by Robert A. Jung
1-2 players (networked)
Atari Corp., for the Atari Jaguar
To test their new, highly volatile inter-dimensional gateway system, the Space Marines have set up laboratories on Mars and its moons. Unfortunately, something's gone wrong: testers have met gory, tragic ends, and now all transmissions from the bases have ended abruptly. A squadron of Marines have been sent to Phobos to investigate. You've taken three minutes to secure the base perimeter, but it's too late -- the rest of your squad have been turned into zombies by demons from another dimension. Can one man battle the forces of Hell itself and stop the invasion of the underworld? You'll find out, one way or another...
That's the premise of Doom for the Atari Jaguar, an adaptation of the IBM PC game sensation from Id Software. As the only surviving Marine, the player moves through 23 levels of death and destruction, from the abandoned bases of Mars to the deepest planes of Hades. Along the way are zombies, demons, and other unspeakable fiends, all eager to have human souls for dinner. The player will also find weapons, ammunition, armor, and other items to help him survive. There are five difficulty levels, and the cartridge remembers what levels have been completed for later games. Finally, two Jaguars can be connected with Atari's network cable for cooperative or competitive play.
Doom is a game for players who like their action fast and uncomplicated. The emphasis of this cartridge is on wholesale slaughter, where the rule is to shoot it if it moves. Though the game offers hidden passages to find and locked doors to open, they are mostly second to Doom's nonstop bloodbath. The controls are simple and responsive, allowing Marines to easily change weapons, study the map, strafe, and shoot effortlessly. The multiplayer modes add to the game, though the occasional network error can be somewhat disruptive.
Veterans of the PC version of Doom will find this version very familiar, as the levels in this cartridge come from all three chapters of the computer game. There are a few minor changes, but for the most part it is a direct port. As with the original, the layout of each stage and the placement of the monsters are rigidly fixed. This reduces the long-term value of the game, since players will eventually learn the levels and can anticipate what will happen next. So while Doom on the Jaguar contains all of the imp-blasting frightful fun of the PC version, players who want to be surprised each time they play may want to look for another title.
The graphics and sound on Doom are very good, but leave some room for improvement. The first-person perspective view is fast and furious to match the action, and detailed textures are used everywhere to good effect. As with other versions of Doom, objects get blockier at close distances, though it's nothing horrible. The gore of the PC original is intact, along with the simple, two-step animation of enemy characters. To compensate, color and lighting effects have been subtly enhanced on the Jaguar, especially the strobe and flickering used in some areas. Still, more Jaguar-specific improvements would have been welcome.
Sound effects are also lifted directly from the PC: the wheezing grunt of the Marine, the blasts of the various weapons, and other noises are all rendered with realistic clarity. What this version of Doom lacks is in-game music; tunes are played only between levels, away from the action. Some may say that the lack of music makes Doom even scarier, but it would have been better to include the music and let the player turn it off at his discretion.
Doom on the Jaguar is a high-speed, no-nonsense, action-packed game, best recommended for folks who have not played the original computer version on a high-end PC. Though the graphics and sound could have been better, the end result is still an enjoyable (albeit rather violent) blast fest.