The Jaguar sadly cannot boast a huge library of games, heck, there are even a good number of genres that have never appeared on this console! However, lacking a selection of top FPS games is at least one stick you cannot shake at this 64-bit beast. Wolfenstein 3D is a really well made and polished console port (with a few added bonuses) of a true classic. And of course, who can forget the Jag exclusive and rightfully lauded Alien Versus Predator? However, there is a good case that the best first-person shooter for the console is in fact Doom.
Doom (for me at least) was one of the first games that really helped push PC gaming forward and it brings back so many fond memories. It helped open up the FPS world to me, where I spent countless hours skulking around corners and opening a can of whoop-ass on Zombies, Demons and any other demonic creature hell would put in front of me. How does the Jag port compare to the original id Software PC classic?
The game is quite simply a masterpiece and it should have been a clear blueprint of how PC games could have and should have been ported to the Jaguar. Almost all the ingredients that made Doom such a classic have been painstakingly kept, with the clear exception of the pumping in-game soundtrack (more on that later).
During a recent podcast chat with the game’s producer Bill Rehbock, he revealed how John Carmack really helped with the development of the game, including, learning how to code on the Jag, move over assets from the PC original and create a sizeable portion of the Jaguar game in little more than a weekend! Not all console releases of the game had John Cormack on hand to assist, which is probably one of the main reasons this title is so well made.
The game’s story is quite simple; as a space marine, you must traverse your way through 24 levels based in hell. Most of the levels require you to find different colours keys to access different areas of the levels while collecting weapons, ammo and health. The big snag is that you are not alone! Zombies, Imps, Demons and a whole lot worse are always hiding around the corner or ready to pounce once certain switches are activated. The levels get progressively more difficult with added enemies, bigger maps and subtle tricks that help keep levels from feeling repetitive. The game has four different difficulty modes that kick off with I’m a Wimp leading up the grotesquely hard Nightmare mode!
The gameplay is very close to the PC version. The game flows smoothly, with slowing framerates only really appearing when there are a large number of enemies on screen at one time. The ability to strafe, run and dart around the levels feels really fluid and helps keep you on your toes, not knowing what might be hiding past the next door. The game uses fewer textures than the PC counterpart and sadly has no crushers (lowering ceilings) in any maps, but these small sacrifices were deemed necessary to help keep the game flow as smooth as an imps forehead. In fact, the game did boast two whole new levels, which were (for a while at least) Jag exclusives.
The game sadly features no in-game music. This decision was made as the chip needed to run the music was already being used for the games hit detection. For some players, this could be a big minus. However, there is something quite raw and terrifying about playing the game with no music, with only the echo of guns being fired and the disturbing almost gurgle-like noise the Demon’s make as your only company. The game does feature music during the intro screen and in-between levels, so it is not all void of music.
The Jaguar’s controller also must be praised while playing Doom. The keypad allows you to easily switch between your selection of weapons at a blink of an eye. This is something that future console ports couldn’t boast, as they had to cycle through their weapons selection, costing you precious seconds. One small complaint is the strafe button, which can be performed by keeping the C button held down. How great would it be if Doom could take advantage of the Pro Controller, allowing you to use the shoulder buttons to strafe left and right?
I am yet to play to the play this version of Doom across multiplayer, something I hope to address soon (Dyl, we must get our two Jags connected up soon!?). However, I am pretty sure this will only add to the greatness of this title.
Apart from no in-game music, there are other few minor gripes, such as the game removing Cyberdemons, Spider Masterminds and the Spectres, all to help the game run as smooth as possible I assume? The game also finishes on quite an anti-climax with no final boss fight. It is also a tad annoying that you cannot save your progress, with the game instead remembering which levels you have passed, allowing you to replay all completed levels from the title screen. However, these small issues shouldn’t detract too much from the overall feel of the game.
Overall, Doom is a real class act. It is fun, challenging and shows how with a little TLC the Jaguar can really showcase its true potential. It really is worth playing if you get a chance, with many reviewers claiming that this is the definitive console port of a true gaming classic. A statement I can certainly get behind.
(And yes Adrian, the magical pairing of the Jaguars shall be done! – Dylan/Ed)
Screenshots from Moby Games.