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I was browsing Doomworld and the ZDoom forums, checking out the news from Hell, and I came across a mod called Slayer’s Rampage which is a gameplay mod for classic Doom. I watched the trailer and was instantly attracted to its fast-paced nature, visual effects, and intense action-packed gameplay. Reading through the credits, the mod does borrow and use content from other mods and credit was given to multiple users for various sprite work, sound effects, and other things. The Doom community is a beautiful thing. For this review, I played through the Maps of Chaos version of The Ultimate Doom and the Unholy Realms megawad. Maps of Chaos is a mod that expands the maps of the original games, adds more enemies, and basically makes them harder. Unholy Realms is a new set of maps for Doom II. This review will also cover the War Trophies mod because I’ve been wanting to try that out for a while. It’s a mini-mod of sorts that adds stat tracking and is apparently based on the FragTrak mod which I have never tried. I used the GZDoom source port to play with all of the mods.
Slayer’s Rampage is very fast-paced. I like to think of it as an intensified Doom. You can activate a flashlight, quickly dash in any direction, double jump, pull yourself up onto platforms, punch enemies with handguns equipped, and perform a kick at any time. There are some visual effects added in that add flare to the experience like swaying, tilting, and motion blur and these things can be adjusted in the options menu. You may have seen many of the features on display here before in other mods but all of them working together make this a crazy fun experience. Personally, I think the weapon feedback and visual effects are what really make this stand out. The gunplay is phenomenal. As you obliterate foes, they’ll drop rage points which you can pick up to fill up your rage meter. Once full, you can unleash rage for a limited time where you move faster, jump higher, hit harder, and can fire rockets from your shoulder mounted rocket launcher. It can be extremely helpful during the tougher encounters. You can easily take out an army of enemies in only a few seconds when in rage mode. However, I did encounter bug. After exiting a level during rage, the rage meter would not fill up again. I did see another user point it out in the mod’s ZDoom thread so hopefully a fix is incoming.
You’ll get your hands on numerous weapons and you can throw a frag grenade at any time but you must wait for the cooldown to reach zero before you can throw another. All of the weapons have unique sprites that look fantastic and most weapons have alternate fire modes. There’s a pump action shotgun that can lob grenades, a heavy assault rifle with a rocket launcher attachment, and you can look through the scopes of the assault rifle and long range combat weapon which is a powerful sniper rifle that fires explosive rounds. Every single weapon feels powerful and looks cool. It’s hard not to smirk as you circle strafe around a group of enemies while unloading a barrage of bullets from your mobile turret or run down a corridor with your riot control shotgun blasting away every enemy in your path. Some weapons are certainly better against certain enemies and I found myself switching between weapons often.
I will say I never seemed to run out of explosives. I always had a shit-ton of grenades for the tactical shotgun and rockets for the heavy assault rifle. This may sound like the gameplay is made easier but it’s actually balanced out by more dangerous enemies. The mod just gives you more ways to get out of tight spots. With all of the explosives at your disposal and the rage feature, I rarely got stuck in a loop of quicksaving and quickloading during an encounter. That’s not to say I never died, however. I did play through both Maps of Chaos and Unholy Realms on Ultra-Violence and died several times. The gameplay is certainly challenging despite the deadlier firepower. It still comes down to trial and error in typical Doom fashion and surviving can be as simple as strafing in the right directions, switching weapons, or unleashing rage.
Most of the enemies from the classic games are present but either look different and/or their attacks were altered. You may have seen some of the new enemy sprites in other mods. Undead types will roll around, Spectres will actually become invisible so you can’t see them, there’s a new Lost Soul type, Pain Elementals spit out pink skull-like projectiles, and Revenants fire missiles straight and fast. Most of the other enemies look a little different and the new visual effects make their attacks look more intimidating. As mentioned before, Maps of Chaos expands the original maps and makes them more difficult. This means there’s new areas added in and a lot more enemies to deal with. What’s really cool about Maps of Chaos is that the new areas don’t feel out of place. They are designed to fit in with their respective map’s aesthetic and feel like natural extensions of the level design. If you’re one to explore every nook and cranny or try to kill most if not every enemy in every map in each playthrough, you’ll notice that Maps of Chaos extends the length of the games significantly and they’re more action-packed.
I’ve played with the Maps of Chaos mod before and I love it. It works great with Slayer’s Rampage, too. There’s plenty of enemies to shoot and plenty of opportunities to try each weapon. Unholy Realms is one of those megawads that kills you at certain points so you lose all your weapons. It can also be very challenging. The maps are laid out nicely but I did get stuck from time to time because it’s not always clear where you need to go or what you need to do to proceed. You’ll battle through a courtyard, underground passage, and research complex among other areas before blasting your way through more Hellish environments. Several of the maps are what I refer to as arena-style meaning they’re small but open areas populated with tons of enemies and you basically have to circle strafe around to survive. There are, of course, linear style maps where you traverse down corridors and paths and progress through numerous rooms. Many of the later maps have you start out against armies of foes where you’re basically being attacked from every direction right from the start. This is a megawad that will always keep you moving. However, it can cross over into the frustrating territory, at least when playing through it with Slayer’s Rampage. Revenants are everywhere and you’ll frequently have to deal with multiple Arch-Viles in the later maps. Plus, Cyberdemons start showing up more often as you progress. Some of the features of Slayer’s Rampage reduce the challenge of certain encounters but others can still be pretty tough. When you’re up against an army of Revenants aiming right at you, dodging their high speed missiles becomes crucial. And there’s nothing more annoying than eradicating a group of foes in an area only to come back to the area later to see an Arch-Vile has resurrected a bunch of them.
