Mini Review: “Resident Evil: Code Name Hunk [Demo 1.2]” (TC/ Mod For “Doom II”/”Final Doom”/ “GZDoom”)

2016 Artwork Code Name Hunk 1.2 mini review sketch

Although I looked at a previous version of this demo in January, I was contacted about a month ago by the maker of this mod who gave me a public link to the next version of the demo (it’s below the Youtube video, although the site that the demo is hosted on downloads the demo in a rather unusual way, which apparently varies depending on your browser).

For this mini review, I’ll only be looking at the most prominent piece of new content (the Krauser campaign) in this mod. If you want to see a review of the other parts of this mod, then check out my review of version 1.1.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Resident Evil: Code Name Hunk [Demo 1.2]”:

Screenshot_Doom_20160224_161219

If you haven’t played “Code Name Hunk” before, it’s a very extensive “Doom II” mod (using the “GZDoom” source port) in the style of one of the modern “Resident Evil” games.

Although I’ve only played the really old “Resident Evil” games, this mod seems to be a reasonably accurate recreation of what I’ve seen of the modern games (albeit with retro “Doom”/ “Resident Evil 2”-style graphics 🙂 ).

However, I should probably mention that you’ll have to configure the controls yourself before you start playing. Although this demo comes with a copy of “GZDoom” (you’ll obviously need to supply your own “Doom II” or “Final Doom” IWAD though), all of the controls in it are set to the default controls (and there are no default key bindings for many of the essential actions in this mod). So, be sure to take a look at the options menu before you start the game.

The most visible change in version 1.2 of this demo is the fact that there is a new playable character (called Krauser) available. But, rather than just being another character, he also has his own set of levels – the first of which is included in this demo.

Yay! Multiple protagonists :)

Yay! Multiple protagonists 🙂

Like with the Hunk campaign, Krauser’s campaign begins with an introductory FMV sequence (including both newly-animated footage and footage from one of the modern “Resident Evil” games) that explains some of the character’s backstory.

Krauser is a mercenary who has been hired by Albert Wesker to spy on Hunk (as such, the events of Krauser’s campaign take place slightly later than the events of Hunk’s campaign).

On his way to the town, Krauser is in the mood for a fight, so he jumps out of the helicopter into the zombie-filled forest surrounding the town. Although the pilot is annoyed by this, Wesker is merely amused.

*sigh* The pilot is such a killjoy. It was only a small parachute-free jump..

*sigh* The pilot is such a killjoy. It was only a small parachute-free jump..

Oh, Wesker!

Oh, Wesker!

One of the first things I will say is that there are some significant gameplay differences in Krauser’s campaign. Whilst Hunk’s campaign is more like a traditional “Resident Evil” game, Krauser’s campaign is a lot more action-based and it only features a very small amount of puzzle-solving.

Although Krauser gets more weapons than Hunk, this is balanced out by a higher difficulty level. In other words, there are lots more monsters to fight – not to mention that ammo and health can get fairly scarce sometimes.

This looks really cool and it will destroy anything with a single strike, but it takes quite a while to recharge.

This looks really cool and it will destroy anything with a single strike, but it takes quite a while to recharge.

Even on “normal” difficulty, this mod is surprisingly challenging. In other words, expect to encounter far more hunters, zombie dogs and lickers than in Hunk’s campaign. In addition to this, there is a type of mini-boss (from “Resident Evil 2”) that appears regularly about halfway through the demo level. These creatures can only be harmed with Krauser’s mutant arm and you’ll run into at least six of them within a relatively short amount of time.

However, although the monsters are fiendishly difficult, it’s important to remember that they cannot climb even the smallest incline or leave the area they spawn in. So, if you encounter a hunter or one of the mini bosses, just run back until you find a set of steps or a doorway of some kind. Once there, you can either fight them in complete safety, or just run away.

It may look fearsome, but as long as you stay at the top of this small ledge, you can just sit back and wait for Krauser's mutant arm to recharge in total safety.

It may look fearsome, but as long as you stay at the top of this small ledge, you can just sit back and wait for Krauser’s mutant arm to recharge in total safety.

However, even on “normal” difficulty, I had to restart the final third of the level three times before I was finally able to complete it.

