Reply 20 of 98, by Almoststew1990
Game 3 Complete!
The third "arrow key shooter", I was interesting to see how the extra two years since W3D would allow the gameplay, graphics and sound to develop. I'm definitely ready for mouse look now though!
Getting it running
This was the first game that came with a setup executable, which I like as I can be sure the game will be running at the maximum "settings" my system can do. Unfortunately I had sound issues with my AWE32... Soundblaster FM synthesis music it is then! Otherwise, I didn't have any issues getting it to run in MS-DOS mode in Windows 98, just run doom.exe and I was good to go.
The gameplay is very similar to the other arrow key shooters, although sprint was mapped by default to both left and right shift, so I could both turn and sprint (left shift) and shoot and sprint (right shift) - yay for sensible game ergonomics! Rotation speed is still too slow - there were several occasions where a dude would spawn behind me and I'd take multiple hits, or about 100 health before Doom Guy had turned his fat ass around.
Whilst there is no minimap, Doom does benefit from a full-screen map (activated by pressing tab) that uncovers as you explore. There are pick ups, I assume in every level, that turns on the whole map so you can see where you haven't explored. The map is very useful, particularly as you can still move around whilst in map view, which feels a bit like driving a car through an obstacle course in a top down view. I found myself doing this a lot later on in levels when most of the enemies have been cleared when busy backtracking.
The levels have been improved significantly through the development of two technologies - vertical change and angled surfaces. This creates the potential for much more enjoyable (and less mazey) levels. This is the first game where the levels can give off the impression I am running around an actual "place" rather than a game level / maze. However, whilst the technology appeared to be there to create a place rather than level, the level design itself is still very mazey and gamey, like a designer has created a hamster obstacle course with demons, not a place that has a function whilst still being fun to play (like half life). In particular there is a lot of symmetry, like cruise ship central stairs which I feel doesn't make the most of the technology, and I found myself running up a set of stairs and having to turn left and then right and seeing that they actually met up in a loop.
The game still uses keys to lock and unlock certain parts of the levels and I was still backtracking (sometimes four times) to unlock, lock, teleport, etc to get to the exit door, but the map at least means you are rarely lost. I am definitely getting bored of keycards now.
Shooting remains enjoyable in Doom, in particular the shotgun (which is pretty much your default gun after a couple of levels), which has a nice thump to it, and the plasma rifle, which fires very rapidly; demons make an "owwy" sound for every hit so you can feel the damage with the plasma rifle 😁 Doom is my favourite arrow shooter so far for pure gameplay.
I complete the game in about 6 hours on medium difficulty, although that included dying a million times. Thankfully quicksave and quickload had my back. I liked how the boss from episode one ends up a regular baddy in later episodes which makes me appreciate how the stakes have been raised (still a ******* though).
Graphics and Performance
From a technical standpoint this is huge leap over W3D, with the verticality, non 90 degree angled walls, much higher quality sprites and less weird perspective and texture shimmer. Outside environments really show off the engine, and there is even some form of lighting engine. I see walls light up when I fire my pistol and flickery lights are deliberately, and effectively, used to make quite a scary atmosphere in places (disclaimer - I am a wimp).
It continued to play nice with much more modern hardware and gameplay is not tied to the framerate. I'm tempted to see how it runs on my 386SX 4MB RAM PC which will probably be unplayable.
Doom is the first game in my list that supports AWE music, so I was keep to try it out. However, this would just give a very loud, high pitched whine when loading up the game (that continued when the game was closed). I ended up using standard Soundblaster music, which to be fair is much better than the simple loops in W3D. One tune in particular really adds to the atmosphere. Soundeffects continue to the basic but effective; the weapon sounds in particular are thumpy and visceral.
Was it fun?
Yes, but 3 episodes is definitely enough (although that could just be retro shooter fatigue!)
Should you play it?
Yes, it makes a much better starting point than W3D for actually having fun in a retro shooter.
These really show off the huge leap in technology from Wolfenstein 3D!
No video this time, I was too busy dying.
Ryzen 3700X 4.4-ish GHz | 16GB DDR4 3600MHz | Nvidia 1070ti | 750GB NVMe
AM1 x4 3820 APU Thing | 6GB DDR1 | iGPU or GTX 650
Slot 1 PIII 450MHz | 256MB PC100 | Nvidia MX440 | AWE32 CT3910