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If you’re a Doom fan, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of or played a mod called Brutal Doom. Many people love it including myself. Others dislike it. Brutal Doom is a gameplay mod. It includes changes to weapons and enemies and adds new weapons, visual effects, and gore effects, among some other things. Doom 64 wasn’t left out and received it’s own version of Brutal Doom called Brutal Doom 64. However, it is technically a mod for Doom II. It can be played using the GZDoom and Zandronum source ports and for this review, I played through it using Zandronum. I actually played the Brutal Doom 64 v2 Patched mod which applies some fixes to the base mod and includes extra changes. I also played with the doomvisor HUD mod. Right off the bat, I can tell you that if you don’t like Brutal Doom then you’re probably not going to like Brutal Doom 64.
Since this is a mod for Doom 2, which is a PC game, you can use a keyboard and mouse which means movement should be a lot easier and feel more fluid compared to the original game which required a 64 controller. Brutal Doom 64 adds two classes to choose from – Classical and Tactical. Classical is closer to the classic gameplay. The Tactical class means you’ll move slower but your weapons do more damage. It also means several weapons must be reloaded. You’ll have to deal with recoil when firing the chaingun or plasma rifle and even take notice of the trajectory when firing the rocket launcher. Sprinting is limited for the Tactical class. Movement speed can actually be a big deal here. Being able to quickly circle strafe and dodge attacks is one of the core elements of the original gameplay but the Tactical class will make you think about each approach since you can only sprint for a limited time, especially on higher difficulties.
The existing weapons are present and while they still look the same, they do perform differently. However, the weapons do feel much more powerful. The new sound effects are incredible and help emphasize their brute force. The Super Shotgun can be fired like normal or from either barrel individually. The chainsaw now uses up ammo, or I guess fuel. New to the arsenal is an assault rifle which does look cool and functions exactly as you would imagine. The internet tells me there’s other new weapons in the mod but I didn’t find any during my playthroughs. The “give all” cheat added the Lasergun to my arsenal but I never found it in any of the levels. It is kind of disappointing the arsenal wasn’t expanded further like in the original Brutal Doom. Unfortunately, you can’t aim down the sights with any of the weapons. Just like in the original Brutal Doom, you can kick enemies that get too close.
All of the existing enemies are here and there’s a few new ones thrown in. The Hellhound which was cut before the release of the vanilla game is present and fires projectiles. I have no idea if it looks as if the developers actually intended but it does fit in nicely with the existing roster. There’s a new undead type which resembles a Marine and another that wields a chaingun. I guess he’s a Commando. Revenants are back in full force and do look pretty cool. The Spider Mastermind is also back in action. That’s what I assume this thing is, anyway. It’s either that or just a large-ass Arachnotron. I welcome the new additions and it’s great to see some of the classic foes that were absent in the original make a return.
Brutal Doom 64 re-balances the gameplay. The action is very fast-paced here. Enemies move faster and they inflict more damage, but so do you. Spectres and Nightmare Imps are harder to shoot now. Revenants fire homing missiles which will change how you approach certain encounters. The Hellhounds are a whole new danger to worry about. And the Spider Mastermind can drain your health from long range. You’ll want to utilize cover and be aware of your surroundings at all times. The gameplay is still all about knowing what weapons to use and when and dodging enemy attacks.
The readme file gives credit to Samuel “Kaiser” Villareal for Doom 64: Absolution which I believe is the megawad here. It has been superseded by Doom 64 EX, also created by Kaiser. Before EX, I believe Absolution was the most accurate version of Doom 64 you could play on PC. Although, it’s technically a Doom II overhaul. All of the Doom 64 levels or maps are here however several have seen some changes, most of which are minor but a few will be very noticeable. For example; in the second map, The Terraformer, you don’t need to wait for the blue key to teleport all over the room before you can get it. The final area of the Final Outpost map is drastically different with a Cyberdemon guarding a newly added “gateway” to Hell. There is a new intro map added in which can be skipped. It’s filled with a ton of enemies attacking you and your fellow Marines. You’re basically running through a war zone.
As much as like Brutal Doom 64, I do have some gripes with the mod. The maps in Doom 64 are designed a certain way, for specific encounters, and most of the them were not modified to accommodate the new enemy types, specifically the Revenants and Hellhounds. It never became a huge problem for me but some areas were certainly more frustrating. The new types will replace other enemies at certain spawn points and the area you’re in may not be suited for dodging an onslaught of projectiles. It can lead to some deaths that may feel cheap. You just need to pay attention. Another minor issue I have is that blood can cover switches. Despite the re-balancing, you might want to play through the mod on one of the higher difficulties because, overall, even with the new enemies, I do feel the mod makes things a bit easier. I was basically able to breeze through it. Like regular Brutal Doom, I think the challenge also depends on the megawad and this can be played with other megawads but what makes it unique is the whole Doom 64 package.
Brutal Doom 64 is quite the looker with some cool new visual effects like better looking fire and a hazy smoke effect, both of which enhance the creepy and Hellish atmosphere the game is going for. However, the mod does appear to make everything a bit brighter but you can always turn down the brightness. Blood will be dripping from walls, flies will hover over dead corpses, you can blow chunks off enemies, you can blow Revenant’s in half, and the new gore effects make each kill feel extremely satisfying. The sound effects accompanying the gunplay are incredible. Bullets ricochet, the chaingun now sounds as awesome as it looks, and even the sounds of the weapons reloading are excellent. Thunder booms, you can hear people screaming in agony, and there’s some nice squishy sounds to go along with enemies exploding and splattering. On the technical side, I didn’t encounter any issues.
I had a great time with Brutal Doom 64. I’ve always enjoyed Brutal Doom’s gameplay so it’s not really a surprise that I would like this. The fast-paced action, satisfying gunplay, gore effects, and re-balanced gameplay make for a fun and refreshing experience. However, I do wish there were more weapons to play around with and more enemy types would also be cool but I think the levels would need to be modified to accommodate the new content. Brutal Doom 64 doesn’t seem to get the same attention as its counterpart which is kind of a bummer. Granted, if you’ve played Brutal Doom then there’s not much here that you haven’t seen before. This mod more or less takes the changes seen in its counterpart and applies them to Doom 64. Well Doom 64: Absolution to be exact. It’s a Doom II total conversion that is an almost perfect recreation of the 64 game. It has been succeeded by Doom 64 EX.
I would absolutely recommend Brutal Doom 64 to fans of the original game and series. If you don’t like Brutal Doom then you won’t like this. Whether you like the mod or not, there’s no denying that Brutal Doom 64 is a solid package and it’s very easy to see why this and it’s counterpart have a large fan base. The new content and re-balanced gameplay breathe new life into the experience and the action can get really intense. It’s also a free modification. Definitely check out Brutal Doom 64 if you’re at all interested.