Going to Hell on a handset
What can you say about Doom that hasn't already been said? One of the seminal classics of all time, a follow-up to the 'Will this actually work?' test-drive of Wolfenstein, it kickstarted the PC-gaming era and invented an entire genre. It's impossible to underestimate the impact on gaming, and our culture in general, that Doom has had.
Of course, the game now incredibly long in the tooth - three weeks shy of its 12th birthday. Doom, for all its appearances, was never true 3D
- the height and depth was always an illusion created by some clever level design and bitmapping. Quake took Doom and turned it into the realms of proper three-dimensionality, but the design and feel of Quake never quite took root in the minds of gamers to the extent that Doom did.
With the source code to Doom now being completely open, we've seen implementations of the game on all kinds of different devices. The iPod nano can now play a rudimentary version of Doom, some cell phones can play a conversion of it, and PocketPC devices can now even play Quake 3
. Of course, the Doom conversions are little more than tech demos - there's no hope of actually having an enjoyable game of Doom on these, since the control interface is totally not designed for quick response FPS games.
Step in id Software and Fountainhead Software. It has long been known that people like to play games on their phones - ever since the first Snake, it's been an addictive pasttime. Today, all sorts of games and ringtones are sold, making it a multi-million pound business. Most of them appeal to casual gamers, since most hardcore gamers would never touch anything so dumbed-down. John Carmack, one of the original creators of Doom, spotted an opportunity - to make a mobile phone game based on the classic original, and make it the first to get real gamers
playing on their phones.
id collaborated with Fountainhead, and the result is the Doom RPG, distributed by Jamdat. The game has all the look and feel of the original game, but with one cunning difference: it's a FPS / RPG hybrid. The game doesn't require super-fast strafing or rocket-jumping skills; it requires the ability to navigate, solve puzzles and negotiate turn-based combat.
The game is designed to work on any handset that can handle the standard Java runtime environment for mobiles. There is a version for these newer phones, and also a scalable version for older / smaller handsets. You can check the Doom RPG homepage
for more details, but if you have even a vaguely modern handset, you should be able to play. We played it through on a Sony Ericsson K750i.
Loading up the game brings you to that incredibly familiar Doom splash screen, and the music rocks out - E1M1. Whilst the maps from the original Doom don't survive through to the mobile version, there is at least this iconic track to act as a nod to the original. One of the key elements that does make it through, however, is the weaponry. All your favourite Doom guns are back, complete with authentic graphics and sound effects. The plasma gun, the super shotgun, the BFG are all in here. The old weaponry, aside from being incredibly nostalgic, also adds a great sense of authenticity and of faithfulness to the original. This is not some horrendous bastardisation of an old classic, thankfully.