Dec 10, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (RPS)
20 years since the course of videogaming was set forever. 20 years since id created what may very well still be the most notorious game in history. 20 years since deathmatch became a thing. 20 years of guns, 20 years of keycards, 20 years of happy hell. 20 years of Doom, not the first first-person shooter but surely the foremost breeding stock of the genre. Happy birthday, old stick.
If only you could talk to the monsters on their birthday – now that would be something. Instead, Team RPS will have to reminisce about the big, brash first-person shooter that changed everything. (more…)
Absurdly violent mod Brutal Doom is a perfect lesson in the pleasure of bloody violence. And yet, even with it taking its obnoxious philosophy way past any natural conclusion, it's neither childish or embarrassing - unlike, say, that Ninja Gaiden Z trailer. This most gore-filled version of Doom's Id Tech 1 years has now reached its 19th version, bringing new fixes, animations and improved effects.
Okay, so maybe it is a bit childish. That's kind of the point, though.
After 10 months in development, version 19 is now available to download. Of its completion, creator Sergeant_Mark_IV writes, "V19 is not the final version of Brutal Doom. It's just the final version for a while. I need to take a long break of it, work on other projects, and return to it somewhere in late 2014/early 2015."
If it isn't enough to run through a blood slick version of the original DOOMs, you can also get a beta version of a Brutal Doom expansion for Doom 2, titled Beyond Hell and Earth.
You can download and see the changelist for Brutal Doom V19 over at ModDB.
Oct 5, 2013
Remember when buying a game didn’t feel like a guarantee of seeing the ending? There are still hard games out there, Dark Souls flying the flag most recently, but increasingly, the challenge has dripped out or at least softened, often leading to sadly wasted opportunities. What would Skyrim be like, for instance, if its ice and snow wasn’t simply cosmetic, but actually punished you for going mountain climbing in your underpants?
With a quick mod – Frostfall in this case – you’re forced to dress up warm before facing the elements, and things become much more interesting. That’s just one example, and over the next couple of pages you’ll find plenty more. These aren’t mods that just do something cheap like double your enemy’s hit-points, they’re full rebalances and total conversions. Face their challenge, and they’ll reward you with both a whole new experience and the satisfaction of going above and beyond the call of duty.
Game: Stalker: Call of Pripyat
All those weapons scattered around? Gone. Anomalies? Now more dangerous. Magic mini-map? Forget it. Valuable quest rewards? Good luck. Things you do get: thirsty, and factions who send goons after you if you anger them. On the plus side Pripyat is much more active, with a complete sound overhaul, and new NPCs to meet – who all have to play by the rules too, with no more infinite ammo. If you can survive here, you’ve got a good chance when the actual apocalypse comes.
Fallout: New Vegas
Link: Nexus Mods
Nevada is a good example of making things more difficult without being openly psychotic. Levelling is slower, players and NPCs get less health, and obvious features are now in, such as armour only being a factor in headshots if the target actually has head protection. It’s also possible to toggle some extra-hardcore options, such as food no longer healing and taking care of hunger/thirst/ sleep on the move. There’s a sack of new content, and an Extra Options mod is also available, offering even more control.
Despite what modern ‘old-school’ shooters would have you think, Doom was a relatively sedate experience – fast running speed, yes, but lots of skulking in the dark and going slow. Not any more! Brutal Doom cranks everything up to 11, then yawns and goes right for 25.6. We’re talking extra shrapnel, execution attacks, tougher and faster monsters, metal music, and blood, blood, blood as far as your exploding eyes can see. It’s compatible with just about any level you can throw at it, turning even E1M1 into charnel house devastation. The enemies don’t get it all their own way, as Doomguy now starts with an assault rifle rather than simply a pistol, and a whole arsenal of new guns has been added to the Doom collection – including the BFG’s big brother.
