Doom 64 might be the worst entry in the beloved series, but the port is still worth playing if you are a fan of the series.
Doom Slayer’s newest adventure, Doom Eternal, is not the only Doom game launching tomorrow. A port of the Nintendo 64’s Doom 64 will also be available on your digital storefront of choice. This release means every main entry (save for Final Doom) is now available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. But is this newest port worth playing?
If you are looking forward to the Doom 64 port, the simple answer is yes. This is a solid port of that game, with cleaner visuals, better lighting, and performance improvements. If you’ve never played Midway’s entry, maybe temper your expectations.
My memory may be a bit foggy, but I was gifted Doom 64 for Christmas in 1999; I think it’s 1999 because I was also gifted Ubisoft’s Tonic Trouble which launched that year. I was at my nonna’s house and I recall being very excited for both, but a bit more for Doom 64. I would watch my dad play the original Doom, which felt like such a revelation at the time. So, having that experience on my N64, a home console rather than a PC, had me ecstatic.
If you’re following this timeline, you know Goldeneye 007 had already been out for a while. And yes, my siblings and I would play its multiplayer mode regularly. However, in my mind, Doom was the shooter adults played and it was better because of this. That mindset wasn’t because of Hellish imagery or bloody environments. It’s simply because my dad played it.
When I finally got home that Christmas night, I inserted that cartridge, and began playing. To be honest, it wasn’t great. It was so dark, the music was a bit too atmospheric, and the N64 controller is terrible. It just was not the experience I imagined. Really, my memory of Doom 64 is the two first levels, and my eight-year-old self being disappointed.
So, imagine me 20 years later, hearing news that Doom 64, a Midway developed Doom game, would be ported to current-gen consoles. My reaction: “What, why?”
My time with the Doom 64 port made me realize why this is arguably the worst Doom game: the atmosphere. Just about every entry has sick metal, bright visuals, and fast-paced gameplay. While d Software’s shooting style is present, the atmosphere is a huge departure from previous entries. It’s more akin to a survival horror setting, with dimly lit rooms and atmospheric tunes. Even with well-designed levels, it feels odd to be rushing through the demon-filled halls to ambient noise.
However, the Doom 64 port improves on a lot of my problems with Midway’s entry, most of which are quality of life features. This includes 60 frames per second gameplay, higher resolution, and modernized FPS controls. While it is still a dark game, it does seem the lighting has been altered to be a bit brighter.
I do wish some of the improvements the original Doom and Doom 2 ports have recently been updated with were present in the Doom 64 port. The other Doom ports give you a lot of freedom with how you want to approach your playthrough allowing you to select any episode on any difficulty as your starting point. There is also the weapon carousel and quick weapon select features which make it easier to select whatever weapon you have in mind. These features are not in the Doom 64 port and would have been solid additions to really differentiate itself from the original release in a substantial way.
If you’ve played any of the recent Doom ports, the Doom 64 port treads familiar territory. While it may not be the best entry in the series, it may be worth picking up if you want to play more Doom. Maybe just put on Doom 2016’s soundtrack while you play instead.