What else is there to say about Doom? id Software's 1993 first-person shooter almost single-handedly established the reputation of the PC as a games machine, and simultaneously kicked the trend of 'games' which were nothing more than hours of FMV footage linked by the occasional mouse click firmly in the nuts. Since then, Doom has appeared on every possible format from the Super NES to Silicon Graphics workstations, something of a testament to its playability. However, the game has always looked the same whatever machine it's been running upon.
Not so with the N64 version!
Midway's upgrade of Doom to '64' status took the form of major graphical upgrades in all areas, from simple things like the textures on the walls and floors (which no longer pixellate into a modern art painting of Oxo cubes when you get close) to brand-new, and really rather unpleasant (in the good way), renders of the familiar monsters. All the levels have also been completely redesigned for the N64 version-the. reason for this is that Doom 64 is very much a one-player game, so the old PC levels, which were designed to serve a dual purpose as multi-player deathmatch arenas, no longer had any reason to hang around and could be pensioned off at last. As a result, Doom 64 is a more claustrophobic affair than any other version, with lots of tight and twisting passageways (usually with a monster lurking behind every corner) and a heavier emphasis on solving puzzles.
Luckily, there's still plenty of bloody action in Doom 64, despite an increase in key-hunting and moving block brainteasers. Pick your way through one of the aforementioned labyrinths and it won't be long before it suddenly opens out into a large multi-level chamber, which is the cue for hundreds of horrible undead monsters to burst from the shadows and lay into you with teeth, claws and flesh-searing fireballs. To even things out, you have a generous array of weapons at your disposal, ranging from your humble fists to the all-conquering BFG9000, which can vaporise anything with or without a pulse in a single shot.
The formula for Doom is well established, and Doom 64 wisely doesn't mess with it. Apart from the altered level designs and updated visuals, the only noticeable change is the addition of a single extra weapon to the arsenal, a rapid-fire laser which when fully powered-up rips through enemies like a hot knife through a baby. Despite their grotesque new clothes, the monsters still behave in ways which will be very familiar to demon hunters of old, so the same tactics still work on them. The main difference is getting used to the analogue control, which at first tends to send you charging head-first into walls and skidding off ledges! One annoying thing about the controls is the way that the L and R shoulder buttons have been set up to let you sidestep in order to strafe enemies - while you're using them, you can't reach the trigger button to shoot. Doh!
All you have to shoot with at the beginning of the game is a pokey little pistol, which can take down the zombie cannon fodder patrolling the early levels in a couple of shots but isn't much use for anything else. Luckily, it doesn't take long before some of the zombies cough up more powerful weapons like shotguns or miniguns, which makes the job of cleansing the corridors a lot easier. Even more powerful hardware is there to be discovered if you take the time to explore the levels fully and seek out hidden areas.
Nice Atmos, Richie
The change in approach from earlier versions of Doom makes Doom 64 a lot more atmospheric. Good use is made of the N64's lighting effects without going totally overboard on things, areas which aren't cloaked in moody shadows usually glowing with ominous red, green or blue ambient glows from machinery or pools of toxic chemicals. While the monsters aren't any more intelligent than in earlier games, the more tangled level design makes it a lot more likely that you'll come across them unexpectedly. Where you used to be able to stroll confidently around a corner and pick off monsters from a distance, now the drooling scum are practically biting your head off before you can bring your gun to bear. In a way, this actually makes things all the more enjoyable when you finally get hold of a really kick-ass gun like the plasma rifle - enemies die screaming right in your face so you can almost smell the blood!
Doom 64 really only falters because of the age of the basic game design - by the time it appeared on import, Turok had already updated everyone's expectations of a first-person shooter, and now Goldeneye has raised the stakes yet further. Still, for undiluted mayhem Doom 64 can still hold its own - if you have a lust for blood and don't want to solve any task more mindbending than 'pick up the key and kill the monsters', Doom 64 could well be worth a place in your software collection!
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I've been here before. There's a ten foot furious-looking red chap throwing green fireballs at my arse and I'm hightailing it down a spiral flight of stairs. It all seems so wretchedly familiar. A sweet tinkle of groaning torture victims brings it all back, as does the rapid oscillation of my sphincter! Ah yes. Here I am. Back in the deeply twisted world of Doom.
Three and a quarter centuries after it first appeared on an abacus, the great first person perpsective shoot-'em-up has finally made it to Nintendo 64. This is the grand-daddy that started it all (I'm not counting Wolfenstein as that belongs to the pre-Doomatic-age).
We're all Doomed!
