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Do you know how many times I’ve started a megawad with Trailblazer and never finished it? Several. I’ve wanted to play this mod ever since I first saw it about a year or two ago but I could never get the difficulty balance right. With that said, this review will cover a few mods. Trailblazer is a gameplay mod for classic Doom where you play as the smoker and whiskey-drinking badass Malcolm Striker, a former member of Earth’s special forces. According to the ZDoom thread his only purpose is to find and finish off his nemesis Vladimir Vladimir. But, of course, you’ll get to kill a ton of demons along the way. And you’ll get to do it with awesome firepower. For this review, I played through the Interception megawad. Along with Trailblazer, I used DoomKrakken’s Monster Randomizer, Tilt++, and ZMovement mods and tracked my stats with War Trophies. I played with everything using the GZDoom.
You can perform all the same basic functions as you normally would in Doom except now you can punch at any time and throw machetes and spikebombs at the press of a button. After my experience with Tilt++ in the Slayer’s Rampage mod, I decided to run it with Trailblazer. It’s a unified camera tilt mod. It’s one of those little things that I feel adds some immersion or a bit of realism to the gameplay. You’ll tilt while strafing, moving, turning and can adjust the intensity and angles. ZMovement is a mod I’ve had my eye on for a while now and since there is a patch of it designed for Trailblazer, I figured this would be a good time to check it out. It’s a mod that changes how you move around. There’s different presets or move styles to select from including Doom, Quake, Build Engine, Painkiller, Dusk, and Unreal Tournament. You can enable, disable, and adjust various aspects like jump heights, dashing and air dashing, different types of movement speeds, wall jumping, and crouch sliding. You can even enable a grappling hook. ZMovement is a mod that may require a lot of tweaking to get the movement feeling just right. Luckily, you’re given a lot of options to mess around with.
I have played Trailblazer before and the reason I never got through previous megawads is because I found that the mod made the gameplay too easy. Although, that may be the point of it. I wanted more of a challenge so if you’re like me, you’ll want to play on one of the higher difficulties. Even then, the gameplay can still feel easy. That’s where the monster randomizer comes in. It adds a bunch of new monsters to the game and randomizes them. Some of the new enemies can be pretty tough and I thought it worked great with Trailblazer. Although, I still felt the gameplay leaned towards the easy side. Plus, several of the new items or pick-ups will make you feel even more overpowered. There is an inventory system in place and some of the items you acquire can be activated and deactivated manually. “Piss” Brand Whiskey is like a portable healing item. You can fly around with the jetpack which is actually pretty cool. A Box of Cigars is like a portable megasphere. If you’ve crafted the “Master Exploder” upgrade, some monsters will drop Blastspheres which cause sweeping blasts upon pick-up. Quad Damage lets you inflict more damage, the Ammo Junkie pickup grants you infinite ammo for a brief time, and the Blazingspehere lets you run and shoot insanely fast for a limited time.
Trailblazer comes with it’s own set of weapons that can be upgraded. As mentioned before you can throw machetes and Spikebombs. You’ll wield revolvers, uzis, a magnum called the Bitchmaker (what a great name), sawed-off shotguns, grenade launcher, F.M.G., and some others. My favorite weapon is the Skullthrottle minigun. I love it because if you set its sound effects to “Rock ‘n’ Roll”, you’ll get to listen to an Airbourne song when you fire it. And I love Airbourne. As you run around and shoot demons, you’ll come across blueprints and junk which is used for crafting. Blueprints are stored in your inventory and require the appropriate amount of junk to be crafted. You can craft upgrades like explosive bullets, better armor, and increased punching range, among others. Furthermore, each weapon can be upgraded with junk, making them more efficient. The pump-action shotgun can be upgraded to a semi-auto variant. Upgraded uzis inflict more damage and have better accuracy. And the sawed-off shotguns will receive extra barrels. Certain weapon upgrades can make you feel unstoppable. A weapon like the Nutcracker Rifle can decimate a group of foes in a single shot.
