually with the left mouse button.

Whilst this might seem “realistic”, it gets slightly confusing and I’ve died several times because I’ve been ready to fire at a monster – only for the Doomguy to pump the shotgun instead of firing it.

Trust me, it gets very annoying when there's more than one monster on the screen...

Trust me, it gets very annoying when there’s more than one monster on the screen…

But, there is one cool trick that you can do with the reloading feature on at least a couple of the weapons (although I’m not sure if this has been removed in subsequent versions of the mod). Basically, when you run out of ammo for at least one or two of the weapons, you can still press the “reload” button and it will load one bullet into the weapon. So, although using this to your advantage is rather time-consuming, it means that a couple of the guns essentially have infinite ammo.

Still, there are some rather cool weapons here – my favourite is probably the quad-barrelled shotgun. You can either fire each barrel individually or you can obliterate anything in your path by firing all four at once!

BOOM!

BOOM!

Whilst this is possibly one of the coolest things that I’ve ever seen in a “Doom” mod, the fact that the alternate fire button for the quad-shotgun is the same as the “reload” button for the other weapons can lead to a lot of accidental ammo wastage.

In addition to this, the reloading animation for the quad-shotgun is one of the longest I’ve ever seen in a computer game – making it impractical for fast-paced battles.

Yes, even the zombies are getting bored waiting for the reloading animation to finish....

Yes, even the zombies are getting bored waiting for the reloading animation to finish….

All in all, “TiberiumDoom” is a very good – albeit flawed – mod for “Doom” that gives the game a more “realistic” atmosphere. The new enemies also add some extra variety to the game, although the new weapons can sometimes get in the way of the gameplay though.

Whilst this mod doesn’t quite reach the standard of “Brutal Doom” or “The Stranger“, it’s still a fairly entertaining and challenging mod that will breathe new life into a familiar game.

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

Review: “The Stranger” (Mod For “Doom II”/”GZDoom”/”ZDoom”)

2014 Artwork Doom Stranger review sketch

As some of my regular readers might know, I have surprisingly high standards when it comes to “Doom” WADs, TCs and mods. Unless fan-made content for “Doom” or “Doom II” features at least one or two new weapons and/or monsters, then I usually feel that it’s lacking something.

So, imagine my delight when I saw some footage of “The Stranger” in this old Youtube video by General Lotz. In order to use this mod, you will need to use a modern source port such as “GZDoom” or “ZDoom” – but, let’s face it, who plays “Doom” without using one of these source ports these days?

Although “The Stranger” doesn’t feature any new levels, it adds 20 new weapons and several new monster types to “Doom”. Yes, you heard me correctly, twenty new weapons.

Like this one from "Doom 3"...

Like this one from “Doom 3″…

My favourite new weapons in “The Stranger” are probably all of the various types of pistols that you can find. There’s a basic Luger-style pistol, a rather generic pistol that can only be accessed via cheat codes, revolvers, a shotgun-pistol and, best of all, a rapid-fire pistol.

This pistol is probably the most interesting out of all of them because it will occasionally jam whilst you’re firing it and you will have to tap the right mouse button in order to un-jam it.

Yes, it isn't as reliable as it looks....

Yes, it isn’t as reliable as it looks….

In addition to this, there is a vast array of well-animated machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers and more esoteric weapons too.

My favourite of these is probably a gun that allows you to shoot out a swarm of lost souls that will attack any monsters in the vicinity. Yes, it’s a skeleton gun that fires burning skulls – I can’t think of anything cooler!

Yes, it's as cool as it looks!

Yes, it’s as cool as it looks!

Another interesting new weapon is the “anti-tank rifle”. This is basically a hitscan rocket launcher (eg: it doesn’t fire a slow-moving projectile) that costs two rockets per shot.

Although it isn’t that accurate over long distances, it can demolish many types of mid-level monsters in a single shot and it’s basically like a much more badass version of the super shotgun:

Seriously, WHY wasn't this included in the original "Doom" games?

Seriously, WHY wasn’t this included in the original “Doom” games?

An interesting feature in “The Stranger” is that many of the new weapons feature a realistic reloading system and they will either reload automatically when you run out of ammo or you can reload manually by clicking the right mouse button.

