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ups: good port, smooth, XBox Live
downs: no fullscreen, net play suffers from lag

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Doom For XBLA Review
game: Doom
three star
posted by: Tristan Mayshark
publisher: iD Software
developer: iD Software
view related website
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 09:07 AM Sat Sep 30th, 2006
last revision: 04:57 PM Sun Oct 1st, 2006

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Click to read.There are plenty of games that are great at the time they arrive on the market, but become less enjoyable as they become relics of outdated technology. On the other hand, you have the rare game that manages to transcend the limitations of its era enough to have lasting power. The truly iconic games have historically been console titles (a certain red-shirted plumber comes to mind), but I sincerely believe that mainstream PC gaming has matured enough that there are now some PC titles worthy of being put into the same category. iD Software\'s visceral Doom, originally released in 1993, has become regarded as a classic title that essentially made iD into the monolithic engine production company that they are today. Before there was mouselook, and long before it had occurred to anyone that they should spend $300 on a dedicated expansion card that does little more than draw triangles very quickly, there was Doom.

I\'d be slightly surprised if we had a significant number of readers who are unfamiliar with Doom, so I am only going to pay lip service to summarizing the content of the game. As the badass \"Doom Marine\", you have become isolated from your platoon on Mars when you enter a space station, armed with a lone pistol, only to find out that the entire facility has been taken over by demons from Hell. Pretty thin, but then Doom was never about story (as The Rock proved beyond a reasonable doubt with last year\'s abhorrent Doom film).

Doom for the Xbox Live Arcade will only set you back about ten dollars, and as someone who was (perhaps a bit too) obsessed with Doom in middle and high school, it\'s more than worth it just for the trip down memory lane, plus the chance to earn some achievements for beating levels you probably know like the back of your hand. I could point out that I actually have the E1M1 map tattooed to the back of my hand, but that would sound kind of pathetic, and I\'d be lying, so we can skip it. Let\'s just say that I considered it, and move on.

What\'s included in the full download is all three episodes of Doom, plus the bonus episode \"Thy Flesh Consumed\" which was added in for a post-Doom II release of \"The Ultimate Doom\", and is, admittedly, demoralizingly difficult in places. That being said, it also features some cool gimmicks like a secret room that descends to reveal a hidden Nine Inch Nails logo (a homage to Trent Reznor\'s public statements about enjoying the game). \'Thy Flesh Consumed\' is completely off the hook in every regard, but the ability to save anywhere, any time, is intact in this XBox 360 port, so patient gamers can compensate for missing skill with frequent saves.

Doom was the first game I ever played on a LAN (an IPX LAN, at that), and also the first game I ever played on a modem. It supported up to four players in either cooperative or deathmatch mode. This functionality has been maintained in the XBox Arcade version, and it does a nice job of finding other marines for you to shoot at (or alongside) quickly. I do have one complaint with the multi, which is that lag becomes a serious issue as soon as one player is lagging significantly. Some games handle lag better than others; this port of Doom will frequently delay your input during lag, meaning that you might be pushing the analog stick to the right, but still moving left from having had the stick pushed that way a moment earlier. This can become maddening in a hurry, and the only solution I\'ve found is to stick to low-ping games, and drop out when things get laggy.

Graphically, the original Doom has been surpassed not only by every other FPS on the market, but by numerous homebrew projects such as zDoom which use the original Doom WAD files in conjunction with new renderers to provide 3d acceleration, 16 or 32 bit textures, polygon based models, mouselook, and a host of other modern features. The XBox Arcade iteration is more or less a straight port of the original version, in all it\'s 320x240 glory, but this was more of a selling point than a detractor for me. If I want to play zDoom, I\'ll just go play it, it\'s freeware and easy to come across. With a little motivation (assuming this hasn\'t already been done by someone, which I would bet it has) it would be reasonably easy to compile zDoom for GentooX and play 3d-accelerated Doom on an original XBox. iD is clearly aware of this (and supportive, having made not only the Doom engine, but the source code to Quake, Quake II and Quake 3 open source) and has chosen to go after a different market with this release, which is pure retro gaming.

In some ways, I have been spoiled by zDoom and Classic Doom 3 ( http://cdoom.d3files.com/ ), so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself instantly hooked by Doom\'s fast and furious gameplay on the 360, despite having played all of these levels many, many times on a variety of platforms. My only graphical complaint is the lack of a full screen mode. I would not expect 16:9 support, but even the original Doom had an option to change the screen size fully, removing the HUD from view. I slightly prefer to play that way the majority of the time, so I was more than slightly irked at the omission of a standard feature. This has not prevented me from thoroughly enjoying the title, but it would have been nice if the \"screen size\" slider did a little more than stretch the image.

As with all other XBLA titles, this should be a no brainer, because there\'s a free demo available which is quite representative of the final package (sans multiplayer). If the demo piques your interest, shell out some hard earned Microsoft points, and look for me on Live!. I\'ll be more than happy to shoot a rocket in your general direction.

Update 10/01/2006: Please excuse our brief lapse in memory; Vin Diesel was not in the Doom movie; that was The Rock. The mistake has been corrected.

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