I’m probably gonna show my age with this one. While I don’t think I’m one of those “30 year old boomer” types that people meme about these days, I certainly have been playing multiplayer games for a long, long time. I’ve been playing them for literally decades at this point. I’ve played most of the notable ones, like Quake, Unreal Tournament, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty 4, you name it, I’ve probably dabbled in it at some point.
But sometimes I wanted more than Just Deathmatch. Stuff like Capture the Flag or Domination helped, but it just wasn’t enough. There was one mode popularized in a game that really caught my interest and was a fun mode that I wished more games did: Unreal Tournament’s Assault mode. Seriously, why isn’t this in every game???
Kidding aside, the other game mode that I’ve learned to love over the years is Gun Game. A simple deathmatch variant, the goal is mainly to kill enemies with a specific weapon, leveling up to the next weapon, and repeating this process until a player got a kill with every weapon. It’s been around for a while, and any game that features it will certainly pique my interest.
My earliest experience with the gun game concept is Soldier of Fortune. While mostly known for its excess gore and goofy Hollywood story, SOF did have its own version of Gun Game. The mode was simply called “Arsenal.” This was before the “gun game” parlance became commonplace.
Getting a kill in Soldier of Fortune was satisfying. Not because of the gore, but because of a really goofy fanfare that played each and every time. That needs to come back.
Despite the different name, it’s similar to the gun game most of us know now: A set of weapons are given to every player, with the goal of getting one kill with each weapon to win. The big differences that there was no fixed pattern of weapons, and when someone got the final kill with their last remaining weapon, instead of ending the game, they got a “big winner bonus” score and the game started anew with new weapons until the score or time limit was reached. Good for those who end up with a bad layout of weapons and can hope to rebound on the next set.
Though while I remember playing Arsenal in the mid-2000s, when the original Soldier of Fortune was mostly a skeleton crew of hardcore players by that point, the one I remembered more fondly was Counter-Strike: Source’s gun game mod.
Man, cs_deagle is a map I’ve seen constantly used in these kind of modes. Surprised no one’s copied it.
In the gun game mod for CS:S, the goal is to take out enemies of the opposing team with one of each weapon, with the famous knife often being the final level. Regardless of whatever side you were on – Counter-Terrorists or Terrorists – you needed to get a kill with every weapon. So in addition to the weapons that are available to a specific faction in the regular game, CTs still had to get kills with Terrorist-exclusive weapons like the Galil, MAC-10 and AK-47, and Ts needed to get kills with the CT’s USP, M4A1 and the AUG, just to name a few.
If there’s one thing I need to improve on in my life, it’s to write something in the moment. I’ve bought plenty of games, played a bevy of mods, grabbed other assorted things for potential blog fodder…
Then I do nothing with it. This has happened more often than not, but only because I get the problem of being an ideas person and rarely act upon them. I’ve been slowly improving on this front, at least more than I was years ago.
Which brings me to this post about a game mod. I played this on a whim back in 2018, and thought it was pretty neat. While I’m currently wrapped in a few other things right now, I thought I’d write something quick for this month.
A few years back, I wrote an article praising the wonders of Red Book CD audio. CD audio tracks that would play in certain games, fromPC classics like Half-Life, to even Sega CD games like Sonic CD. Unfortunately, modern technology is not too kind to the concept, as it often struggles to work properly on modern devices. In some cases, digital re-releases of games like Starsiege: Tribes didn’t even come with the CD music, removing part of the ambience.
There have been solutions thanks to source ports and game updates. For instance, playing Half-Life on Steam has all its music files as MP3s, so if the game (or a related mod) calls for that CD track, it’ll play it without needing the CD.
Looks just as good as it did in ’96.
Which brings me to a classic in Red Book audio: Quake. One of the earliest PC games to use it, popping in the CD would fill your ears with weird ambient music by Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails. Modern source ports such as Quakespasm actually support playable CD tracks in MP3/OGG formats, which means one can rip the soundtrack from their copy of Quake – or just find it on the internet, I doubt id and Zenimax care these days – and play it easily, proper looping and all.
There’s a handful of Quake map packs that come with custom soundtracks tailor-made for the level pack, such as Travail. Others outright replace the Nine Inch Nails soundtrack with different ambient tracks, like EpiQuake or Quake Epsilon. But what if I told you someone replaced Nine Inch Nails music with Nine Inch Nails music?
