Tuesday, 12 March 2013

SPECIAL FEATURE - DOOM - Part 2 - WADs, Mods and Addons


Enjoying Doom in 2013

Hopefully part 1 of this special feature focusing on the first 2 Doom titles will have whet your appetite for some demon slaying action. Now I will take a look at the best way of enjoying these iconic titles on newer platforms, as well as the wealth of additional content available online that can enhance and significantly change your Doom experience.

The early Doom games are still, to this day, the most satisfying, action packed first person shooters you can play. Over the years games have tried to emulate the powerful feel of Doom's weapons, the charming (if you can use that term) selection of monsters, and the adrenaline rush and no-frills carnage, but none have succeeded. Sure, there have been some great first person shooters since Doom, the best ones by id themselves, but as developers tried to add more story-based ideas the games lost their way, becoming full of tedious cut-scenes, drawn out missions, and QTEs (Quick Time Events). Doom 1 and 2 are still exceptionally satisfying and fun to play some 20 years after their release. Whether you are experiencing classic PC Doom via the fabulous DOSBox, the exceptionally atmospheric PlayStation port, the remixed N64 version, or the Atari Jaguar edition, you cannot fail to be entertained. But for those of you who are tired of the standard levels and appearance of Doom, or just want the vanilla experience on your current consoles, there are plenty of options.

Source ports can make Doom look incredible 

The PC is, and has always been, the best place to go for Doom action, which I will go into soon, but over the last couple of years the Xbox 360 and PS3 have also joined the Doom party. Xbox Live Arcade features both Doom 1 and 2. Programmed by Nerve Software, but as authentic as you can get, both games look the part and still play wonderfully. They also feature online deathmatch and Co-op play making them essential. Nerve's Doom 2 also contains a brand new episode named No Rest For The Living which features 9 brand new levels.

One of the new episode maps from the XBLA version of Doom 2

Playstation 3 owners are even more spoilt for Doom action, with Doom Classic Collection on PSN containing Doom 1 and 2, both with all additional episodes (Thy Flesh Consumed & No Rest For The Living), Final Doom, and even the rare official add-on pack The Master Levels. This is the definitive home console version and should be purchased post-haste by anyone who enjoys the early Doom games. It's a shame that they didn't include an option to listen to the sinister soundtrack first heard in the original Playstation release, as the midi tracks on offer here sound even more dated and weak today. This version can also be played online, and has trophies to earn for completing each Doom game.

The cover for the PSN Doom Classic Complete (Collection)

Doom 1 and 2 can also be obtained via 2012's Doom 3 : BFG Edition. This edition comes with Doom 1 and 2 (including the No Rest For The Living episode) and is available on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. I absolutely despise Doom 3 though, due to its incredibly boring gameplay, overly dark levels (you literally spend most of your time running around unable to see anything), and weapons that lack any kind of 'punch' whatsoever. Therefore I advise that you avoid it and stick to the downloadable originals instead – Seriously, I hate Doom 3 so much I couldn't bring myself to sully this feature by writing about it. It is worth noting that Doom Classic Collection is not multiplayer compatible with Doom 1 and 2 on the BFG Collection. Naughty Bethesda!

Source ports

Since the source code was released by John Carmack in 1997, programmers were quick to build source ports that would run the original game executable and maps with graphical enhancements, new game features and altered gameplay. Source ports have been released and updated over the years that keep the Doom graphics looking great even 20 years on. Zdoom is one of the most popular, with its OpenGL based sister port GZDoom being my favourite and enhancing the graphics even further. These enable high resolutions, HUD options, mouse look (which makes an enormous difference), dynamic lighting, 3D models (should you wish) and hundreds of small tweaks to fine tune your Doom experience. 

JDoom adds OpenGL support and nice lighting effects

You can play all the officially released Doom games using these ports (providing you own them of course), and it adds a new dimension to playing them. If you have been away from the Doom games then it will be like meeting up with a cute girl from school that you had a crush on to find out she is now a super model. There are plenty of other choices, so it is down to personal preference. Chocolate Doom offers the most authetic Doom experience – sticking closely to the Doom of the 90's, while Jdoom / Doomsday / Risen3D all offer gorgeous OpenGL graphics with support for 3D models. There are others, such as EDGEPRBoom and Legacy, so have a look and see which suits you best.

Risen3D allows you to replace the classic 2D sprites with 3D models

Skulltag is a multiplayer focused port that uses GZDoom. As well as being able to play the usual single player levels, there are 2 new modes. One tasks you with fighting off waves of progressively tougher enemies, while the other is a straight-up deathmatch battle with either bots, or human players online. It has recently been replaced by Zandronum, so I recommend you use that now. Doomseeker is also an incredibly helpful tool which finds servers for you and also downloads all necessary WAD files needed to join a particular game in progress.

