Everyone loves a classic, especially when it’s ported to a later console where it can be enjoyed all over again. With the highly-anticipated release of Doom: Eternal around the corner, Bethesda have re-released Doom I, II and III on multiple platforms.
Doom I, II and III are now available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS and Android. The announcement was made at Quakecon and marks the 25th anniversary of the original.
Doom was first released for PC in 1993 and was hailed as one of the greatest games of the decade. It wasn’t the first ever FPS—that title goes to Wolfenstein—but Doom seemed to push the boundaries on what was possible at the time, providing intense sci-fi action in highly-atmospheric environments. Without a doubt, Doom became a genre-defining game.
It is also one of the most ported games ever. Doom has seen re-releases of varying quality on PS, Xbox 360, SNES, Gameboy Advance, 32x, Atari Jaguar and more.
The latest ports include plenty of additional content and expansion packs for the original games. Doom I includes ‘Episode IV: Thy Flesh Consumed’, as well as nine additional levels. Doom II includes the ‘Master Levels’, as well as 20 additional levels made by the community and supervised by the developers. Doom III includes the ‘Resurrection of Evil’ and ‘The Lost Missions’ expansion packs. Doom I and II also include local 4-player multiplayer and coop functionality.
That all sounds good so far, so where is the catch?
Poor Quality Conversions
The bad news is that the gaming community has criticised the Doom re-releases, especially Doom I and II, which are sold together in a set. The first round of fury came from the fact that the games required players to sign in with a Bethesda account, which is a pointless ‘feature’, given that the games are not online. As a result of the backlash, this will soon be patched out.
But there’s no getting away from the poor quality conversion of the first two titles, which were ported by Nerve, who have plenty of experience working with id Software games and who were responsible for the Xbox Live Arcade port of Doom. There are undeniable technical flaws, and Nerve should have done a better job. The rendering resolution doesn’t scale evenly to the output resolution, resulting in incorrect aspect ratios. For the player, this results in uneven pixels and a squashed, uneasy look. The visuals are further thwarted by the frame rate.
The original Doom was designed to run on 70Hz CRT monitors at 35 frame rates per second. This was half the refresh rate, resulting in a consistent motion. Consoles are 60Hz, yet the developers kept the 35 frame rates per second. This results in a noticeably juddering motion. It’s a big mistake that makes the remakes difficult to fully appreciate.
The audio is equally fraught with problems. The playback on the music is slower, which throws the timing out. The sound effects are muffled, and there is little in the way of variability of pitch. These are still Doom games, but for official conversions they are not great. The Doom films have so far spelled disaster, and the ports have also lacked class at times.
The Good News…
The good news is that Doom III doesn’t share the same flaws. The third title in the series divided fans, as the gameplay and overall feel of the game took a different direction. Yet, it was a leap forward again in terms of 3D rendering, with real-time lighting and shadows, a highly textured environment, and a dark and scary atmosphere.
The new conversion of Doom III—which is sold on its own, separate from the other two titles—is based on the BFG edition and was released for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. This version had a few changes from the original, including modified ammo, flashlight and visuals.
Despite what gamers think of the title, the conversion is top-notch across all platforms and is tuned to run smoothly on each. PS4 and Xbox One players can enjoy the game in 4k at a rate of 60 frames per second and with slower loading times. It’s excellent, and, in some ways, it makes up for the disappointing (and lazy?) conversions of I and II.
It’s great to see Doom back in the console stores. Doom: Eternal is set for release 22nd November.