Whilst this adds a certain level of realism to the game and most of the reloading animations are quite well-made, it also changes the gameplay quite significantly and I ended up dying more than once due to having to reload whilst I was surrounded by monsters. Whilst realistic reloading might work in most other FPS games, it’s slightly unsuited to the more fast-paced gameplay of “Doom”.

Yes, it might be "realistic" on level one. But, once you get further into the game, it just becomes an annoying hinderance....

Yes, it might be “realistic” on level one. But, once you get further into the game, it just becomes an annoying hinderance….

So, if you use this mod, you will have to play a lot more strategically than usual and find good hiding places to reload on a regular basis. Whilst this makes the game a bit more challenging, it can get frustrating sometimes.

Not only that, since some of the weapons use specific types of ammo, finding the right type of ammo for your weapons is more difficult than it is in “ordinary” Doom (where there are only four ammo types). So, you might find yourself frantically cycling through your weapons in the middle of a battle in order to find one that still has ammo.

A better alternative would have probably been to keep the original four types of ammo and to ensure that more powerful weapons use more ammunition per shot than weaker ones do (in order to keep the game balanced).

The only major technical flaw I could find with this mod was the fact that, if you pick up one of the green “invulnerability” spheres, then the inverted colour effect that accompanies it doesn’t work. In fact, picking up an “invulnerabilty” sphere makes the screen turn blue for thirty seconds:

Yes, you're invincible - but good luck finding anything...

Yes, you’re invincible – but good luck finding anything…

And, yes, you pretty much have to use the map screen to navigate when this happens. This isn’t a major flaw, since you can’t take any damage when the screen is blue, but it’s annoying nonetheless.

As for the new monsters, I haven’t seen all of them yet but the ones that I have seen were quite impressive.

This creepier version of the pain elemental spits clouds of poison gas at you.

This creepier version of the pain elemental spits clouds of poison gas at you.

Although many of them are just variations of the classic “Doom II” enemies, there are at least one or two totally new monsters (eg: a giant robot – which seems to be a replacement for the Arch-viles from the original games). Plus, many of the “zombie” enemies also now actually have dialogue.

Yes, most of the things that they shout at you are fairly generic (eg:” Stop right there!“), but this certainly adds an extra level of drama to the game.

My favourite new monster is probably the flamethrower zombies (which replace the “spectre” enemies from the original game). Not only do they have a surprisingly powerful short-range attack, but they will also burst into flames spectacularly whenever you defeat one of them. Seriously, this is one of the coolest death animations that I’ve seen in a “Doom” mod:

Fwoosh!

Fwoosh!

All in all, from what I’ve seen so far, this is a surprisingly fun mod for “Doom” which adds a plethora of interesting new stuff to a familiar game.

Yes, it would have been nicer if the reloading times had been slightly shorter, if the invulnerability spheres worked properly and the ammo types had been streamlined slightly, but this mod is still absolutely stunning nonetheless. And it’s well worth checking out if you’re getting bored of “ordinary” Doom.

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

Review: “Lasting Light” (Mod For “Doom”/”Doom II”/”GZ Doom”)

2014 Artwork Doom Lasting Light Review Sketch

If you’ve done any research into the history of “Doom“, you’ll probably know that one of the ways that either John Romero or John Carmack (I can’t remember exactly who) envisaged the game was as a game that was – and I quote – “Scary, dark and fast”.

Of course, like many people who only discovered “Doom” a few years after it’s release, the idea that “Doom” – the Shakespeare of the FPS genre – could ever have been genuinely scary was absolutely laughable to me. Hell, even compared to later ID Software games like “Quake”, “Doom” isn’t even particularly dark by modern standards.

Yes, “Doom” is still fast-paced and better than most FPS games that have been made since but I’ve always wondered what it would be like for the people who played “Doom” back in the early 1990s and were actually scared by it.

Well, thanks to an amazing mod called “Lasting Light” (which requires a modern source port like GZ Doom to run) – now I know exactly how those fortunate early “Doom” players felt.

Screenshot_Doom_20140703_164253

“Lasting Light” turns the gory action game that we all know and love into a genuinely terrifying survival horror game. Seriously, the first time I played this (at night I may add), I could only play for about ten minutes until I quit the game out of sheer fright.

