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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Tapwave Zodiac games

Doom II by MachineWorks Northwest, Price: $29.99 Available for purchase from the Tapwave web site.
Reviewed March 2005 by Alex Lifschitz

One of the games the Zodiac has been known for is Doom II. The game had a lot of hype behind it prior to launch. After all, a port of the classic Id game is always welcome. The Zodiac has proven in the past that it can handle an FPS or two, so Doom seemed to go hand in hand with the console. And when the game was finally launched, it lived up to the hype… In some respects.

Doom II is a grab-bag of different elements and features, and thankfully, most of them are good. The game has still retained the classic feel of the early PC version, and still remains faithful to the fans who have stuck with it. The feel of the game is undeniably that of a horror-tension game, with monsters suddenly popping out of the woodwork to give you a good adrenaline rush. This game is so effective at inducing a state of paranoia, it really is frightening. You'll find yourself trying to get braced for an onslaught of enemies behind the door in front of you, and open it… And nothing will be there. And then you scour the room, and once you think you're clear, a demon appears right behind you and makes your heart skip a beat. The atmospheric tension, while thick, is actually very accessible to the non-horror fan who just wants some good action with their PDA. The franchise once again meets the demand of the complete Doom experience in spades.

One of the initial gripes of the Doom players on the Zodiac were unreliable turning controls. Since then, Tapwave has released patches for both the download and SD card versions of the game which fixed this. The result is a tight control experience with a minor flaw here or there. The analog stick, while still a bit sensitive, moves you forward and turns, with the shoulder buttons letting you strafe. The combination of these is surprisingly tight, allowing you to perform maneuvers like circle-strafing with extreme ease. The buttons allow you to fire, change weapons, jump, and run, and all of them work very well. The fire button is quite intuitive to the point where I'm glad it wasn't on the shoulder triggers. The only real flaw with any of the controls is the somewhat sensitive analog stick, which you get accustomed to extremely quickly and easily. And even with all this, aiming is still simple and easy, with little to no twitch.

The graphics are the worst part of the game, and that's saying something. While they are nothing to be excited about, they do perform their duties in immersing you in the game. The lighting effects are fine, and the 3D is well-rendered. However, the set has a constant theme of grey, which, while going with the theme, can be a bit detracting from the visual experience, and the enemies are rather blocky and 2D, but are still visible enough to make you disregard their looks. The gun is still a bobbing 2D picture, but looks very good in the action, and still delivers in the knockout value of feeling the action.

The sound is wonderful in this game. You hear your footsteps, the gunshots are vivid and clear, the enemies make their traditional frightening noises, you still grunt when hit… Everything is adapted from the old PC game. And while the sound is not of the highest quality, there is enough variety in them to make you forget about that, and the creep-out factor is still loud and clear. Played with headphones in the dark, it's as much of a mind trip as the original. And trust me, you won't get a wink of sleep.

Indeed, Doom II has remained faithful to the source material. Not only is the campaign good, but the replay value is infinite thanks to the decision to let you import your old WAD mods for the PC version, letting you mod out the Zodiac incarnation as well. And with hundreds of mods available, it just keeps on coming! Sadly, there is no multiplayer of any kind, but this game is good enough in its normal incarnation to keep you hooked for a long time.

 

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Playing Hints and Tips

- Circle strafe is essential and easy with the new patches, so learn to utilize it.
- At the start of the game, immediately go left for a chainsaw. A lot of people miss this.
- The BFG can take out any demon in one shot, but should be reserved for the hardest demons to save you time and ammo.

- Click the joystick and all four face buttons at once to bring up a keyboard. You can now enter all the cheats from the PC game! Go look them up online, but remember, the God Mode cheat is IDDQD. Have fun!

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

While a bit blocky with a mostly stone grey palette, the game is still visually pleasing, and just scary enough.

Sound

Still scary and plentiful, but not enough to warrant five dragons.

Fun Meter

Extremely entertaining, and with loads of replay value. Heck, the patched controls are intuitive enough for you to pass it around with friends.

Addictivity

Trust me, once you load this game up, it’ll be hard to put down. The level length and difficulty levels leave you screaming for more, which this game supplies abundantly.

 


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