= = = Staging Area = = =
Not long ago, I reviewed Brutal Doom. I am still playing it – well, I was playing it until October 30th, that is. Sergeant_Mark_IV has delivered another stellar mod for we Doom fanatics! On October 30th, he finally released a playable version for his newest project, Brutal Doom 64.
Stage 1 – Staging Area
= = = The Terraformer = = =
Originally titled, “The Absolution”, Doom 64 was developed by Midway Games, while under the supervision of id Software. The title was changed to Doom 64 in order to garner brand recognition. Doom 64 is notable for its many changes; maintaining its core elements of gameplay, while adding to the experience from its previous pc iterations including darker corridors, new art styles, and more frequent and blatant use of satanic imagery.
Unfortunately, due to software limitations, as well as hectic development schedules, Doom 64 had some of its demons removed, as well as any multiplayer functions (albeit, I don’t care about multiplayer when it comes to Doom).
Sergeant_Mark_IV has made it a goal and passion of his to pursue modding Doom, as well as other games. He takes the core games, and adds newer controls and even more gore to the original titles, and I will unabashedly admit that I am a total fan.
= = = Tech Center = = =
I will write here and now that I have no fathom of the inner workings of how to mod these games, other than DoomBuilder, which is awesome for making custom levels. Sergeant_Mark_IV seems to have found his stride, however, and his touches to the Doom games are a wonderful breath of nostalgic invigoration. If you want to know more about Brutal Doom, check my review of it from a few months ago. For now, I’m going to ramble on about Brutal Doom 64, and how you really should play this sadly oft-overlooked game.
The hellish vistas are quite a spectacle.
= = = Terror Core = = =
Doom 64 is a direct sequel to Doom II, and the general story is that after the events of Doom II, with the earth cleared of the demonic invasion, the earth launched massive radiation at the Phobos and Deimos bases in order to eliminate the remaining demons. During this attack, communications went down with Earth, and something was able to emerge from Hell and resurrect the demons. Due to the radiation bombardment, however, the demons were mutated, and became stronger. A team of marines was sent to quell the growing demon army, but all were killed… except you.
= = = Dark Entries = = =
It has been years since I played Doom 64, so jumping back into this game was exciting. While playing, I could not help but notice so many elements that would become fully implemented in later Doom games, and even Quake. Whereas the original Doom games were bright and vibrant, Doom 64 is claustrophobic and oppressive – a very real harbinger for Doom 3. The lighting is intentionally low – I remember a help tip when you boot the N64 cartridge, how the game was intentionally created to be dark and the brightness is set low. Unlike Doom 3, there is no flashlight, it’s just you, and the low, ominous ambient lighting, again, giving this game a very cold, oppressive tone.
This is a scene from Stage 1 – Staging Area
Perhaps the most obvious change in Doom 64 are the graphics, and mainly the character models. Demons and other monsters are redesigned, yet retain enough familiarity that you know what they are upon seeing them. The textures and artwork of the creatures evoke an almost claymation feel to them, yet never once did I feel any portion of this game to be silly or comical – far from it.
This is just a taste of the moribund scenery in Hell
= = = Dark Citadel = = =
As I mentioned earlier, the game is dark, and the architecture of the tight corridors and meandering halls exude cold, dreary techno-industrial isolation and oppressiveness – and that’s just the moon base… wait until you go to Hell. Yes, this is a Doom game, and you will find yourself in Hell, wherein the architecture becomes more nefarious. As a fan of macabre and otherwise dreary architecture, I was impressed with the textures and designs in the Hell stages. Pentacles, pentagrams, corpses displayed in grotesque effigy, I spent my first playthrough admiring the scenery just as much as actually playing the run-and-gun style which Doom is known for.
Along with the change in graphical style and presentation, the music was from a different composer. Aubrey Hodges (the soundtrack is available on BandCamp here) composed a very organic, textured dark ambient score to accompany this game. Where Doom and Doom II are remembered for their “synthy” guitar stylings and thrash metal phrasings, Doom 64 employs more atmospheric sounds, whose ethereal drones and intonations only add to the overall feel. The scores are stellar and help marry the player’s mind with the action (or lack thereof).
Viscera is the coin of the realm, and Brutal Doom 64 pays gladly.
= = = Playground = = =
Run-and-gun you will participate in. The greatest boon to this version of Doom 64 is the inclusion of a proper player controller (WASD and mouse). I am by no means trying to come across as a snob, but the controls on the N64 have not aged gracefully with this game. Also of note is the original Doom 64 had no jump, and no “free look” mechanic; Brutal Doom 64 gives the player that added bonus, and believe me, this game requires it. The added gore is also a nice touch. The colloquial “rocket strafe” was used several times during my first playthrough – where you strafe in a circular pattern, tracing the air with rockets, timing the angle and trajectory to pelt the demons while avoiding their constant barrages of artillery.
This game is tough. You encounter the usual zombie grunt bullet catchers, but there are now invisible imps (Spectre Imps) as well as the invisible Pinky demons. It is also with frequent regularity that Cacodemons and Barons of Hell spawn, sometimes right behind you; this is no quaint stroll through the City of Dis Parks and Recreation attraction. Unfortunately, the enemies do not have hitboxes, so headshots and precision attacks do not count; this is a simple matter of attrition: hit them with a bigger gun than what they launch at you.
Torches and eldritch architecture replace the cold steel of the space station when you get to Hell.
= = = Breakdown = = =
My biggest grievances with this game are the confusing stage layouts. Nearly every stage involved me backtracking the entire level – several times – just to locate some inconspicuous switch that I had missed in the really dark rooms. I wish the developers had thought of the flashlight mechanic at the time this game was being made, or maybe some way to make the stages stand out in a fashion to help me get a bearing on my location; use your map. Frequently. However, providing that you do not get too frustrated, you can find your way through the stages.
A very ominous corridor in Hell
I am not going to focus on the negatives, though. This game is a wonderful breath of fresh air, and the fact that it is offered freely negates any hardcore criticism. In Brutal Doom 64, you have 32 stages of awesome, horror-infused gunplay and sci fi horror aesthetics. Just play it. Trust me.
[COMMENTS ON UPDATED bd64]
As of this writing, BD64 has an update which has dramatically fixed the lighting, as well as adding hitboxes to the lower-tiered monsters (headshots matter, now). I am now going back through the game for myriad reasons, most of them being that I love Doom, and these Brutal mods are basically like giving me a whole new Doom game!
You can get Brutal Doom 64 on the Mod DB page here: http://www.moddb.com/mods/brutal-doom-64
While Sergeant_Mark_IV does not charge for his mods, he does have a Patreon, as well as accepts donations. I would encourage you to consider supporting him. I have – and I know you have as well – spent far more money on worse games. Should you wish to donate to the guy, here is the link: https://www.patreon.com/sgtmarkiv