But, wanting to take another look at this mod, I returned to it during the day and decided to review it. So, let’s get started.

Screenshot_Doom_20140703_164305

One of the first things that you will notice is that the Doomguy isn’t carrying a gun and the levels are darker than usual.

In fact, the only things you are armed with are a lantern (with limited fuel) and some rocks which you can throw to activate switches. Before you say anything, these rocks cannot be used as a weapon – so you are, essentially, completely unarmed. In the dark.

Yes, this is about as bright as the game gets when you aren't using your lantern...

Yes, this is about as bright as the game gets when you aren’t using your lantern…

Your lantern is the only defence you have against the all-encroaching darkness that surrounds you and, when you start each level, you have to turn it on manually.

What this means is that you’ll usually be faced with nothing but a black screen when you select “New Game” on the menu. Don’t worry, the game hasn’t crashed – just click the left mouse button and the Doomguy will raise his lantern.

If you see this when you start a level, then just click the left mouse button.

If you see this when you start a level, then just click the left mouse button.

By now, you’re probably thinking “Wait a minute! This is just a rip-off of that Slenderman game that gave me nightmares for weeks!” And, although there are obvious similarities, there are enough differences to make it into it’s own distinctive game.

For starters, there are three different enemy types that you have to avoid – the creeper, the screecher and the stalker. The mechanics of how each of these creatures works is explained fully on the ModDB page for “Lasting Light”, but they each require different tactics in order to avoid.

For example, turn your lantern off as soon as you see one of these creatures....

For example, turn your lantern off as soon as you see one of these creatures….

Like any good horror game, you will usually hear these monsters moving around long before you see them (and it’s almost essential to play this game with headphones). Not only that, when they are close, disturbing images will suddenly flash across the screen – making you jump out of your seat.

Aaaargh!

Aaaargh!

Whilst the images for the relatively benign “creeper” enemies just look like blue and magnolia Rorschach inkblots, the images for the “Screecher” (who reminds me a lot of a cross between Slenderman and a more evil version of the Witch from the “Left 4 Dead” games) are a series of highly disturbing black and red illustrations which seem to have been plucked from the depths of hell itself.

And, no, I didn’t take any screenshots of them – I was too busy recoiling in terror.

Yes, “Lasting Light” uses more than a few cheap jump scares. But, at the same time, most of the horror in this mod comes from the suspense and anticipation of not ever quite knowing where you are (even the level map is obscured by a “Silent Hill”-esque fog) and not ever quite knowing what is in the same room as you.

Yes, don't expect to rely on the level map to get around...

Yes, don’t expect to rely on the level map to get around…

And, without anything to fight back against the monsters and a limited supply of lamp oil (with very few refills), it’s only a matter of time before something gets you.

All in all, “Lasting Light” is a mod that you shouldn’t play at night. It’s a mod that is both highly original and highly derivative at the same time.

It’s a mod that is almost impossibly difficult (eg: I had to use the level skip cheat just to look at any level other than level one of “Doom II”) and it’s a mod that will turn your beloved action game into something that will leave you genuinely terrified. Do I recommend it? Hell yes!

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

Review: “Duke Nukem Forever 2013” (Mod For “Duke Nukem 3D”)

Ready for action! .... At long last...

Ready for action! …. At long last…

Does anyone remember, back in the early 2000s, when a trailer [NSFW] for the long-awaited “Duke Nukem Forever” finally emerged? It was bombastic, it was action-packed and, damn, did Duke look good on the “Unreal” engine!

Of course, this was never to be and this version of “Duke Nukem Forever” would end up being consigned to the shadowy crypts below 3D Realms’ offices. Instead, we had to wait until 2011 before a totally different version of “Duke Nukem Forever” was officially released.

However, thanks to some wonderful modders, we now have a chance to see what this early version of “Duke Nukem Forever” might have looked like. I am, of course, talking about the “Duke Nukem Forever 2013” mod for “Duke Nukem 3D”. So, let’s review it.

Woo hoo!

Woo hoo!