Skulltag Deathmatch is fast, furious and extremely fun

WADs, Mods and Total Conversions

Ever since the early user made levels, or WADs (short for Where's All The Data), were released the Doom community has gone from strength to strength. As well as brand new levels that easily rival those created by Sandy Petersen, John Romero and American McGee, many Doom fans created graphical hacks that replaced textures, monster and weapons with objects from other sources. The first Star Wars mod was quick to appear, and is famous for inspiring George Lucas himself to set his Lucasarts team to work on creating what ould become Star Wars : Dark Forces. Total conversions like the Star Wars one often resemble completely different games but, generally, always maintain the feel of the Doom experience.

An early Total Conversion adds characters and objects from 
The Simpsons cartoon

One mod you simply cannot afford to miss is Brutal Doom, an utterly ludicrous transformation to the Doom experience that ramps everything up to insane levels. Enemies are now faster and more vicious, weapons are beefed up and cause utter carnage. Blood and gore splatters both the walls and ceilings of the levels as well as the screen itself, and the monsters die in new and horrible ways. The berserker power-up now allows fatalities to be administered in full third person view, and enemies are often left screaming, burning, or both as you mow down other waves of beasts. It is the most frantic, messy, and downright crazy incarnation of Doom you will play.

Brutal Doom adds ludicrous amounts of gore to the carnage

One of the many 'fatality' style third person scenes from the 
deliciously horrific Brutal Doom. Take that you son of a bitch!


The PlayStation port of Doom (and Final Doom) is outstanding. It improves on the PC original in many ways – beefier sound effects, a sinister soundtrack and excellent lighting that really gives it the edge over the brightly lit corridors seen in other versions. I still play these versions on my old TV, and it is extremely satisfying. It suffers from a slower pace than the PC, and has some slight differences to level design and monster placement, but its atmosphere keeps you coming back. Imagine if you could take the soundtrack, lighting, and meaty sound effects (complete with loads of reverb) and mix it with the high resolution graphics and faster pace of the PC game. Well imagine no more as it exists, and it is all kinds of awesome!

The wonderful flaming skies make a return thanks to PSXDoom

PSXDoom is a total conversion that, as you probably guessed from the previous paragraph, brings the PlayStation experience to the PC. If, like me, you consider PlayStation Doom to be the best version then you need this in your life. Once you play this, you simply won't be able to go back to vanilla Doom graphics again. The dimly lit corridors with TV screens flickering yellow light, and pools of water omitting a blue glow lend the title a much more suitable, horror edge to proceedings.

The sinister lighting effects add immeasurably to the horror atmosphere

Also worth playing is Threshold Of Pain, a 12 level episode that bases itself on the original Playstation games. It can be run in GZDoom, and is both well designed and successful in replicating the visual style of the Sony 32-bit version.

Threshold of Pain is a great episode that uses the original 
look of the PlayStation version to great effect

Doom64 EX takes the unique Nintendo 64 game and blends it with a graphically enhanced source port to bring you one of the best Doom experiences out there. It features all the remixed textures, sounds, monsters and weapons of the 64-bit console version, but adds in some extra visual trickery, and the ability to play with the mouse and keyboard. No more suffering the plastic Fisher-Price nonsense of the N64 controller! Hell, yeah!

The new look monsters and guns of Doom64 make a welcome return

Ultimate Super Doom 3 Mod takes the monsters, weapons, textures, and atmosphere of Doom 3 and implants it firmly into the classic Doom titles. There is a mod for the horrible Doom 3 that reproduces the famous Doom 1 episode 'Knee Deep In The Dead' using the Doom 3 engine. It looks great, but is ruined by the weedy weapons, and general crapness of the third game. However a reversal of roles – taking Doom 3 content and mixing it into the Doom 1 or 2 world yields far better results. There are cutscenes and voice overs taken from Doom 3, but they play in the corner and don't disrupt the speedy flow of classic Doom gameplay. The animations are excellent and smooth, especially the weapon reloads. Any mod that allows me to avoid playing actual Doom 3 gets the thumbs up from me.

Doom 3 weapons and enemies in Doom? You got it with USD3Mod

Hacx, while quite old now (being released in 1997), is still a decent total conversion. It was released as a retail package in 1997 after the developers paid id Software for the rights to distribute it commercially. It didn't see much success due to new games like id's own Quake doing the rounds, but it is a forgotten gem worth seeking out. Hacx 2.0 was released in 2010 and is standalone, meaning you don't need Doom to play it, just run it in Zdoom and off you go. It features new guns, enemies, levels and textures, a whole new game basically. It has a completely different story and feel to it than Doom, combining elements of Bladerunner and Deus Ex to produce a worthy alternative to Doom's familiar monsters and setting.

