Final Doom – tnt.wad review: a 2011 perspective
Fun Factor: 7/10
Doom is a first-person shooter game released in 1993 by id Software. [I'm assuming you already knowthis, but if you don't, go buy and play Doom and Doom II right now!] Its sequel, Doom II, was published in 1994. Final Doom wasn't released until 1996. The game seemed dated at the time, being put on the market in the same year as Duke Nukem 3d, Quake, and Resident Evil.
The original Doom was created with modification in mind. Anyone can program their own Doom levels and make entirely new games for others to play. Even graphics and sounds can be changed. These levels are called “WADs,” named after the file type.
Final Doom is two 32-level episodes for Doom II. It contains TNT.wad (discussed in thisreview) and another not discussed, plutonia.wad.
Final Doom has an interesting history. It was created by Team TNT, an independent Doom WAD programming group. At the time of production, TNT had already gathered a following though online bulletin boards, since many boards specialized in Doom mod discussion (and TNT had already made a very popular mod, Icarus.wad). Team TNT's project had created a buzz as being the biggest, coolest, most professional-level modification yet made for Doom. Just days before the [free] release, idSoftware contacted Team TNT and worked out a deal to release the game on a commercial scale. TNT, obviously, accepted the deal. This created a volatile reaction from the Doom modding community, some feeling betrayed byTeam TNT and others excited at the prospect of Doom homebrew going pro (and fellow community members making money with their hobby).
When I first loaded the game, I was ecstatic. It felt good to be playing an original, official release again – a Doom game where I didn't know the secrets or what to expect around every corner! However, after the first eight levels, my excitement started to wane. Many of the levels seemed pedestrian. I really liked some of the first levels; they were simple, well-made, and very reminiscent of Doom Episode 1. But later on, the levels stopped having any congruency to the aesthetic. Each level looked vastly different from the last, which broke up the feeling that I wastraveling through a story. I know the story to a Doom game is a bit ancillary, but it's greatly involving to feel like you're moving through a unified piece of work. That seems like an obnoxious, nit-picky thing to say, but this is a commercial release that costs money, so I think expectations on the production value are justified. Doom II accomplished that congruency incredibly well, so I don't think it's too much to expect a non-canon sequel to do so also.
Lost Souls teleporting in from the mountain in the distance
That said, TNT.wad really had its moments. Several of the levels were fantastic, and I would argue that they are on par with (or even greater than) Doom II's levels. It wasn't as difficult as I would like it to be (I hear plutonia.wad is very hard though), but the difficulty curve was fairly well done (but maybe too tough in the beginning compared to the middle). It had levels and rooms that were really hard, but for my taste, they were too few and far between.
The levels tend to be large and expansive, which I tend to prefer to narrow, tight, confined spaces. The speed with which you run and maneuver in Doom gives a great advantage to larger areas, where you can take the most advantage of your speed.
The game includes new music, composed by by Jonathan El-Bizri, Josh Martel, L.A. Sieben and Tom Mustaine. Additionally, several of Bobby Prince'stracks from Doom II are reused. The new tracks are alright; it's always nice to get some new tunes. Still, in 2011, I think it's best to turn the music off and stream your favorite internet radio. The music in Doom is great, but tends to get repetitive as you explore the expansive areas.
Critical reception was mixed on the title. As a few examples, Computer Games magazine gave it 3/5 (60%), Spazio Games gave it 9/10 (90%), and PC Games gave it a C-(42%). After playing TNT.wad, I oddly feel that this is perfect. The game had moments where it felt like a top-notch game, in the 90%+ tier, but in other moments it felt so lackluster that it barely deserved a passing grade.
Some additional new material would have been fantastic, too. TNT's new music is great, and it has a limited amount of new textures, which are surprisingly fresh when you happen upon them. I think some more textures, and maybe a few new enemies and weapons would have made this one go from good to great. I think this would have been the perfect game had more material been generated, and seen some ofthe fat trimmed. It's unfortunate that id didn't clean it up and make some more new textures/music/weaponry. That could have been the touch that would have made this game a classic.
I remember seeing the game on store shelves in 1996 with a steep price tag – $40, if memory serves me well (internet research suggests I probably saw $30). At the time, I had just purchased Quake and Duke Nukem 3d, and as a young lad, that was all the money I had. I felt a little bitter that id would release the game so many years after Doom came out, and with such a high price tag. I badly wanted the game,but just couldn't afford it. I'm glad I couldn't buy it. I think I would have been disappointed to spend such a fortune for this title. Now in 2011, I purchased it in a recent Steamsale for $2.50. Pricing through various online retailers and auction houses for used product yields a similar price. You'll probably see a copy in a yard sale or flea market if you're patient enough. If you can get it for less than a few bucks, I strongly recommend it. It may not be as fun as the original, or not as polished as more recently released fan-made WADs, but it is certainly worthsome pocket change.
In the age of DLC, I think expansion packs like this one are real respectable. Gamers who loved the original can buy software that offer an entirely new game—that's pretty cool! I'm not a fan of paying a few bucks to get one superfluous multiplayer map and a DLC-exclusive hat. I want more of the game, not someshort-winded gimmick.
All that said, considering every pro and con, I really enjoy Final Doom. It may not be up to par with the original commercial releases, but it does breathe some life into the franchise and offer hours of fun. There are more exciting, well-made levels and moments than there are sloppy,repetitive ones. TNT gives you plenty of power-ups and ammo, which is good for blasting through arcade-style. The secret areas are generally well-designed and thoughtfully placed (I love the thrill of finding a secret area right when you need it). I think it has a good design, one that rewards the run-n'-gunners as well as the careful explorers. And, it's got a freakin' cool secret level*.
In short, get this game. It's not as great as the original, but a worthy addition to the series. The serious Doom fan will get a lot of enjoyment out of Final Doom.
Final Doom has seen some revisions and re-releases, most notably on the PSX and XBOX 360. This webpage contains a great compendium of information on the differences in those releases:
*It is worth nothing thatTNT.wad has a glitch in the secret level. See the following links for more info.
(Or, one could edit TNT.wad inany WAD editor, open up MAP31 and uncheck the multiplayer tag on the yellowkey, then save.)
Following a discussion on doomworld.com regarding this bug (linked above), someone complained that this bug was evident of not enough testing and a rushed product. One of the Team TNT members responded with:
No sour grapes here (much) but id had a fixed version of that map at least a month before they packaged it up, and still not only didn't include it but never provided a fix. In fact, you could go to their "help" folks and not even find out that TeamTNT had a fix for it, probably because they preferred to keep the true authorship of Final Doom a secret.
I mean, if it had been a cosmetic bug, that would have been one thing, but it was a showstopper for pete's sake.
BTW the patch does also fix a node build problem in 31, so if you're using anengine that doesn't build its own nodes, it's better to use that (or merge itin) rather than just tweaking the yellow key multiplayer flag. [sic]
Someone then asked if it was at least profitable for them, and he responds:
Sure,easily a dime an hour, no royalties of course. And they're still selling it...
Bah, it's no biggie, really, it's just a lesson we think we learned. Besides,the work we've done since that release in 1996 (eek!) for free has been more gratifying.
Part of me thinks that id was unfair in their contracting with TNT, but another part of me believes the TNTmembers were really lucky to get some money for something they were doing for free anyway. Thought-provoking, in any case.
Edit: If you'd like a window into the moment TNT announced the delay and commercial release, you can check it outhere.
In addition, there is a patch available for TNT.Wad that fixes an issue where the yellow key does not work. That patch is available here.
screenshots taken with ZDoom