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The Icon Bar: News and features: Review - Doom+

Review - Doom+

Posted by Tim Fountain on 00:00, 30/10/2000 | , ,
Doom Plus


Although Doom+ is technically only version 2.01 of Doom, the original Doom review was written several months ago, and so many new features have been added since then that I think it warrants a new review. The old review (by Richard Goodwin and Alasdair Bailey) is still available for you to read.


Frontend thumbnailDoom is one of the most popular games of all time. It has sold well over 1.5 million copies worldwide, has over 30 newsgroups dedicated to it and the total number of webrings is in triple figures. A search for 'Doom' in AltaVista gives you over half a million pages to choose from. The game is nearly five years old now, but people still play it. It seems to have had an equally good reception in it's transition to the Acorn platform, but what does the new version have to offer?

After installing, the first noticeable difference is the new improved front-end. WADs that are dropped onto the window now appear in the 'Add on WAD files' box (allowing easier selection), and there are a selection of new icons along the bottom of the screen which allow you to fiddle with all sorts of aspects of the game before you begin to play. Whilst not exactly style guide compliant (an exclamation mark icon to close the window -- 'Cancel' anyone?), this new frontend is an improvement.

The new options menuAmong the new 'video' options is a 'Bright 24-bit colour' tickbox, which allows the 24-bit mode to be brightened, useful for those dark corridors. Note that the alternative resolution selection box now reads 'variable' rather than 'higher'. This is because resolutions lower than 320x240 can now be used as well as higher. Experimentation with the beta version a few weeks ago proved that resolutions as low as 24x24 pixels are possible (note the absense of the word 'playable' in that sentence).

Clicking on the Doom icon to get the 'loading' window reveals a couple more features, 'faster load', and the cached startup. The 'faster load' simply disables multi-tasking during loading (providing a slight speed increase), and the cached startup will vastly reduce the load time of the game on subsequent ocassions.

TransparencyThe main visual enhancement is the addition of transparencies and translucencies. This means that you can now 'see through' explosions, and the invisibility token gives your weapon of choice lovely full translucency. The translucency doesn't quite stretch to all events, the destruction of lost souls for example. It also slows the game down slightly, but this isn't noticeable as this version is about 30% faster than before.
Super shotgunMelt fades have been introduced for the screen changes, making the game 'feel' a lot slicker. When playing the game in full screen mode, you also get to see more of the weapon (DIY Doom style). This looks especially good in Doom2 with the super shotgun...
More translucencyYou now have the option of slotting your favourite CD in your CD drive and listening to that while playing, especially useful if you don't have the appropriate hard/software to allow you to hear the proper (MIDI) Doom music in it's full glory. There is also an 'atmospheric' option, meaning that the volume of the music will be increased during dramatic parts of the game. Personally, I couldn't really hear much difference with this switched on, but then perhaps my hearing isn't all that good, or maybe I have the music too loud anyway.
AutomapThere are several new options concerning the automap, the most useful of which is the 'picture in picture' mode, where the map is displayed in the corner of the screen while you're playing. This is extremely useful when navigating labyrinths with a lot of monsters in, as you can find your way around without having to worry about bumping into any demons without realising. The map can now be anti-aliased, which you get used to very quickly and won't want to ever turn off. There's even an Aliens style proximity detector!
AutomapWith Doom+, you can almost throw away DeUSF. Almost all patch WADs that previously required it can now be played without it. Most of the compatibilty problems with alternate levels on previous versions of Doom relate to bad level coding, but Doom+ is a lot more tolerant to these. You'll now be hard pushed to find a level that doesn't work with it.
Mass carnageFollowing a lot of mixed reports when the first Acorn Doom net drivers were released earlier in the year, RCI have been working on them. The versions bundled with Doom+ are a lot better, although still not faultless. Technically, Acorn to PC deathmatching should be possible, although our experiments with this were not exactly successful. Acorn to Acorn Doom is apparently possible providing the options selected are the same in each ('PC game' and 'New features'). Serial and LAN play is reported to be more reliable.
Plasma gun in spread modeIt really does seem that RCI kept adding features until they ran out of ideas. There are a whole host of new cheats (not all documented -- I haven't found them all yet), my favourite of which is IDSPREAD. Let's just say that this makes the plasma gun more effective at clearing a room than the BFG, (although using it in an enclosed space will slow the game to a crawl). You've even now got the option of a clock in the bottom right hand corner of your screen, (with alarm, naturally).
ScreenshotOverall, this upgrade is a must for Doom enthusiasts, and if you haven't got the game yet, why not? The 'What's new?' textfile supplied is nearly as long as this review, that's how many new features and improvements there have been. This upgrade improves an already excellent game, what more can I say? Put it this way - within two days of getting the Acorn Arcade review copy, I'd already ordered my own version, and I haven't bought a game since, well, Doom.


To sum up

The good...
  • One of the most popular games ever
  • Very addictive
  • Every feature imaginable
...the bad
  • Some of the (optional) new
    features slow game down a little


Rating: GOODRating: GOODRating: COOL


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The Icon Bar: News and features: Review - Doom+