Ha! Now I won’t be burned by hot slag. Take that! (Oh wait, now I can’t get out…)
“Ghosts I-IV for Quake” is an interesting mod. Replacing the original 1996 soundtrack with the entirety of Ghosts I-IV, an album by Nine Inch Nails with nothing but ambient instrumentals seems like a good fit. In a sense, Ghosts I-IV is a spiritual successor to the original Quake soundtrack, even if there’s little similarities in style.
The album itself is interesting: Frustrated by their record label, Trent Reznor severs his contract with Interscope Records and decides to go independent – for a while anyway – and released this under a Creative Commons license. This license is how the mod exists without lawyers getting involved, as it’s a free mod for a commercial video game.
Shooting switches with the power of magic pellets!
There is one other feature of this mod: There’s no monsters or weapons. Now there’s mostly empty levels with switches, lifts and other assorted things, but nothing to shoot. With god mode turned on. In a sense, this changes the perspective of the game entirely. No longer a straight explosive romp, it’s strictly an exploration-based affair.
When I wrote about Half-Life: Before, I had realized that writing about such a mediocre Half-Life mod felt disappointing to me. I usually try my best to avoid going for easy punches and writing about bad stuff. Besides, there’s other people that cover bad stuff so much better than I ever will.
So I wanted to make good and write about a different Half-Life mod. After all, Half-Life is probably the game that got me interested in mods, after Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. So after playing and writing about Before, I had stumbled upon an existing mod that had recently updated, and decided to give it a whirl once more.
I always get a kick out of crossover mods. Counter-Strike into Half-Life. Mario platforming in Doom. That sort of stuff. I don’t remember how I found this one, but last year I had stumbled upon one of the coolest crossover mods I’d seen. This Half-Life mod takes the concept and character from another iconic game franchise and transplants him into the original game.
This is why I said “grab your Berettas and painkillers” at the end of the Before article. We’re about to do some bullet time in Black Mesa.
“I was in a game modification. Funny as hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of.”
Half-Payne is pretty self-explanatory: It’s Half-Life but instead of the crowbar-wielding silent protagonist Gordon Freeman, you play as Max Payne, the pill-popping, dual-wielding protagonist from the titular series.
I remember when this sequence was pretty cool. A shame that nowadays it looks out of sync…
Sounds pretty simple on the surface. Max Payne’s primary gameplay feature was the “bullet time” mechanic, one of the earliest action games to use that feature. Go into slow motion and shoot enemies with your trusty Berettas. That seems easy to make, right?
Well, I figure that making something like bullet time work is a complicated process unless the engine is made for it. Remedy’s engine for the first two Max Payne games – and presumably the engine that Rockstar used for Max Payne 3 – was built to handle slow motion on the fly. The older GoldSource engine that Half-Life uses doesn’t really have such an ability built in but the later Source engine that powers Half-Life 2 does (“host_timescale”). Surprisingly, thanks to Half-Payne’s creator suXin, they somehow found a way to make it work, and it works gloriously.
(Update: After I published this, suXin, the mod creator, responded to me on Twitter by clarifying that the GoldSource engine does have support for slow-motion, it’s just not something that can be accessed normally compared to the Source engine:)
Similar to Counter-Life, Half-Payne gives you the dialogue of Max Payne from the previous games in the series, alongside some of the iconic weapons like the Berettas, the Desert Eagle and the Ingrams, alongside the normal Half-Life weaponry. Painkillers replace medkits, and since Max Payne is just an ordinary guy in a coat and not a scientist in a futuristic suit, all instances of HEV chargers and batteries are gone entirely.
It even says his name! How considerate of them.
Even all the enemies are unchanged from Valve’s classic game, which I can understand. I mean, replacing all the enemies with mafia goons or killer suits from past games would look even more tonally inconsistent than the mod already does. Maybe for a custom campaign, perhaps?
For additional tension, try playing the Black Mesa Minute mode throughout the campaign. It’s quite tough.
It’s got all the essentials of Max Payne: bullet time, some of Max’s iconic arsenal, even lines from the game. But it doesn’t end there. suXin added bonus modes from the Max Payne games, like a Black Mesa Minute mode based on New York Minute from the first game, and a score attack mode like in Max Payne 3. That and the existing game is good enough to make it fun to play through.
I may not have enjoyed VVVVVV, but having a mode based on it is good for a laugh.