War Trophies is a mod that tracks the stats of your weapons and is designed to be compatible with the original games and most mods. As it says in the ZDoom thread “this mod aims to provide the FragTrak experience with any weapon, any monster”. You’ll earn experience, medals, and can increase your genocide rank. You can bring up a scorecard at any time during gameplay to see your stats. You can scroll through the list of weapons and see how many kills you have with each one, what monsters you’ve killed with them, and what rank they are. There’s a neat search function so you can find weapons easier which is probably more useful for mods that include a lot of weapons. It comes with a HUD widget that can be customized and you can reset your stats at any time. To be clear, War Trophies doesn’t affect the gameplay. It’s just for the novelty of stat tracking so it probably won’t appeal to everyone. I love stat tracking so I was very happy with this. It’s the kind of mod I’ll load up with any future mods and megawads I play through. Because War Trophies allows you to see the stats of the weapons you’ve used and enemies you’ve killed, it’s a great mod for anyone that wants to quickly look up the names of weapons and enemies.
Visually, Slayer’s Rampage includes some new sprites and visual effects but doesn’t drastically change the look of the environments. I do think the new HUD is too big but after while I got used to it. The new sprites look excellent and the visual effects accompanying the gameplay make a huge impact on how the action is presented. Sparks will fly everywhere during combat, muzzle flashes are big and look great, explosions look good, and blood will spray and splatter as you blow enemies away. I usually leave the GZDoom brightness and contrast settings at default but with Slayer’s Rampage, the dark areas of maps seem very dark. The flashlight is not very bright but it can help increase visibility but only slightly. I would usually end up relying on sound and visual effects in the darker areas. You can always mess with the GZDoom visual settings if you want to increase visibility. If you’re not a fan of any of the visual effects added in Slayer’s Rampage, the mod does allow you to configure settings and turn them off. You can adjust the intensity of the swaying, tilting, and motion blur.
When it comes to the Maps of Chaos mod, there’s not much to say about the visual presentation since the new areas don’t stray from the original aesthetics. Unholy Realms on the other hand includes excellent texture work and level design to make each map feel unique and I enjoyed the more abstract nature of some of the Hellish maps. I used the Doom Metal Soundtrack Mod – Volume 5 when playing through Maps of Chaos. It’s a compilation of metal remixes of Doom’s original songs and they sound excellent. I would highly recommend it if you’re a fan of Doom’s soundtrack. Unholy Realms comes with its own fantastic music complete with a lot of catchy tunes that fit the action nicely. From what I read online, all of the music was composed by John Weekley otherwise known as PRIMEVAL, a musician who has contributed to several Doom projects over the years. The sound effects that come with Slayer’s Rampage are phenomenal. Each weapon sounds powerful, the double barrel shotgun sounds beastly, and many sounds effects were taken from Doom 3 and are well implemented. You’ll hear radio communications, the hissing and screeching of Imps, and a lot of growling and roaring. I can’t say I encountered any serious technical issues. The gameplay was smooth and other than the rage bug mentioned earlier, I had no problems.
When it comes to Doom mods, I’m always attracted to anything that alters the gameplay or changes the visuals. Small things like new muzzle flashes, sprites, and animations can make a big difference even if the gameplay isn’t affected. There are numerous mods out there that add new weapons, visuals, sound effects, and rebalance the gameplay. Slayer’s Rampage does all of that and it just looks and sounds great. Everything ranging from the tilted view as you strafe and turn around corners to watching a group of enemies explode into a shower of blood adds to what makes Slayer’s Rampage so awesome. It’s a phenomenal gameplay mod. I’ve played through Maps of Chaos before and I love using it to test out different mods. But it’s a great mod, itself, if you’re looking to increase the challenge of the vanilla maps. Unholy Realms offers a great set of maps and puts up a good fight. It can be easy to get stuck in several maps and I frequently found myself running around in circles just trying to figure out how to proceed but, overall, it’s an excellent megawad.
I would absolutely recommend Slayer’s Rampage to anyone that enjoys break-neck action. The action is intense, the gunplay is phenomenal, and every firefight looks and feels awesome. Slayer’s Rampage is a very flashy mod which is one of the reasons it’s so cool. The gameplay is well balanced so while you may feel extremely powerful, you’re still fragile and can die quickly if you don’t pay attention. Definitely check out Slayer’s Rampage.