Doom, the grandaddy of all shooters, the first real first person shooter. But will the GameBoy Advance do the legend justice? Well, first of all, I have to admit that I haven’t played on the original PC version that much, so I’m going to try to treat this like any other game. The trouble is, Doom feels like a port, not a fresh new version of an old game.
When you first start it up, you’ll be reaching for the light switch or get by the window, because Doom is incredibly dark. The lack of a backlight on the GBA doesn’t help either, so you have to squint to see what’s going on. Apart from this, the game does run very fast and the movement is slick. The textures are tolerable, although they do contribute to the game being too gloomy. The levels themselves are large and getting lost is a frequent occurrence. Thanks to a map though, this is quickly solved.
My real gripe with the graphics is the lack of variety and detail. Having played through 20 or so levels, you would expect the textures to change a bit, but no, they just stay the same. Sure the level design changes each time, but that makes little difference when the textures don’t. Unlike the polished graphics of Ecks Vs. Sever, Doom simply stays with the old visuals and doesn’t improve on them.
The plot is really non-existent, just an excuse to romp around shooting monsters that go “oink” at you. I suppose it doesn’t really matter why you’re blowing these poor little creatures apart, but some sort of incentive would have been nice.
Gameplay-wise, Doom is fairly fun, until you get lost or you can’t see the screen anymore. It also tends to get old pretty fast, as there’s not that much variety. You’ll find yourself going from switch to door, door to key, key to door and so on. You get a pretty limited choice of weaponry by today’s FPS standards, but some of the weapons like the shotgun are pretty cool. If you like more complex FPS like Half-Life, Quake or even Duke Nukem however, then this game’s not for you. No jumping, crouching, shooting cracks in the wall. Simple items, generic weapons and more will keep you from liking Doom GBA. If you’re a fan of Doom, then you may like this, though you may also be disappointed at its flaws. As far as the learning curve goes, it’s good and the difficulty rises slowly, but it’s still too easy in places, as the AI hasn’t really improved from the original PC version.
The controls are fairly simple, but there’s the odd awkward combination here and there. A is shoot, B is action, L and R strafe, select brings up the map, start pauses and the d-pad moves you around. Changing weapon and using the map works by pressing a combination of L, R and A or B. You get the feeling that there’s too many actions for the GBA button layout to handle.
The audio obviously wasn’t supposed to be a big part of the game, seeing as it’s only represented by as set of crude sounds which act as gun fire, monsters’ grunts and doors and switches being activated. I know the GBA isn’t really up to producing full-on sound, but I’d rather turn the volume right down than listen to the annoying and repetitive swooshes, bangs and grumbles.
The replay value really depends on the other aspects of the game. Unfortunately, you’ll get tired of doing the same things over and over again or you’ll just stop playing when it gets too dark (as it often does). A point in its favour though, is the amount of levels and the three difficulty levels. However, these won’t stop you from putting it down after a couple of hours and just sticking in something far better, like Advance Wars or Ecks Vs. Sever.
Doom was originally released on the PC in 1993. It was a violent, bloody game filled with hell’s monsters and was wickedly fun. However, the GBA version released in 2001 just has too many flaws that stop it from being as fun as the original, or even fun at all. Sadly, the developers failed to advance on the original game at all, not even in the graphics or sound. If you want to play a poor version of Doom on the move, then this is for you. If you’re looking for a good FPS, then buy something else.