Review: Take a trip to hell and back with Doom: Resurrection for iPhone

img_0112I’ve never knew hell would be so much fun. Well, it is, and you can enjoy a visit to hell yourself with Doom: Resurrection (iTunes Link) for the iPhone. As soon as I picked up my iPhone, I was brought back to the days of my youth. As just a child, I remember the sadistic pleasure of sneaking onto my father’s computer at night, loading up Doom on his computer, and jamming the keyboard as I obliterated aliens and henchmen on the 12-inch CRT before me. Doom was a classic; it blew the first-person shooter genre wide open, and anyone who was around upon its conception cannot possibly forget the sinister thrills of blasting the heads off of the monstrous, pixelated beasts in the game. Today, that 12-inch CRT is but a distant memory, yet the legacy of Doom lives on. Surprisingly, in this iteration, it presents itself on a smaller screen: the iPhone’s 3.5-inch widescreen display. No matter, this Doom will bring back memories of the original, and you won’t regret its $10 price tag.

The iPhone is ideal for many things, but I was hard-pressed to envision how a first-person shooter (FPS) would play out on a button-less device. It’s difficult enough to imagine an FPS without a mouse or a joystick, but with no buttons at all? Impossible! Yet, somehow, Id Software pulled it off with shocking precision: the controls were amazing. To be fair, the experience wasn’t the same as on the Xbox or a PC. You don’t control the character’s movements, just the crosshair. But, that was sufficient and Doom: Resurrection still provided a heart-pounding experience that you don’t want to miss.

img_0104Though not the first good FPS for the iPhone, but Doom: Resurrection is definitely the best. The controls are absolutely perfect: you tilt the screen to move the crosshair, and tap the bottom-right corner to shoot. Tap the top-left corner to change weapon, top-right to reload and bottom-left to “Hide” (a great little feature we’ll talk about later). The crosshair calibrates to the center of the screen whenever you start a new scene, so be sure to hold your iPhone in an ideal position (no worries if you don’t: just hit the pause key, position your device, and hit “calibrate” and you’ll be set straight). You have just enough range of motion to blast any enemy in view, and the crosshair smoothly traverses the screen as you tilt. When you’re not shooting, you can pick up items by tapping on the screen. This was probably the only major miss of the controls scheme: I often fired off a few stray bullets while trying to frantically grab all of the items I could. Nonetheless, the controls were fantastic and they didn’t get in the way of the gameplay.

Ahhh, the gameplay. With four difficulties, Doom was made for just about anyone to pick up and play. An FPS virgin (though I can’t imagine many exist) can start at the “Recruit” difficulty setting, whereas pathological murderers can try their hand at “Nightmare.” Me? I played at the “Marine” (second) difficulty. The game has eight levels in all, and your job is to kill every monster (or human) in each level to advance. The character moves for you, so all you do is aim your crosshair and blast away when you see an enemy. Of course, headshots kill the enemies faster, but they are not usually insta-kills (unless you’ve got the right weapon). You have limited ammo in all weapons but your machine gun, and you acquire additional weapons as you go through each level.

img_0110Breadth and depth are essential for great games, and this one has both. Each level is fairly long–some take an hour or more to complete. There are numerous types of enemies, and they come with different ways of trying to kill you. Some enemies charge at you; when they do, bust out your shotgun and stick two pellets in them. Others shoot at you; use your machine gun for those. In one level (the level where you descend into the depths of hell), they fly at you and the machine gun will do just fine for those as well. Finally, some toss gobs of alien crap at you, which you must dodge by hitting the aforementioned “hide” on-screen button. None of these enemies individually is necessarily interesting, but in tandem, they craft a formidable path to victory. You must craftily switch between weapons, and appropriately tap the hide key in an effort to destroy the enemies before getting blown to bits yourself. The result is a thrilling symphony of well-timed maneuvers and trigger-tapping mayhem that will leave you wondering why you ever questioned the possibility of an FPS on the iPhone.

Of course, that’s not all: each level has a boss at the end, and a ton of items to help you along the way (shotgun shells, energy, health, etc.). I found only two of the bosses to be truly challenging, though I’m sure at a higher difficulty, I probably would’ve died a hundred times before making it past any boss. The levels themselves are extremely well-designed. Id Software took full advantage of the iPhone’s high-flying graphics and delivered stunning images and environments. Though you won’t have much time to stop and admire them, the graphics are flippin’ sweet. Similarly, the cut scenes are enjoyable – I am the type to skip through the talk when I can, but I didn’t mind it so much with Doom: Resurrection.

img_0102Id Software does it again with this fist-pumping, heart attack-inducing, spine-chilling FPS for the iPhone. You’ll be hard-pressed to find smoother controls and better graphics on any first-person shooter for the iDevices. Not to mention the fact that the gameplay is everything-you’d-hoped-for-and-more. With dozens of enemies and weapons, Doom: Resurrection will captivate your attention all the way through and the only thing you’ll regret about it is that it wasn’t longer.

What we like:

  • Controls. An FPS without buttons, a joystick or a mouse. Yeah, we were skeptical, too, but Id Software pulled it off wonderfully.
  • Gameplay. Incredible levels, with diverse weapons and a constant stream of new enemies to tackle. You get to slaughter said enemies with machine guns, shotguns, energy gun-things, and a chainsaw. What’s not to love?
  • Graphics. They didn’t leave anything out of this one, and it definitely showed when you examine the detail of the environment and the beautiful 3D imagery.

What we don’t like:

  • We want more! Eight levels were great, but can we get ten? Twelve? Sorry, we’ve got an insatiable appetite for goodness.
  • A joystick! In this game, you can only move your crosshair but not the character. Though we have no clue if it’s possible, it would be great if a game had both.