Doom isn’t usually considered an educational game, but we remember our first lessons from this game well. Shotguns have a nice wide area of effect. Don’t shoot your rocket launcher into the wall next to you. And remember your ABCs: Always Blast Cacodemons. For shooter alumni, this version of Doom on the iPhone is a flawless reminder of why it’s considered among the best of all time.
A word of warning: if you’re not familiar with the Doom series or first-person shooters in general, and you think the Harry Potter books were written by witches, then this is not the game for you. There are more upside-down crosses, pentagrams, and unspeakable demons of hell in this game than you can shake a severed bunny head on a stick at. It’s not for the squeamish or sanctimonious: Doom is a sick, bloody game.
Eat plasma, spider brain.
You will run at breakneck speed through levels swarming with freaky demons and zombie soldiers. They will break apart like a moldy pumpkin when you shoot them with a shotgun. The levels get progressively stranger and gorier, evolving from Mars stations into gleaming Satantic palaces. After several levels in a row, we had to stop to dry our hands. They were soaked with sweat.
Even on the iPhone, Doom remains an intense experience. You will feel panic when confronted with more enemies than you have bullets. And after the adrenaline rush peaks, and you’re scrambling to find a blue or red or yellow key to unlock a door, don’t worry: In addition to a full map, you can skip to any level you choose, which will limit your frustration with the slower scenes.
Two cacodemons are better than one.
Most importantly, nothing about Doom Classic on the iPhone gets in the way of the experience it was on the PC 16 years ago. The control scheme that suited us best, with strafe controls on the left and turn controls on the right, worked elegantly. You can run or walk with analog controls that you can drag in any direction as much as you want. And the game looks really fantastic, with sharp, cleaned-up visuals that pay tribute to every speck of pixilated blood.
The only slight complaint about the single-player game is that when you die, it’s still possible to accidentally respawn with none of your weapons. When you die, you have a few possible choices’”reload a save, restart (sans weapons) or keep your gear. Restarting without weapons is such a bummer that we don’t even know why it was included. At least there should be an “are you sure?” pop-up to prevent us from dropping our precious chaingun. If you do restart without weapons, there’s no easy way to get them back, even by reloading a save.
Get out of my hallway!
A bigger problem, though, lies in the multiplayer mode. The local wifi cooperative and competitive games are incredibly choppy, with an unsightly red, green, and blue stream of code persistent in the corner. These modes, while great in theory, aren’t executed well and should be avoided until they’re patched. Fortunately, the single-player mode will still give you more than enough entertainment for now.
We’re thrilled that so many new games are out on the iPhone every week, but Doom Classic is not one of them. It’s as old-school as you can get, a reissue of a monumental game from the past. It’s like with movies: even with new movies coming out all the time, it’s rare that we’ll get another Casablanca or Citizen Kane. And that’s what Doom Classic on the iPhone is: The Blu-Ray, ultimate collector’s edition of a classic movie, except it’s told in first-person, with a shotgun, and starring all the demons of hell.