Monday, November 1, 2010

Game Review: Doom II RPG

I'll admit it: Since the first time I played Snake on my old Nokia, I've hated cell-phone based games. Playing a game on a screen with less resolution and definition than a Game Boy? Pass. So for the most part I've avoided them.

However, I was pretty bored while waiting for the pharmacy to fill my prescrips, so I started thumbing through the App catalog. Not too much of interest, then I found Doom II: RPG. Well...Doom is one of my all time favorites, and it sounded like it could be cool. So I decided to download it and give it a shot. And you know what? I was actually pleasantly surprised.

The game uses a lot of the assets- images, animations, sound effects, textures- from Doom I and II. There's also some new material, but if you've played the old Dooms (and you almost certainly have) you'll recognize a lot. 

And when you first start it up, you might think it play like a simplified, single plane version of doom. Well, the presentation is pretty similar. You have your weapon on screen and your HUD underneath. You explore the Moon Base much like you'd play a normal game of Doom- a bit of a mix between the originals and 3- you can find logs on computer terminals (or maybe they were inspired by Marathon). Combat, however is a bit different, and when you encounter an enemy you fight them in a turn-based fashion. Your player character- I chose the Sarge because...well, he's the freakin' Doom guy- starts with an Assault rifle and a variety of stats that will influence their combat prowess. The Major starts with better accuracy, the scientist with...I'm not sure, I think he's the wimp that serves as "hard mode"- and the Sarge has superior strength and defense.

 You'll find your way around the base, collecting keycards, talking to redshirts, and fighting demons. Along the way you'll discover ways to increase your stats (i.e. target practice to improve accuracy, hitting the treadmill to increase agility) and Nano Drinks. These temporarily boost one or more of your stats. I recommend stocking up on them- judicious use of them makes the later part of the game much less of a hassle. As you fight, you'll gain experience and eventually level up. Now this is done more in line with a traditional tabletop RPG where your increases in stats will be pretty modest and not take place often, as opposed to a Final Fantasy where you level up constantly. You'll find a variety of mostly familiar weapons- the classic shotgun, chaingun, chainsaw, and BFG are all present- as well as the Holy Water Pistol.

You'll notice pretty early on that the game doesn't take itself too seriously. When you shoot a demon with the holy water pistol their eyes go cartoony and large. Your nano drinks include things like "Power Punch" and "Hell Knight Sweat". One of the enemies is called a "Sawcubus". As well, some of the items you find on corpses are humorous in nature. You'll find everything from a D20 to and a nudie mag in the gag item text. You'll also run into a snarky computer AI (again, they must have been playing Marathon).

And how does it play? Well, for a game on a cell phone, not bad at all. I didn't find it annoying to control. In fact I found it pretty addictive and fun. I can safely say that Doom II RPG will serve as a boredom killer for a long time to come. My only real complaint is that it's very short. However, this might not be a problem for you if you play it in short sessions, as opposed to me, who ran his phone battery down twice in the course of gameplay. However, even when you're done there are three difficulty settings and three characters to play, so there's a bit of replay value. You won't mind coming back to this one. 

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