Full Combat Rebalance 2
Game: The Witcher 2
This streamlines the combat and makes the action closer to how Geralt’s adventure might have played out in the books. He’s more responsive, can automatically parry incoming attacks, begins with his Witcher skills unlocked, and no longer has to spend most fights rolling around like a circus acrobat. But he’s in a tougher world, with monsters now figuring out counterattacks much faster, enemies balanced based on equipment rather than levels, and experience only gained from quests, not combat. Be warned this is a 1.5GB file, not the megabyte Hotfix that’s claimed.
Elder Scrolls games get ever more streamlined, and further from the classic RPG experience. Requiem drags Skyrim back, kicking and screaming. The world is no longer levelled for your convenience. Bandits deliver one-hit kills from the start. The undead mock arrows, quietly pointing out their lack of internal organs with a quick bonk to your head. Gods hold back their favour from those who displease them. Most importantly, stamina is now practically a curse. Heavy armour and no training can drain it even if you’re standing still, and running out in battle is Very Bad News. Combine this with Frostfall, and Skyrim finally becomes the cold, unforgiving place it claims to be.
Total War: Shogun 2
Not only is this one of the most comprehensive mods any Total War game has ever seen, its modular nature makes it easy to pick and choose the changes that work best for the experience you want. Together, the campaign AI is reworked, as are the skills and experience systems, diplomacy and technology trees. There are over 100 new units. Campaigns are also longer, providing more time to play with all this, with easier access to the good stuff early on in the name of variety. There’s even a sound module that adds oomph to rifles. Add everything, or only the bits you want. It’s as much of a tactical decision as anything else on the road to conquering Japan.
Game of Thrones
Game: Crusader Kings II
Real history doesn’t have enough bite for you? Recast the whole thing with Starks, Lannisters, Freys and the rest and it will. This doesn’t simply swap a few names around, but works with the engine to recreate specific scenarios in the war for the Iron Throne. Individual characters’ traits are pushed into the foreground, especially when duels break out. Wildlings care little about who your daddy was. It’s best to know a fair amount about the world before jumping in, and the scenarios themselves contain spoilers, but you’re absolutely not restricted to just following the story laid down in the books.
Game: Grand Theft Auto IV
Guess what this one does. A bowling league for Roman? Cars that drive themselves? A character who appears to tell Niko “You have $30,000 in your pocket, you don’t need to goon for assholes” after Act 2? No, of course not. These guns put a little reality back into the cartoon that is GTA. The missions weren’t written with that in mind, obviously, but there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a shot. Worst case: murdering random civilians on the street is much quicker, easier and more satisfying. At least until the cops show up to spoil the fun. Range, accuracy, damage, ammo and fire rate are all covered, though be warned that you shouldn’t expect perfect accuracy from your upgraded hardware. This is GTA after all. Realism is not baked into its combat engine.
The Long War
Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
You’re looking at eight soldier classes, many more missions, invaders as focused on upgrades as your own science team, and a much longer path to victory. Research is slow, not least to make early weapon upgrades more useful, while the aliens are constantly getting more powerful. Their ships are better, their terror missions are more regular, and more of them show up for battle. In exchange, you get to field more Interceptors, the council is easier to appease, and the ETs don’t cheat as much.
Game: Far Cry 3
Ziggy makes Rook Island a more natural place, removing mission requirements for skills, cutting some of the easier ways to earn XP, increasing spawn rates to make the island busier, and throwing away the magic mini-map in favour of a compass. The second island is also unlocked from the start. Smaller changes include randomised ammo from dropped weapons, being able to climb hills that you should realistically be able to, and wingsuit abilities made available earlier to get more out of them.
Minecraft has a Survival mode, but it’s not desperately challenging. Terrafirmacraft takes it seriously, with hunger and thirst that must be dealt with at all times, and key elements added such as the need to construct support beams while mining to prevent cave-ins, and a seasonal cycle that determines whether or not trees will produce fruit. Many more features are to be added, but there’s enough here already to make survival about much more than throwing together a Creeper-proof fort.
Game: Torchlight II
Link: Synergies Mod
This adds a new act to the game, over a hundred monsters, new rare bosses, a new class – the Necromancer – more and tougher monsters and the gear to take them on. There are also endgame raids to add challenge once the world is saved yet again, and more on the way – including two new classes (Paladin and Warlock). It’s the top-ranked Torchlight II mod on Steam Workshop, and easily the most popular. Be aware that it’s still in development, and has a few rough edges.
