Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Past and Times of Yore - Doom 64: The horrifiying last chapter of the original Doom series

Release date: December 2, 1997
Genre: First-person shooter
Publisher: Midway Games
Developer: Midway Games
Engine: id Tech 1
Platforms: Nintendo 64
Modes: Single-player

Yes I know what you’re thinking, another Doom game review? I understand your concern as I have been playing a lot of Doom lately, the reason for this is that I have decided to play through all of the Doom Games first (Including Doom 3 before starting on the latest Doom (2016) though I have already tried out the multiplayer for that one.

Hell is glorious is it not?
I didn’t know there was a Doom 64 until recently, at first I thought it was just a port of Ultimate Doom or Doom 1 or 2 on their own. I gained a lot more interest in finding out that it was actually a new game created by Midway Games (who actually created some of the Mortal Kombat games on the SNES) with supervision from id Software, the game runs on a modified version of the Doom engine which brought a wealth of new features. These features included new sprites, textures, scrolling skies, limited room-over-room architecture, Scripted events, Tripwire booby traps, from poison darts to homing fireballs and more advanced atmospheric colored lighting and effects, such as parallaxing skies, fog, and lightning. The enemies received a makeover with most looking and acting different with rendered 3D modelling being used, most of the monsters from the previous games made a return with the exception of commandos, arch-viles, Spider MasterMind and revenants which were cut due to the limited storage capacity of Nintendo 64 cartridges.

The "Terror Core" level which is a good view into Doom 64

There were only two new monsters which were the Nightmare imp which was a faster version of the regular imp and was also translucent similar to the Spectre and the Mother Demon which is the mysterious final boss of the game meant to replace the Icon of Sin. All weapons from Doom II are present (albeit redrawn), along with a new demonic weapon made of demon bones known as the Unmaker  which according to the Doom Bible is  a “Demon-tech weapon that hurts pure demons a lot, demon-humans very little and tech demons some”. There is also sequences which dramatically transform areas, tripwire booby traps such as darts and homing fireball launchers, and enemies that appear out of thin air, man I seriously couldn’t work out where the projectiles were coming from when I first encountered them.

Nightmare Imps are damn fast
Doom 64 has a more horror-based atmosphere than the science fiction-oriented one seen in earlier games, including darker and more foreboding color schemes used to increase a sense of fear in the player. Indeed this version of Doom was much scarier than the previous games, the new soundtrack was darker and scarier and the satanic imagery was more extensively used. Traditionally the Doom series has started in technological areas such as space stations and planetary bases before going into Hell itself but this time everything seemed scarier, the music was a far cry to the dull midi-techno-boppey tunes of the first levels of Doom and Doom 2 and looking at those again they just look comical compared to the horror that is Doom 64.

I had a lot of fun with this level, there's a lot of noise and shooting going on but the echoing sounds effects and ghastly soundtrack are unbelievable. Also I think I missed the last enemy there but meh.

The story of Doom 64 is nothing new with the forces of Hell trying to invade Earth once again but this time you don’t fight on Earth just the old Deimos and Phobos bases and Hell itself but this times SPOILERS the ending text states that the Marine accepts his fate of eternal confrontation with demons and decides to close the gateway between Hell and our universe from inside, thereby staying in Hell forever to prevent any further invasions once and for all. Which actually created some speculation that the protagonist from the Doom 2016 reboot is the same marine as he is described in the game as an ancient/superhuman warrior that was either banished to hell or chose to stay there and was captured by Hell's forces and sealed in a tomb. There’s no evidence to support this but I like to think this was the case as it makes a lot of sense though Doom 3 will still be next in my list before I can finally play the latest one.

Time to fist some Demons
I must admit I did not play the game on the Nintendo 64 not having the cartridge myself.  I played on PC using the Doom64EX modification which allowed you to play Doom 64 on PC with newer control methods like mouse look, high resolutions and color depth using the original .ROM file. This is somewhat similar to the Skulltag Mod for the original Doom and the DarkXL mod for Star Wars Dark Forces. Though after playing through a few levels I actually found out that the infamous Sergeant Mark IV had created Brutal Doom 64 which had all the goodness from the original Brutal Doom mod and brought it into Doom 64. Changes included the usual overhauling the graphics also adding much more detailed gore effects of course and also new weapons were added including the assault rifle and grenade launcher.

