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by Activision

screenshot_1-01.jpg (7510 bytes)What can you say about Doom that hasn’t already been said? It’s a classic game, one of the first FPS titles ever, and has amassed a huge cult following. It has shown up on just about every system, and this year it beats a clutch of other FPS titles to the Game Boy Advance. Your enjoyment of Doom on the GBA will be enhanced by any nostalgia you harbor for the game, but even if you’ve never tried it, you’ll agree that there is a future for FPS titles on the GBA.

screenshot_3-01.jpg (8190 bytes)There is a basic premise to Doom – you are working to eliminate the evil aliens and mutated humans found in and around the interdimensional space travel gateways connecting the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. You enter with a squad of soldiers, but eventually it’s all up to you to wipe out the baddies and save the universe. Of course, all of this comes from the instruction manual – Doom isn’t big on story.

screenshot_4-01.jpg (8217 bytes)Everybody knows that what made Doom a hit, and what keeps it alive on all kinds of systems today, is a lot of running and gunning. On each level you cruise around mowing down baddies and looking for the exit (conveniently marked by a large "Exit" sign). There are secrets, power-ups, and new weapons to find all over, and die-hard Doom fans will spend time collecting all of these.

Overall, the GBA version has managed the control scheme well. Usually these games are played on the PC with a mouse and keyboard, or on a console system with two analog control sticks and some shoulder buttons. The GBA doesn’t really have enough buttons to handle all of the controls we’re used to in Doom, so some have been simplified. You cannot look up or down, for example. However, with six control schemes to choose from, you should be able to find an acceptable compromise.

screenshot_2-01.jpg (8364 bytes)The graphics are just like the original, meaning that they are good but not great. Some elements, such as the status bar at the bottom of the screen, look impeccable, but the textures of walls and explosions look like classic Doom – they’re kind of blocky and not at all detailed. This is okay because it’s what we expect, and Doom is definitely more about the fun of playing than the pretty visuals.

And the fun of playing is there, although hindered. The simplified control scheme takes away some of the freedom of movement that we are used to on FPS games. The one thing that fans love about FPS titles, and detractors loath, is how effective the first-person point of view is at immersing you in the game. Doom is no exception, although not being able to look up and down takes away from that feeling. You can still maneuver really well by using your strafe commands, but it will take some work to get really good at this.

screenshot_5-01.jpg (8781 bytes)So Doom is fun enough to own, which is good because if you want to play multiplayer you and your buddies will each need a cartridge. And it is worth it to play multiplayer. You can engage in standard Deathmatch play, which is, in and of itself, a novel and exciting thing on the GBA. What’s even cooler is that you can actually play in Cooperative mode, which is a very welcomed innovation in GBA games. One of my favorite things about the FPS in general is cooperative mode, and I’m very happy to see it make an appearance in Doom.

Overall, I can heartily recommend Doom. Although other FPS games for the GBA are coming out, such as Dark Arena and Ecks vs. Sever, Doom has an existing appeal that will be hard to overcome. I do believe that these other titles will give Doom a real run for its money, but it doesn’t really matter. FPS fans want a lot of games in their favorite genre, so all of these titles stand to be very welcomed. It’s a good season to play your GBA.

Shawn Rider   (12/11/2001)


Ups: Classic game; first person shooter for GBA; cooperative and deathmatch in multiplayer.

Downs: Simple gameplay; might get repetitive if you're not into Doom.

Platform: Game Boy Advance