Game: Civilization V
Link: Steam Workshop
While Brave New World has officially given Civ V a big shake up, for many players Nights remains its most popular add-on. It’s a comprehensive upgrade, adding new buildings, wonders, technologies and units, with a heavy focus on policies and making the AI better. The single biggest change is how it calculates happiness, citizens adding cheer simply by existing, but the slow march of war and other miseries detracting from the good times. Annexed a city? Don’t expect too many ticker-tape parades. Yet keeping happiness up is crucial, as it’s also the core of a strong military. This rebalancing completely changes how you play, while the other additions offer plenty of scope for new tactics and even more carefully designed civilisations.
Ultimate Difficulty Mod
Link: TTLG Forums
This makes Dishonored’s enemies more attentive, faster and able to hear a pin drop from the other side of the map. When you get into a fight, it quickly becomes an all-out street war. The biggest change is to Dishonored’s second most abusable ability: the Lean (Blink of course being #1). Corvo can no longer sit behind scenery, lean out into an enemy’s face and be politely ignored. He’s now much more likely to be spotted – especially in ghost runs, where his advantages are now limited to the Outsider’s gifts rather than the Overseers’ continued lack of a local Specsavers.
Game: Deus Ex
New augmentations! Altered AI! Randomised inventories! Also a few time-savers: instead of separate keys and multitools for instance, a special keyring has both, while upgrades are used automatically if necessary. Difficulty also changes the balance considerably, from the standard game to ‘Realistic’ mode where you only get nine inventory slots, to ‘Unrealistic’, which makes JC Denton the cyborg killing machine he’s meant to be, but at the cost of facing opponents who warrant it. In this mode he gets double-jumping powers, and automatically gobbles health items when he gets badly wounded. Good luck though, I still got nowhere.
Aug 2, 2013
Every week we pull an interesting review, feature, or bizarre ad from the PC Gamer magazine archive.
In the spirit of id Software's QuakeCon, we thought it'd be appropriate to share a Doom feature from our premier US issue in 1994. "Doom has taken control of my life," admits former editor Matt Firme. "And I'm not alone."
For full-sized images, click here and here. You may need to right-click to open these images in a new tab.
Doom's just not metal enough; thank goodness for Brutal Doom. Released in March last year, the beloved mod sought to make the classic even more hardcore and real—it introduced new death animations, gave objects shadows, and made headshots a thing. Now Brutal Doom's announced its 19th update, and after watching this trailer, I can say that I am very ready for this. (Though my ears, maybe less so.)
Brutal Doom's ModDB page reveals that the update releases August 9, with various unspecified new features, fixes, and "polishments" to be added. Developer Sgt Mark IV says that this will "probably" be the final version of Brutal Doom. The next game he's keen to focus on uber-gorifying with the Brutal treatment? Hexen. For now, we just wait till August for this. Someone pass me the super-chunky salsa—I want to bite down hard on that tasty, tasty desensitization.
Jul 4, 2013
Apr 21, 2013
Omri mentioned a mod called gmDoom last month, which allows you to bring the Doom experience, including weapons, enemies, HUD, and entities, into Garry's Mod. After watching a few weeks pass as bugs were squashed and updates were released, I decided it was finally time to pull-start this particular chainsaw and take it for a spin. I also decided, instead of just playing around, to really play. Specifically, I wanted to play through the entirety of the Half-Life 2 campaign, using only the gmDoom HUD and weapons. Space Marine, welcome to City 17!
Hm? What? Who? Space Marine is skeptical.
After getting off the train in City 17, I realize how happy I am to be an angry, violent Space Marine instead of a befuddled, bespectacled scientist. Gordon Freeman didn't pick up a weapon until a good half-hour into Half-Life 2, but Doomguy is always packing a pistol, a chainsaw, and his fists. Rather than wandering through the beginning of the game, helplessly watching as citizens are abused at the hands of the Metrocops, I can immediately right some wrongs by applying a healthy dose of SPACE VIOLENCE.
