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The Classic Doom games are legendary and still alive today thanks to the awesome modding community. In recent years, it seems like Brutal Doom has become one of the most popular mods out there. Some people love it and other people hate it. If someone tells you that Brutal Doom is nothing but a gore mod, that is outright bullshit. Brutal Doom is a gameplay mod. The gameplay is altered and as far as I’m concerned, that makes it a gameplay mod. You may not like it. You may read about the creator, Sgt. Mark, being a dipshit. You may be tired of hearing about Brutal Doom within the Doom community. But it’s still a gameplay mod. I played through the Hellbound megawad with Brutal Doom v21 RC8, and the Ultimate DoomVisor HUD mod. I’m also going to be taking a look at Project Brutality v3.0 Test. Project Brutality is basically an enhanced version Brutal Doom and for this mod, I played through the Doom 2 Reloaded megawad. And just so everyone knows, to play Brutal Doom, you need a ZDoom-compatible source port. I played through these using GZDoom.
Brutal Doom takes the Classic Doom gameplay and just amplifies it. Blood will splatter everywhere, shots feel more powerful, you can aim down sights, utilize a flashlight, you can flip off enemies and shout offensive remarks, and there’s many more weapons to play around with. You can roll left and right now which can be helpful in some situations and scattered throughout the environments are Marines that can be rescued and will aid you on your quest to defeat the forces of Hell. You can sprint, kick enemies, the mod includes a melee overhaul, and you can grab enemies and use them as shields. You can pilot tanks which I didn’t get to do in Brutal Doom but did get the chance to try with Project Brutality. Enemies will drop items when killed and Brutal Doom includes a new pickup called the Demon Sphere which is one of the coolest things about the mod in my opinion. When you acquire a Demon Sphere, you’ll temporary turn into a Revenant or Baron of Hell and can use their attacks to just decimate your foes. It’s awesome. Whenever you acquire a Berserk pack or a Demon Strength Rune which is another new pickup, you will gain increased strength, allowing you to deal more melee damage and perform over-the-top third-person executions.
Project Brutality basically enhances Brutal Doom by adding a lot of new content. More weapons, new enemies, new enemy behavior, and new pickups have been added. Most of the basic actions added in Brutal Doom are included and you can lay down proximity mines and there is an inventory system of sorts. You can tweak various aspects of the gameplay, monsters, and weapons from the Project Brutality options menu and basically tweak the experience to your liking. You can enable or disable health regeneration, double jump, ledge climbing, dodging, and more. You can turn on and off specific weapon upgrades and monster variants. New pickups include the Haste Sphere which will increase your speed, there’s a sphere that will briefly stop time around you when acquired, a portable medic backpack, swarmer and electricity pods, and the UAC Distress Beacon which will summon Marine reinforcements to assist you. There’s also an automatic sentry gun according to the mod’s documentation but I never did find the pick up. I should mention that the documentation I found was for a previous version of the mod.
There’s multiple game modes or classes and difficulty modes to choose from in both Brutal Doom and Project Brutality and they do differ depending on which you’re playing. Project Brutality is based on Brutal Doom v2.0. The game modes in Brutal Doom include rifle start, pistol start, purist, and tactical. Rifle and pistol start determine your starting weapon. The Purist mode is for those that prefer “more traditional gameplay” or so the manual says. The weapons behave more like the original weapons – no reloading, no alt-fire modes, and the game can be played with auto aim. With that said, I would recommend you allow yourself to aim up and down for any of the other gameplay modes. The tactical mode is supposed to reflect modern first-person shooter gameplay. You’ll move faster, you can’t use your weapons while sprinting, and you’ll tire quickly when sprinting while carrying heavy weapons. Project Brutality includes three game modes. The Project Brutality mode will expose you to all of the features of the mod. Brutal Doom v2.0 restricts some features to match the feel and balance of Brutal Doom. The final mode, Traditional, includes only the classic Doom arsenal with all the advanced features stripped away.
