The Brotherhood of Ruin


Fact Sheet

Authors Kristian Aro
IWAD Doom 2
Engine Boom compatible engine
Date 2001/11/26
Levels 7

Review by Colin Phipps

screenshot Brotherhood of Ruin is a mini partial conversion for Doom 2 in an ancient civilisation theme. I'm certainly no expert on the latter, but some books I have around here suggest that the architectural style is one of the south American civilisations, possibly Mayan, with its very blockish cuboid style of architecture and pyramid-like temples.

screenshot The levels are simply beautiful. Sometimes when I review levels I find myself having to go back afterwards and find somewhere suitable for a screenshot - there's no danger of that here, I was taking a dozen screenshots at every level, and all good enough that I didn't want to drop any of them (ok, 100 screenshots would have rather dwarfed the review, but that would probably be no bad thing :-). Not only are the textures used for the stone walls and floors excellent, but there are many more textures imported of detailed stone carvings on walls and pillars, which create a very detailed and ancient feel.

It's not simply the textures that make this a great episode though. You could re-texture all the levels in cement grey and they would still be impressive, because the architecture is excellent. The blockish style of the buildings is offset well by the pillars, carvings and torches inside, and outside by the excellent rocky canyons.

It's not just a pretty picture either. The level makes good use of the rocky ledges in the canyons, covering them with sniping monsters and traps which release cacodemons to hunt the player. Inside, the cramped architectural style means the player often has limited room to maneouver, adding real difficulty to the fights. The episode is well equipped with traps and secrets too.

  1. This level is built around a rocky lava-filled canyon, and the surrounding ledges, rocky caves, and stone buildings. The canyon itself is an excellent fight, with the player forced to do a difficult jump to the other side of the canyon, while under fire from enemies firing from a dozen different ledges. There are some good tricks and traps in the side areas too, and ammo and health are tight throughout.
  2. screenshot A big sprawling level, consisting of a number of sinister stone buildings connected by a mixture of open courtyards and dark underground passageways.. There are some particularly good pyramid-like structures in the outdoor areas, and also some good use of water too. Every area is strongly defended
  3. This level consists of a number of buildings surrounding a large central pyramid-like structure. The player has to work their way through the various buildings locating the keycards and switches. The architecture continues to be excellent, and there are some great fights in the main outdoor area, balanced by some good tight action inside.
  4. More stylish architecture at this level, with a mixture of dark rooms, acid rivers, and courtyards. I generally try to avoid using cells but the limited ammo at this level left me with little choice at times. There are some clever fights, and particularly a number of clever traps which keep this one interesting throughout.
  5. A tricky map with very limited ammo. There's some tricky action at this level, in particular a narrow straight canyon part with enemies attacking the player from first one end and then the other, as well as enemies on the walls firing down.
  6. screenshot This level is set in a couple of large buildings set in a series of canyons. Once again there is really impressive architecture both inside and outside. There is some excellent action once again, with the clever and complex layouts making the player think about their strategy, and providing some good surprises.
  7. The final level continues in the same style, with a series of spacious canyons overlooked by enemies, and dark cramped stone buildings with tricks and traps to catch the player out. There is no really decisive final showdown, but a series of big fights with archvilles, a cyberdemon, and a grand building with a swarm of barons and hell knights to defend it - a good battling level to end the pack.

There is a good selection of spooky and sinister music included with the episode. This comes from a variety of sources, including one of my favourite tunes from Heretic, and some tunes by Paul Corfiatis. These really complement the excellent atmosphere of the levels.

If there is one criticism of this episode that can be made, it's that the levels end up feeling the same. The ancient civilisation style is so well executed and yet so different from the normal styles one sees in Doom, that the player could feel that the levels are too similar. It is certainly true that while there is excellent variety in the most of the levels, in the later levels it feels as if the author is having to search a bit harder for new ideas. Certainly if this were to be extended to a longer episode then more variety would be needed, but at only 7 levels I didn't find this a major drawback for the episode.

The episode is not especially hard, and health is certainly plentiful at most of the levels, but the player is often cramped for space, and plenty of traps around mean that it certainly keeps you on your toes. The main danger to completing the episode is the limited ammo, especially through the middle levels of the episode - admittedly I was playing at coop, where ammo efficiency is usualyl lower, but lack of ammo forced us to replay parts of the levels a couple of times. Provided you are careful with ammo though, this episode works really well at coop.

Overall, this episode is one of the best Doom experiences I've had in a long time. It's an instant classic, both beautifully designed and textured, and packed with action to keep the player on their toes. If you play no other WAD from 2001, play this.

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