This is a bit of a long one, in fact i’m surprised it is this long. I guess i had a lot to say on the topic.
The trailer above for Brutal Doom V20 came out a bit ago, and other than it looks awesome i figure i might take the time and look at some of the criticisms levelled at BD. Which also by and large reflects on the state of 1st person shooters and how i had almost completely lost interest in the genre until i powered up BD v19 and how it made me believe again.
For starters i was genuinely shocked that there were naysayers to BD to begin with, people saying that it wasn’t actually DOOM anymore, or that it made it like Call of Duty, or that the gore levels were just over the top. Everybody is entitled to an opinion but I’m gonna take a look at some of these complaints and see if they hold water for me at least.
ITS LIKE CALL OF DUTY
This point of contention is the biggest one that shows how much shooters have changed in the past 15 or so years (i will say Halo: Combat Evolved was where i noticed a distinct shift to the modern formula but i’m sure it was earlier, i will let more interested people argue that), and really not for the best. Totalbiscuit has done a number of videos ranting and raving about how shooters are shit nowadays, and while i’m not as angry or bitter about things i’m certainly as disenfranchised with them as he is. It had been years since i popped in Killzone 2, or Halo, or how any Call of Duty Battlefront/Field failed to get me even remotely excited. Which is odd considering there was a time where just about the only game i played were FPS’s.
So how does BD make Doom more like Call of Duty according to the various complaints i have read online? They are as follows: Iron Sights, use of cover, and use of reloading. Yes these are elements in BD and yes they are shared with CoD, but they do not by even the slightest margins make Brutal Doom even remotely similar to Modern Warfare and its ilk.
Use of Iron Sights
I can see how this would throw a wrench into traditional Doom game play. Sniping or even taking time to aim is just not what you do in Doom. Which is precisely why its more or less useless in Brutal Doom. When you have 50 Zombies and Imps shooting at you all at once switching to iron sights is a good way to get killed really quickly, as it slows you down to a crawl and limits your field of vision. Mobility is key in Doom and that’s no different in BD, in fact given the increase in the amount of enemies over all it makes good foot work all the more important.
Its also not like iron sights are a part of every weapon either they are on (at least my version) the machine gun, the shotgun, and the rail gun respectively. The machine gun and shotgun function just fine when firing from the hip, since as far as i can tell switching to iron sights doesn’t make aiming any easier (i barely use it so i can’t tell). As for the rail gun, i find it almost useless as i really don’t find an opportunity to snipe as most of the shooting is an in your face affair, and as a result i never use it.
Use of Cover
This one had me scratching my head as there is no cover system in BD. There are no areas filled with chest high walls that turn game play into monotonous shooting galleries, where you and your enemies take pot shots at each other across large rooms (BORING). So what is the cover that people are complaining about? Is it hiding behind corners and peeking out to shoot at encroaching enemies as they come closer, in an attempt to preserve your health and even the odds before you go in guns blazing? It would have to be that as that is what cover is for in the first place, which is a bizarre point as that’s what i did in the original Doom when my health was low in the first place.
In fact, the game can be played in this cautious manner or in the traditional Ramboesque way of running into a room and shooting everything that moves. In fact that highlights why earlier shooters were better from a purely game play sense as it didn’t limit options (more on this in a bit). On higher difficulties the Rambo way of handling the game is indeed a death wish in some areas, but to that i say lower the difficulty if that allows you to play the way you want (it’s there for a reason).
Use of Reloading
The original Doom’s shooting mechanics had you just shooting until you ran out of bullets this increased pacing and set it apart from modern day shooters. I can agree with that objection; which is exactly the reason you can turn it off in BD’s options for a purer Doom experience. Also reloading is not only a game play mechanic that is exclusive to modern shooters as Duke Nukem 3d, Golden Eye, and Shadow Warrior had reloading mechanics (whether those can be considered “old school” shooters i will leave to more interested parties to debate about).
Personally i like reloading in my shooters. Particularly, i like reloading in Brutal Doom as it increases the tension and frenetic pace of the game to me. But i will say that is a matter of personal taste at that point.
SO HOW ISN’T THIS LIKE CALL OF DUTY?
I find this is the most appropriate question to ask, as this brings up a host of reasons that reveal to me why i gave up on FPS games altogether.
Use More than 2 Guns
The fact that you are limited to using 2 or so weapons in the lions share of shooters is frankly horse shit. When did this become a thing? Why did this become a thing? Why did it become acceptable to limit the player’s choices and therefore restricting game play? Halo gets a lot of flak for a number a reasons, but the reason why i dislike it the most is that it made 2 weapon game play the standard for shooters.
I was bummed out when i first played Halo: Combat Evolved and found that i could only carry 2 guns, but i still managed to have a lot of fun with it. However by the time i got to Killzone 2 it just reached a point of ridiculousness. I by and large played that game with one weapon: the Helgast Assault Rifle. I was more or less forced to do that as that was the only ammo that was consistent throughout the game. I liked other weapons like the shotgun and submachine gun, but ammo ran out for them and i was forced to switch back to the rifle as i was unable to hold onto them for later (either that or go through the game with my dinky pistol).
In fact Killzone 2 was basically a 1 weapon game as the other slots were filled with grenades, a pistol, and a knife. I had to make the decisions to either ditch by current weapon for one that the game was hinting at i would need (like the sniper rifle or submachine gun), but i couldn’t hold onto and use the weapon i wanted as i only had space for one weapon. It was very frustrating, and i kept asking why can’t i just hold onto my shotgun for later? I might not get it later on and its fun to use, why is the game forcing me to switch to a gun i hate using (sniper rifle) and forcing me to only carry one god damn gun in a game designed around shooting people?
