Welcome to hell… come on in the lava is lovely! Doom Resurrection from id and Escalation studios is a brand new game, built from the ground up for iPhone, using assets from Doom 3, which hit PC back in 2004. The game takes place on a research facility on Mars, and due to some scientists trying to be too clever with some new teleportation technology, they accidently open a doorway through to Hell itself. Queue nasty monsters, undead marines and flaming heads! You play as one surviving marine, and with the help of a robot and a scientist, you must escape from Mars and live to tell the tale.
Those of you however, expecting a fast paced FPS are in for a surprise… not a horrible surprise, but a surprise none the less. For Doom Resurrection is on rails! What does this mean, well on rails means the navigation of levels is taken care of for you, sort of like a ghost train at your local amusement park. We’ve all played on rails shooters before, but ever since the FPS (First Person Shooter) hit our screens, the on rails shooter took a back seat. However, these on rails games have seen somewhat of a resurgence with the Wii, with it’s light gun-a-like wiimote… giving birth to House of the dead remakes, Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles and even an on-rails mode in Medal of Honour heroes. In fact rumour has it that this game was developed for the Wii first, and you can kinda see why with it’s tilt function mirroring that of the wiimote at times.
So, with Doom Resurrection playing on rails, what is there left to do… well, quite a bit actually! While your forward motion is taken care of, you concentrate on the shooting aspect. There is an aiming reticule on screen, which you can move around suing the accelerometer. You fire by tapping or holding the fire button on the bottom right of the screen. To reload you hit top right, and for selecting different weapons you hi the top left button. As you are taken round the environments, the enemies run, jump out and shoot at you, so you must be quick with your reflexes and wise with your weapon choice to survive. As well as firing you can dodge enemy fire or take cover behind objects during fire fights. This is done with the final button, which is the action button in the bottom left corner of the screen.
For an on rails game the action is pretty intense. I played the game on easy mode just to get through it for the purpose of the review, but using the free play mode I have been able to revisit some of the later levels using the Nightmare difficulty setting, and it certainly gets tougher! But even on easy, you’ll need to keep your wits about you as you ensure you have enough of the right kind of fire power to do the job. The action button, adds to this by giving you something else to think about. You’ll be regularly dodging fireballs from one side of the screen while taking down a hell hound on the other. After the first few levels, you encounter zombified marines which come at you guns blazing. As they shoot at you, a green hexagonal reticule appears which gets smaller and turns red when they have a lock. So to take them out it’s case of taking cover when in the red, and jumping out to pop a few caps in their scalps when the reticule is green. These gun battles help keep the experience from becoming stale, and works a treat with the controls. On your travels you will encounter a good selection of foes, including some nasty boss battles, which require you to save your ammo on the bigger weapons if you want to take them out quickly. Weapons include, machine guns, various shot guns, rail guns and assault plasma rifles… but important question on the minds of most Doom fans is, “does the legendary weapon, the BFG, make an appearance?”… well that would be telling… you’ll just have to play the game to find out!
On to controls, and they work very well. It’s brave to take away full control, but in this case it works, it allows the action to be the focus of the game. The tilt to aim is very solid, and doesn’t need tweaking as other games do. You can re-calibrate any time you like from the pause menu, but I didn’t feel the need. While movement is taken care of, you do have a little control over where you look. When you reticule approaches the edge of the screen, your viewpoint will shift slightly, allowing you to pick off enemies or pick up health or weapon power ups that look out of reach.
The visuals are where the game really shines though. As they are using the original assets from Doom 3, and building the game from the ground up for iPhone, the developer can tailor the models and texture work to suit, instead of upscaling from for example the Nintendo DS. Because of this, textures look sharp, character models are well detailed… and the environments, while not hugely varied, look fantastic with great lighting and shading. Unlike other 3D games out there, when you get close to an object, the textures barely lose any definition, in fact they look better close up! The framerate was solid, but bear in mind that I’m using the new 3GS, so older iPhone’s may struggle. I’ll test it on an older handset and update this review should I notice any drastic difference.
Combining the visuals with it’s haunting music, suitably horrific sound effects, completes the package. id certainly know how to make a game look and sound great.
So it can’t be all good right? Well, as you can tell from the good, it’s a solid game. But as good as it is on-rails, there will be people out there who still don’t get it, and would prefer full FPS controls. Some may find it all a bit hands off, and later levels do get a bit repetitive. On replay it’s all very much staged, with no random spawning. The harder settings for insane and nightmare will give even the rabid FPS fan some hardcore thrills though.
While overall the visuals are top notch, I wasn’t a huge fan of the static cutscenes where you talk with your scientist buddy. The character art looks a bit out of place, and I would have preferred some in-engine cutscenes instead. The game ends with some intense action, only to be followed by a very dull and clunky animated end sequence as you leave Mars’ orbit. Not exactly the fanfare you would expect on completing the game!
Game time isn’t terrible for a mobile game, coming in at around 2.5 to 3 hours on easy mode… though upping the difficulty will see more deaths and checkpoint restarts. Having said that, for $9.99 I would have liked to see a few more levels, and possibly a few bonus extras. Like an arcade mode which allows you to enter a level and compete for high scores across a global leader board.
The bottom line
Until someone comes along and gets FPS controls down though, I think id made the right choice in concentrating on delivering an action packed and fun shooter. It really feels like a thrill ride. The production values are sky high, offering some of the best visuals thus far on the iPhone.
Presentation and graphics
Even the clunky dialogue scenes and lack of a decent ending can’t detract from the fact that this is one hell of a good looking game!
The atmospheric music and haunting sounds of the hell spawn really adds to the atmosphere, and can cause heart palpitations. Weapon sounds are awesome. Definitely one for headphones which allow you to pick up some great surround effects.
Yep it’s on-rails. But it’s a thrill ride through hell. Plus it features great tilt and touch controls, that don’t block the action and those purty graphics.
Not a bad length considering it packs some intense action. A few extra levels would be an added bonus… as would the now expected online features that the iPhone can deliver.
Overall (not an average)