All of the weapons in the original games are present complete with new skins, animations, and some include alternate fire modes. You can fire the super shotgun’s barrels individually, zoom with the rocket launcher’s scope, and the pistol can fire a single shot or burst fire. New to the Brutal Doom arsenal are several weapons. The assault rifle is a great starting and fallback weapon, the assault shotgun is an excellent weapon for crowd control, you can pick up and use the Revenant’s missile launchers and a Mancubi flame cannon, you can destroy enemies with a railgun, blow them away with a sub-machine, there’s a machine gun that comes with a grenade launcher attachment, and you can launch rockets and lob grenades with the grenade launcher. You can also carry and throw grenades which can be extremely helpful when your outnumbered. Some weapons can be dual-wielded. The plasma rifle is one of them and it’s just badass circle strafing at high speed around a cluster of enemies and basically melting them with your onslaught of plasma fire. The new gore effects really make the combat feel intense and “brutal” as the name implies. The Super Shotgun is easily one of the most satisfying weapons in mod. One blast from both barrels can take a Hell Knight’s head off, destroy a Cacodemon, or blow a Revenant in half.
Not only do the classic weapons look different but they also feel different thanks to not only visual enhancements but also changes to spreads, rates of fire, and damage outputs. Add in all of the new weapons and their functions, and you have a ridiculously deadly arsenal at your disposal. This is balanced out – or supposed to be balanced out – by the changes to the enemies. All of the enemies you know and love will be trying to kill you and their behavior is modified. Former Humans can wield pistols and rifles and Shotgun Guys or Sergeants can carry sub-machine guns. A Baron of Hell can hurl three projectiles, Cacodemons move faster and can dodge some of your projectiles, Imps will leap at you, and you’ll notice various other changes as you play. Depending on the difficulty, enemies can take and/or inflict more damage. I’ve read a lot about Brutal Doom being unbalanced and I really feel that it depends on the megawad. Honestly, I find that Brutal Doom leans more towards the challenging side. This will also depend on the skill level, of course. When choosing a skill level in Brutal Doom, the game does inform you of what you’re in for. The manual that comes with the mod does provide a list of recommended megawads that work well with Brutal Doom. But nothing is stopping you from playing the original games. That’s the great thing about Doom and the mods, there are so many options available. If you think it’s unbalanced, try something else.
I would say Project Brutality is the more intense mod of the two. There are a ton of new weapons and all of them are extremely fun and satisfying to use. Some of the standouts include the BFG 11K Plasma Beam, Black Hole Generator, and UAC Cryogenic Dispersion Rifle which can fire ice missiles or a freeze ray. Many weapons in Project Brutality can be dual-wielded, some can be equipped with attachments, you can switch between different fire modes, and you can find weapon upgrades in the environments. All of the new firepower will be helpful in taking down all the new enemy types. There all kinds of new undead types, including Sergeants that can fly and some that carry shields. You’ll take down Hell Paladins, Ice Viles, Elite Arachnotrons, numerous Imp variants, and plenty more. The new weapons and enemies can make the combat really fun and exciting. The enemy variety is incredible and there’s some really cool designs here. Flying Arachnotrons, Revenants firing laser beams, Cyber Hell Knights, and Evil Marines are just some of the new types with their own awesome look and feel while managing to fit in nicely with the existing roster.
With the fast-paced gameplay and expanded arsenal, the action can get really crazy and Project Brutality just ramps it up like ten notches thanks to more content and awesome new features. A lot of areas will look, sound, and feel like war zones. Projectiles flying every which way, bullets are flying past your head, enemies are blowing each other away, you can hear explosions in the distance, it’s awesome. However, in both Brutal Doom and Project Brutality, many areas can be annoying because of the enemies. Depending on the megawad and/or level, the difficulty may spike significantly like when you get ambushed, surrounded, or overwhelmed by some of the tougher enemy types. It could be just the standard foes giving you trouble just because of their modified behavior and the changes to the gameplay overall. I got through both megawads without too much trouble but I would be lying if I said every single encounter was enjoyable.
Hellbound is by far one of the greatest megawads I have ever played. It’s a 32-level megawad for Doom II. You navigate through levels set on Earth and eventually work your way through Hell. The levels are huge and are extremely well detailed. I found it very easy to get lost and not because many areas within a level look the same but because there’s so much to see and take in that I found it hard to remember where specific landmarks were located. You’ll see things like keys and buttons that you don’t have access to yet and have to do something specific or chain of things to gain access. You can easily spend an hour or more in most levels. I think I got lost for a significant amount of time in more than half of them. The levels set on Earth look like actual locations thanks to the incredible architecture and texture work. Furthermore, the levels flow together nicely, there’s a natural sense of progression if you will. Hellbound does come with a separate WAD for Map 29 which I guess you could say is the complete version of the level. The reason for the separate WAD is because it’s a massive level that can seriously hinder performance, especially if you’re playing with Brutal Doom.