Most games these days can be described as "Doom but with something." Well, this is Doom but with Doom. If you haven't played Doom, you need to get a life. If you have played Doom, you need to claim back that part of your life that you spent picking your way through multiple levels, fiendish puzzles and truly horrible enemies.
The trouble with any review is that boring bit which starts: 'You Are A blahdy blahdy blah." I'm guessing you've figured out that in this game •you are' effectively a variety of slightly swaying weapons that float around at the bottom of the screen pointing outwards and moving forward, backwards and sideways. Your manifestation can also tug at switches, pick up ammo and open doors. This is not rocket science. Your job is to get from A to B as fast as possible, during which time you will turn carefully dered monsters into the kind of things Delia might drag out of the fridge after anopen day at the abattoir.
The bad guys move in faintly predetermined formations, firing off guns, fireballs and what-not at you. You avoid these, otherwise a salutary umber on your screen diminishes to nothing, signifying the status of your fragile existence.Power-ups in the form of First Aid boxes or blue bottles will extend life expectancy, as will planning, experience and just a touch of grey-matter. But stumbling across any knickknack likely to prolong your wheezing life will illicit squeals of everlasting gratitude to the game designer's awesome sense of appropriate timing.
The question is, why is Nintendo bringing such a very old game to such a very new platform? And how does it compare to all the other versions,specifically the PC and PlayStation?
For starters, this is a very different looking game to what you've played before. Not so as you won't recognize it instantly, but you'll certainly see the differences. Despite a much more varied and adventurous use of colour, there Is still a sense of dark foreboding seeping through each and every damp bulk-head. The developers seem to have been let loose on the color palette but, showing admirable constraint, they haven't opted for ravey pinks and pastels. Instead there are dangerous bloody reds, treacherous bright greens and, most prevalent, deep ponderous blues.
If you're looking for differences between this and previous incarnations, the monsters are a good start. It seems that the higher the monster is in the sick hierarchy of evil,the more he or it has changed.
Far from being the creatures of old, which always looked as though they could benefit from an overnight stay at the dry cleaners, they are now slick, pseudo metallic warriors. Equally astonishing are those fat red things which run up corridors and try to grab you. The best thing about these guys is the 'thud' they make when they hit the ground. Now though, I have taken a fancy to their teeth and claws, details which were sadly missing in previous versions of the game. It was always hard to take these lumps of crimson lard all that seriously but now, well, they deserve a little more respect.
Not surprisingly, Midway Studios has not been slow to take advantage of the Nintendo 64's amazing technical treats. These include the use of translucent fade-in of characters which makes for a more realistic and eerie entrance for the host of Satanic cohorts. If you must prove the superiority of your machine over lesser manifestations, such as PlayStation, this is an effect worth displaying.
3-d or not 3-d
Another is the way the platforms and balconies can overhang lower levels. On other machines, the effect of 3-D, and of depth between levels was a 2D hack. Thus it was impossible for, say, a bad guy to be lurking beneath you while you frantically pace across a balcony. This trick doesn't make for a completely new game, but it does add spice even for the most experienced Doom-a-phile.
The levels are all 3-D polygon maps (as always) and the characters are sprites. But get up close to anything in this game and you won't get that annoying pixelation which had always plagued the Dooms. Everything is smooth and silky. Beautiful in fact.
Perspective correcting, anti-aliasing, z-buffering, and mip-mapping have all been incorporated into solving Doom's long-standing pixelation and other graphics problems. The result is that the game is a supermodel of Dooms.
As for level design, here was an area where there could have been genuine concern. The levels were not designed by ld, but by Midway. Apparently though, ld was super-strict on exercising their famous veto."Id had a heavy hand in making sure Doom 64 came out exactly how they wanted it," said Andrew Hoolan, marketing executive at Midway. "And after two weeks of testing and overview. Id Software left the San Diego Midway studios with nothing but glowing praise. Doom, is a huge attraction, and the game has an immersive feel unlike any of the other Doom versions, or any other first-person shoot-'em-ups"
My feeling is that although this is still a glorious weapons-fest, puzzle solving is slightly more prevalent than usual. Sure, it's all trial and error stuff. You figure the way out by exploring everywhere and that's as far as the puzzle really goes. But there seem to be more switches and traps and lifts and such-like than usual Perhaps this is a result of the game's age, and the need to try to add depth where in essence, there is none. Perhaps also there is the desire to make the most of 30 levels, which is a good deal less than the 55 offered in the PlayStation version. It should be stressed though, that these are all absolutely new levels, while the PSX version carried nothing but PC rehashes.
