Doom 64 (N64)

I've been irritated in the past by people who post reviews of games after only playing them for a couple hours, but yesterday I came to understand that mentality. Every once in a while you'll pick up a game that's so horrid that you need to get your money back just as quickly as you can, and you don't want to spend a single second more looking at it. That is how I view Doom 64, so I hope you'll forgive these initial impressions. Frankly, i don't think there's any way that further gameplay could change my mind. Doom 64 is, to put it as bluntly as I can, a waste of money to rent. Gameplay is insipid, graphics are crud and everything about is so primitive that you will feel embarrassed that it is running on the same hardware as Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Super Mario 64.

Graphics: The sad thing about the graphics for this game is that at times they show such potential. The levels themselves are nicely detailed and the anti-aliasing of the N64 is used to its fullest potential. Unfortunately it is crippled in several ways which make it unbearable.

1) It's a waste of nice level design to have all these things to look at and still feel as if your head is in a vice. On a 386 PC there wasn't the processing power to allow for perspective correction when looking up and down using the Doom engine, but on the N64 there's no excuse. It might be faithful to the old Doom engine in a sort of nostalgic way, except that so much else has changed. You can't feel nostalgia, because this is NOT Doom.. it's a much faster, slicker engine that's been crippled to look like doom, and it's unbearable.

2) Just because you CAN do colored lighting doesn't mean that you should do it everywhere all the time. This was a flaw in Playstation Doom as well. Lighting isn't used to add atmosphere, it's just kind of scattered in bright hues seemingly at random around the levels. The overall effect is that of running around a vast haunted discotheque maze. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

3) The sprites for the enemies are simply unacceptable. There are fewer enemies over all, and each one seems to have fewer frames of animation than they did even in the PC version of Doom. They move in a jerky, jumpy way that is simply unbearable, and furthermore the bitmaps (particularly those of the big-mouth ape demons) glitch and break when you get close enough to use your chainsaw on them. Midway has used color cycling to basically double the number of foes, but the problem with that is that with colored lighting you often can't tell what kind of enemy you're looking at. Shotgun guys and normal zombie soldiers look EXACTLY the same, and I usually couldn't tell which type I was facing until I had killed it and saw what kind of ammo it was carrying.

Music: Okay, credit where credit is due, the atmospheric soundtrack in Doom 64 is great. The creaks and groans of the haunted corridors really lend a sense of fear and anticipation to the place. This is the one part of Doom 64 that I really liked, and it gives me hope that Quake 64 will be able to have a nice soundtrack even without the redbook audio.

Sound: Other than the music, the sound is not terribly note worthy. I was kind of hoping to hear the familiar sounds of classic Doom, but they're all new. There's not any noticeable improvement in the sounds though, they're just different.

Gamplay: In a word, painful. Yes, it's Doom. But it's a crippled Doom in most respects. The default control layout makes circle strafing with the analog control impossible (because you'd have to hold the L button and the joystick at the same time.) Game saving is crippled as well, in that it saves ONLY your weapons, armor, health and level. It doesn't save progress in any level. It doesn't save your controller configuration (so you have to reconfigure it each time you play.) If you're thinking of getting this game to relive the great old days of Doom in your youth, (four years ago) forget it. As I said before this game is NOT Doom.. it's a Doom clone with generally the same monsters as classic Doom. There are fewer monsters, and although they're pre- rendered they still look cartooney. The weapons are all wrong (particularly that chainsaw.. what the hell IS that thing? That's no chainsaw!) The colored lighting is not so much nifty as it is irritating in its omnipresence. One other point I'd like to bring up before I stop ranting is the lack of multiplier. Okay, it's silly to criticize a game for not having something that it wasn't designed to have, but this is Doom, for crissakes! Doom IS multiplier. It started the whole thing. Strangely enough, if the opening sequence is anything to judge by, they wasted cart space with a prerendered set of sprites for the Doom marine even though there's no multiplier. Very odd.

Whatever the box may say, and whatever you may have heard or may be implied from the graphics, this game is not Doom. It is not as fun as Doom. The graphics, for all their flash, are not as good as Doom's. The gameplay is not Doom. Do not, under any circumstances, make the mistake I made and spend money on this trash. You have been warned.

Score: 4/10 Don't waste your money!
User Review




FUN: NA/10

- Reviewed by Andrew Wheat
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