Since its launch, The Xbox Live Arcade has paid witness to its fair share of older titles being re-released as ports. Doom was first released back in 1993 by id Software, and since then, the title has been released on several different platforms. The game first made a name for itself for a variety of reasons, most notably its use of 3D graphics. Different features have been added to Doom throughout the years, and its Xbox Live Arcade iteration is no exception.
Multiplayer Like Never Before - Chances are if you are playing this version of Doom, then you have played the game prior. Even if that may not be the case, you will still revel in the fully realized multiplayer that is part of this port. When Doom was first released, there were LAN options. However, the multiplayer component and the mode itself were still in its infancy. On Xbox Live Arcade, you can play the game cooperatively or deathmatch with up to four people. The single player campaign is fast, and the speed of movement in particular holds up equally during the multiplayer. While I did experience some framerate issues, the speed at which I moved about in the multiplayer was good enough to adequately blast away opponents. While character movement speed is largely predicated upon the subpar graphics, it still proves enjoyable and you will find yourself reminiscing of experiences past.
Weapons Made Famous - Perhaps the single greatest achievement reached by Doom was the variety of weapons that many shooters would come to emulate in the years following its release. For example, the Gears of War franchise has made the chainsaw an now-iconic weapon. Doom was the one of the first games, if not the first title, to incorporate a chainsaw as a means of enemy dismemberment. Other iconic weapons like the shotgun are still ever present. This port stays very true to its roots, which is in some ways detrimental, but in the case of these weapons, this old formula still works even in today’s market.
Sounds Just as Nice as Before - Doom’s atmospheric sounds, that immersed the player in the fearful, yet hesitant levels, return just as before. Not only are the tracks strong, so too are the sound effects. You may remember such aspects such as fireballs fizzing as they go by. Such sounds return and even support surround sound which is especially nice in light of the fact that the visuals did not receive the same care.
A NOT TO PRETTY BLAST FROM THE PAST
Same graphics - While some ports may opt for updated visuals to enhance the experience for both new and old audiences alike, Doom does not do so. In fact, you may feel duped when you start the game as the title screen segments fit the screen fully. However, once the gameplay kicks in for the first time, the standard 4:3 ratio will comes into play and you may find yourself unable to remove your gaze from the black bars on either side of the image. While the movement speed may be enhanced because of the lower quality graphics, I found myself dismayed at how poorly the graphics hold up today’s. Not only did I find the enemies to be lackluster, the environments looked uninspired with the blocky corners dispersed throughout the action. While they were certainly groundbreaking for the time period, this port could have benefited from HD quality visuals.
Not so friendly features - Other than the graphics, there are a couple of varied issues that also plague the experience. Perhaps the most glaring of these hiccups is an inability for the player to change the control scheme. If you are not suited to Doom’s particular play style, you may find yourself out of luck because of this rather archaic decision. As mentioned previously, another noticeable problem is the slowdown as it pertains to framerate while trying to play either competitively or cooperatively. While the movement speed rivals that which is utilized in the single player campaign, it is bogged somewhat by these framerate issues which is unfortunate because the multiplayer is such a heavy part of this port.
The Xbox Live Arcade version of Doom is a mixed bag. It stays true the original very well, even to the point of its detriment. However, Doom can still be fun as this port proves. It can definitely be appreciated by longtime fans nostalgic for days long past. The multiplayer illustrates that it can also be enjoyed by new players who are looking to scratch either a cooperative or competitive itch in the early months of the gaming year.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*