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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Doom

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Contrary to popular belief, home consoles have never received a perfect port of the PC classic Doom. While some have come close, smaller issues like decreased screen size, slowdown, low resolutions, or missing levels have all hindered previous translations. Finally, after nearly 15 years of waiting, Doom has found a home on the Live Arcade.

This is a stunning translation, ported without taking anything away from purists. The music is pure MIDI and unforgettable. All the levels are intact from Ultimate Doom, and the enemy roster is complete. The game features a blazing frame rate that never once dips below its standard speed regardless of the number of sprites.

One noticeable change has occurred, and that's dual analog control. Doom has always been played with a single stick/d-pad/keyboard for both moving and turning, along with an additional key for strafing. Since the game does not allow for vertical movement, this is used for nothing more than faster turning and easier strafing. It's a vast improvement given the seemingly minor adjustment.

Running in full HD glory, the mass of pixels that make up the depths of hell keep their retro style. It's a sharper looking experience than what fans are used to, greatly eclipsing the PC original on the proper set up. The sound is also in full 5.1, and this is a stunning enhancement to the experience.

This first-person classic would not be the same without multi-player, and Doom still manages to create an air of addiction. With four-player co-op or deathmatch, either locally via split screen or online with Xbox Live, replay value here cannot be measured. Lag is miniscule, and rarely causes enough of a disruption to be noticeable.

All the extras can't make up for what Doom has always done best, and that's level design. The game could work on its superlative feeling of power when guns are fired into the various denizens of hell, but the corridors are what keep this game playable. To this day, it's hard to find a first person shooter with this much variety, secret areas, and traps all wrapped around the simplistic goal of finding a few colored cards scattered about.

As of the current roster, Doom quickly rises to the status of best retro title for the Live Arcade. Playing this classic on Xbox Live feels like a natural pairing of two perfectly compatible objects. The intensity, fun factor, and lengthy single player campaign make the $10 price meaningless.

Doom is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence. This game can also be found on: Just about any game console you own.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • Totally agree, Matt.

    Most of the Live Arcade titles lately have really let the side down, and I feared that Doom would do the same.

    Luckily, it’s fantastic, far better than I ever imagined it would be.

  • Jay

    While I agree it’s a good port, it’s far from the best Live Arcade. One of the biggest problems is the connecting to a game. When you select “custom match”, it presents a list of games to join. Unfortunately, you’re very unlikely to connect to any of these. You’ll either get a “connection timed out” message or a “game has already started” message. Even after being told the server is full, the browser STILL lists that server as being available. Also, forget about seeing what the score is in a DM game. You can only see your score during the match. Once the match is over, you get the old confusing scoreboard showing individual kills. When other players exit, they get removed from the menu, so if everyone quits as soon as it’s over, forget about seeing the score.

    There’s other issues with the interface, but it would take too long to go into. Let’s just say I’m pretty disapppointed.