But it doesn’t end there. Wanted to play the game more like SUPERHOT where time moves when you move? Wanted to play through the game but only shooting can make Max move? There’s a lot of bonus game modes in the game that while don’t completely fit with the theme of Max Payne or even Half-Life, that they give endless replay value beyond playing through the Half-Life campaign once through.
Surprised the scientists are pretty chill with a gun-wielding maniac helping them out.
They didn’t have to do that, really. Just having Max and bullet time would’ve been nice for me. But going the extra mile like this gives the mod a unique flavor despite being a “what if X was in Y” crossover mod on the surface. Even small touches like letting CD/MP3 music play through level transitions and having Max Payne 3-styled subtitles for everything are nice quality-of-life features that I wish all Half-Life mods had.
Someone should tell that alien to look behind him…
Something I hope they add in the future would be support for Opposing Force, Blue Shift or other notable Half-Life single player campaigns. I mean, they already use the Opposing Force Desert Eagle model, might as well go all the way.
If you wanna check it out, it’s available here. I will stress that this only works on the Steam release of Half-Life.suXin says this version is required, presumably because of updates in the GoldSource engine that are unsupported or missing in pre-Steam releases. I know there’s very few people out there still using the pre-Steam (or “WON”) version of Half-Life these days, but it bears mentioning.
Now I wonder if anyone’s ever done a mod where Gordon Freeman is in Max Payne. Bashing mafiosos with a crowbar would be hilarious to play at least once.
I remember a couple years ago when Steam Greenlight was a thing. A way for more independent publishers and developers to get their games on Steam, Greenlight was a simple voting system where one’s game could be published under the system if it got enough support.
Unfortunately this lead to a lot of fairly questionable works hitting Greenlight. A fair share of games using stock assets from Unity, Unreal, and such. Others were people not understanding copyright law and posting stuff like World of Warcraft to Greenlight. One game was a fairly unremarkable team shooter that got re-posted to Greenlight several times after the creator had difficulty taking constructive criticism, even changing the name to “Tactical Anal Insertion” in a fit of rage.
On the bright side, games like Divekick, Broforce, and Undertale were some of the more standout choices that made it to Steam thanks to Greenlight. So it wasn’t all bad, even if there were people spending the $100 to release a proof-of-concept game that wasn’t even in a playable state.
Though, not everything was a game. Sometimes software made the Greenlight seal of approval. Even community mods like NeoTokyo made it into the mix, which was nice for people to get their project noticed. Though, much like a majority of Greenlight submissions, not all of them were winners, such as this one.
is it “artifact” or “artefact”? and what parallel world are we talking about here?
Half-Life: Before is a cheap free mod from developer Creashock Studios, a one-man studio who I hadn’t heard of until this game.
Now I’ve played a bevvy of Half-Life mods. Some of the best and most notable like They Hunger, Poke646, Azure Sheep and many others. Though for every good mod, there’s at least a dozen bad ones. Before falls into the latter category.
The story really doesn’t make a lot of sense: You play as Black Mesa scientist Andrew Winner as they’re teleported onto a cargo ship to… find something to go to Xen? The story isn’t that clear, and the brief amount of story given doesn’t explain much beyond what the Steam store page and the main menu gave me.
One option when you start is using this machine gun in this helicopter to take down the headcrab zombies. Or you could just take them down with your normal weapons.
So it’s a Half-Life mod. Some mods try to make the areas look unique and different, changing up everything so it barely resembles what Valve made, like Poke646. Others are content with just giving the player new levels to play with while leaving the Half-Life formula intact. This is not a bad thing, I’ve played a fair share of decent level packs.
In the many years I’ve been writing about games, I try my best to broaden my horizons and check out stuff that’s not as well known, or written about. In some cases I just end up writing about obscure first-person shooters from the ‘90s most people don’t know about. Such as Operation: Body Count.
Gotta say this is a rather dull title screen.
For those unaware, Operation: Body Count was a first-person shooter released in 1994 by Capstone Software. In it, you play as a nameless commando who has to stop the evil Victor Baloch and rescue world leaders. It had a fair share of interesting features like AI buddies you could control to help you complete floors, semi destructible environments, a map of the area to avoid getting lost, and a semi-realistic environment in the days when things looked pretty abstract.
I knew I had to get my hands dirty, but I didn’t think they literally meant it…
The game gives a really bad first impression where Our Hero has to fight the dreaded sewer rats under Baloch’s brainwashing for the first several levels. It also doesn’t help the game looks like… well, this.
