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Doom RPG Review

"Doom RPG is an interesting and fun new twist on the Doom legacy."

While it might not pick up any style points, there's something to be said for the simple nature of the name "Doom RPG." It lets you know exactly what you're getting into: a role-playing game based on the classic id Software first-person shooter, Doom. Converting an action game into a turn-based RPG sounds like a risky maneuver, but aside from a handful of quirks and the occasional performance issue, Doom RPG is an interesting and fun new twist on the Doom legacy.

OK, so where do you type in IDKFA?

OK, so where do you type in IDKFA?

The story in Doom RPG is a little more fleshed out than the original Doom's story, and it takes a couple of pages from Doom 3. You're a space marine, arriving on Mars to get your investigation on. It seems that there are two feuding scientists roaming around the base, and there's word of a matter teleportation unit that, as you would probably expect, seems to be a gateway to hell, and hell's demons and other monsters are using that gateway to overrun the multisectored Mars station. As the nameless marine, you move from level to level, gunning down anything that gets in your way as you search for keycards and work your way closer to the game's final confrontation.

Doom RPG might look a whole lot like the first-person shooter it's based on, but this is actually a turn-based game. You can move one square at a time, and if there are any active enemies in the vicinity, they'll take their turns as well. Some actions, such as rotating your viewpoint--which is done at 90-degree angles--don't cost you a turn, so you've got plenty of time to survey your surroundings. The strategy of the game is to try to make enemies waste their turn on moving into your line of fire and then give them the business with one of your many weapons. Some enemies, however, are able to move into your view and attack in the same turn. Knowing the difference between the two is key to your survival.

The simple turn-based structure is an interesting way to look at Doom, but it comes with a handful of annoyances as well. As you probably already know, the world of Doom has a whole lot of tight corridors in it. While Doom RPG probably isn't quite as cramped as the first-person shooters were, there are plenty of situations where you'll be in a corridor, with no way to get out of the line of fire of an enemy. You'll get hit, and want to dig into your inventory to use a health pack. Unfortunately, that uses your turn, and you'll get hit again--leading to your wanting again to use a health pack. Since one more hit will kill you, this essentially leaves you trapped, hoping that an enemy misses with its attack so you can get a shot off or at least attempt to back away. This problem is further exacerbated by the game's surprisingly weak weaponry. While some enemies have affinities that cause them to take more damage from some weapons than others, overall you won't feel like you're powerful enough. This leads you to use a large amount of ammo in each fight, which forces you to depend on your axe, which is your melee weapon. The axe is strong against zombified humans, usually causing them to explode in one hit, but in the later levels, you're rarely facing this type of enemy.

The weapons come right out of the Doom II catalog and have roughly the same effects. The rocket launcher does splash damage if you fire it when you're too close to an enemy. The shotgun and super shotgun work better up close. The BFG emits a gigantic energy ball that still won't automatically take out the game's tougher foes, but it at least does damage to a lot of enemies in the area of the blast. Your new tools are the aforementioned axe, which can also be used to open jammed doors, and a fire extinguisher. You'll run into a lot of fire in the game--the base is being overrun by demons from hell, after all. The extinguisher can also be used as a weapon against fire-based enemies. Later, you'll run into some dog collars that can be used to control the minds of dogs, enlisting them as bullet shields (aw, poor puppies!) or as attack dogs that take a bite out of your enemies.

Aside from shooting everything up, you'll encounter scientists, computer terminals, and other marines, whom you can pester for advice. Just like in any good RPG, most of the people and computers you encounter don't have much to say, but there are some pretty great moments and some nice humor to be found. At one point, you'll have to go talk to a guy to learn a basic SQL command to access a database full of door access codes. Another scientist tells you that you should already know what to expect from the rest of the game: hunts for keycards that give you access to levels so you can hunt for more keycards. While on the surface much of your noncombat interaction with the world may seem superfluous, it does help give the game a more interesting and occasionally funny atmosphere.

Kronos is out there—somewhere.

Kronos is out there—somewhere.

Graphically, the game performs well on an LG VX8100. If you took only a passing glance at the game, you might assume someone was playing a regular old first-person shooter on the phone. The game doesn't have to animate too much, but actions like turning and moving are handled smoothly. We did, however, run into a few cases where the game slowed to an absolute crawl. Everything, from animation to movement to control response, took a serious dive. Restarting the phone solved the problem, though. On the sound side, Doom RPG features many of the same weapon and monster sound effects you heard back in the original games, which is great. Additionally, the game's main menu plays the E1M1 music, and every time your marine levels up, the game plays the "level complete" music from the original Doom. It's a nice touch that helps make the game feel more like a Doom game.

Overall, Doom RPG is a great piece of mobile software. It's an interesting game, and while it may feel slightly unfair at times, it's longer than most mobile games, it looks and sounds better than most mobile games, and it feels like a great fit for its platform. If you're at all interested in Doom, RPGs, or some sort of crazy combination of the two, Doom RPG is definitely worth your time.

The Good

  • Interesting twist on the Doom legacy  
  • Looks great  
  • Uses most of the classic Doom sound effects  
  • Good sense of humor.

The Bad

  • Weapons feel too weak  
  • Not enough ammo.

Posted on Sep 23, 2005