Doom 64 is a great Doom game. Doom 2016 is as well, but that isn't the topic of this review. Tune in next week...
In all seriousness, I got a hell of a kick out of Doom 64, no pun intended. Some say it's an enhanced port of Doom, some say it's an all new game, I side with the latter. 32 new levels as well as a bunch of new secret levels, it's quite a great game. The sound effects, while being samples at 22.05KHz because they're on a cartridge, are satisfying and meaty. The music got quite a downgrade from the PS1 version, cartridge and all. It was composed by Aubrey Hodges, and I think of it the same way as i think of Quake's ambient music. Not a huge fan. But that isn't a big problem if you ask me.
The gameplay of Doom 64 feels good, at least if you're playing a source port. The N64 controller is not enjoyable to use if you ask me, and the way the controls are mapped for the N64 controller is just not much fun as well. But that doesn't matter, as there's two ports to the PC that matter. The recently released Steam/Bethesda.net/PS4/Xbone/Switch port, and Doom64 EX. I tried another one that was based on the Doomsday source port, and it looked ugly (so much bilinear filtering I could not turn off) and just didn't play well. It serves as a good source for extracting the sound effects, including really satisfying death sounds like the ones for the Hell Knights. But I won't get ahead of myself.
The Pistol does what it needs to do. The single-barrel shotgun is a good weapon as well. The Double-Barrel is amazing, as it should be. The Chaingun is a rapid-fire Pistol and does good damage, the Rocket Launcher is great for everything, the Plasma Gun is great if not a little slower but more powerful, the BFG feels a little neutered, the Chainsaw now has two blades and feels as it should, it stunlocks the enemies as well. Then comes the Unmaker, the weapon meant to be added in classic Doom, but was never added.
Unholy Temple is awful. Enough said.
The Unmaker is a cell-based weapon like the BFG and Plasma Gun, and without any Demon Keys, it is pretty weak. You find the Demon Keys scattered throughout different secret levels (three of them), and the fully charged up Unmaker with all three Demon Keys is amazing. It eats through your ammo, but does amazing amounts of damage. It's great against the final boss of the game, the Mother Demon, and with the fully-charged Unmaker, you can just turn her into nothing, and also close the infinitely spawning monster closets in the arena.
The levels were built around not being able to jump, which is something added in some source ports, so it allows you to cheese some levels and just leap to the exit instead of going through the extra effort of actually beating the level. Great for cheesing levels but you can sometimes screw yourself over by doing that.
The powerups here are the radiation suit which is now just a biohazard symbol (not Resident Evil biohazard) and the Berzerk. The Berzerk allows you to turn enemies into gibs (chunks, like when you blow them away with the Rocket Launcher) and doesn't make the player character scream every time you punch something. (See also: D3) It's really only those two, as the rest of the time, there's not much to worry about. Just blow everything away with your weapons. Don't forget about keys, though.
The enemies are redesigned, they don't look like they used to, some look more freaky (such as the Pain Elementals in particular), well really all of them do, but it depends for the enemies. The enemies included are the Imps, Pinkies, Hell Knights, Barons, Shotgunners/Zombiemen, the previously mentioned Pain Elementals, Cacodemons, those goddamned Lost Souls, Cyberdemons, and the also previously mentioned Hell Mother. There's also Spectres from classic Doom, and Nightmare Imps, which are semi-transparent purple imps that move faster and shoot faster purple fireballs. Treat with whatever weapon you have. Don't forget to treat Pinkies to lots and lots of chainsaw.
There's also a new thing in this game's engine with scripted events, such as when you pick up an item and enemies appear. It really happens a lot more than some would think, and is put to good use, and sometimes dickish use. One of those being in Hectic, where you can get the Rocket Launcher, and two Barons appear, so you have to shoot the, but you barely have any space to hit them without getting kickback from the Rocket Launcher, because kickback is now a thing. Good luck with that. Hectic, a secret level that is really hard to find anyways, gives you the cheat menu and the Rocket Launcher early, so there is a bonus to playing through it.
The graphics are, well, something else to make a note of. They are, especially on an N64, very dark and with how the N64 does filtering, ugly. It makes for a more horror-like experience, granted, but I highly advise playing it on PC through the legit rerelease or through Doom 64 EX. Doom 64 EX allows you to grank up the gamma to make things more visible (as the darkness, compared to Doom 3, is more of a setting than a feature), and you will be treated to more horrifying looking monsters as well as no more texture warping when looking up and down, as this is an engine that was built in 3-D (no, that is not a Weird Al reference, or is it?) and the game overall looks more technically impressive. The main downside to the N64 version is the choppy 35 FPS the game is locked at. Play 64 EX or the legitimate rerelease to get rid of that.
I forget how I came across this, but have a placeholder texture.
The sound is something else. The music features Aubrey Hodges' work from PS1/Saturn Doom and it makes for a more chilling atmosphere, including some sounds that you wouldn't expect to hear. Very similar to what Quake did for its music, and honestly, it depends on how I'm feelign as to whether I like it. I still like playing metal over Doom while I'm mowing demons down with my Chainsaw or Chaingun, so it's a personal preference. The sound effects are very meaty and satisfying, especially the death sound for the Hell Knights. Very fitting and satisfying.
Control wise, at least for the EX version, is snappy. Granted, it adds jumping which breaks the game, especially with some maps where you can skip portions of the level and just jump to the exit, just go ahead and cheese that game. Yeah. Otherwise, it's tight and snappy as it shoudl be for a PC game, just make sure to properly adjust your mouselook sensitivity.
Overall, I definitely would recommend Doom 64. Especially with the recent rerelease that made it more available and the overall feel of the game that just feels different but similar at the same time, it's definitely worth a play. Being only $5 on Steam, it's well worth it, as throwing away $5 is nothing, and since this time, they didn't screw it up like the Doom Unity ports. Try it if you can, but I recommend the EX source port mainly for the fact of that was how I played it. Didn't get the chance to play the recent rerelease, but I will sometime soon.