But before the death-mongers among you turn-off at the prospect of having to use your brains, it should be stated that this is, and always will be, a game where the winner knows how to shoot, and how to get out of trouble. An extra weapon has been thrown in which can best be described as a laser action machine gun. In the catalogue of firearms, it's listed above the truly magnificent BFG 9000, but if truth be known, I'd put it between the rocket launcher and the plasma gun.
And so, finally, to the score. You will know the score already, because it was the first thing you looked at. I am at a loss. On the one hand, this is a very old game which has been dusted down and brightened up because it's a sure fire winner. Cynics might suggest that the Nintendo 64 was built for better things. On the other, it's flaming good fan, and will prove to be well worth your spendage, even if you have already spent half your life crawling the caverns of Doom on all the other platforms. A worthy update of an undoubted classic, but it's not exactly a major step forward.
Not a bad attempt to update the classic-but-elderly PC game, with all-new levels and redesigned monsters to annihilate in an orgy of blood and guts. Although it's been outclassed by Goldeneye, the no-nonsense gameplay of Doom should still have appeal for those who want their killing sprees unencumbered by the need for any troublesome thought or subtlety.
Everyone's played Doom -- versions have appeared on just about every games machine (including an FX2-assisted SNES) since its 1994 PC debut. It's the game that launched the first-person shoot-'em-up, and without it there'd be no Quake, Duke Nukem or Turok Dinosaur Hunter. In fact, Doom has been one of the most influential games of all time.
But N64 Magazine takes a dim view of old games ported to the N64 from less powerful systems. Our view (before we saw the game) was that the designers were going to have to do something pretty special with the ageing Doom formula to get it up to N64 standard. We wanted all-new levels, better speed, re-vamped graphics, better sound effects and scarier monsters. The good news is that, for the most part, our requirements have been met.
Easily the best news is that all the levels are new. Whereas the PlayStation and Saturn got re-worked versions of PC Doom and Doom II, Midway have created all-new scenarios for the N64. This reflects a change that goes beyond simply providing something new for people who've played before. Whereas many of the original's levels were designed with multi-player death matches in mind, Doom 64 is purely a one-player game. The levels are designed to maximise suspense and test the player against computer, not human, opposition. Midway also clearly had this shift in mind when they added extra bonus puzzles and secrets to some levels, complete with clues and rewards.
On the graphics front, news is more mixed. There can be no doubt that this is the fastest version of Doom yet. The analogue stick is a joy to use, allowing fully-graduated movement, perfect for inch-perfect manoeuvering and jumping. The texture maps for walls, floors and interactive objects such as switches show more variety, as well as having that special N64 quality: no pixels no matter how hard you jam your nose up against them. The world of Doom 64 is, rightly, the most convincing of all its incarnations.
However, the biggest disappointment is likely to be the monsters. In the original games, the sheer variety of baddies on offer was a feature in itself and their sprite-scaling and animation state-of-the-art. Now, however, games like Turok and Quake have set a new standard. Monsters are generated from polygons, allowing them to move more smoothly and to be viewed from any angle. N64 Doom keeps the sprite design of old but reworks the monsters into frightening cousins of the originals. Whereas before, Doom's baddies looked okay as long as you kept them in the middle distance, the power of the N64 allows for them to keep their detail at whatever distance, and pretty frightening detail it is to.
However as soon as the Demons, Zombies or Cacodemons start to move, they show all the animation quality of the Incredible Jerking Man. Okay, so none of us have ever actually seen a fireball-throwing zombie, but the chances are if they did exist, they'd be a little less arthritic than they are here. A related problem occurs with relative movement between the player and enemy. As you move around them, monsters or monster corpses have the disturbing quality of suddenly changing their perspective as the sprite is updated.
One of the best features of Turok was the way in which its enemies ran towards you, reducing the amount of time you had to react. In comparison, the enemies in Doom 64 are particularly sedate, allowing you to blast them at your leisure. Because of this the best parts of the game come when you're under attack from multiple angles or when you flick a switch and unleash a whole horde of monsters from that previously-hidden demon cavern.
Despite its re-workings, tweaks and new bits. Doom 64 is still unmistakeably Doom. The music (which defies description in conventional terms) is instrumental in creating that oppressive atmosphere that Doom addicts will know and love. Although it's unlikely that the game will become a true N64 classic, Midway should be applauded for working so hard on something that many would have tried to flog on reputation and past glories alone (see Mortal Kombat Trilogy for details). Next month, though, when we've played it through to the end, we'll deliver our final verdict on Doom 64.
Graphical update of the classic PC game with new N64-only levels. Now feels dated, but very good for nonsense killing action.
Solid and workmanlike but. up against Acclaim's dinosaur-basher and Rare's breathtaking Bond licence, it looks dreadfully old hat.