Unless you conserve literally all of your ammunition during the final third of the level (which is similar to parts of Hunk’s campaign) and search carefully for more ammo at the beginning of the level, then you won’t have enough to defeat the final boss. I understand that this is meant to be challenging, but I would have appreciated slightly more ammo in this part of the level.

Yes, I even had to resort to using the bow and arrow... and, by the end of the battle, I only had three arrows left...

Yes, I even had to resort to using the bow and arrow… and, by the end of the battle, I only had three arrows left…

In terms of the level design, the demo’s level is divided into three distinct segments. After you’ve completed one part of the level, you’ll get an in-game cutscene and then the next part of the level will begin.

The large sprawling outdoor area in the first third of the level wasn’t quite as confusing as I had feared when I saw the preview video for this version of the demo on Youtube a while back. In addition to this, it also features some creepy dark tunnels that help to add some variety to the level. Plus, since this is still “Doom”, you can just press “tab” to bring up the level map – which can come in handy if you get lost:

 Seriously, why don't more modern games have something like this?

Seriously, why don’t more modern games have something like this?

The second third of the level is a lot more linear, where you explore a series of corridors and open a series of gates by defeating several mini-bosses. Although there are a couple of parts where you can choose to take one of two possible routes, for the most part you will have to explore the whole level.

The gates can only be opened by defeating the mini-bosses.

The gates can only be opened by defeating the mini-bosses.

The third part of the level is a drastically shortened version of Hunk’s campaign, where you have to explore a restaurant and then fight the final boss. Again, make sure to conserve literally all of your ammo during this part of the level (eg: use the knife when fighting the zombies in the restaurant) because you’ll need it for the boss battle.

In terms of the graphics and sound design, they’re as good as always. The monsters actually look 3D, and Krauser is well-animated enough that you’ll soon forget that he’s just a 2D sprite. Likewise, the sounds, music and voice acting are all fairly decent too.

All in all, this is pretty cool. Even though I only played the new Krauser level this time round, it’s surprisingly different from the Hunk level. Yes, the final boss battle borders on being unfair but, apart from this, there’s lots of cool stuff here. The new weapons all work fairly well and the first level of the Krauser campaign contains a good variety of settings (even if it’s easy to get lost during the earlier parts of the level). It’s a good addition to a great mod.

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

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Review: “Return Of The Triad” ( Standalone WAD/TC For “Doom II”/”Final Doom”)

2015 Artwork Return Of The Triad WAD review sketch

Although I played “Rise Of The Triad” a couple of times when I was a kid, it was one of those glorious 1990s sprite-based FPS games that I unfortunately never really played properly.

At one point in my late teens or early twenties, I bought a budget CD copy of “Rise Of The Triad” – only to find that it was too old to run on my computer (this was, unfortunately, before I really understood what source ports were).

The day before I wrote this review, I went searching for my old copy of ROTT – only to remember that I’d given it away to a charity shop during a clearout quite a while ago. So, I’ll probably have to re-buy this game on GoG soon. In fact, expect a review of the original game sometime within the next week.

Anyway, whilst I was forlornly looking at a page of source ports for ROTT, I spotted a link to an interesting project called “Return Of The Triad“.

“Return Of The Triad” is a standalone game in the style of “Rise Of The Triad” that relies on the ever-versatile open source goodness of the “Doom” engine. Although the game launches from a standalone executable, it requires a copy of the “ZDoom” source port to run.

The game’s data file is also compatible with “GZDoom” and I eventually ended up using this after my anti-virus program flashed an ominous-looking warning on the screen when I tried to use the standalone executable for the second time.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Return Of The Triad”:

Oooh, it's even got a RSAC advisory. Does anyone remember those?

Oooh, it’s even got a RSAC advisory. Does anyone remember those?

“Return Of The Triad” contains nine new levels, which are split into two episodes (at the time of writing this review, I’m on the eighth level). The first episode is a short two-level episode that originally served as a demo for the project and the second episode contains seven (slightly more difficult) levels.

One of the first things I will say about “Return Of The Triad” is that it is surprisingly close to what I can remember of the original game.

You can choose between five different characters (although all of the taunts seem to be the same, regardless of which character you choose) and the game seems to contain many of the graphics, weapons, enemies, sounds, features and items from the original game.