This guy couldn’t stop walking into me until I backed up so we could even hit each other.
It looks like a bad Wolfenstein 3D clone, doesn’t it? Well, it uses id’s Wolfenstein 3D engine as a base, which looked pretty cool in 1992-93. Many games ended up using the engine for their games, including Apogee’s Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold and Rise of the Triad.
But then Doom happened. Basically any FPS that still had the 90 degree maze-like look of Wolfenstein looked extremely dated, especially by 1994 standards. Even Capstone’s other big FPS of the time, Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, didn’t fare so well either for the same reasons as Operation: Body Count. I wouldn’t be surprised if many FPS developers were swearing their heads off when the shareware episode of Doom hit in 1993, with its open areas, tall floors, and level geometry that went beyond 90 degrees.
Ah, to think of what could’ve been…
Despite the game’s relative obscurity, a Doom modder by the name of Impie decided to take the fairly maligned DOS game and give it a Doom-style makeover. The result is nothing but amazing. Also called Operation: Body Count, the game is similar to the 1994 Capstone original, but with significant changes that make the gameplay more fun and exciting.
I can’t see this without hearing him go “YOU LOSE!” at every opportunity.
Our Hero now has a name, Hector Juarez. The villain’s still Victor Baloch, but now instead of taking place in a single building, Juarez now must stop Baloch’s evil terrorist activities, killing big bads, and destroying anything in their path.
Sometimes you gotta kill a few big bads to save the day.
Since this is a Doom mod, it still has a lot of Doom’s trappings. Still gotta find keycards, hit switches, and shoot your way through occasional maze-like areas to make it to the goal. It’s still got some of the elements of the original, from the mod’s weapons to the hostiles you fight.
It’s been a while since I covered a modification, but that’s because I don’t pay a lot of attention to the various mod scenes. It also doesn’t help that lately I haven’t played anything new, and often getting myself into a rut. But did you think that a Nintendo 64 game from 1997, one of the biggest first-person shooters of that era, would have a mod scene?
No, I’m not talking about Turok: Dinosaur Hunter – besides, the mod scene is strictly on PC these days – I’m talking about Goldeneye, Rare’s groundbreaking first-person shooter released on the Nintendo 64.
Goldeneye isn’t my most favorite James Bond game – that’s Nightfire, specifically the console version – but I still respect it as a good game that made a huge impact for first-person shooters on home consoles. So I was surprised to see that the game had a modding scene. Definitely not as big as the ROM hacks of Mario or Sonic, or even the thousands of Doom mods; but significant enough to be noticed.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a “separate the wheat from the chaff” problem, as this video from The Kins proves:
(video credit: The Kins)
Thus I didn’t pay too much attention to the scene, since it seemed to be fairly amateur. But then a friend brought this mod to my attention, and suddenly my interest in Goldeneye modding scene was piqued.
Not the real film sequence but an incredible simulation!
Enter Goldfinger 64, a total conversion for Goldeneye that covers the story of the 1964 James Bond classic, Goldfinger. Goldfinger isn’t one of my favorite Bond movies either, but I understood that it was the turning point for the film franchise. A little less grounded in reality, with goofy villains, iconic film quotes (“Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”), and a time where you could have a character named “Pussy Galore” and not it be the butt of a terrible joke.
While I’m more a fan of the latter eras of Bond films – partially because I don’t like Sean Connery as a person, regardless of his acting abilities – Goldfinger is a goofy romp and a good starter James Bond film for a new fan. So let’s see how this team of modders took the engine of a 1997 game and based it on a 1964 film, shall we?
Here’s something you’d never see Sean Connery do: dual-wield Luger P08s.
One thing Goldfinger 64 does is expand on the film’s initial pre-title sequence. While the film only hinted towards Bond blowing up a drug lab and eventually getting in a fight with a cuban hitman, the game expands that into a three level challenge, hitting most of the story beats, but with some embellishments. Such as Bond just shooting the cuban hitman rather than throwing him in a bathtub and electrifying him with a fan.
Protip: Don’t shoot the explosives unless you want to be in a fiery grave.
It does become a bit of a tough start as you have to actually plant the charges on explosive red barrels, akin to Silo in Goldeneye. In comparison, on Agent difficulty in Goldeneye, all you had to do was do the fancy bungee jump off the Dam. Despite this slightly tougher initial challenge, I was able to get it through after a few tries.
