HIGH The gameplay still holds up.
LOW The final boss is a chore.
WTF Platforming without a jump button.
One of the first games I had on PSone was Doom. I loved it, and it helped to change my expectations of games. This felt like a mature experience and one where I was genuinely transported to a different world. It was joined by others like Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy 7 and Silent Hill in transforming my view of gaming as a hobby of a child into that of a passion suitable for a teenager and on into adulthood.
As Doom was the first of my formative titles, it’s a particularly important game to me, and now that the older entries in the series have been ported to modern systems, I jumped back in hoping to relive some of those good memories. I’ve enjoyed them and they still hold up, but there was a gap — the oft-forgotten Doom 64.
I missed it when it was new and wondered if I’d ever get to try it. I was aware that there was a PC version available, but as someone who doesn’t play on PC I was delighted when Doom 64 was ported to coincide with the release of Doom Eternal. Despite the fact that it made little economic sense, I preordered Eternal mainly because Doom 64 was included.
My experience with Doom 64 has been a joy. It feels like a true part of the series, not a spin-off or a port of the original Doom. It is its own experience featuring the trademark fast gameplay that all Doom games boast (well, apart from Doom 3) and that feel is a large part of why they hold up so well.
Originally Doom 64 was released in 1997 and was developed by Midway Games (not ID Software) which is probably why it was dismissed as a spinoff at the time. It featured a singleplayer mode with 32 levels, and this re-release has additional ‘lost mission’ levels and also includes a new final level that connects to Doom Eternal. As in most Doom games, players make their way through levels by shooting demons and collecting colored key cards to locked doors. 64 has redesigns of all Doom’s guns and demons, but also includes new enemies and a new weapon, along with a distinctive look and style.
The presentation is great. While it’s clearly a port of content from a previous generation, the updated HD visuals hold up well and the use of bright, popping colors help make up for the inevitable flaws in texture quality. I particularly like it when the Doomguy heads to hell and the skies are filled with animated flames — simple, but atmospheric.
However, while the environments are designed in 3D, the enemies are animated sprites. The technique looks dated, but the monsters are well-drawn updates of the original demons and look charming. Still, the use of sprites does undercut the atmosphere.
In terms of the soundtrack, I found the original Doom to be a frightening experience, much of it due to the ambient music and screams. I was shocked years later when I played an emulated version of Doom and heard the MIDI metal soundtrack, totally different than what was found on PSone. It completely changed the feel — the PSone audio lent it a survival horror tone, but original Doom sounded like an action game. Doom 64 shares the same composer as PSone Doom, Aubrey Hodges, and has a similar ambient horror style. For me, this became a big nostalgia hit, as it’s how I remember Doom and certainly creates a sense of dread.
Despite all this praise, I did have some problems. For the most part it runs perfectly, but there were a couple of times slowdown appeared. Also, the design of the levels is interesting thanks to multiple routes through labyrinthine corridors, but the button-based puzzles can be frustrating as it’s sometimes hard to ascertain what a button does if it opens up something across the map.
Doom 64 also includes some platform sections which rely on the use of the run button, as there is no jumping. These sections can gate progress, and relying on a run button rather than properly jumping off a platform is aggravating. I suppose this shows that annoying platform sections aren’t just an annoyance in Doom Eternal, and I was able to save and reload my way through them.
Speaking of saving and reloading, I had to for the final boss — it’s an incredibly difficult fight without upgrades for the new weapon, the Unmaker thanks to homing missiles and a lack of cover. However, despite these minor flaws, I would recommend any Doom fan give Doom 64 a try if they missed it the first time around, and in some ways it’s become my favourite Doom game. For me, it scratches that simple classic Doom itchthat Doom Eternal can sometimes lack, and does so with a unique visual style and atmosphere that makes it feel fresh, whilst also aping my early memories of Doom.
— Gareth Payne
Disclosures: This game is developed by Nightdive Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks It is currently available on PC, Switch, PS4, and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via download included with paid preorder of Doom Eternal and reviewed on the PS4 Pro. Approximately 7 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood and Gore and Violence. The official ESRBdescription reads as follows: This is a first-person shooter in which players assume the role of a lone space marine battling demonic forces on Mars and in Hell. Players use machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, plasma rifles, and chainsaws to kill demonic creatures and mutated human soldiers in frenetic combat. Enemies emit large splatters of blood when shot and collapse into bloody chunks of flesh when killed. Battles are accompanied by realistic gunfire, large explosions, and screams of pain. Some levels depict mutilated body parts and severed heads on spikes and/or hooked chains.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The minimal plot that is featured in this game is exclusively displayed through scrolling text, using large clear red text. This cannot be resized. There is no dialogue during gameplay, but for the button-based puzzles it uses audio cues that help the player decipher how the switch is used in the map or what it opens up. This extends to enemy sounds and grunts, these often give an idea of how close enemies are, and where they are likely to come from in an ambush.
Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls. The game does not display a controller map, but has a list of bindings which can be customised. Left stick is used for movement and the right stick is used for turning. These can be swapped. The d-pad can also be used, with the default setting using them for turning. R2 shoots weapon, autorun is Circle and L3 pressed, use is Cross and L2, next weapon is R1 and previous weapon is L1.