This mod is, as you might expect, based on the 2001 trailer for “Duke Nukem Forever”. This means that each of the four levels in the mod (a Las Vegas level, the EDF facility, a ghost town and the Hoover Dam) is based on a location in the trailer. Although this mod is fairly short, each of the levels is as challenging as any good “Duke Nukem 3D” level should be.

Yes, you will get stuck in several parts of “DNF 2013” and you’ll need to do a lot of exploration and searching in order to progress through the later parts of the mod. Yes, this is a mod for people who grew up playing real FPS games rather than “Call Of Duty” or whatever.

Although I’ve only had a couple of chances to play the 2011 version of “Duke Nukem Forever”, it seemed surprisingly easy for a “Duke Nukem” game. So, it was actually kind of refreshing to get hopelesly stuck a couple of times when I was playing “DNF 2013”.

Don't let the linear beginning of the first level fool you, this is OLD SCHOOL "Duke Nukem" :)

Don’t let the linear beginning of the first level fool you, this is OLD SCHOOL “Duke Nukem” 🙂

In addition to this, each of the four levels are absolutely huge and they are all beautifully designed, with lots of interesting areas and details. The most impressive level is probably the “Hoover Dam” level, for the simple reason that it actually contains a fairly good re-creation of the dam in question.

Now THAT's a dam fine level !

Now THAT’s a dam fine level !

In addition to this, there are a few cool new enemies (such as Terminators and mutant EDF guards) and a couple of the weapons have been reskinned too.

The chaingun is now a M16 assault rifle (with the American flag wrapped around it, no less!) with a reloading animation after every fifty shots and the shrink ray looks a bit more alien than it normally does. In addition to this, all of the items are now 3D voxel models rather than 2D sprites (kind of like the items in the original “Shadow Warrior” were).

But, one of the major changes in this mod is that it now features vehicle segments. Normally I’m extremely sceptical about vehicles in FPS games, but these driving segments work surprisingly well in “DNF 2013”. The motorbike segment in the Vegas level is fast-paced, fun and … well… just as badass as you would expect Duke Nukem riding a motorbike to be.

Booorn To Be Wiiild!!

Booorn To Be Wiiild!!

In additon to this, you also get to ride a donkey later in the game. Yes, you heard me correctly. A donkey.

Need I say more?

Need I say more?

One other thing I will say about this mod is that it sounds amazing. The music is loud, dramatic and it really adds a lot of atmosphere to the game. I’m guessing that some of the music was taken from the 2001 trailer and possibly from the 2011 version of “Duke Nukem Forever” too – and it works really well. In addition to this, almost all of the dialogue from the 2001 trailer is in the game too.

Whilst “DNF 2013” doesn’t quite have the same amount of humour as I’ve seen in what I’ve played of the 2011 version of “Duke Nukem Forever”, the creators of this mod have given Duke a few more lines of dialogue from other “Duke Nukem” games and these add some humour and variety to the game. My favourite line is probably when Duke starts singing part of the “Team America: World Police” theme in the Hoover Dam level.

Oh, be sure to download the three-level “DLC” pack on the ModDB page for this mod too. Although I’m not going to be looking at it in this review, it’s certainly worth playing just for the second level alone (it’s this amazingly badass motorbike-based level which has to be seen to be believed!)

All in all, “Duke Nukem Forever 2013” is an incredibly fun mod which gives us an interesting glimpse into what could have been. Yes, it’s fairly short and it could have possibly done with more dialogue and slightly more humour, but it’s still extremely fun, enjoyably challenging and one of the most visually spectacular “Build” engine games that I’ve ever seen.

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

Review: “Reelism X2.1: Reelism And Beyond” (Mod For “Doom 2″/”GZDoom”)

Yes, THIS is why I haven't reviewed the next "Song Of Ice And Fire" book yet.

Yes, THIS is why I haven’t reviewed the next “Song Of Ice And Fire” book yet.

As any discerning 1990s-obsessed retro gamer will know, there are “Doom” mods and then there are “Doom” mods! “Reelism X2.1: Reelism And Beyond” falls into the latter category. As “Doom” mods go, I have never seen one quite this inventive, quite this fun and quite this hilarious before.

Before I begin, I should point out that in order to play “Reelism X2.1”, you will need both a full copy of “Doom 2” (since you will need to use “Doom2.wad”) and you will need a copy of the “GZDoom” source port too.