The only major gameplay differences I noticed were that you can carry more weapons and that, when you collect 100 ankhs, the game gives you a “God Mode” power-up instead of an extra life:

So, yes, there's actually a GOOD reason for collecting those random ankh things.

So, yes, there’s actually a GOOD reason for collecting those random ankh things.

If you launch the game from the standalone executable, then it takes a rather traditionalist “Doom”-style approach to the game’s controls. In other words, jumping (apart from jump pads) and vertical aiming are disabled by default. However, since it relies on “ZDoom”, these things can easily be enabled if you want to use them.

As for the new levels, they’re really well-designed. Like with the original game, each one of the new levels that I’ve played is giant, sprawling and maze-like. Plus, like all good 1990s FPS games, you’ll spend quite a while searching for keys and switches too. So, using the Doom engine’s map feature is an absolute necessity.

If you launch the game from it’s standalone executable, you’ll even get a custom map screen – but, although this looks really cool, it isn’t quite as useful as the simpler default “GZDoom” map screen.

 It looks fancy, but the gloomy textures can be kind of a distraction when you're searching for a specific door...

It looks fancy, but the gloomy textures can be kind of a distraction when you’re searching for a specific door…

The levels themselves contain a surprisingly wide variety of environments, which prevent the game from becoming visually monotonous and help to keep it fun:

Like this really cool misty temple...

Like this really cool misty temple…

... or this gloomy industrial area.

… or this gloomy industrial area.

As for the gameplay, even on medium difficulty, “Return of The Triad” is surprisingly challenging.

Although you are given an infinite ammo pistol at the start of the game, this isn’t the kind of borderline-cheating thing that you would find in modern games. This is mainly because the game has a habit of confronting you with large groups of enemies that have an almost Ned Kelly-like level of bullet resistance.

Even when you find another pistol,  tougher enemies like these monks still require more than 20 pistol shots. "Ordinary" enemies tend to require about 8-12 pistol shots.... and you very rarely encounter just ONE of them at a time...

Even when you find another pistol, tougher enemies like these monks still require more than 20 pistol shots. “Ordinary” enemies tend to require about 8-12 pistol shots…. and you very rarely encounter just ONE of them at a time…

Although you can also find an infinite ammo machine gun in the first episode, this seems to be curiously absent in what I’ve played of the second episode – which makes this episode about ten times more challenging than the first episode.

It might be that I just missed it when I was playing (since some of the screenshots on the “Return Of The Triad” site show the main character using the machine gun in the second episode), but if it’s in there, then it’s certainly well-hidden.

Of course, “Rise Of The Triad” is most famous for it’s gloriously demented array of explosive weapons and they’re all here in “Return Of The Triad”. However, because this game is running on the “Doom” engine, you can now carry several explosive weapons at a time. And, you’ll need them.

And, yes, the screen will still be filled with "ludicrous gibs" when you do something like this in "Return Of The Triad".

And, yes, the screen will still be filled with “ludicrous gibs” when you do something like this in “Return Of The Triad”.

All in all, I really enjoyed what I’ve played of “Return Of The Triad”. It’s enjoyably challenging mindless fun, and the developers of this WAD have created a great addition to this classic game using the “Doom” engine.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a solid five.

Review: “ZBlood” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

2015 Artwork ZBlood review sketch

Out of the many classic games made using 3D Realms’ “Build” engine, one of my favourites is a game called “Blood“. Surprisingly, I’d never actually played this game in full until earlier this year.

Although I played the “Blood” shareware last year, the thing that finally persuaded me to buy a copy of the full version of “Blood” on GoG was a “Doom” WAD called “ZBlood“.

It’s a fan-made attempt at making a partial version of “Blood” that will run on the “Doom” engine (my favourite FPS game engine of all time).

I should probably point out that I played this WAD using the “GZ Doom” source port. Although, from the title, it’s pretty clear that it will probably work with “ZDoom” too. Also, at the time of writing this review, I’m about halfway through this WAD – so it will only reflect my impressions of the game so far.

That said, let’s take a quick look at “ZBlood”.

Screenshot_Doom_20150206_062312

So, is “ZBlood” a good adaptation of “Blood”?

My answer would probably have to be “sort of”. This WAD contains a mixture of random levels from the original “Blood” and most of these levels are re-created fairly accurately. Seriously, I cannot fault the levels in this WAD.

