In a sense, this was one of my problems I've always had for every version of brutal doom. It just wasn't scaled properly. The enemies I killed seemed unfairly terminated. If I shot them with any weapon, they didn't feel like a threat, and the ludicrous amounts of gore, although it was certainly awesome, didn't make enemies as satisfying to kill as the classic doom we all grew up with. In a sense, this was one of brutal doom's fatal flaws; sometimes, when you played it, it felt too overwhelming. It just didn't feel like doom. The shotgun wasn't as effective, and more often than not I was pushed to play maps with more and more enemies because the only way I could feel satisfied was if I saw more of the gore. It was all focused on the gore and the difficulty and not on the actual fun.
This was all changed in Sergant_MK_IV's v19 release. Some people may not be aware that with every release, brutal doom has reigned-in the gore to some extent. If you play the older versions, the gore feels unrealistic and too cartoony. Doom was always about the sense of impending doom; it's always been a sci-fi action horror. Simply put, if the kills didn't feel real, the glory is lost. That's something that I feel that Sergant_MK_IV has taken to heart. The enemies may not be as goretastic as they once were, but instead of looking like a pile of limbs, blood, and guts, we get the satisfaction of seeing the enemy being dead. This is why I think v19 isn't simply "not as brutal" as some would say. I feel that with this halloween release, Brutal Doom feels like I'm actually playing Doom again, and not just some fever dream, awesome though it may be. I seriously think that Sergant_MK_IV has grown and learned a lot as a developer over these past 19 versions, and that his expertise is really showing. The location-based damage, and the weapon balancing are all seamlessly integrated into the experience, it isn't any longer simply about adding "more" just to be cooler. It's about revival. It's not any longer about adding a lot of gore, it's about adding some of it, but having that albeit smaller amount so well animated that it feels just as, if not more effective than any prior version.
In version 18, I felt like somehow the game had been changed, and although I do love brutal doom very dearly, I feel that it was no longer the iconic doom I loved. It felt like a Quentin Tarantino movie remake, and not Quentin Tarantino himself. It added so much that it stopped being doom. Doom didn't need hoardes of enemies to feel fun; it just needed a shotgun and a handful of enemies placed at the best possible location. Every kill renewed the experience, it didn't push it foreward or run it. It was just as much about the atmosphere as it was about the killing.
Think about it. Would the first F.E.A.R. game be as good if it had more gore and more enemies, and had weapons so powerful that you needed entire armies to balance them? Certainly not! F.E.A.R. is a sci-fi action horror game. It's like doom; its atmosphere and a few, but well implemented enemies make you really feel like you ARE the pointman. You don't feel like some guy who happened across bullettime powers and a bunch of awesome weapons, somehow as a fluke. You really were that god-among-men. You were the badass they said you were, the versimilitude was maintained with well-paced and balanced gunfights mixed with a carefully detailed atmosphere.
This is every bit of what made DOOM so great. It wasn't about bloodshed or violence. It was about it's namesake, DOOM, a terror that builds as you surmount the insurmountable. Hell didn't seem like cannon fodder. It seemed like a very personal terror. It didn't seem fair, to have a game where you could explode enemies that were supposed to be fearsome into a billion little pieces. They felt not as terrifying; they were reduced to a threat and not a nightmare.
In version 19, brutal doom takes the Brutal Doom franchise, and instead of asking itself what to add, it asks itself what it really needs, and exactly how should it trim the fat. It slices so much fat from so many parts of its implementation that it once again feels like I'm playing a game, not just a mod to make a game more brutal. Brutal doesn't come en-masse. Brutal is deliberate. It's punchy and swift and strikes when you least expect it, it's not some kind of buzzword that people use to explain a ludicrous amount of something. Brutality takes a masterful knowledge of something and uses its expertise in devising the best possible way to completely destroy that thing. It's brutality, it's not just "ludicrous". That may work for some games, like rise of the triad or Shadow warrior, but doom stands alone not for its dated, now-cartoony graphics. It stands alone because those graphics, and every facet of its being, was so masterfully crafted that you don't need those fancy graphics to enjoy it just as much as you did in 1992. It just works. It just feels like DOOM.
Brutal isn't a verb. It's an adjective. It should add to the thing applied to it, and not detract or change. It's a spice and not an ingredient. Brutal Doom has now re-conceptualized itself to be more of a renewal of doom and not a replacement. And for that, I feel like Sergant_MK_IV has proven to us once again that one dedicated modder can do just as much to a game as an entire team can do by making it in the first place.