Doom for PC was the first game that I ever played that game me nightmares. I would play late into the night in my families computer room with the music ramped up. Hearing the growls up of the demons and eventually being ambushed by them scared the crap out of me – and I loved it! When doing some research for this review, I discovered the Doom for N64 was different than all other Dooms – it had all new levels, upgraded graphics, new weapons, and was exclusive to the N64. So I decided it was about time to head back into my past and slay some demons!
In terms of story, the humans have reclaimed the Earth from the demons and have pushed them back to the Moon where they still reside. In a last ditch ever, the Earth bombards the Moon with radiation to try and kill the remaining demons. While it initially appeared to work, something was created on the Moon that was able to slip back to Earth. This new entity had the power to revive any demon that had fallen – so it did just that and revived the whole demonic horde back on Earth! In this game, you play as the sole surviving marine of the marine strike force sent to prevent the demonic horde from advancing.
In terms of gameplay, this game is a one-player first-person shooter! No multiplayer here! Here is my experience in a nutshell of basically every level: explore the level, find more powerful guns, destroy demons, find the level keys, find secrets to get even more powerful guns, destroy more demons, unlock doors to get further into the level, find the exit, rinse and repeat. While is sounds simple and uninteresting compared to many contemporary first-person shooters, its actually deeper than it appears and thoroughly enjoyable!
Level design is great and more verticaly-oriented compared to the original. The levels have a scary atmosphere, are filled with lots of hidden areas that motivated me to fully explore each one, and have some really interesting puzzles! While the levels do eventually get large and easy you get lost in, there is a mini-map that can be accessed to make things a bit easier!
The game also does a great job creating a sense of progression as the player gets further and further into the game. The enemies start out as basic zombi marines, but soon become demons shooting fireballs, those aggressive melee monsters (see above), and eventually the crazy cyborg demons shooting rockets! But as the enemies become harder, the weapons became more awesome as well! The arsenal in this game is fantastic! You get everything from chainsaw, pistol, shotgun, double barrel shotgun (my personal favourite), rockets, and plasma gun, among others! Each one feels deadly in their own way and a lot of fun to use of each of the different types of demons!
The one area of the game that bothered me initially was the controls. The N64 controller does not have dual analog sticks so contemporary controls for FPS games are possible here. Players are unable to look up or down, and can’t jump! I tried playing for an hour and just about gave up playing because everything felt backward and awkward – but stick with it! After a few hours, I got used to the controls and my experience with the game improved dramatically!
In terms of graphics, they are great compared to the original Doom series. The lighting effects are better, the enemies have fancy new 2D sprites, and the levels have a fantastic scifi-horror atmosphere that still gets under my skin. My only real complaint with the graphics is that its DARK! There was one instant where I fell in a giant pit and it was pitch black – I couldn’t see anything and was unfairly slaughter by enemies because I couldn’t see them. I turned up the brightness to full on both the game and TV which helped clear up some of these problems, but still felt that the developers should have optimized this aspect of the game before shipping it.
The music is quite minimal but really does a good job of setting the mood of the game with industrial sounds and monster yells. The sound effects get the job done with satisfying item-pickup sounds and great weapon sounds.
In summary, Doom 64 is a hidden gem of the Nintendo 64. It has great level design, interesting level-based puzzles, and an awesome arsenal of weapon to blow up demons! If you like retro FPS games, be sure to give this one a try – just be sure to give it a good few hours to get used to the control! I give this game a final score of 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10