Ah the trusty assault rifle, much better then that useless pistol.
One of the main changes was the addition of all of the content cut from the original game due to the Nintendo 64’s limited Cartridge space, this included the Revenant, Chaingunguy and Spider Mastermind enemies. There was also a new enemy called the Hellhound which is a sort of two-headed dog beast similar to Cerberus of Greek mythology though Cerberus had three heads, the Hellhound is quite fast and shoots fireballs so it’s a formidable foe. The levels have been revamped featuring new decorations, lightning system, fog, light shafts, etc, techbase levels were optimised to have better navigation, new ambient sounds, more security cameras to remove the need of "switch hunting", and having some parts of the levels remade to look like a more plausible place. The Hell levels were also upgraded with new ambient sounds, and more disturbing imagery. 

The Hellhound spewing fireballs from it's two maws
As before you can choose to play with the classic old school gameplay or the tactical gameplay that has an assault rifle and all the weapons deal more damage but need to be reloaded, the tactical gameplay mode also has a ‘fatigue’ number that limits your sprinting which is annoying but makes it a bit more realistic I guess. The chainsaw in Doom 64 is now twin bladed and for some reason in the Brutal Doom 64 it now has “ammo” which I guess is “fuel” or maybe replacement chains I don’t know, I really had no idea even when finishing the game how I picked up more ammo for it, but anyway I think it packed more power than the original chainsaw, it was also useful for the nightmare imps and spectres as they were so goddamn fast you just waited around a corner for them to get close then let er rip. 

I tear it up then get confused by switches in The Lair, one of the secret levels

And so I started the game again with much better visuals and gameplay, this time I don’t think I even bothered trying it without godmode on as it just takes ages and gets too hard. I made sure I checked out all of the secret levels and managed to both get to them and  do most of them without needing to use IDCLIP though the first secret level MAP29: Outpost Omega was kind of complicated the way it worked but I managed to get through them all and collected the Demon Keys which upgrade the Unmaker. This new weapon is also found in the secret levels and man after being ‘fully upgraded’ this thing does some damage, you can take down Hell knights and Cyberdemons with ease, best new weapon in the game.

The Unmaker, now that's what I call being "Unmade"
As I mentioned before compared with the other Doom games, Doom 64 is hella scary which is odd because the Nintendo 64 was regarded as a kids console. The level design, the sights, the sounds and especially the music is dark, foreboding and to be honest makes the game pretty depressing to play, there’s quite a lot of satanic imagery around as well as dead marine bodies though it’s not quite as horrific as the Hell on Earth Starter Pack it was still pretty bad. The Brutal mod for the Doom 64 version is bit more subdued as it does not include fatalities and executions, Sergeant Mark IV addressed this himself saying that unlike the original Brutal Doom, this version is focused on making it as much as disturbing, horror and survival-oriented possible with a much more serious tone, So there won't be such over-the-top stuff. This was good as Doom 64 works well as this kind of game compared to the basic violence of the original Doom and over-the-top gore of the Brutal Doom mod.

This was an area where I first experienced an environmental trap, the blocks in the sky periodically unleash homing fireballs at you, and I was so confused the first time, also wow look at those braziers.
There is a very small storyline to the game, from the very vague introduction in the manual you can glean that after the events of Doom II the old Phobos and Deimos bases have been sealed off due to apocalyptic levels of radiation though the UAC is still monitoring the stations from earth when the receive a very disturbing last message, apparently the hordes of Hell have been revived by the Mother Demon. Doom 64 has 32 maps in total as per usual for Megawad The start of the game is indeed in the planetary tech bases but that is only for the first 9 levels and the rest are set in Hell itself yet again. And Hell has never looked scarier especially with the better resolution, sharper textures and enhanced lighting effects plus a killer soundtrack what’s not to like?
Ahh good old Brutal Doom, this is on the lowest gore setting "realistic" by the way
I never though Doom 64 would be like this, as I said before I wasn’t aware there was a Doom game for the Nintendo 64 and when I found out about it I thought it would just be a port of the older games not this amazing scary great looking whole new thing. The level design isn’t too much of a deviation from the original games though some of the secret levels and ways of getting there were overly complicated, I was glad the was a Brutal version made for the game that included all of the cut content as playing Doom without monsters like the Spider Mastermind and the Revenant and I highly recommend you play it on PC with the mod. Doom 64 was Doom done right and I’m glad that I have finally experienced it, even if it’s wasn’t on the Nintendo 64 itself.


Another secret level, MAP31: The Void, and it was indeed, a level with nothing underneath, and a confusing one at that.

Things I liked:

Great atmosphere, darker and scarier then the original

Good looking improved graphics including monster and weapon models

Includes new enemies

Things I didn’t like:

Finding Secret levels and the Demon keys inside them were often overly complicated.

Unless playing on PC with the Brutal Doom mod the game does not include several enemies due to N64 cartridge space limitations

The Brutal Doom 64 v1 Trailer

Hell hath never been this scary

No comments:

Post a Comment