But, although it gets this right – there are several things that it doesn’t quite get right. Some of these things might be due to the limitations of the “Doom” engine, but they are worth mentioning nonetheless.

One of the first things is that, some of the times when I played this WAD, some of the “Blood” enemies were tiny. This may just be an error with the source port, but the cultists and the zombies were often about half the height that they should be.

Ha! It's like that scene from "Army Of Darkness"!

Ha! It’s like that scene from “Army Of Darkness”!

Apart from this, a couple of the enemies seem relatively accurate to their original versions. And, yes, there is nothing more amusing than battling hordes of robed cultists who are shouting high-pitched phrases at you in their arcane language.

Crudox Cruo!

Crudox Cruo!

But, because “ZBlood” is based on the “Doom” engine, there have had to be some changes. In other words, many of the enemies behave differently to how you would expect – for example, the cerberus bosses now act like the mancubi from “Doom II” and the bosses from the “Plasma Pak” now act like the arch viles from “Doom II”.

If you’ve been playing a lot of “Blood” recently, these changes can be quite disconcerting. But, even so, you’ll probably get used to them fairly quickly.

Another dramatic change in “ZBlood” is with the weapons. Although the game features some of the “Blood” weapons (the napalm launcher, voodoo doll and tesla cannon are missing though), they behave in subtly different ways than you would expect.

Although the flare gun is still the gun that we all know and love, it’s extremely powerful secondary fire only takes up two units of ammunition per shot (eg: about a quarter of what it takes in the original game) – but, given the extreme difficulty of “Build engine” games, I like to think of this highly unbalanced weapon as a way of levelling the playing field slightly.

Feuer Frei!

Feuer Frei!

However, there were a few problems that I noticed with the weapons in “ZBlood”. For starters, the tommygun doesn’t have it’s “spray and pray” secondary fire and both the shotgun and aerosol can can’t always be selected properly.

Literally, the only way that I was sometimes able to get the game to let me use the aerosol can was to use up all of the tommygun’s ammunition – causing the game to automatically cycle to the aerosol can.

It should be obvious, but don't try this at home!

It should be obvious, but don’t try this at home!

Trying to select the shotgun was almost impossible though – literally, I had it when I first picked it up and it also appeared at random a couple of times. But, if you hit the “3” button, then nothing really happens. So, yes, you can’t really use one of the main weapons in the game – although this could be due to the source port that I’m using or something like that.

Likewise, the dynamite also lacks both it’s secondary fire and the ability to decide how far you want to throw it. If you’ve played the original “Blood”, then you’ll know how important these two things are – so, it was kind of a shame to see that this was missing from “ZBlood”.

On the plus side, “Zblood” introduces a new weapon – Caleb can now wield a revolver. This behaves pretty much like the basic pistol from “Doom”, but it sounds and looks a lot cooler:

Yes, Caleb actually has a new gun in "Zblood". WHY wasn't this in the original "Blood"?

Yes, Caleb actually has a new gun in “Zblood”. WHY wasn’t this in the original “Blood”?

The only other thing that “ZBlood” seems to be lacking is most of Caleb’s dialogue. Yes, he says the occasional one-liner, but there aren’t quite as many as there are in “Blood”. Still, the fact that they managed to include any of them in a “Doom”-engine game is quite impressive.

On the plus side, because “ZBlood” can be played using modern source ports for “Doom”, it means that you can use far more responsive modern controls that you can in the original “Blood”. Because it uses modern source ports, “ZBlood” also has slightly better graphics (eg: ambient lighting etc…) than the original “Blood” does. Seriously why hasn’t Monolith released the source code for “Blood”?

All in all, this is a rather fun attempt at re-creating “Blood” using an older game engine. Yes, it’s an imperfect adaptation in many ways, but it’s something that both “Doom” fans and “Blood” fans will probably enjoy nonetheless. It certainly isn’t as good as the real thing, but it’s still fun nonetheless.

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

Review: “Quakedoom” (WAD For “Doom 2″/”GZDoom”)

2014 Artwork Quakedoom review sketch

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any “Doom” WADs, so I thought that I’d take a look at one that I discovered a few weeks ago called “Quakedoom“. I played this WAD using the “GZDoom” source port, although it’ll probably work with other modern source ports too.

