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Doom

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  David A. Palmer Productions/id
Publisher:  Activision
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  FPS
ESRB:  Teen
Date Posted:  12-05-01

I think weíre all pretty familiar with Doom by now, arenít we? Game that proved shareware could work. Most influential FPS of all-time. Highly controversial. Great FPS. You know all that stuff. Well, what if I told you that you could play an almost perfect port on a handheld? Doom for Game Boy Advance is here, and it rocks.

Doom thrusts you in the role of a space marine in trouble. Your buddies are all gone (dead), and youíre left alone to fight off horde after horde of various demons and such. Thereís no real story to the gameÖyou just blast your way through three episodes of eight levels each. And once you beat it, thereís no fancy-schmancy ending scene.

Of course, none of this matters because Doom is all about pure action. This action is carried out through a simple, yet intuitive control scheme: "A" controls your weaponry, "B" opens doors and such, and the "L" and "R" buttons are used to strafe. The level design is excellent, with multiple floors spanning indoor and outdoor areas, numerous corridors and passages, various switches that need to be toggled, and a lot more. There isnít a wide variety in the different types of enemies, but each has itís own unique attack patterns and weapons. And speaking of weapons, youíll get to take on the bad guys with your fists, shotguns, chainguns, plasma rifles, and many more. Each has a different firing rate and strength, making choosing the proper one for each situation a critical part of gameplay. The AI is rather antiquated by todayís standards, but itís still excellent for a handheld game and provides plenty of challenge.

The graphics also shine, with character sprites and level textures that compare very favorably to the original PC hit. The color palette isnít that varied, but thatís because itís Doom. The PC original had a dark and spooky feel to it, and thus a faithful port must also. Luckily the player can adjust the screen brightness, so not being able to see whatís going on is rarely a problem. The framerate is largely consistent, although in tight spots with multiple enemies it can slow down considerably. To help offset this, they provided the ability to toggle between static and dynamic lighting. Despite the occasional slowdown, I recommend you leave dynamic lighting turned on as static lighting floods every nook and cranny with light, and as a result youíll miss out on some truly awesome lighting effects.

Be forewarned however, that this port isnít quite a perfect port. First, enemies ooze green blood instead of red. Activision (in the wake of recent events like Columbine and the WTC) wanted to tone down the game a bit to deflect any potential controversy from itself. This shouldnít even be an issue (what does the color of the blood matter?), but obviously itíll still matter to some people. Secondly, things get a bit blurry off in the distance as a result of the GBAís small screen. It doesnít hinder gameplay in any way however. Finally, the sound of surrounding enemies no longer fades away depending on distance. This was an important part of the original (you could tell by the sound how far away an enemy was), but itís absence doesnít effect gameplay as much as youíd think it would.

The other major problem with this game lies in the fact that it is an almost-perfect port of Doom. Doom is old, very old. Having been ported to bazillion different systems, odds are youíve played it in some shape or form. If youíve had your fill of it elsewhere, thereís no real reason to purchase this one unless you simply must own it in portable form. Additionally, newer gamers weaned on more advance FPSes will find Doom very limiting. You canít look up, you canít look down, and you canít interact with NPCsÖyou just kill things and try not to be killed. This simplicity is the big draw for many, but it will undoubtedly turn off others.

Highs:

  • Straight-up FPS fun tuned to perfection.
  • Amazingly, Doomís 3D raycasting engine has been ported to a handheld with minimal loss in quality.
  • Itís a near perfect port of Doom.

Lows:

  • Vanilla presentation is faithful to the original, but doesnít make it any less boring.
  • Very minor port problems associated with the platform.

Final Verdict:

Doom has arrived, and itís just as fun as it ever was. If youíre a Doom junkie, then add a full point to the overall score and buy it immediately. For the rest of you, Doom is a very solid purchase that you should at least take a look at.

Overall Score: 8.3

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