Wait A Minute, I Could Have sworn that this game was shareware once. Remind me; wasn't this the game which redefined the definition of "shareware" as we knew it? Didn't this "title" smack the complacent commercial games industry in the "marf and make it cry? Didn't this product send various games companies scrabbling for their wallets in a desperate attempt to snag the development house responsible? Didn't that very same development house say "no", quite vehemently, only to go on to reap the financial rewards of this ground-breaking product?
Was it... ? Yes, it was. It was Doom. I remember quite clearly now, Ah yes, and ID - the backroom programmers who made it big with the double whammy of Wolfenstein and Doom. And who will probably make it bigger with Quote. Once a bunch of rollerskating surfers with day-glo girlfriends, the programmers of Doom now drive Ferrari Testarosas and worry no longer about the lack of mooch in their pockets.
So, Doom, flagship of the shareware renaissance, bastion of ail that is great and gory in gamesplaying, the game which stole the hearts and spare time of millions of pc players, which took badly-dressed Romero and co. and gave them Italian designer "automobiles", has become just like any other commercial game - another product, to be milked, repackaged, resold, and rebundled for optimum mooch gathering.
Cynical? Perhaps. But you can't help thinking that repackaging Doom in this way is just a cynical way of leeching a few more pounds from a game which has already made zillions. Non?
Thy cash consumed
Ultimate Doom is basically the original, full version of Doom (v1.9) repackaged with an extra ID-designed nine level episode. Thy Flesh Consumed. The CD version also contains the Doom CD (no frills, just runable from the cp), and the shareware version of Heretic. There are no new monsters, no new graphics (bar a groovy, yellow sky texture), no new weapons - in fact, no new features of any kind really, just nine new maps, ranging from the okay to the excellent.
The whole episode took me about three hours to complete. That was with saving and crusading through each level, taking any leftover weapons with me to the next one. Then I played it through again, starting only with a pistol each time. That took me nine hours (slotted in between, you'll understand, copious amounts of partying, raving, drinking, gigs, films, snogging. Fights, bungee jumping, surfing, and playing the guitar and so on). I also spent a good hour or so taking a gruesome charnal-soaked trip down memory lane, revisiting the good bits of Knee Deep In The Dead, Shores Of Hell, and Inferno. Do you remember Command Centre (hi M7) and its joyous multi-levelled complexity? Or the superbly excellent Containment Area (E2M2), with its booby-trapped warehouse and frightful "crushy bits"? And, of course, Mount Erebus (E3M5) which I challenge anyone to complete from a pistol start and no saving?
So, all in all, I spent about 13 hours sitting three inches from my monitor in a chair which gave me backache, quaffing aspirins, while sort of halflistening, half-watching Stars In Their Eyes (as you do). I'd say that works out about 2.30 an hour.
In truth, there are zillions of new pc users each year, and these newbies may not have experienced Doom yet. So Ultimate Doom will be a neat purchase for them. Cool. It is, without doubt, a classic game, every bit as scary and playable as it was a year ago. But for existing Doom owners, who registered shareware Doom when it first came out, and have bought Doom II and dreamt the endless strafing dreams of a Doom addict. Thy Flesh Consumed is nothing short of a waste of time and money. There are thousands of Doom levels circulating on the Internet, on bulletin boards, and magazine cover disks.
Some of them have new graphics, new monsters and new sounds. Lots of them are rubbish, some of them are okay.
And quite a few of them are really good, better than the best levels Thy Flesh Consumed offers. If you want to pay 30 for nine new levels, go ahead. See if I care. You have been warned.
Ultimate Doom: Thy Levels Exposed
Level one is obviously intended (or deathmatch and is acoustically designed to amplify the death cries of multiple players. Small, enclosed, claustrophobic and deadly - all the best attributes of a deathmatch level, bar the incongruous slime pool. It starts off simply enough, but teleport traps soon take over and before you can say "Gott In Himmel", the whole place is swarming with nasty things. And before you've even started, you're missing the super-shotgun. Nightmare. More traps for you later -involving darkened tunnels, ambushes that are just out of sight, and the old "walk forward and they teleport behind you" ploy. There's a nice little tight spot towards the end and then 4:30 seconds later you're in the cfear.