Doom 2 Reloaded is also a fantastic megawad. The levels aren’t as huge as the ones in Hellbound and I didn’t get lost as often but they are well designed and detailed. Much like Hellbound, the levels flow nicely together and it gives you an actual sense of environmental progression. You’ll traverse through tech facilities and bases, Earth levels, and the final set of levels are set in Hell. Warehouse Seige is easily my least favorite level but that may be due to Project Brutality rather than the level, itself. It’s loaded with what appears to be a ton of these Arch-Vile variants and it gets to be a bit much.
Brutal Doom and Project Brutality replace and/or change a lot of assets and add a lot of new visual and gore effects. In addition to being a gameplay mod, I would also call Brutal Doom a gore mod. There are some new textures, new lighting effects, new liquid ripple effects, and changes to some of the existing monster appearances. I think all of the new weapons and skins look amazing and fit in nicely with all of the other enhancements and changes. The weapon reload animations look great, fire and explosions look incredible, dirt and debris will kick up from explosions, muzzle flashes illuminate dark areas, you can see the red eyes of monsters in the dark, and bullet tracers and projectiles will be flying across the battlefields during firefights. The new gore effects make the combat feel very rewarding. You can blow chunks off enemies, body parts will go flying through the air, blood will splatter all over the the environments, and blood will come gushing out of enemies. If you blow a Revenant in half, it’s legs will walk around for a little bit. You may blow off part of a Hell Knight’s face and can see part of its mouth dangling. My only issue with the new gore effects is the blood splatter can cover buttons and switches. The Ultimate Doom Visor HUD is an excellent add-on for Brutal Doom and I would recommend it if you want a more immersive experience. And you can customize which parts of the HUD should be displayed or hidden. For Project Brutality, I used the HXRTCHUD which is also very well designed, its informative while not being obtrusive, and it can be customized.
I heard tunes from Slayer and Judas Priest during my time with Hellbound and I loaded the Music Pack mod for my time with Doom 2 Reloaded. It’s a collection of remixed Doom tunes. The soundtrack for Hellbound and the Music Pack are excellent and the licensed song conversions are very well done. There is an excellent soundtrack of remixed Doom tunes called IDKFA Doom Soundtrack by Andrew Hulshult. It is free to download in multiple formats and can be loaded as a WAD so you can shoot your way through the original game with this soundtrack blasting in the background. It really is incredible work. As for the sound effects, the weapons fire sounds loud and powerful. Explosions are booming, you may recognize some sound effects from Doom III, enemies make all kinds of demonic noises and some actually speak, and there’s more voice work heard in Project Brutality. Doomguy will shout shit on his own but you can also have him shout offensive shit at the press of a button. Any Marines that fight along side you will spout a few lines here and there. A lot of aspects of these mods can be disabled if you don’t like them. Whether it’s a visual effect or audio effect, there’s plenty of options to tweak. On the technical side, both mods ran pretty smooth. I did encounter a few frame rate dips especially in map 29 of Hellbound. The frame rate will dip when there’s a lot of gore, explosions, enemies, and shit on-screen. Project Brutality crashed on me once but other than that, I didn’t encounter any major issues. There are options you can tweak to keep the gameplay running smooth.
I love Brutal Doom but I definitely had more fun with Project Brutality. All of the new weapons and enemies make it feel like a whole new experience. And being able to set how the weapons and enemies spawn is a big plus. But Brutal Doom is the foundation and is easily one of my favorite mods ever. Do I think it ruins Doom’s gameplay? No. But I know some people feel this way which is odd to me. The balancing may not be perfect but I also feel that depends on the megawad in tandem with the mod. If you think about the logic of Brutal Doom ruining the gameplay, then technically any gameplay mod ruins Doom’s gameplay. It’s a ridiculous thing to say. That’s why these are called modifications. Do I think Brutal Doom is better than Doom? Absolutely not. The Classic Doom games are my favorite first-person shooters of all time and are still extremely enjoyable to play today. These mods just modernize the gameplay. Brutal Doom and Project Brutality are just modifications. Ultimately, if you hate them or are just not interested, you don’t have to play them.
I would absolutely recommend both Brutal Doom and Project Brutality to fans of Doom, first-person shooters, and fun. These mods just take the Classic Doom gameplay and modernize it, amplify it, and offer a more intense experience. New weapons, new enemies, new visual effects, new audio effects, and tons of gameplay changes. You can tweak the mods to your liking and there’s plenty of mods or add-ons out there for these that let you customize the experience even more. Mods for mods. Definitely check out Brutal Doom and Project Brutality if you haven’t already.