FBT is back amongst the demons. Leave him be, he's happy.
I’m an idiot. For years I thought Doom64 was just a Nintendo port of the original. And if it was anything like the Carmageddon 64 atrocity, I figured it was best avoided. Until Doom Eternal packaged it as a pre-order bonus. I wasn’t about to pre-order Doom Eternal if it was anything like Doom 2016 either, but D64 was available on Steam for 3 quid. That got me curious, and a quick nose around the Doom Wiki made me realise what D64 was. A whole new Doom experience from the 90s and I’ve been missing it? Hurt Me Plenty, D64.
It seems odd to start a Doom review talking about the plot, as the great John Carmack once said about Doom, “story in a game is like a story in a porn movie”, but D64’s plot actually bears mentioning, since it’s the missing link – years after the events in Doom II (Or Final Doom), UAC’s bases have been sealed and remain radioactive enough to melt anything that came through. But something survived, and it’s reanimated all the demons Doomguy had slayed. They’re back, and so Doomguy is recommissioned and sent into the fray. Later, it’s revealed the Demons did this on purpose to lure him to Hell and finish Doomguy once and for all, ensuring their takeover of Earth was a success. See, story is important. This new remastered version from Night Dive also includes 7 new levels aligning D64 with Doom 2016. Yeah, not gonna bother with that. That’s like watching porn for the story.
At first glance, the resurrected demons all look like the regular ones after a heavy night out, just rough-as. And I think the Imps are wearing thongs. But on semi-closer inspection, they look more like an alien invasion rather than a hellish one. The Imps still die displaying their anus, which is nice to see again, but they’re differently coloured now (The Imps, not their anus’) and have a shrouded version that’s a tad harder to put down. The adorable Cacodemon now looks more like the Pain Elemental with chains around wrists which it never had before – and D64’s Pain Elemental has two mouths which means twice as many Lost Souls. But that’s okay, this time we have twice as many chainsaws.
For some reason the chain-saw has two blades now, but I’m not complaining. Most of the weapons are just a visual variation on what we know and love, which pretty much sums up D64 – it’s a visual reskin, and I guess in many ways this is like the definitive Doom Clone.
Produced by Midway, everything Doom-y is here, but feels a bit knock-off at first, like playing a clone, but then you realise it's actually built on what Doom did; levels are more detailed and complex, and there’s puzzles, traps, hidden objects and elements that require you to tactically think your way around; it's more advanced yet faithful. And hella fun.
This actually feels closer to Quake in gaming terms, and a lot of its accessibility and fluidness is because this is a ground-up rebuild by gaming’s own Arch-Vile, Night Dive. The original is still knocking about, but this works just fine; it’s not a remaster, just a lovingly restored version that feels a little like the Ion Fury or Dusk games. Played alongside those, it’s a great little Doom throwback time-waster that reminds you of simpler shooter times.
As usual, there’s 32 levels (39 when including the Doom Eternal tie-in section) which is a bit of a slog. It does feel a little relentless, dated, samey and draining, and for that I’m thankful. I've discovered a true 90s shooter and it's great to be back. It makes me feel like Xena’s on the telly, Air Force One is in the cinemas and Tony Blair is going to make everything okay.
There’s not really a lot else to say about D64 – it’s Doom done differently, but once you get past the slightly off look and feel, it's as much a part of the Doom family as Final Doom. It was overseen by Id (classic era Id that is) so you know it’s The Two Johns approved. If you’re a Doom fan you know exactly what you’re getting. You could do a lot worse than grab this – like for example, grabbing Doom 2016.