Doom: Evil Unleashed is an ongoing project that I first reviewed back in Issue 52. While I loved the idea of the game before, I didn’t think that it was executed well. Having said that, the author has made a ton of changes to the game since my last review. It is safe to say that this version is a huge improvement over the previous demo, but is still not free of bugs (some that are even game-breaking).
In the previous release, it was obvious that many things graphically had been ripped from the original DOOM. This time around, the author has made an effort to make some original artwork and most of it looks acceptable. While there are still many graphics that have been ripped, some that didn’t look so hot before have undergone palette makeovers and look much better than before. One unique feature present in this release is the classic DOOM soldier portrait, which works a lot like it did in the original game. When you are wounded, the icon will be wounded, etc.
Although I think it is a nice touch and feeds some player’s nostalgia reserves, it doesn’t seem to always work quite right. I can’t remember exactly what the issue was, but I do remember the portrait not always updating to the latest health conditions. This isn’t a huge issue, but I thought it should be noted nonetheless. The map design itself has also received a huge overhaul and is not near as barren as before. The maps are still pretty big, which may turn off people with little to no patience. Since most maps have been changed from big, open areas to areas with winding corridors, they are much easier to digest now despite still being a bit large.
The only real beef I have with the map design is that sometimes it is difficult to tell whether objects on the map are items or just props. However, this does give you that urge to search each and every little thing on the map in hopes of scoring more spoils. Speaking of spoils, some loot is obtained automatically by stepping on the graphic while others must be picked up manually. Again, this isn’t a huge deal, but having it two different ways didn’t seem natural. I would suggest making all of the map loot obtainable either by walking over it, or by picking it up with the enter key. That is just my opinion though, and it may not bother others as much as it did to me.
The story for the most part has remained intact, but the game does start out a little different than before. In addition, some other scripted events happen along the way which didn’t before. I feel like these new changes and additions really help solidify what the game is actually about. I felt like this version played a lot like old-school adventure games that I enjoyed as a kid. Although the story is more clear this time around, it’s still not always apparent exactly what you need to do or where you need to go.
But this is a good thing, and in turn it forces you to explore the maps for elements that will help you progress further into the game. Many times you will come across doors that are locked or other impassable areas which require a switch to be thrown or a key in-hand to proceed. Although it isn’t groundbreaking stuff, it still does a great job of giving you stuff to do and is a good improvement over the content of the previous release.
Battles have been improved slightly as well. Guns now take ammunition, which makes them a little more valuable though I think some more balancing needs to be done to make them worthwhile. Besides a few circumstances, melee weapons tend to be king over even the most powerful weapons; and they don’t take any ammunition! I was a little disappointed that battles were still button-mashing fests, but the changes made are still an improvement nonetheless.
With all of these great updates, I was shocked when I came across one bug in particular. It seems as if the Cyberdemon’s stunning ability can stun you for up to 400+ seconds. Not 5, not 10, but 400+. If he locks down even one of your characters for that long, you are toast. Luckily this is an easy fix, but I’m very surprised that it was not caught before release. While you are fixing that bug, you may want to check later enemies that stun as well. I think that they have the same issue as the Cyberdemon.
I found a few other minor bugs along the way. The medikit only gives +25 health instead of +100 like it says it should. The invisible npc that warns you before you fight the Cyberdemon never goes away when it probably should after you beat him. I also had a hard time hearing some of the later songs in the game. Though I was playing on a laptop and did not have headphones on, they seemed to be way more quiet than earlier songs. The sound effects are still pretty rad if you ask me though.
Overall, I am extremely impressed at the improvements that have been made to this game. While it is not completely free of issues, it is still a step in the right direction. I really enjoyed playing it this time; at least until I had to cheat to get past the 400+ second Cyberdemon stun. Once these minor bugs are fixed, I think we have a title that is well on its way to becoming a solid edition to the OHRRPGCE library.