So, when I see a Metrocop shove a citizen, I punch him to death (the Metrocop, to be clear). That annoying flying camera robot gets a taste from my pistol. What's this? Other cops, standing around doing nothing violent? Not on my watch! They die. I approach a couple citizens as well, just to see if weapons work on them too. (Weapons work on them too.) Oh, and that cop who tries to make me pick up a soda can and put it in the garbage? I saved the chainsaw for him.
Marines. Always. Recycle.
Before long, I'm in the canals, fighting enemies who can actually fight back. It mostly works well: the weapons are effective and feel natural after a few minutes of play, though you have to be pretty darn precise with your aim for long-distance kills. It's also a genuinely neat experience: the sights and sounds of the throwback Doom weapons mixed with the atmosphere and enemies of Half-Life 2. It's double-nostalgic. It's like combining two tastes I love, bacon and chocolate, into one violent, historic mouthful of video game.
Something else I notice: while it feels a little odd in this day and age to play a game where you're constantly staring at your own face, it does make your health quite a priority. Instead of a percentage or a colored bar, you get to look at your sad mug streaked with blood, a pretty visceral reminder that it's not your health meter taking damage: it's your own face. Finding medkits feels a lot more urgent when you're hurt so bad your hair is bleeding.
Space Marine needs food, badly.
Ammo for my Doom weapons, naturally, is not stocked in City 17, so I just spawn some for myself from the Garry's Mod menu when I run out. I try to also give myself new weapons when it feels appropriate. When Metrocops start using machine guns, for example, I give myself Doom's chaingun. When I remember that you don't get a shotgun until you get to Ravenholm, I give myself one anyway, because screw that.
After escaping City 17, I wind up deciding to skip the second half of the canal levels. Making a Space Marine drive a crummy boat powered by a fan just seems insulting. It's like making Willy Wonka eat a celery stick. He knows not of, and cares not for, such primitive tools. Fast-forward, then, to Ravenholm!
Plus a quick stop in Black Mesa East to kill a disgusting alien. You're welcome, Vance family!
In the zombie-patrolled streets of Ravenholm, our Space Marine seems quite comfy. Hideous shambling monsters, blood, gore, horror: these are what Doomguy was made for. I admit, I do pine for the Gravity Gun, because flinging giant circular blades into zombies is still awesome. The super shotgun works just fine, though.
These zombies don't shoot back? You got off easy this time, Earth.
After blasting my way through Ravenholm with kindred spirit Father Gregori, I decide to skip the driving sections of HL2 as well, mostly because the driving feels like 100% Half-Life 2 and 0% Doom, and the mix is what's really making this fun. I skip to the lighthouse at the end of the coastal maps, and dig in with the resistance as they fight off the Combine attack.
After defeating a few waves of drop-ship soldiers, I run into a little problem when the Synth Gunship arrives. I've given myself Doom 2's rocket launcher, but it only fires in a straight line, as opposed to HL2's laser-guided launcher. The Gunship doesn't shoot my rockets down, but there's no need: I keep missing because the Gunship keeps moving. Try as I might, I just can't hit the sucker. He, however, has no problem hitting me. It's time to call in reinforcements.
No shame in a Marine calling for backup. SPACE backup.
I use G-Mod to spawn a Doom Cyberdemon-- shut up, that is TOTALLY FAIR-- and the gunship and the Cyberdemon immediately decide they hate each other. (Isn't introducing one enemy to another enemy always awkward, like when your work friends meet your personal friends?) Unfortunately, the Cyberdemon is also unable to hit the gunship. Finally, exasperated, I just take out my G-Mod physics tool and hold the stupid gunship in place, letting the demon blast it to pieces. ALSO FAIR.
Hold still. This will only hurt a lot.