With the new items, weapons, and pick-ups, there’s not much to worry about half the time. In fact, with the right upgrades, you can take down Cyberdemons and Spider Masterminds in seconds. If you want more challenging gameplay, I would suggest you find additional mods that make the gameplay more difficult. DoomKrakken’s Monster Randomizer is a good choice. It adds a shit-ton of new monsters and the bigger roster adds more variety to the gameplay. You’ll still engage the classic foes like the undead types, Imps, Barons, etc. but there’s a fifty percent chance of them being replaced by a variant. There’s Revenants that fire what I think are lasers, new flying foes, enemies that leave behind toxic clouds when they die, and several new types that fire projectiles. The roster is impressive and the mod would definitely make the standard gameplay extremely challenging. But with Trailblazer, it kind of balances things out because of how overpowered you are. By the end of the megawad, all my weapons were upgraded and despite the fact I was mowing down foes without much of a problem, the enemies at least put up more of a fight thanks to the monster randomizer.
Interception is a megawad for Doom II. The maps range from small and simple to big and complex. You’ll battle your way through locations like an excavation site, laboratory, castle, and caverns, and of course through areas in Hell, itself. I got stuck a few times in the more complex maps but they’re all well designed. There are some maps where enemies are firing projectiles at you from behind walls which can be frustrating but most of the encounters feel fair. You’ll have to engage more and more enemies the further you progress and you’ll have to deal with more ambushes in the later maps. There’s going to be a lot of running back and forth and some maps have you backtracking through areas to progress. Each map feels different than the last. You’ll traverse through large wide open areas and big rooms in one map and then navigate through narrow corridors and cramped areas in another. There will be some trial-and-error encounters and some of the larger, more complex maps may take a little while to complete. Overall, Interception is a solid megawad.
The new weapon sprites look great. They’re consistent and detailed. This is one of the few gameplay mods I’ve played that includes weapon sprites I haven’t seen in other mods. At least not yet. If you’ve played mods like Brutal Doom or Slayer’s Rampage, the gunplay here isn’t as flashy or intense but there are some neat visual effects accompanying the action to make each weapon feel unique. It also helps that the Monster Randomizer mod comes with its own cool visual effects for the monsters. Some of the gore effects are cool, too. Heads will come off, sometimes body parts will go flying, and some foes will explode which is always satisfying. I know I’ve seen many of the new monsters in other mods and while I think some feel out of place in Doom, I appreciate the large roster. The Interception megawad utilizes textures and assets well so the maps have a nice flow to them and each one is detailed and well designed. When you fire up Trailblazer, you’ll be greeted with a midi version of Kickstart My Heart which perfectly fits the rock ‘n’ roll, living life on-the-edge attitude of the mod. And it’s one of my favorite Crue songs. Interception comes with its own soundtrack with a lot of catchy tunes. The new weapon sprites come with new sound effects and they all sound pretty good. Enemies will roar and groan and the suicide undead types sound like the Beheaded Kamikazes from Serious Sam. On the technical side, I did not encounter any issues.
I love Trailblazer. While I think it leans towards the easy side, it’s filled with personality and attitude. I love the 80s action inspiration. The weapons look and feel cool, the blueprints and upgrades make for great incentives to explore, and it’s just a lot of fun to play. The easy difficulty is my only major issue with it but that can be easily rectified with other mods. I think Trailblazer would work well with most megawads. It doesn’t include any new enemies so I think it would play nicely with any megawads that don’t include any new weapons or make changes to the gunplay. DoomKrakken’s Monster Randomizer is one of the best monster mods for Doom out there. The roster is large and the new enemies require different approaches and strategies to take down. It adds more variety to the gameplay and the randomized part of it keeps things interesting. ZMovement is an excellent mod that can significantly change how you move and approach encounters. It will require tweaking to get it how you want. There are things ZMovement lets you do that go against how some maps intend you to progress so I would love to see maps and megawads that are designed with ZMovement in mind. Interception is a solid megawad. The maps are well designed and it progressively gets more difficult with each map. I never got frustrated or stuck for so long that I felt like I needed to cheat to survive or progress. Overall, all of the mods worked well together and made for a very fun experience.
I would absolutely recommend Trailblazer to anyone. It’s a kickass mod with style and attitude. It’s rock and roll. Plus, it’s mod friendly. By that I mean it should work well with other mods. Well anything that doesn’t change the weapons. With that said, I would recommend playing through maps with mods that increase the difficulty and/or add tougher monsters. DoomKrakken’s Monster Randomizer is a good choice and I think it balances things out enough so that there’s a good chance you will die if you’re not careful. Alternatively, you could play through an extremely challenging megawad like Hell Revealed. If you like 80’s styled action, rock and roll, and fun, definitely check out Trailblazer.