Shooting up the office monsters in HACX 2.0

Cold As Hell : Special Edition is a survival horror experience set in an abandoned military base in a snowy landscape in the 1950's. It has new weapons, a reloading system, bleeding that needs to be contained with bandages, and a whole new hub level system which you can travel around with the right security keys. There are notes, often blood soaked, laying around the base that give clues to what has happened, and it really excels in giving the player a sense of isolation and desperation. The project has been around since 2004, but 2008 saw an enhanced special edition that contained much improved graphics and some additional voice acting. Think classic Doom mixed with Silent Hill and you will get a good idea of what to expect.

Allies join in the good fight in the creepy Cold as Hell : Special Edition

Temple of the Lizard Men 2 - For something a bit different I would recommend this exciting adventure which comes across as Indiana Jones on a planet inhabited by killer lizard beasts. Armed with the usual Doom arsenal, it is your job to explore the temples, forests and ruins and put a stop to their murderous behaviour. It has a great visual style that is worlds apart from the standard space facilities or pits of Hell that you may be familiar with, and will keep you gripped until its conclusion.

The foggy lake is full of nasty monsters. Just one of the many 
highlights of the atmospheric Temple of the Lizard Men 2

Your fellow marines make a rather useless appearance
 throughout your adventure

Also on a slight comedy tip is Urban Brawl : Action Doom 2. This first person beat-em-up is like a cartoon version of Streets of Rage played from the viewpoint of the hero. The visuals are amusing and stylish, and the close combat melee action (using crowbars, knives and bats) is a nice change of pace.

Cartoon knife fights in the ladies bathroom? This must be Action Doom 2!

There are simply far too many excellent levels and total conversions to go into here. Indeed, there are whole websites dedicated to them, I have barely scratched the surface. I have just mentioned some of the ones I have enjoyed the most, can remember, or am currently playing. Once you have enjoyed some (or all) of the ones I have recommended, then there is still a whole world of Doomy goodness out there to discover.

Head on over to http://www.doomworld.com for up to date news on Doom, as well as easy access to the archives containing all the downloadable wads and add-ons. Check out their Cacowards for the last decade of yearly awards handed out to the best (and worst) of Doom wads.

Some mods, like the shocking Italian made, Grezzo 2, are a good 
example of people losing the plot with Doom modifications

Running Source ports and mods

Running Doom on a modern system is easy as pie. It may appear complicated at first, but it really isn't. Nearly all wads come with a readme file containing all info you will need if you get stuck.

First of all, download GZDoom (or your preferred source port), unzip it to a folder (i.e. C:\DOOM) then add your (owned) Doom 1 or 2 official wads to the folder.

Then simply run the GZDoom.exe file. Easy.

For running other mods and add-ons you will need a .bat file.

Open a text document and type:

GZDoom -file xxx.wad

where xxx is the name of your wad, and save as GZDoom.bat

So if you wanted to run the excellent Community Chest 4 WAD with the graphical enhancement add-on Beautiful Doom, all you would need to do is download and unzip them to your doom folder, and then run a .bat file including the following:

GZDoom -file BDoom_Monsters.wad BDoom_Objects.wad BDoom_Weapons.wad cchest4.wad

You can run more than one wad at a time but make sure they don't clash on level numbers or both contain similar graphical changes otherwise you will run into problems (or they won't work at all). Other source ports come with GUI's that allow you to choose directories and files using the mouse, negating the need for .bat files.

Showing 'Pinkie' who's boss (GZDoom)

Get to it

So there you have it. Absolutely hundreds, nay thousands, of extra hours added to your favourite game. Who could ask for more?

I hope this feature has inspired you to dig out your old Doom CDs (you do own them, right?) and start replaying the best games ever made with brand new graphics, sounds, monster, levels and much much more. No matter how different the game may look, you can't take the Doom feeling out of it. Whether in the familiar UAC base or Hell's firey depths, on the moon, through the forests of Vietnam, a cartoon city, or even somewhere based on your own town or university, blasting an imp in the face with a shotgun is still just as satisfying.

So, load up DOSBox, plug-in your old PlayStation or N64, purchase the ports available on your 360 or PS3's download service, or go crazy and dive into the humungous world of the online Doom community. Try out a smorgasboard of levels and modifications. You will never need to play another first person shooter again... well, except for Quake.. and its sequel. But that's another story for another day.

Now off you go... Go kick some demon ass!

Work in progress WAD, The Island, features some fantastic graphics 
that aim to push the limits of GZDoom



Doom Classic Collection (buy the original games here)

GZDoom (one of the best Source ports)

Zandronum (Skulltag Successor) - Multiplayer

Doomseeker (Utility for finding multiplayer games - essential)

Doom World (Fantastic resource for levels and news)


Xbox 360


PlayStation 3

I hope you enjoyed this article, and that you will find hours of entertainment from the suggestions offered here.

Please feel free to leave any comments, or recommendations for other Doom WADs and such, and offers for multiplayer sessions are always welcome!