Porting a game to a different console was not an easy task in the olden days. Cutbacks and sacrifices often had to be made in order to get it running. DOOM is a perfect example. Now it’s unlikely that anyone needs a copy-and-pasted diatribe about how DOOM revolutionized gaming for the better, or how fantastic the graphics, gameplay, soundtrack and modding tools are, even to this day. Thing is, it was only the PlayStation port by Williams Entertainment that was described by co-creator John Romero as the “best DOOM yet”, and aptly so.
The reason why it’s so important to me is because it was the first video game I ever played, and is still fun as hell to play today.
DOOM packs in content from both The Ultimate DOOM and DOOM II: Hell on Earth. You arrive at a moon base on Mars, only to discover all Hell is literally breaking loose. Demons are roaming the halls, and the marines have been either massacred or turned into the undead. You need to fight your way through various military installations and even Hell itself on multiple occasions. Of course, games like this were never about the story, now matter how badass it may be.
In each level, your goal is to reach the exit in one piece, while killing everything in your way. While the level designs have been notably tweaked, with textures replaced or chunks of maps removed completely, what’s on offer is still very fun to traverse through. The same goes for the brilliant, console-exclusive missions that are packaged in alongside. Hunting for keys, dodging traps and exploring secret areas are key ingredients in DOOM, and thus remain untouched.
Generally speaking, the title does look pretty good on a Sony console. While the environments are three-dimensional, everything else is made up of detailed 2D sprites. Admittedly, the baddies look grainy from afar. It runs at a competent framerate when there aren’t too many foes are on-screen, otherwise it gets a bit choppy, especially when you play multiplayer via system-link. This version of the game even implements coloured lighting, giving environments a much fluorescent or drearier appearance. Corridors of toxic slime, for instance, will give off a bright green glow. It controls are responsive, can be customized to your liking, and retain the life-saving ability to strafe left and right to dodge enemies.
From weapon-wielding zombies to fireball-flinging demons, you’re up against some fierce opposition. The game is a bit easier in this version, with some enemies being replaced with their weaker counterparts. Regardless, this is no walk in the park, as the headcount on each level is still a hefty number, especially on the top difficulty. You’ll even come across DOOM II enemies appearing in the DOOM levels, which spices things up. Numerous weapons are to be found in each level, from the powerful shotgun to the room-clearing BFG9000, alongside other goodies like armour, health items and power ups that’ll make you feel like a big man. Sadly, you can’t save your data, but there’s a handy password system that’ll allow you to jump around levels with a pre-set arsenal from the get-go, so it kinda balances out.
Bobby Prince’s Metal-inspired MIDI soundtrack is nowhere to be found here. With exceptions to the grunge-like menu themes, the music you hear during gameplay is made up of distorted groans and skin-crawling synths that seem to ooze in and pierce through. The experience of the game is thus transformed from that of an action-packed slug-a-thon to something almost akin to a survival horror experience. It goes in-hand perfectly with the brand new sound effects, of which replace the predominantly stock noises used in the PC original and even echo through the large halls and rooms of each map. The sound department is a big factor in turning the game into something unfamiliar compared to before. Kudos to Aubrey Hodges for a job well done!
Of all the ports released for DOOM, the PlayStation version is easily the most unique. Admittedly, it may not run as smoothly as the original, and the lack of a mid-game save feature may irritate purists. Regardless, what’s on offer is bound to please. You really can’t fault a fast-paced, ultra-satisfying shooter with over fifty remixed maps that have a brand new look and feel to them. Old school shooter fans will no doubt get a big kick out of this one (in solo mode, anyway), just like I have for all these years since I was a young lad.