Oh crikey do we love DOOM. So when our Jake said he fancies reviewing a DOOM instalment that none of us have had any experience with we said YES. So here’s his take on Final DOOM. And of course check out Jake’s YouTube channel for lovely retro gaming vids.
After the smash-hit success of the 1995 PlayStation port of DOOM – which was deemed a fresh and unique spin on the PC classic by critics and fans alike – Williams Entertainment released a second batch of missions a year later. Final DOOM offered more demon-slaying action for Sony fans, and while it’s nothing too remarkable, the trip back to Hell is still a fun one.
Final DOOM is a sizeable potpourri, made up of three expansion packs previously exclusive to the PC. 13 missions from the Master Levels for Doom II – created by the most talented mappers at the time – are included alongside 11 from TNT: Evilution and 6 from the infamously-challenging Plutonia Experiment. Each of these are split between three chapters, respectively. You can tackle them in any order you wish. You won’t find any secret levels in Final DOOM, though the 30 maps on offer (21 less than its predecessor, sadly) should keep you amused for a handful of hours. Excluding some of the gimmicky and unfair missions from the original games was a wise move on the developer’s end.
Visually, it looks just like the PS1 port of DOOM, only with a handful of new textures and a sleeker appearance for the Super Shotgun. Coloured lighting has been implemented once again, which gives each mission an entirely new look and feel. Seeing outdoor areas bathed in a fiery yellow light as the sky is engulfed in flames is an unforgettable sight. As detailed as the sprites are, they still look a bit grainy from afar. The stable framerate may jitter a bit when a lot of action is happening on-screen as well, moreso when you’re running around like mad. As it stands, it still runs pretty well and is no doubt playable.
Naturally, the core elements of DOOM’s gameplay remains untouched. Shoot enemies, collect items, find secrets, and escape. While the original games had a selection of suspenseful and energetic MIDI tunes, the PS1 port was treated to a selection of dreary, unsettling ambient tracks. It was great, because it made it feel like a horror game. Hodges returned to compose additional tracks for Final DOOM, though there’s nothing much to say about them. They’re spooky, ‘nuff said. The sound design still remains tip-top, with monsters roaring and gurgling (much better than the stock sound SFX from the PC version) as they hunt you down.
The levels themselves are a bit more challenging than DOOM on the PS1, though they’re nowhere near as tricky as they were intended to be originally. The Plutonia missions, for instance, have a noticeably lower enemy count, but still retain some of their devious traps. You won’t find many Barons of Hell or a single Spider Mastermind, which sucks. It’s no walk in the park, though. The first level features some of the trickier enemies to dispatch, like the damage-absorbing Manccubi and the rocket-spamming Revenants. For seasoned fans, these shouldn’t be too difficult – save for one or two maps featuring Chaingunners sniping you from afar – but it’s still a step-up in the difficulty from before.
In any case, if you want to warp back and forth to levels, the password screen is still an option. You can play through it all in co-op or duke it out with a buddy in deathmatch, though you’ll need two copies of the game, two consoles, and a PS1 system link. Even today, it’s a lot of excess faff that’s not really worth the hassle. An exclusive feature for the game was the ability to play the game with a mouse, but is there really any point playing with a single mouse compared to a controller? The controls are tight, responsive, and can be mapped to any button you want, so it’s a no-brainer.
Final DOOM is a satisfying title. Great lighting effects, eerier music and its better sound effects once again gives the ported maps a new feel, even if some of them do feel a bit watered down in difficulty. Some secret levels would’ve been nice, too. On the whole, it’s not as hard-hitting as the previous entry, though there’s enough monster-slaying merriment to justify justify going back to Hell one more time.