Once you’ve downloaded “Reelism X2.1” from here, you need to take the “.pk7” file and drag-and-drop it on top of your “GZDoom” icon, then the program should start. Select “Doom 2” from the list of WADs on the screen and you’re ready to begin….

So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at “Reelism X2.1”:

Screenshot_Doom_20140526_034425

About the best way to describe “Reelism X2.1” is that it’s like a souped-up combination of both the “survival” and “mutation” modes in “Left4Dead 2”. Basically, you choose one of several arena-like levels to play in and the goal is to survive for five minutes and then defeat the level boss. Sounds simple? Well, there’s more…..

Every minute, three slot machine wheels at the bottom of the screen will start rolling. And, when they stop, you will be given three randomly-selected gameplay modifiers that will last for the next minute. Usually one of these determines which types of enemies you will be fighting, one determines which types of weapons will spawn and one is something altogether more random……

Yay! "Sector Effectors"! Ten nerd points if you know what this refers to...

Yay! “Sector Effectors”! Ten nerd points if you know what this refers to…

And this is where the game really comes alive. There are something like forty-eight different modifiers and, although I’ve probably only seen about half of them so far, they are amazing. And, if you’re a geeky fan of the 1990s, then you will feel more than at home here….

“Duke Nukum” item boxes? Check. “Heretic”/”Hexen” weapons? Check. “Wolfenstein 3D” enemies and weapons? Check. “Duke Nukem 3D” weapons? Check. Rocket launchers from “Rise Of The Triad”? Check. The railgun from “Quake II”? Check. I’m sure you get the idea, this mod is crammed with 90s gaming nostalgia!

Yay! Childhood nostalgia!

Yay! Childhood nostalgia!

Then there are the gameplay modifiers and some of these are absolutely hilarious! They include things like the “Dog Mode” from “Rise Of The Triad”, the level suddenly being filled with bronies, a giant tank that you can drive around and “resolutionary touchscreen gaming”….

See? Who would want to use one of those dowdy old-fashioned keyboards with modern controls like THIS?

See? Who would want to use one of those dowdy old-fashioned keyboards with modern controls like THIS?

Of course, there are also modifiers that make gameplay a lot more difficult too. These include everything from “famine mode” (no weapons or health spawn for a whole minute) to the game spawning a giant demon known simply as “The Jerk”. And, no, I haven’t been able to take any screenshots of him – as soon as you even see him, it’s too late!

The level design in “Reelism X2.1” is astonishingly good too and most of the arena levels are fairly innovative. They include settings like a joyful world made out of candy, a busy freeway (and you can end up being hit by cars if you aren’t careful), a JRPG village, the obligatory “hell” level, Dracula’s castle and a futuristic 1980s cyberpunk wireframe world.

There are gumdrops, lollipops and ... zombies.

There are gumdrops, lollipops and … zombies.

In addition to this, there are absolutely loads of easter eggs, jokes and other random things. My favourite is probably the “Jill Of The Jungle” (ten nerd points if you actually remember playing this game in the 90s!) poster which will sometimes randomly appear on the “Municipal Transpo” level:

Screenshot_Doom_20140526_072312

Or possibly this brilliant parody of the censored version of “Wolfenstein 3D”:

Screenshot_Doom_20140526_072544

The gameplay is – as you would expect – fast, frenetic and fiendishly difficult. In fact, I’ve only been able to complete one level of “Reelism X2.1” and that was only because I found a hiding place which the level boss (“The World’s Boringest Ghost”) couldn’t reach.

Plus, since every round only lasts about 5-8 minutes (depending on how long it takes you to defeat the boss), this is the closest thing to a “casual” version of “Doom” that I’ve ever found. Even so, don’t be surprised if you decide to play this game “for just ten minutes” and then find yourself still playing it an hour later.

All in all, if you are a fan of the 1990s or even just like your FPS games to have a sense of humour, then downloading this mod is almost compulsory. It’s nostalgic, it’s challenging, it’s hilarious and – most importantly- it is Fun. With a capital “F”.

If I had to give “Reelism X2.1” a rating out of five, then it would get a six. Play it!