Doom is timeless and everlasting, and no matter how many years pass it remains just as much fun as many modern ‘successful’ action games. It’s true that parts of its gameplay are now a bit out of place, but to fix this problem there’s the so-called Brutal Doom, a set of mods that improve (if that’s possible) the original game with new weapons, a better control system, and loads of gore—exactly what anyone who spent their teen years in the middle of the 90s could ask for. Here’s a tutorial on how to install it.

Although the process is extremely simple it can’t hurt to explain a bit about the internal functioning of Doom. The game from id Software is not itself compatible with current PCs, meaning that the available legal editions run on an emulator like DosBox, as in the case of the versions distributed on Steam.

Luckily the original game code was released in 1999, meaning that fans have been able to create their own emulators to run titles that use the Doom Engine on modern machines, with improvements to resolution and control, and this covers both Doom I and II as well as Final Doom, Hexen, and Heretic, to name some of the most famous. That said, to run it you need the original game files that store the current graphics and audio, the so-called IWAD files, and we leave it up to you to get these yourself. Here are all the components you’ll need to play Brutal Doom:

What you need

  • The original files for Doom I or II. If you don’t have them already you can also turn to the shareware version that includes all the necessary files, although it only gives you access to the first 10 levels. There’s also a totally legal alternative in FreeDoom, a free version of the original game with all the graphics and sounds changed to keep from infringing distribution rights. [Download]
  • Brutal Doom itself, which is nothing more than a WAD file that acts as a patch on the original to add all the extra features. [Download]
  • An engine emulator. Given the thing mentioned above about the original Doom not being able to run on modern machines, there are lots of engines that solve the problem and can run the IWADs on their own. One of the best out there is Zandronum, which also incorporates a server-search system to play games online. [Download]

How to install it

First you’ll download the WAD files for Doom or Doom II along with the one for Brutal Doom and you save them both to the same folder. If you don’t have the original Doom files, use the FreeDoom ones, although you’ll be playing on that game’s maps instead of the original ones.

Then you download and install Zandronum. When you do, the browser’s WAD files will automatically be associated with the engine, meaning if you double-click on the pre-downloaded WAD for Doom you’ll be playing the original game, which is already awesome.

Now start Zandronum. The first thing you’ll see is a list of active servers online, although at the moment what you’re interested in is something else. Go to Options > Configure and then to the File Paths section, where you’ll select the folder that holds your WAD files.

Now go to the WAD for Brutal Doom, double-click, and it will ask you which version of the game you want to run it on (Doom, Doom II, or FreeDoom). Now to play! If you go to the options section inside the game you’ll find loads of setup options, although by default everything’s already brilliant, and increasing the resolution is not going to work miracles given the size of the original textures and sprites. Just in case, you can change the Software rendering system to OpenGL, which will improve the framerate per second on certain machines.

The online game

Brutal Doom is in itself a marvel for enjoying the original games with a dose of blood and guts, but you can take further advantage of it if you play the online game. As we’ve already mentioned, Zandronum includes its own network games manager via the DoomSeeker client, where you can connect to online games. The list will show the number of players connected along with the type of game and the WAD files needed to play. The latter is due to the fact that each server is a world unto itself, and given the high level of game customization you might find yourself on a Canadian server where the graphics have been swapped out for those of the Megaman but with porn plastered all over the walls (no kidding). In any case, you don’t need to worry about anything, as DoomSeeker takes charge of automatically downloading any missing files.

Likewise, you can create your own servers via File > Create Game, although you might get a bit lost in the face of so many customization options where you can select the WADs you want to use, the particular map for the pack, the rules to be applied, and the connection restrictions for other players. Don’t worry too much, though, as if all goes well you should see your game in the DoomSeeker list alongside all the others.

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  2. Thanks for all the info, but for a copy of the original doom would one of the re recesses work like the ones you can buy off steam in the collectors addition?

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