Doom 64 (Nintendo 64) Review

By Athanasios 13.05.2016 1

Review for Doom 64 on Nintendo 64

Console users had to wait for a long time before getting to play a decent port of the classic Doom titles, with the PlayStation version being arguably the best, despite it making a couple of sacrifices of its own. It's hard to believe it, but even the old-school part of the series was considered next-gen for an impressive duration, and, as a result, only desktop PCs could handle it. Midway Games tried a different approach, however, and created a completely original product (graphic engine and all), but with the same gameplay mechanics of the original. The result? Not very impressive at all...

Doom 64 is disappointing for numerous reasons. For starters, unlike Doom 3 that made the mistake of not looking like a Doom entry, this takes its cue from the originals, and expands on that. Unfortunately, though, Midway has only done half of the job right. The first flaw is that it uses 3D for levels and 2D for enemies, and while that happened back in Doom, here it doesn't look right because those two don't blend together, leaving behind flawless, smooth 3D surfaces, littered by pixelated, cardboard cut-outs.

Screenshot for Doom 64 on Nintendo 64

As for the designs of the enemies themselves, they look like the plastic toy versions of the older, but also far better-looking, prototypes. The next issue is that it is all so annoyingly dark. Now, the thing with the franchise is that every single title in it has lots of darkness in it, yet there is also lots of light sources to create the required contrast, while this simply doesn't. Finally, a problem that may or may not affect gamers (note: it did happen during this review process) is that the frame-rate is pretty low, which, coupled with the overall darkness and overabundance in coloured lighting, can make people dizzy after 10 to 20 minutes of playing.

Screenshot for Doom 64 on Nintendo 64

The major problem, though, is that it all looks boring. The common theme in the series is the notion that a hellish dimension has invaded a sci-fi space station and then merged with it, which leads to a level design where rooms with monitors, artificial lights, and cement walls are "plagued" with pentagrams, corpses, lava in the ceiling, or tentacles in the floor. Here stages fall in two major categories: dull space station, and stereotypical, fire and brimstone hell.

Sound-wise, it's a mixed bag. Enemies and weapons are just fine, but the ambient music is pretty lame, first because this is not a horror/mood game, therefore, it could benefit from some good 'ol heavy metal tunes, and, second, because the ambient tracks themselves are more annoying than atmosphere-enhancing; like a nail scratching a wall somewhere in the distance, or the humming of a generator.

Screenshot for Doom 64 on Nintendo 64

Sadly, everything so far, was just a big pile of nit-picks. All that matters here is the gameplay, and, unfortunately, it's mediocre at best. Why? Here is a typical level: the player walks down a poor-lit hallway, sees one or maybe two zombie soldiers who, for some strange reason, aren't exactly eager to do some killing, and, therefore, are a piece of cake to shoot, and then there is another room with a slightly more aggressive, but equally slow, fire-throwing Imp inside, which, as expected, dies quite easily.

In other words, Doom 64 is slow, and far from adrenaline pumping. The enemies? Slow. Weapon changing? Slow. Even worse, the levels themselves are slow. Why? Simple. Key-searching in Doom was there just to break the - pleasurable - monotony of killing things, but here this is the monotony, with the majority of time having to be spent on finding the right switch, key, level, or door, with the few enemy confrontations left feeling tedious and with areas that rarely get repopulated.

Screenshot for Doom 64 on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Dull visuals, sleep-inducing music, hilariously slow gameplay, and a heavy emphasis in key searching, instead of shooting down baddies by the dozen, and all the while running at approximately 40MPH. Long story short: Doom 64 isn't Doom… it's just a generic shooter with monsters in it, which just happens to be named after the venerable series.

Developer

Midway

Publisher

Midway

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I played this one back in the day and absolutely loved it. Perhaps it hasn't aged all that well but I remember thinking it looked great and I enjoyed the move toward making some of the levels more puzzle like.

I agree re the darkness - it was as if the devs worked on screens that had a default brightness setting way up. I remember having to adjust the brightness in the game options to the max and then still having to turn the brightness on the TV up. However those levels that were better lit I found had some nice lighting effects for the time. I found it overall a pleasing looking game.

Where I will disagree is the slow weapon changes - you can make fast weapon changes making fast multi-taps on the weapon select buttons. It means you have to remember where each weapon is in the sequence but I don't recall it being an issue. What I do remember is having to change controls from the default to make it playable but once I did that I found the control scheme just fine.

And that comment about areas not being re-populated ? That's how Doom played back then unless you selected the highest difficulty level that enables respawning enemies.

Sure it's easy at the start and the enemies are a bit lazy but I found once I got past the early levels that wasn't the case.

I loved the soundtrack with is its creepy ambient track. I found it to be quite atmospheric.

Even back then this game was criticised for being old-school Doom and the jerky sprite animation (it was released in a post Goldeneye world) but that's exactly why I liked it as it felt like the PC Doom that I knew and loved and this version gave me a pile of new levels to try.

Maybe I'm suffering from rose tinted nostalgia but I played this relatively recently and still found it fun. There is PC remake of this game and the soundtrack can be downloaded from the same website.
 

( Edited 14.07.2016 10:19 by davyK )

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