Screenshot_Doom_20140812_002333

As the name suggests, “Quakedoom” is a “Doom II” WAD featuring graphics and sounds from ID Software’s “Quake” games (which were, in many ways, the spiritual successor to ID’s “Doom” games). In addition to this, “Quakedoom” also features a few new levels too – but more on that later.

The first thing I will say about this WAD is that it’s kind of a strange combination of the first two “Quake” games and it features enemies, background graphics, a couple of weapons and one level from the original “Quake”.

Yay! Nostalgia :)

Yay! Nostalgia 🙂

But, at the same time, the bulk of the weapons, some of the background graphics and quite a few of the enemies have also been taken from “Quake II” too.

Yay! More nostalgia :)

Yay! More nostalgia 🙂

Although these two games are about as different as you can imagine – the first is a Lovecraftian horror FPS game and the second is a dystopic sci-fi/horror FPS game – the elements from both games (and a few things from “Doom II” too) come together surprisingly well in this WAD.

But, on balance, the design in “Quakedoom” leans a lot more towards the sci-fi elements of these games and this WAD most closely resembles “Quake II”.

As for the enemies, the sprite and sound replacements are surprisingly good – and many of the enemies act and sound quite similar to their counterparts in the “Quake” games.

Some of these replacements are absolutely genius – for example, the pink “demon” enemies from “Doom” have been replaced by the “fiend” enemies from “Quake”:

...Who are just as ...er.. Fiendish as ever!

…Who are just as …er.. Fiendish as ever!

However, since the “zombie” enemies from “Quake” replace the imps from “Doom II”, they are significantly weaker and much less resilient than they were in “Quake”.

Yes, THESE zombies won't just get up again after you shoot them....

Yes, THESE zombies won’t just get up again after you shoot them….

The only real exception to these changes are the “arachnotron” enemies, whose sprites and sounds remain completely unchanged from the ones in “Doom II” – but, since you only encounter a few of them in this WAD, this isn’t a huge issue.

As for the levels in this WAD, they’re kind of a mixed bag. One of the first things I will say is that this WAD seems slightly unfinished and, after level thirteen, you’ll encounter nothing but the standard “Doom II” levels.

Not only that, it is also impossible to progress past both levels twelve and thirteen without using cheats, for different reasons:

The transporter at the end of level twelve doesn't work.....

The transporter at the end of level twelve doesn’t work…..

...and there's no red door anywhere in level thirteen.

…and there’s no red door anywhere in level thirteen.

But, this aside, the rest of the levels are surprisingly good – although a couple of them are just standard “Doom”/”Doom II” levels, most of them are new and they are reasonably well-designed.

Yes, they won’t provide too much of a challenge to a seasoned “Doom” player, but they’re far from easy either – the difficulty curve in this WAD is reasonably fair and the levels get gradually more challenging as the WAD progresses.

The best level design in “Quakedoom” can be found in a wonderfully atmospheric gothic hall that you will encounter about halfway through the WAD, if I remember rightly.

Although it’s only a small part of the level (and parts of it are clearly inspired by “Hexen”), it looks absolutely amazing and I wish that it had appeared more often in this WAD.

Seriously, more WADs need settings like THIS! :)

Seriously, more WADs need settings like THIS! 🙂

Another interesting thing about “Quakedoom” is that it was obviously designed by a Metallica fan – since there are various Metallica album covers scattered throughout the game:

...Either that, or it's one of the worst cases of product placement I've ever seen in a game LOL!

…Either that, or it’s one of the worst cases of product placement I’ve ever seen in a game LOL!

Whilst this is kind of cool, and whilst “Doom” is probably the most metal game ever to be created (hell, the famous “E1M1” music was inspired by the title track from Judas Priest’s best album), these Metallica posters come across as slightly random and they also detract slightly from the atmosphere of the game too.

Yes, it would have been cool if just one of them had been included as an easter egg, but I noticed at least twelve of them in prominent positions throughout the WAD.

All in all, despite the faults that I’ve mentioned, “Quakedoom” is still an extremely entertaining WAD that is reasonably faithful to the source material. If you’re an experienced “Doom” player, you can probably complete it in an hour or two – but you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

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