Final Doom is a first-person shooter full of 64 fan-made levels based on the Doom II engine and officially released by id Software. The game is also available on Playstation but this review will be focusing on the Steam version. It should also be noted that this uses the Doom II engine so if you’re unfamiliar with the general gameplay of Doom or Doom II I’d recommend checking out those games first or seeing my previous reviews. Also, I played the game on the easiest setting and used an external program to have my controller simulate keyboard presses. Now that all of that is in mind and out of the way, let’s dig in.
So this is actually split into two different 32-level packs by two different teams. The first one listed here is The Plutonia Experiment. There’s some sort of story but you only get snippets between a few levels to mark your progress. It’s something about getting this prototype accelerator weapon out of the hands of the demons. It’s not very well explained in-game. I assume you’d need a manual or something to get the full synopsis. The second set of levels are TNT: Evilution and from what I could gether, if there IS some sort of story here it was lost to the packaging or modern conversion process because the information screens just recycle the same text as The Plutonia Experiment. The good news about that, though, is that this is a Doom game. The story isn’t what is important. It’s about the level design, enemy placement, and creativity in finding new ways to play around with the great core mechanics. In general, from my experience, it seems like The Plutonia Experiment was more focused on playing around with enemy combinations, placement, and combat situations such as teleporting enemies around or locking you into surprise ambushes. TNT: Evilution seemed to be more about interesting level design, recognizable structures and locations, and leaned more on exploration than combat. This could very well be a different story had I played on higher difficulties, though.
This pack is great. I mean, you already know that Doom has some great gameplay so it’s not too hard to believe, but the design here definitely made the difficulty and the intrigue scale up from Doom II in a natural progression. Even on the easiest setting I was having my old tactics tested without it being a crazy difficulty spike. I loved the way it forced me into combat scenarios I’d normally never put myself in on purpose. It actually made me have to face my fears, stop panicking, and learn how to fight in locked arenas or close quarters. I feel like I came out of it a better Doom player… even if only slightly. I also really liked the levels built on exploration. Having places that were cool to look at and poke around in helped me want to look for secrets and pay attention to more of the little details they put in. So really, it was a natural progression in quality and expanding what was already great about the games too. I had an absolute blast… most of the time.
There were some parts that were annoying, for sure. The incorrect loading of the story text was lame and every level on the map screen was mislabeled in TNT: Evilution as though they were from The Plutonia Experiment, though at least the maps themselves loaded correctly. Not every ambush was a delight. Sometimes you just have to deal with enemies that have those hitscan weapons. Sometimes reloading and trying again is needed until you get lucky with the random chance of them hitting you or not. Some levels even have you starting off with enemies right behind you and facing you so you HAVE to take damage right when you start, which is nothing more than a cheap way to punish you for beating the previous level by the skin of your teeth or to just make your start on this one bullshit no matter what. Also some of the levels want you to do some somewhat obtuse things in order to progress which can be very frustrating. It’s not the most fun thing in the world to hit the open button on every surface out of desperation when trying to figure out what to do. The worst part had to be the final level of The Plutonia Experiment. They have the nerve to not only surround the Icon of Sin with a bunch of enemies to make it rough to fight in the first place, but they also plop a fucking CYBERDEMON in front of the lift so you HAVE to kill that motherfucker first. That’s a task in itself and then AFTER it you still need to survive long enough to take out the Icon of Sin itself. I was looking up tips for this… ultimately BARELY muddling through with some cheats… and I found out that they did not balance this shit at all for the different difficulty levels. Apparently it’s just that hard regardless. So I went from playing on easiest to trying to beat the boss on hardest. I don’t feel bad about cheating. Not one damn bit.
Still, most of the experience in Final Doom is great. It’s absolutely recommended to fans of Doom and Doom II. It’s more Doom quality with new levels, harder combat, and more exploration. Plus, it’s only five bucks for essentially two game’s worth of levels! If you don’t have the other games on Steam yet or just want to also grab Master Levels for Doom II while you’re already getting more Doom for your dollar, you might as well grab the Doom Classic Complete pack to get all of the goodies at once. You could wait for a sale if you’re a bit on the fence, but the only tip I’ll give you is to play through Doom and then Doom II first or this might be too tough and consequently the others will seem slightly less impressive going backwards. And NOW I think I’ve FINALLY hit all of the official Doom games prior to Doom 3. I think…