id Software and Escalation Studios have compacted the essence of Doom 3 into an iPhone app with Doom Resurrection, an on-rails first-person shooter that teleports the player from Mars to Hell and back.
id's Doom 3 side story puts players in the role of a Marine, aided by a flying 'bot named Sam, as he makes his way from point A to point B, shooting anything that looks vaguely demonic. Borrowing familiar settings and enemies from its 2004 inspiration, Doom Resurrection whittles the experience down to something more appropriate for an on-the-go re-imagining.
Without the benefit of access to a keyboard and mouse, Doom Resurrection relies on accelerometer and touchscreen control to get all that first-person shooting done. The interface is simple, with portions of the iPhone's touchscreen dedicated to attacking, dodging, reloading, switching weapons and pausing. To your ever present reticule, just tilt.
With those concessions, was Doom worth exhuming on the iPhone?
As Good As On-Rails Shooters Get: Gaming snobs may turn up their noses at the prospect of a first-person shooter being hobbled with an on-rails guide, but Doom Resurrection remains surprisingly fun. Honestly, I didn't miss keycard hunting, updating my PDA security clearance levels or straining to see without a flashlight during my play time. I was more interested in the often frantic light gun-like action. Smartly taking cover and perfecting headshots adds depth to a relatively simplistic arcade-style game. Having my performance graded after each level, based on things accuracy and the number of secret items found, compelled me enough to revisit many of the game's stages.
Technically Impressive (Or Hey, That's A Pretty Good Doom Impersonation): Doom Resurrection doesn't look nearly as good as its five-year-old PC forebear—it's on a phone, people—but generally runs at a good clip. It's the control scheme that impresses most, with a tilt to aim function that actually works—mostly thanks to a quick calibration setting that lets the player recenter the reticule on the fly.
But Not Without Its Quirks: Doom Resurrection does comes with its share of frustrations. The hitbox for enemies is generous to a fault, so you may be pointing directly at an exploding barrel, but hitting the zombie standing just to the left of it. And you're probably going to recalibrate that targeting reticule a bit too often. And you're going to roll your eyes at bad guys that teleport right behind you all the time. And you're probably going to miss some health or ammo items when the touchscreen doesn't register your taps.
Doom Resurrection will let you have a great deal of fun with it—if you overcome your iPhone game phobias and let yourself have a great deal of fun with it. There's depth of play here, thanks to a suite of weapons that includes shotguns, plasma rifles, the trademark BFG and even a chainsaw, as well as smart, simplified touch controls.
What sometimes detracts from that fun is Doom Resurrection's asking price (which seems just a few dollars too high), a handful of dusty old design decisions, and its occasionally mystifying touchscreen quirks. As far as first-person shooters on Apple's platform go, it's not quite a head shot, but it's definitely a kill.
Doom Resurrection was developed by Escalation Studios and published by id Software on the iPhone and iPod Touch on June 26. Retails for $9.99 via iTunes. Played through main campaign on "Marine" difficulty, replayed multiple missions on "Veteran" difficulty in Free Play mode.
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