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There are so many mods for classic Doom, it can be overwhelming. Overhauls, levels, gameplay mods, weapon mods, visual mods, there’s all kinds of stuff out there. I’m always drawn to gameplay mods. This review is going to cover Complex Doom, a gameplay mod for the classic Doom games that replaces enemies, weapons, and items with newer versions, it adds new content, and includes new visual effects. I played it using the Zandronum source port but you can use GZDoom and I played through the Jenesis megawad which is a set of levels designed for Doom II.
Complex Doom is much more challenging than vanilla Doom mainly because the enemies are tougher. I did play using mouselook and with the mXhairs mod which is a great collection of crosshairs. You can kick, throw hand grenades, and lay down land mines and there is an inventory system. Items like health flasks, portable stimpacks, rejuvination kits, and other things can be stored and activated at any time. And they can be a huge help. The health and armor items can be life savers if there’s no health or armor items in the vicinity. Scattered throughout the environments are new armor and sphere pickups like Demonic Armor and the Ultra Sphere which gives you two hundred fifty health and armor and full ammo. Enemies will drop all kinds of different things when killed, most of the time it’s essence orbs which provide small amounts of health and armor upon pickup.
Weapons do need to be reloaded and all of the existing weapons have been updated in terms of visuals and functionality and there’s several new weapons you can acquire. The Assault Shotgun is one of my favorites. The Quad Barreled Shotgun is extremely powerful and can blow away many of the tougher types quickly. You can also get your hands on an assault rifle, Demon Tech Rifle, a railgun, and more. Furthermore, weapons can be upgraded. Upgrades will be dropped by fallen enemies. There’s an auto fire upgrade for the pistol. The assault rifle can be upgraded with a grenade launcher attachment. And the plasma rifle can be upgraded with a charge shot. There’s more and I believe all the drops are randomized so you want to keep a lookout for upgrades because they can make your life easier. One of my favorite upgrades isn’t even for a weapon. It’s for the Marine. It’s the faster weapon switching upgrade. It allows you to scroll through all of your weapons much quicker than normal which is a big help.
The enemy variety in Complex Doom is phenomenal and I like how I was still encountering new enemies even after twenty or so levels. It’s either they were new or I just didn’t see them in the previous ones. I do believe enemies are somewhat randomized and all of the classic enemies have different variants now. Not only is there a shit-ton of new enemies, but they’re all pretty tough. From the undead types to the Cyberdemon, they can all put you down quickly if you don’t pay attention. There’s undead types wielding what I think are BFG’s, the Pinky variants can leap and some fire projectiles, different types of Imps, multiple Hell Knight and Baron variants, and you’ll even get to engage some Nazis. Because of how challenging many of these enemies can be, they can make some areas extremely frustrating, which does depend on the level. I would recommend you play through a megawad that contains a lot of big open areas with a lot of cover and room to move around. Complex Doom can be frustrating when you’re in tight and confined spaces and surrounded by tough types which can happen often. And the later levels in Jenesis can be very unforgiving with Complex Doom.
I like how Complex Doom was always throwing something new at me. That’s what it felt like anyway. Whether it was a new enemy type, weapon, or upgrade, I was always excited to see what was around the next corner. I also really like the enemy designs. I saw a flying Mancubus, there’s different types of Lost Souls, and I love the cybernetic-looking Hell Knight or Baron. There’s Fire Knights, Toxic Knights, and Imps firing homing projectiles. Many of the already existing enemies have seen changes to their behavior and attacks. For example, the Barons, Hell Knights, and Imps can fire multiple projectiles at once and the Cyberdemon fires multiple missiles that will lock onto you.
For the levels, I chose the Jenesis megawad because I’ve played through it before a long time ago and remember it being excellent. And it still is. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite megawads. The levels are huge and very well designed. But I won’t lie, it can be easy to get lost or stuck. It happened to me on several occasions. Each level varies in theme, there’s plenty of secrets to find, and I find that the megawad works pretty well with Complex Doom. That is until you get to Hell. It does contain some small areas in certain levels, which can be a bitch with the mod, but the Hell levels contain a good amount of encounters where you’re up against hordes of tough types and with Complex Doom, when you’re surrounded by enemies that fire super accurate homing projectiles or up against multiple Cyberdemons, things just get frustrating, often feeling downright unfair. There are plenty of hazards and monster closets, ambushes can be the death of you, and I would recommend quicksaving often. You’ll battle enemies in different facilities, on a highway, through a mineshaft, and, of course, through Hell, itself. The levels flow nicely together resulting in a good sense of progression.
I’m well aware that those in the Doom modding community share assets and resources with each other. It’s obvious here because I know I’ve seen several of the sprites used in other mods. With that said, I don’t know who designed what or what was borrowed from what, if anything, but I think all of the new sprites look excellent and work well with Complex Doom. The new visual and gore effects look great and do help to enhance the action. Explosions and muzzle flashes look great, blood will splatter all over the place, and it appears that parts of the Mancubus and Arachnotron will explode when killed resulting in a cloud of blood which does look awesome. Jenesis contains extremely detailed levels and it comes with an excellent soundtrack. There are some really memorable tunes here, some of which are versions of licensed tracks. I realized that Jenesis came with some new monsters only after getting through a significant portion of the megawad. One of them replaces the Wolfenstein SS guy. I think this conflicted with Complex Doom but I really can’t confirm. I’m just assuming because certain enemies would get stuck in their death animation and it was always when the Nazi enemies were around. I did see a missing texture in one level and some kind of floating object in another that didn’t look right. I’m not sure if the issues lie with Jenesis or Complex Doom but they didn’t stop me from enjoying the mod or megawad.
Complex Doom is one of many Doom gameplay mods out there. And it has become one of my favorites. My biggest complaint isn’t even with the mod, itself. It’s the lack of proper documentation. You can read about it on certain sites and in the readme that comes with it. But mods like this that change a lot and/or add a significant amount of content, should really have a manual or documentation that explains the changes in detail. Personally, I would just love to see a detailed bestiary. When I really get into something, I enjoy reading up on the details. This is really just my problem because it’s not even a big issue and shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the mod because you can easily see and understand what’s happening just by playing. The new monsters are awesome and the gameplay is more challenging than vanilla doom but also feels balanced thanks to the other changes like new weapons, items, and the inventory system. The randomized elements keep the things feeling fresh from start to finish and essentially make each playthrough unique to a certain extent. But I do think playing Complex Doom with a proper megawad is important. The gameplay feels more enjoyable when you have room to maneuver. Being forced to fight hordes of enemies in tight and confined spaces that you can’t easily navigate can result in frustration. And Jenesis shows that even if you’re in a large open space, things can get crazy hard but still feel fair.
I would absolutely recommend Complex Doom to anyone looking for a more challenging Doom experience. The enemy variety and new weapons make for fun and intense gameplay. Complex Doom is hard but balanced. However, the difficulty also relies on the levels. There’s no denying a lot of hard work was put into Complex Doom and it’s easily one of the best gameplay mods for the classic Doom games. Definitely check it out.