And, having used a physics tool from 2006 to help a cyborg demon from 1993 kill a biosynthetic airship from 2004... that's where my play-through of Half-Life2 abruptly comes to an end. It was a fun experiment, sure, but holding a three-dimensional gunship in the sky with my finger so a two-dimensional demon can whomp on it serves as a massive reminder: I don't just have two great games to play with here, I've got three, and I've all but forgotten about the Garry's Mod part of the experience. I've been eating bacon and chocolate, YES, but I've been completely neglecting the GLORIOUS BOTTLE OF BOURBON sitting right there to wash it all down with.
Time to switch from playing Half-Doom 2 and start playing a game I call Make Everything Fight Everything Else By The Lighthouse For Six Straight Hours!
Combine vs. Heavy Weapon Dudes!
The Combine win!
Pinky vs. Combine!
Arch-vile vs. Antlion Guard!
Antlion Guard wins -- but Arch-vile really does raise the dead Doom monsters! Awesome.
Antlion Guard vs. Spiderdemon!
Spiderdemon wins (eventually)!
Helicopter vs. Pain Elementals and Lost Souls!
Draw. Spawned helicopter doesn't seem to ever die, and Pain Elementals never seem run out of Lost Souls.
After making Everything fight Everything Else for six hours, I do, eventually, return to Half-Life 2 proper, mainly to see if I can take down a Strider with a Doom 2 rocket launcher (I can, and quite handily) and to try out the plasma cannon on the Combine (it works amazingly well). And, of course, to unleash the BFG on a store-front full of Combine soldiers.
Looks like the store... *sunglasses* ...is CLOSED.
Putting this mod into that other mod and putting both mods into Half-Life 2 is amazing. Do it! Do it now!
Installation: Mostly simple! However, you'll need a WAD file from one of the Doom games to import all the assets. If you don't own a Doom game, you can use a WAD file from the free shareware version of Doom and still get most of the weapons (I used Doom2.wad; full list of what the various WAD files give you access to here). Drop the WAD in the garrysmod/garrysmod folder in your Steam directory. Then, just subscribe to the mod on Steam Workshop and when you boot up Garry's Mod, it will be enabled. You can spawn all your weapons and monsters from the menu by pressing Q, and enable the HUD using the console code doom_cl_hud 1.
Also, and perhaps this is obvious, but you'll need Half-Life 2 installed for all the Half-Life 2 stuff.
You can't escape Doom. After tearing open a portal to Hell on the Source engine, it's aiming its slavering maw at the roguelike genre with DoomRL, where you'll have to escape a dark and infested facility of demonic horror while also worrying about the looming threat of permadeath. No pressure or anything.
All the roguelike trappings show up alongside sound effects and graphical sprites lifted directly from the FPS. You'll frag beasties in quick, turn-based battles while scrounging for ammo, health, armor, and keycards. Three classes—Marine, Scout, and Technician—determine your stat spread and passive traits, and there are over 30 randomized levels and mod support for extra user-made floors.
DoomRL already has a dedicated community talking shop and contributing content over on its official website, and the latest version, 0.9.9.7, released yesterday after a little over a year in development. You'll probably want to brush up on the game's wiki as well before jumping in.
Mar 19, 2013
As far as giving an older game the Source treatment, GhorsHammer's gmDoom port project is probably the quickest to elicit a "Holy %)#@" out of me since Black Mesa. It chainsaws out the UI, enemy, and weapon sprites from the proto-FPS and stitches them into Garry's Mod with astonishing smoothness. I can't imagine how downing a Strider with a blast from the BFG would work, but after seeing it in action in GhorsHammer's video, I can't imagine how it wouldn't work.
The mod is undergoing a final round of bug testing and tweaks, and it'll show up in Steam Workshop sometime this week for download. It looks like the Frankensteinian bridge between Doom and Source flows both ways, as you're seemingly able to set up fights against classic hellspawn such as the Cacodemon and Revenant while touting Half-Life 2's arsenal. That includes vehicles, and running over crowds of Imps in Episode Two's muscle car while blasting E1M1 sounds all kinds of awesome.