Oh right it’s for “realism”. Well real life sucks, and i find games that emulate real life to suck too.
I’m gonna rag on Killzone 2 some more as it really is a poster boy of whats wrong with shooters nowadays. In that game you got the chance to use a Lightning Gun that zapped Helgast with a giant arc of plasma. That gun alone was a breath of fresh air as the level itself didn’t emphasize cover and had you run through electrocuting your enemies. It was honestly the funnest part of the game for me and i looked forward to using the weapon throughout the rest of the game. Too bad the game arbitrarily decided to take it away from me and give me the lame assault rifle instead, and to add insult to injury it never gave me a chance to use it again.
Totalbiscuit commented on this point, and frankly i agree that modern military shooter weapons are boring to their very core. All the rifles and submachine guns in those games are just Yahtzee rolls or variations of the same gun. Compare this with Brutal Doom and you can see the glaring issue, i can’t recall there being guns like the BFG and the Plasma Rifle in any shooter i have played in recent memory. Not even in sci fi material like Killzone 2 is there interesting guns except the short use of the lightning cannon. Weapons like the automatic rocket launcher, chain gun, or that weird cross thingy that shot demons in Hexen increased the mayhem and violence to cackling levels in those shooters, and sadly seem to be MIA nowadays.
You Don’t Move Like Molasses
I’m sure this isn’t Halo’s fault but the emphasis on realism and forced pacing has given rise to shooters where you move as slower than shit. Again playing through Killzone 2 was and is more frustrating and boring when i find myself holding the sprint button down in order to just get out of the rooms faster. Turgid movement makes cover necessary as you can’t get out of enemies lines of fire fast enough not to get shot which again limits game play options and shows how real life speed sucks when compared to the freedom of movement you get when you run at 60 km/h.
Cheat Codes FTW
I was devastated when i looked and couldn’t find any god mode, or all weapons, or unlimited ammo cheat codes in Halo:Combat Evolved. I mean what the hell? What’s a shooter without being able to play with the strongest weapons in the first stage? Many games are like that nowadays, no cheats for extra money or fast research in any of the Total War games for instance which makes me ask: when did cheat codes become taboo?
Cheats aren’t for everyone granted, but to me the removal of them once again limits game play, forcing you to play the game in exactly the same pace that the developers want irregardless of how many times you’ve played it at varying difficulties. It would be fun to use that lightning gun in every level of Killzone 2 to experience the game in a different way, but that just isn’t even a possibility.
As for why i like cheats personally, i’m gonna go out on a limb and say that a lot of gamers (myself included) play games as a bit of a power fantasy. I’m attracted to world domination in my RTS titles. I’m attracted to being the center of grave events in my RPG’s. I’m attracted to driving like a superstar in cars that i will never have a chance in hell of even touching in my racing games.
As for shooters specifically; i’m not a top physical specimen in terms of physical strength, agility, coordination, etc i don’t have a lot of self confidence either. But i do have a lot of anger sometimes, and its an absolutely cathartic experience to load up Brutal Doom, despite being outnumbered by bad ass zombies, imps, and machine gun toting hell spawn of all sorts it doesn’t mean shit. They’re all gonna end up splattered on the floor or the walls cause i got god mode and unlimited ammo on and they’re made of not but squishy pixels to be shaped by my rage.
No Regenerating Health
Last but not least we come to perhaps the biggest difference between old school and modern shooters. I used to love the idea of regenerating health, as i was mistaken into thinking that limited health got in the way of the fun. How wrong i was, it really increases tension and gets the adrenaline going when i’m down to the last few drops of health and my last mag in Doom or even Resistance 3.
BD IS NOT DOOM ANYMORE
You know this is right Brutal Doom isn’t Doom anymore, it’s better.
It’s better because this is how i remember Doom was like when i was playing it as a kid. I remember Doom and Doom 2 being a balls to the wall shooter, with a kick ass soundtrack and intense brutal shoot outs with the denizens of hell as the victims to my fury. Remembering these memories, i scrounged up a copy of both and loaded it in for some nostalgic fun. This is what i got:
Good. God. Does that look boring. Granted it gets more intense later on, but i would have to suffer through severely dated graphics, sounds, controls, and sheer boredom in order to get there. It’s honestly shocking and laughable these games were called murder simulators and had many people calling for boycotts and bans for their level of violence. So the games languished on my hard drive for years, until i saw a trailer for Brutal Doom.
This was the Doom i remembered from as a kid. The graphics received a minor update but still retained the classic look that i remembered as a child. The music and sound received a much needed upgrade from thundering machine guns to shredding guitars that keep the word “metal” in Doom. The violence was turned up to 11 and satisfied my liking for complete mayhem by turning the gore up so high it reaches orbit and by packing every level with so many enemies that the shoot outs become charnel house reckonings where bloody vengeance and chainsaw enemas were reaped upon all who simply got in the way.
I said it before but let me reiterate it here; Brutal Doom made me believe in first person shooters again. The first time i played i was a young kid again who was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds once more. I’m sure my neighbours would be worried at the volume of my cackling if they could hear it over the roaring machine guns and the lamentations of my victims.
Does the success of this mod rob the spot light from other good Doom mods? Sure, mods like Doom Center 2 make the game a bizarro and fun looking experience and are worthy of getting attention, however there’s a reason why this mod is so popular and i believe it’s because it gets so many things right. If for whatever reason you just can’t get into it, that’s fair enough but don’t try and tell me the original was better as even wearing nostalgia goggles so thick that they might as well be used for welding, i can never go back to regular Doom or say that someone should give it a shot. Certainly don’t try and tell me it makes Doom like Call of Duty, as you’ll never convince me.