The difficulty of adapting a film that’s not especially action-packed can be difficult. I was concerned because the Connery era of James Bond films — save for the latter films like You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever — were not really action-packed shoot-em-up romps. For example, EA made an adaptation of From Russia With Love back in 2006 and bastardized a rather good movie with terrible plot and gameplay decisions. Yet, the modders who made Goldfinger 64 figured it out very well.
I’m surprised she can tell considering there’s nothing out there.
The film version of the hotel scene where Bond simply meets Jill Masterson is expanded into a minor shootout amongst various men as you find the key to get into the room, and it plays out surprisingly well. Goldfinger 64 even has Bond doing a bit of espionage sections, having to overhear the conversation between Goldfinger and his contact at Auric Enterprises, and recreating the scene where Goldfinger shows off his deadly nerve gas to potential buyers. While there are fairly slow sections like that, there’s not a lot of downtime where you’re not shooting up guards.
Another thing you’d never see Sean Connery do: Shoot guards in an Aston Martin with a M1 Carbine!
Hell, even the scene where Bond meets with Tilly Masterson ends up being a drive-by shooting section, complete with a drivable Aston Martin, so it plays like a brighter, entertaining version of Streets from Goldeneye.
They even got the most iconic scene in game form. Impressive considering the engine the game runs on.
I gotta hand it to the guys who made this mod: It hits all the story beats of the film, while also making sure the film adapts well to being a game. A few of the levels do get a bit confusing at spots, especially one later level where Bond has to meet Pussy Galore the night before she does the fly-by, but I’m willing to blame my inexperience in playing what is technically an “old” shooter.
It’s not 100% perfect, though. There are some model glitches, excess fog in spots, and even a spot where I opened a door that wasn’t supposed to be opened, leading to a blue abyss. Though some of these I might chalk up to the emulator I was using rather than the game itself.
I dare not go where one can’t see what’s ahead.
Much like Goldeneye, there’s bonus levels once you beat the game, but they unlock only on higher difficulties. There’s even new cheats and target times, so this is practically a sequel to Goldeneye if The World is Not Enough and Perfect Dark did not exist. If you’re a fan of Goldeneye the game, I recommend checking this out. Even if you aren’t a big fan, this total conversion is pretty amazing.
Even their model of Connery as Bond looks pretty damn good.
You can get it here, but it does require some trickery to get it to work. You’ll need a Goldeneye ROM (available separately, find it yourself), and the Goldeneye Setup Editor to take the XDelta file of Goldfinger 64 and merge it with a Goldeneye ROM to get it to work. After that, you can slap it into an N64 emulator and go nuts. I used a modified emulator called 1964 which has proper mouse and keyboard support for Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and modded ROMs like these. It’s the best way to play these games, honestly, since the N64 controller is kind of a mess. Though this mod apparently does work on actual hardware, as there’s video proof of it on YouTube.
You know, I just realized it’s called “Goldfinger 64” because the film was released that year, and the game it’s a modification of was on the Nintendo 64. Those cheeky bastards.
Doom 3 was a pretty cool game for 2004. I replayed it recently since it had been several years and I was initially down on it, but after replaying it, I have some newfound respect for it. While not as groundbreaking as Half-Life 2, it was still a good game. Though it’s hardly a “masterpiece of the art form” as the box quote says.
I still have that PC Gamer issue. They were actually god damn serious with that quote!
Alas, from what I gathered, the Doom 3 modding community was sparse compared to classic Doom, even compared to its competitors like Half-Life 2. But one particular mod stood out, and it’s not surprising it exists considering id Software’s legacy:
It feels like 1993 and 2004 combined into some freakshow.
Classic Doom for Doom 3 was one of those hyped mods in its heyday. Boasting a small team of developers at Flaming Sheep Software, these guys aimed to remake the 1993 classic on a modern engine. Of course, what better way to show off the modding skills of Doom 3‘s engine than with a remake of the original Doom?
So much for doing a UV-Max run…
There’s only four difficulty levels in this one, similar to Doom 3‘s skill levels. Alas no Ultra-Violence, but I’ll play on Hey Not Too Rough, the equivalent of “Normal” difficulty.
Surprisingly the development team made an intro to explain why you’re going in. It’s so corny, filled with amateur voice acting and really jerky animation. Basically they give a reason for Doomguy to enter Mars and kill demons, eventually fending for yourself. Granted, the intro can be skipped, but it’s fascinating to put a story on why things went to hell. It’s a sight to behold.