Numero deux is an excellent level, featuring all the deadly little skirling boards Doom's architecture can come up with. The main room - various pillars suspended above a deadly sea of cacodemon-packed lava - leads to three sub areas. The first, opened up only after deft leaping from parapet to parapet, is a nasty little Baron-packed holiday, with zombie waiters and cute, little, impish waitresses. After a series of frantic switch (licking and lever pulling, area two opens up, revealing its nasty cavernous mazey interiors and army of invisibles. Ouch. Then, when you've totalled everything, Monsieur Le Rocket Hands makes a grand entrance, trapped, but as deadly as ever (fig 4). Behind him the exit. Behind you a zillion rockets. Overall, stupidly hard and far, far too many barons.
The next level is a slight change in style. Out go claustrophobia and parapets, in come wide open hallways and treeway width corridors. Your aim, simply enough, is to get the red key to get inside the prison, but your way is blocked by a zillion billion monsties, and of course, a complex array of long tunnels, lift traps, and lava lakes. Notice the clever use of Doom's restricted line of sight to hide essential health and ammo. Cor, and all you had to do was drop down. Overall, a dash 'em up level, running, shooting and running some more. Not too much thought needed. A little too big and a bit boring.
This one is realty rubbish, obviously designed by American McGee's three year-old child. Very plain layout, very boring. Obvious traps and not much variety. Snooze-ola. In fact, we're not even going to bother describing it to you. So here's a really boring screenshot tor a bit of formas-meaning.
Now this one's much better. A unilormly textured "inside a castle" experience with loads of overlapping, intricate hidden passageways doubling up on multiple levels, intersecting lava labyrinths and three or four layered sniping points. Nasty for the beginner this one, especially with its fully-planned and irrigated lava flow. Monster count is fairly low, but the majority of nasties are well placed and hard to get at, often sniping through distant, high-up windows. Tunnel your way through that lot and you have to navigate the slime maze on a desperate, out-ofbreath quest for just one more radiation suit. Finally, as you near the end, your health seeping through molten cracks in the floor, you have a toss up between the easy-to-reach exit and the hard-to-get BFG. The choice, as they say, is yours.
Level six is excellent. A serious you-versus-castle-Dracula situation. From a fairly innocuous looking start, you stumble across the outside of a small looking keep. Hah, small. This keep is like the Tardis. A huge high-vaulted cavern awaits you inside, packed solid with tomato monsters, barons, and all our regular friends. A central pillar in the middle acts as a teleport to each of four main areas (depending on which way you enter it), but to get to the pillar you have to wade through acres of red deadly slime. This is a huge level and will take you loads of saves to complete. There are heaps of torturous high-rise shirting boards to navigate as well as multiple hidden bits and out of the way ammo reserves. And then when you've navigated the outsidey bits, there's another showdown with the CyberLord. Cool. This would not make a good death match level.
Uh-oh. Back to the drawing board with this one. And Hell Followed is a fairly average wad. well thought out but pretty dull. The action is (airly linear. Big corridors leads to sparse junctions whirl- lead to sparser tunnels and more junctions. A couple of nice darkroom traps are set - but sticking a bunch of invisibles in a dark room is an old joke (And a crap screenshot. Ed.) Some attention has been paid to visuals, such as the arcane altar tor the yellow key, but overall the level is yawnsville. Bar, actually, the large open area towards the end which is perfect for bolting about, setting all the monsters fighting against each other. But, ail in all, a pretty Doom average experience.
The last level of Thy Flesh Consumed is exactly what you would expert. Damn big and damn hard, culminating in a showdown with the (yawn) SpiderBoss. The whole level has four main areas. First, an elliptical balcony, packed solid with sarges, and deeply booby-trapped with cacos and barons. Get past this lirst major hurdle and you may well find yourself in an excellent 'oulsidey' bit, a garden if you like, with cute little towers to possess and a series ok paths which lead to - aarrrghhh, a nightmare jumping exercise from Hell. Much needed resources balanced atop much unneeded pillars. Leap. Save. Leap. Save. You know the drill. And then finally, once tooled up, you're ready to take on the throne room of the (snore) SpiderDemon, which is packed with all its zombie acolytes, and has a range of nice sniping windows. Kill the arachnid and it's curtains for you. The end of the game. And 30 quid well spent. Not.
There is a secret level. It's pretty hard and pretty good. We'll let you find out how to get there and what wad-o-meter score to give it. Wo might as well leave you one level to discover yourself.
Download Ultimate Doom
Arguably the hottest computer game of all time, Doom comes in a package that's billed as the "ultimate bestial binge." This version includes the three original episodes of Doom (all 27 demon-bashing levels), plus 9 new episodes entitled Episode IV: Thy Flesh Consumed. If you've been living in a cave and don't know what all the buzz is about, Doom's gameplay is first-person, maze-exploration, run-n-gun action.