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Gaming Review

'Doom Resurrection' (iPhone)

By
Released on Friday, Jun 26 2009



Also available on: N/A
Developer: Escalation Studios
Publisher: id Software
Genre: First-person shooter
Release date: June 26, 2009

The Doom blueprint is arguably the perfect foundation for any first-person shooter. After all, the original is credited as one of the most influential games of all time, spawning countless imitators across its 16-year legacy. So, it comes as a great surprise that id Software has veered so far away from the formula with this iPhone exclusive.

Fans seeking the classic Doom experience will be disappointed to find that the game has been re-imagined as a rail shooter, utilising tilt aiming and a cover mechanic. This is a bold move on the developer's part, and although the game has its issues, John Carmack and co. should be commended for breaking the mould and attempting something original.

Doom Resurrection may be billed as a standalone entry in the series, but it has an awful lot in common with Doom 3, particularly its aesthetic and storyline. In fact, the plot is almost a rehash of the third game's.

The story begins in deep space, where the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) is conducting a host of bizarre experiments. One of these tests backfires and opens up a portal to hell, unleashing hordes of demons and transforming most of the crew into bloodthirsty zombies. Like any Doom game, it's just you and your arsenal against wave after wave of hellish creatures.

It is apparent that the game was originally conceived as a traditional first-person shooter, before the concept was scrapped and completely overhauled. The end result is something akin to Time Crisis or Metal Gear Solid Touch, rather than your standard run-and-gun fest. It takes time to switch off those first person-shooter instincts, but once you learn the ropes, there's a lot of minimalistic fun to be had.

The controls couldn't be simpler; tilting the iPhone aims your weapons, while virtual buttons are used to fire them and activate the cover mechanic. Collecting items and switching between weapons is as easy as tapping the screen, with a shake of the handset used to detach clinging zombies. It all comes together remarkably well, with only the shake mechanic disrupting the flow somewhat (as well as earning you some dubious looks when playing in public).

Once Resurrection gets its hooks into you, it never lets go. Varied level design, smart enemy AI and the gradual introduction of new challenges will keep you on your toes. Unlike the early Doom titles, foes will not remain in one spot mindlessly tossing fireballs and hoping for the best. These demons will strategically duck for cover, forcing you to do the same.

A lot of work has gone into the stage layouts. The lighting level in each section is just right to conjure the appropriate level of atmosphere. The developers have done a great job of scaling down Doom 3's dark aesthetic, with the hell-based stages particularly visceral. There is never a shortage of scenery to take cover behind, but under close scrutiny, the functionality can be questioned on occasion. It's frustrating to see power-ups generate at the edge of the screen, a little too close to the action buttons. This can result in you accidentally firing a shot or ducking for cover, rather than collecting a much-needed health pack.

While you might think that the absence of free exploration is lamentable, the on-rails design does have its advantages. First and foremost, Doom has always been about shooting anything that moves, and time spent wandering aimlessly around murky, maze-like corridors seeking keycards compromised this all too often. In Resurrection, all of that is taken care of for you, boiling the experience down to its destructive essence.

An on-rails design with touch-screen controls might sound like a far cry from the Doom we all know and love, but Resurrection has remained true to the series' adrenaline-fuelled roots, aided by the inclusion of a pleasingly familiar arsenal, comprising chainsaws, double-barrelled shotguns and the devastating BFG.

Whereas the game has something unique to offer iPhone users, it doesn't have enough of it. With just eight stages, clocking in at around 15 minutes each, the game's over before you know it. A small amount of replay value can be found in the Free Play mode, where running through the levels on higher difficulty settings will earn you more points, but you will still be hungry for more by the end.

Priced at the high end of the App Store's scale, alongside titles such as The Sims, Assassin's Creed and The Need For Speed, it can be argued that its competitors offer more substance for your buck, but that isn't to say that the game doesn't have something all of its own to offer.

Sceptics might claim that Resurrection's original mechanics are little more than gimmicks, but id has achieved exactly what it set out to do with this one, reinventing the series for the iPhone and playing to the platform's strengths while remaining true to its roots. Sitting on the fence between the first-person shooter and shooting gallery genres, it is hard to pick out a better alternative for the platform in either category.

With Doom Resurrection, id Software hasn't so much whet our appetite for more Doom, as left us salivating like Pavlov's dogs. With the long-awaited fourth instalment in the series still some way off, iPhone releases like this one should see us through.


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