Wouldn’t be a reimagining of classic Doom with the intro and that iconic music.
Then you’re thrown into E1M1: Hangar, with just a pistol, just like the old days. A remix of At Doom’s Gate starts blasting through your speakers. It’s time to kill some demons!
If you haven’t noticed, I really like maps and mods. Mainly because I prefer new content being made by creators for fun and not being sold as $30 expansion packs. But also because people make really good mods.
Some of my favorite mods tend to be ones that only change that gameplay slightly while leaving the original content intact. Stuff like Police Brutality: wildweasel presents Terrorists!, like I mentioned in my Doom mods article a while back. So this time, I cover yet another one of those kind of mods.
So what happens when you take the world of Black Mesa in Half-Life, and throw in the guns from Counter-Strike? You get Counter-Life.
Gordon Freeman is a stone cold killer. Strange how we don’t pay much attention to that here, or even in the original game.
I remember this mod in its early days, back when I used to lurk on a Half-Life mod forum. It makes sense that this exists, considering the popularity of both games. Counter-Strike was one of those mods that had a relatively slow burn, and then exploded by the time Valve acquired the team and released it commercially. These kind of crossovers are always neat, and it makes sense someone would blend two of Valve’s franchises together.
“FOR GOD’S SAKE, OPEN THE SILO DOORS! SOME CRAZED MADMAN WITH A MAC-10 WANTS ME DEAD!”
So the story is identical to Half-Life: You play as Gordon Freeman, except instead of an HEV suit, you have a kevlar vest and you get to fight with more realistic weaponry. Basically this is more of a weapons mod than something like They Hunger, which not only had new weapons, but new levels and enemies as well.
The arsenal from Counter-Strike 1.6 is in full force here, from the classic USP, AWP, and Deagle; to the lesser-appreciated TMP and M249. Though there are some new weapons, such as the M4A1 having the M203 grenade launcher like in Half-Life, as well as a rocket launcher that almost resembles a LAW.
This is the weirdest rocket launcher I’ve ever seen…
In addition, some of the weapons have features not in CS, such as the P90 having a zoom in scope, or the Glock 18 actually functioning like its real-life counterpart as a fully-auto pistol and not the weird Glock/Beretta 93R hybrid it’s been since the beginning. While it’s not a 1-for-1 conversion of CS‘s arsenal, it works.
Hell, in older versions of the mod, you could have akimbo USPs and Deagles, in addition to the more iconic Dual Berettas. Those were rather fun to use, but I figure they removed them to strive for more “accuracy” to the original game and not to satisfy teenage fantasies of new weapons. Had this come out during Global Offensive, we probably would’ve saw a clunky revolver and an overpowered CZ75 auto pistol, so in the grand scheme of things they made the right decision.
I’m not a big fan of list articles. At best, you could find interesting stuff that might intrigue you and maybe share to your friends on Facebook. At worst, you find terrible click-bait articles that seem to be written more for a paycheck than any informative value. It’s something I’ve refrained from doing here, as I prefer writing interesting long form stuff instead.
Seriously, this is what Cracked is now. Remember when they actually wrote parody articles? Probably better than “11 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Your Pants,” anyway.
One particular list article by Cracked irked me considerably. A recent list, “6 Awesome Hacks That Did Mind-Blowing Things With Old Games” featured some cool stuff like Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk in Grand Theft Auto IV, or the entirety of The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind in Oblivion‘s engine. Even Just Cause 2: Multiplayer Mod, where you could go crazy in the world of Just Cause 2 with hundreds of people, made the list. But what was number one? Brutal Doom.
I won’t go too much into Brutal Doom as it’s made the internet rounds everywhere over the past couple of years, but it’s championed as the “definitive way to play Doom,” with more gore, violence, Mortal Kombat-style fatalities, even a key that’s simply dedicated to flipping off enemies. It’s amazing at first, but it outstays its welcome pretty quick.
I’m gonna be honest: I think Brutal Doom is an overrated, mediocre mod. The only thing it has going for it is the ridiculous macho factor, and that seems to be championed by every average dude who always writes about the Doom mod scene. Brutal Doom is usually mentioned as “the way Doom was meant to be,” but it really isn’t. Brutal Doom isn’t the way Doom was meant to be played, it’s Doom if it was a terrible caricature of itself. It’s the Doom comic in game form.
