Doom (PlayStation) review
"Doom has evolved into its very own software platform, and because of that, all of its straightforward console versions would be useless even if most of them weren't wretched. Most of iD's original maps are great, sure, but I'd have stopped playing years ago if that's all there was. It only takes one or two trips through each before you're wise to the tricks and sleepwalking through the traps. No, Doom owes its absurd longevity to all of the user-made maps that are still being churned out even in..."
Doom has evolved into its very own software platform, and because of that, all of its straightforward console versions would be useless even if most of them weren't wretched. Most of iD's original maps are great, sure, but I'd have stopped playing years ago if that's all there was. It only takes one or two trips through each before you're wise to the tricks and sleepwalking through the traps. No, Doom owes its absurd longevity to all of the user-made maps that are still being churned out even in 2010. Something new to see and play is only ever a click away at the /idgames/ database, and some of it's really quite good.
No console could ever capture that, which makes any port that doesn't put a twist on things kind of pointless. PlayStation Doom is aware of this. Developer Williams didn't reinvent the wheel, but they did give it a fantastic makeover with the aim of making the game feel less like a comic book and more like a horror movie. Midi-metal has been replaced by creepy ambient music, garish bright lighting has been replaced by garish dim lighting, and the classic sound effects have been redone to be just that extra bit more menacing. It's still recognizably Doom, but Doom as interpreted by John Carpenter.
Whichever version you're playing, Mt. Erebus is a series of islands in the middle of a lake of fire. As E3M6 of the PC game, with its bright red sky and driving soundtrack, it's a slaughterfest. There's really nothing more to say about the map--it's full of monsters and ammo. As LEVEL 21 of the PS1 game, with its dimmer lighting, with hellfire raging in the background, with infants crying in the distance... it's still a slaughterfest, but a surprisingly unnerving one this time around. Ironically, PlayStation Doom is one of the best examples why graphics matter in video games.
Even the text interludes were overhauled: they're narrated, and whichever intern they forced to read off the lines between coffee runs completely overacted. It works. Winning the game and hearing him mock you, bellowing that you can “RETIRE TO A LIFETIME OF FRIVOLITY” is just brilliant.
PlayStation Doom is a robust package. The title DOOM is even something of a misnomer, since Williams culled dozens of maps from both The Ultimate Doom and Doom II. This one's a tremendous value for the five bucks it costs these days, and even if you've been playing the games for years it would take a dedicated weekend to get through it. Crank up the difficulty like a man when you're playing the old maps and you'll see some of the sequel's monsters pop up in unexpected places, which is a nice touch to keep die-hard fans on their toes.
Williams also get points for trying with a system link multiplayer mode, though really, very few people would bother with two PlayStations and two copies of the game just to blow some enemies to hell in Doom. Splitscreen would have been a nice touch, but its omission is hardly Hell on Earth.
Unfortunately, PlayStation Doom has a bigger mark against it: missing levels. Like other developers before them, Williams just didn't find it worth bothering to make the original games' more complicated maps work. The Living End, where you slugged your way around the edges of an underground cavern before teleporting onto the fortified mountain in the middle? Gotcha, where the original Doom's two biggest bosses fought each other to the death? Secret levels Wolfenstein and Grosse, with monstrosities like the Nazis and 8-year old Commander Keen? All four are sorely missed.
There are bonus maps to take their places, sure, but they're kind of rubbish. Standing in for Doom II's iconic final map is Redemption Denied, where you just have to kill a small pack of tough enemies. Boring. If you've survived every map included with the game so far then you've already stood up to worse, and when you probably weren't even expecting it to boot. No wonder the narrator mocks you: the PC version made you earn a lifetime of frivolity.
Even a cynic like me can't complain that The Chasm is missing, though. Seriously, fifteen minutes of narrow ledges above pits of lava? Fuck you, Sandy Petersen. Fuck you.
Absent maps are mostly missed and splitscreen two-player would have been nice, but the upshot is that PlayStation Doom's twist on the original game's look still gives it an edge over other ports' inherent FRIVOLITY. I'm sure Williams didn't really care about whether people would still play their version in the distant future, and there's even a chance that they only did it for the money. The fact remains that while every computer made in the last ten years can run Doom, this replacement was the one and only to future-proof itself by being any more than a poor man's version of the original. Whether PlayStation Doom is an improvement or not is personal taste, but unlike its SNES and 3DO brethren, whether it's worth checking out for any Doom fan isn't up for debate.
Community review by mardraum (July 09, 2010)
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