Doom on a portable?! How good could it be?
I’ve never been a huge fan of first person shooters. It really wasn’t until Rare’s Golden Eye 007 was released that I even played through one in its entirety.
I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Since then I have been more open to playing games of the genre, though I admit I am still no huge fan of the FPS genre.
On a recent trip to Washington D.C. to see my family, I decided to pick up a new GBA game to entertain myself on the long plane ride. I found it difficult to decide on which game to buy since there have been so many games released recently. In fact, I almost bought Final Fight, but in the end, it was another game that caught my eye. It was the classic Carmack FPS – Doom.
Normally I wouldn’t give Doom a second thought, but on a portable game system – it was something that HAD to be seen. Besides, it’s been a long time since I’ve played the game, and I don’t actually own any other version. Sure I’ve played it on the PC, Atari Jaguar, and other systems, but none of those were portable. The fact that this game even exists on a portable game system is pretty amazing to me. Even though this game is not in true 3D, it certainly must tax the hardware with the constant scaling and rotating of sprites. It’s a true test of the power of Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance.
Doom for the GBA looks just like I remembered it when I played it on the PC. Everything zooms, rotates, and moves to near perfection. Even the ‘dynamic’ lighting is present. On a portable Doom is very impressive and the Dynamic Lighting really adds a lot to the look of the game. You’ll pass through rooms with moody lighting casting dark ‘shadows’ in corners and failing fluorescent lights flickering on and off.
The music of the original Doom wasn’t anything award winning, but it was sufficient. The Game Boy Advance reproduces the original’s music to near perfection.
The game’s soundtrack isn’t something that you’ll be humming at work or school; it’s more atmospheric than melodic.
The sound effects are also very similar to the original's grunts and groans. The only thing missing from the GBA version is the ability to judge an enemy's distance from you based on the sounds they make. On the original you could hear the sounds of your enemies fading in the distance as you moved further away from them.
On the GBA version, everything that can be seen sounds like it's right next to you no matter how far off into the distance it appears to be. This can be a problem when you hear an enemy but can’t see it. You turn around and still you see nothing close by – only an enemy on the other side of the building. Other times you’ll hear an enemy, turn around and he’s right on you shoving plasma down your throat!
The control is very similar to Golden Eye for the N64. Up moves you forward, Down moves you back, Left and Right move you left and right, while L&R strafe. The controls are very easy. The only flaw is trying to switch your weapons. To do this, you must hold L&R while pushing up. Try doing this while you're in a heated battle. Luckily this isn't too much of a problem since you are automatically equipped with the most powerful weapon you have ammo for.
For those of you that have never played Doom before, don’t expect anything like Half-Life or Red Faction. There is no real story or goal in the game. Simply shoot everything in sight. If it moves, shoot it. If it's dead, shoot it again just to be sure. There is no glamorous elaborate ending or pretty cinematics.
This is a pure and simple old school shooter.
You are a space marine attempting to rid the military’s Martian Moon base of the demonic creatures that have taken over. Everyone on the base has either been killed or turned into a gun-toting zombie. What to do, what to do? Simple. Kill everything in sight!
This game also features 2-player co-op and 4-player death match modes. However, everybody needs their own copy of Doom to participate in the multiplayer mayhem. The 4-player death matches are fun and play smooth enough, only suffering a small drop in frame rate when the action gets particularly frenetic.
Unfortunately the multi-player modes are extremely bare bones. You have no idea which one of your friends you are up against and no idea or how many times you have killed or been killed by them. You also have no idea of how much time there is left in the match. It simply ends. Then you finally get to see the statistics of the game. The two-player co-op mode is fun, though unfortunately there is no option to save the game in progress.