All this does is make Doomguy look like a god damn psychopath who should be in a mental asylum, not fighting monsters.
So, as a response to the article (as well as breaking my own personal rule of no lists), I’m making a list of 6 awesome Doom mods that aren’t called Brutal Doom. These are ones that the Doom community swear by, and are more worth your time than Brutal Doom any day of the week.
As always, these require Doom to run. You can get Doom II on Steam for the low low price of $5. After that, you’ll need a source port to play these. I recommend GZDoom (for Singleplayer) and Zandronum (for Multiplayer). While these mods will work perfectly fine with the default Doom II levels, I do recommend playing these with custom levels, or PWADs, which I’ll link to as well. Unless stated otherwise, these are all focused on single player.
Ever wanted to be an action hero? Terrorists! will live out your dreams of being the next Chuck Norris. Armed with only a pistol and the ability to kick dudes in the face, this mod adds real life weapons and enemies for you to fight in.
Stopping crime the only way possible: with a six shooter and a bunch of bullets.
In addition to the weapons and enemies, there’s also a new feature where you level up your guns by killing enemies with them. Upgrades start out simple, like faster fire rate, but as you level them up, they get more crazy, like a Beretta that converts to burst fire, or a revolver that becomes a long-range rifle. Even your melee and grenades can get upgrades, from electric grenades to explosive roundhouse kicks.
Our hero, kicking robots like it ain’t no big deal.
Wildweasel’s made some other great mods, like the WWII-inspired Nazis! (which goes great with the Egyptian themed EPIC 2), and the action packed Diaz. Terrorists became one of my favorites, only because of the weapon upgrades. The three I just mentioned are all pretty good mods for Doom, and give enough gameplay changes to make it just as fun. For those who want to live out their action movie dreams without actually getting hurt, Terrorists! will do the job nicely.
(Full Disclosure: I am friends with the guy who made this mod, so I might have a slight bias on this choice. It’s still high quality, though!)
Ever wanted to play through Doom campaigns with characters besides Doomguy? Well, Samsara adds characters from many old games of the era, from Duke Nukem, to B.J. Blazkowicz, even the heroes from Chex Quest and Marathon make an appearance here. Now playing as each character will allow you to use only that character’s weapons, so you can’t run around with 4-5 weapons from different games, sadly. However, that’s a compromise I can deal with considering the variety of classic characters involved.
Yeah. I’m the Ranger, a friend of mine is the Chex Quest guy, and we’re fighting a Baron of Hell. Welcome to Samsara.
I’ve always loved crossovers between different game series, official and non-official. Samsara scratches that crossover itch. Playing as the various characters gives a much different take on Doom. Nothing’s more fun than ripping through Chex Quest as Duke Nukem, or playing custom levels like Community Chest 4 with Ranger, or bringing firearms to the world of Heretic. There’s even mods that add the enemies from those games, giving us an unusual mix that you normally don’t see in games like this.
B.J. Blazkowicz, Duke Nukem, and the guy from Marathon, all fighting on the same level. What’s not to like?
Samsara is meant to be played online, either fragging with friends in deathmatch or working together in co-op, with each person choosing different characters for each situation. Though you can play this single player in GZDoom, it’s not the recommended way to play this. Get some buddies together in survival co-op and rip through as many levels as possible. Just make sure you put it on random character for the ideal Samsara experience.
Half-Life is my most favorite game of all time. How I got to experience it for the first time is a story for another time, but one thing that really caught my eye was the mod scene for Half-Life. Much like Quake and Doom before it, people were messing around in WorldCraft making maps for the internet masses. Some were interesting, others were bizarre, then there’s the classics. The mods that did really interesting stuff for Half-Life, and end up being the must-play mods for the game. Such as today’s entry. Since Halloween is around the corner, let’s look at the zombified single player mod They Hunger.
They Hunger was originally released in 1999 as a PC Gamer demo disc freebie, followed by two additional episodes in 2000 and 2001. Neil Manke, who had made the Half-Life mod USS Darkstar for PC Gamer earlier in 1999, was already familiar with game modding for promotional purposes such as Coconut Monkey Adventures for Quake II and Soldier of Fortune for Quake. (Not to be confused with Soldier of Fortune by Raven Software, this SOF was based off a TV show.) Naturally, They Hunger looked to do something most Half-Life mods didn’t do at the time, and it definitely succeeded.