Mar 8, 2013
Article by Nathan Ditum
Apparently refusing to avail itself of the teleportation technology that kickstarted its earliest predecessor, Doom 4 has been creeping towards us slowly from the shadows since it was announced in May 2008. Since then it’s been teased, mentioned, and even glimpsed in a leaked selection of artwork that suggested anyone looking for finely detailed neo-classical balconies was in for one serious thrill ride when the game finally arrived.
We’re less focused on the neo-classical balconies, though, and more on the shooting and the hellspawn. Here are a few ideas we’d like to see propping up the big first-person shooter’s return.
This is a call for barrels in an emblematic sense, which is exciting as it’s something that might never have happened before. The thinking behind it is that the barrels in the original Doom and Doom II weren’t necessarily a sublime piece of game design, but did and do effectively recall the /style/ of play. They’re placed apparently at random, but also in places where an early shotgun blast will set off the exaggerated “ker-TUSH”explosion followed by the slick sound of entirely inside-out enemies capitulating to gravity. There is a cartoon kineticism to the original games, epitomised in the barrels, and in dodgeable fireballs, and the ability to strafe so quickly you can see the side of the rocket you’ve just fired. Translating this directly would be disastrous, obviously, but a sense of it is what was missing from the hollow horror of Doom 3, and will be crucial to Doom 4 (and if that leaked art is anything to go buy, it looks like we’re covered).
It’s very important that the game take us to Hell in a literal, lakes of fire, citadel of Pandemonium, walls of the agonised damned way. This is what gave the brash original its exploitation punch - you’re not popping your way through a familiarly demonic arcade metropolis, you’re in /actual/ Hell, a Roger Corman stakes raising that contributes significantly to Doom’s shotgun abandon. The leaked art shows New York torn apart by some kind of pan-dimensional event, the poor Public Library getting a very similar going over to the one it received in Ghostbusters II. It looks like an up-to-date-ing of Doom II’s Hell On Earth scenario, and Id Software has talked about gameplay involving post-civilisation survival. We’re fine with all of that, as long as the upshot is that we get to go back to Hell and shoot it in its face.
An unshakeable faith in the power of the shotgun...
...except when there’s a plasma weapon handy. Doom more or less defined the 1-2-3-4, fist-pistol-shotgun-chaingun notion of armoury escalation in first-person shooters. It is the standard from which Halo deviated with its potent handgun and two weapon limit, which many others have followed. How Doom 4 returns to and passes comment upon this is unclear, but by virtue of its lineage simply including guns in the style of any other shooter is not an option. It needs to either knowingly defy or satisfyingly play upon expectations - make the shotgun a death-packing standout maybe, or offer a chainsaw attachment to all weapons - and it must remember the direct feedback and deadly simplicity which made scaling Doom’s firearm pyramid such a thumping rush.
A hero generic to the point of invisibility
This sounds counter-intuitive if not deliberately askew. But! If ever there was a series to free us from the tyranny of shooters that bleed feelings and force character into action then it is surely Doom 4. Stop leaking emotion all over our loading screens. Stop sending us impassioned grunts recorded in downtown LA soundbooths that are intended to somehow make shooting demons more meaningful, as if there could be any meaning more powerful than them being demons and us having a gun. Doom is about purity of purpose and big expositional screens filled with small red text that tell all the story you need apart from a small angry face raising its eyebrows and occasionally becoming a bruise with a orifice in the middle. It would be excellent if it could stay this way - and happily, from the looks of the leaked art the character designs couldn’t get more generic without having their virtual features sanded down to a raw nub.
An engine that works
Rage was designed to show what id Tech 5 could really do. For months, marketing materials and developer diaries crooned about the new engine's "mega textures" that would give artists complete mastery over the surface detail of Rage's rust-coloured canyons. But come launch day, it just didn't work. The textures took long moments to load in every time you turned your head, offering smeary geometry where there should have been fine detail. Whether id decide to pursue the claustrophobic survival horror trappings of Doom 3 or joyously embrace the lurid slaughter of Doom 1 and 2, the engine needs to show us the treasures promised by Carmack and co. in the run up to Rage.
What would you like to see from Doom 4? Do you want to mow down the hordes of hell, or cower in the dark with a flashlight?