5 September 2013

DOOMed (on the PS3)

I just finished playing through Doom and Doom II on my PS3. The port, titled Doom Classic Complete, has been out for a while now, but I'd been waiting for it to come on sale before purchasing it. Which, a little while back, it did.

I've never been a huge first person shooter fan, but Doom is something of a timeless classic. I played it some in the 90s, and I've returned to it every now and then, trying various ports for modern platforms. I was never any good at it, and often I'd just play one episode (on a relatively easy setting) and move on to other games. But it's always been there, since I was a teenager. There aren't too many games that can really claim that.

I never had any of the sequels and expansions back in the day. Doom Classic Complete, however, as the name suggests, collects all the first generation Doom games (Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, Doom II: Master Levels, Doom II: No Rest for the Living, and Final Doom). So I figured it was about time to try them out. That's a lot of Doom to play. Not gonna run out of levels any time soon. (After wrapping up Doom II, though, I'm gonna take a break for a while and play other stuff. But I expect I'll return, sooner or later.)

As far as the PS3 port itself goes, it's pretty faithful to the original DOS games. There are no updates to graphics that I can see. It's even in 4:3 aspect ratio, which, in this day and age, is mildly annoying. The controls are pretty intuitive to anyone who's played first person games on a modern console. The inability to look up or down can be slightly frustrating at times, but on the other hand it makes aiming a little simpler.

I haven't tried out multiplayer yet, but I checked out the menus enough to discover that playing split screen apparently requires multiple user accounts on the console. This seems very unnecessary and annoying, as I'm the only user of this console and I very rarely have other people over playing with it. No local multiplayer game I've played on PS3 in the past has had such a requirement.

I played the games on the easiest setting. 'Cause I'm a wuss. And, you know, generally crap at anything requiring reflexes and precision. Plus I was playing Doom II for the first time, and it's not like I know a lot of the original Doom levels by heart either (with the exception of the first few levels of the first episode, of course). Even so, some levels turned out pretty challenging. Not necessarily because of the monsters (although some of the new enemies in Doom II are pretty darn tough, and can do a lot of damage if you're careless), but simply because of the level design.  Often that key or switch or door you need to complete the level can be annoyingly hard to spot. Or, like, after dozens of levels of opening doors with the action button they suddenly, out of the blue, expect you to shoot at it. I admit I pretty much rage quitted once or twice, and resorted to checking a walkthrough a few times.

Occasional moments of frustration aside, Doom is still a lot of fun to play. Surprisingly so, since it was, after all, one of the earliest FPS games. It'll be 20 years since the original Doom's release next December. I'm not sure some later FPS games have stood the test of time quite as well.

If you have the original games around and play games on PC I think it may be more interesting (and cheaper) to check out some of the free (but entirely legal, since Doom's engine is now open source) ports that are available online. Some of them have made considerable improvements to the engine (improving graphics and adding features of more modern FPS games, like jumping and free aiming), though in many cases these are optional, should you want an experience closer to the original. But if you don't have the games, the PS3 version does offer a lot to play for a fairly reasonable price.

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