EDITOR’S NOTE: My full review of Doom will appear in the next issue of Counter magazine. What follows is a brief overview.
As a general rule, I don’t play computer games. First, I’d much rather spend my time playing board games. Second, I spend WAY too much time in front of the computer already. The last thing I need to do is spend more time away from my family playing computer games.
There are exceptions, however. I will occasionally play an arcade-style game (Snood is VERY addictive!) or one of the “shooter” games, such as Castle Wolfenstein or Doom. Unfortunately, when I upgraded to Windows XP, Doom no longer operates, and I’m not prepared to dump huge sums of money into my computer so that Doom 3 will operate properly. But, I digress. My main point is that I’m not the ideal target for board games adapted from computer games. I didn’t much care for the board game adaptations of Sid Meier’s Civlization or Warcraft. Anno 1503 was OK, but nothing to rave about. So the announcement of Doom: The Boardgame didn’t cause me to salivate in anticipation.
Still, I must admit that my curiosity got the best of me. Early comments compared the game to Game Workshop’s Space Hulk, a game that I have never played but is fairly popular with certain members of my gaming group. While some claimed the game was yet another “hack & slash” affair, others claimed it was somewhat addicting. I generally trust Rick Thornquist’s views, and he was very enthused with Doom. My resistance gave way, and I asked my wife to add it to my Christmas wish list.
The theme and atmosphere of the board game is identical to that of the computer game. Man’s base on Mars is suddenly infiltrated by unspeakable beasts, capable of inflicting horrible carnage and transforming humans into flesh-eating zombies. A few hardy marines must flee the base … but the location of the exit is unknown, and an army of nasty beasts block their path. Survival of the human race on Mars is very much in doubt.
One to three players each play the role of a single marine, while one player leads the invading horde of beasties. There are five different scenarios from which to choose, each with various goals and perils. The board develops as the marines progress, with new rooms and areas coming into view only when in the line-of-sight of the marines. Only the invader player knows the complete layout and what lies ahead for the unsuspecting marines. Thus, the game has an intriguing exploration aspect, which is also present in the computer version.
For me, one of the main features of the game is the ease in which it can be learned, and the straight-forwardness of the system. There aren’t pages and pages of rules, with a multitude of special powers, exceptions or convolutions. The attack process is effective and easy. There are no complex modifiers or procedures, which have caused many other such games to bog down. Here, it is a simple matter of counting the distance between the attacker and defender, and rolling the appropriate colored-dice as depicted on the weapon being used or the invader caricature.
Doom is in familiar territory and part of a long line of “hack and slash” style games. It is “kill or be killed”. Move, shoot, move, shoot. This is certainly part of the “beer & pretzels” genre of games. That’s not a bad thing, however, as it is one of the better ones. Mind you, it isn’t the pinnacle of gaming, but it is fun. For me, what makes the game shine above many others in the genre is its straight-forwardness and exploration aspect. The rules are easy to learn, and the attack sequence is pure. There are no complex calculations, modifiers, or endless charts to consult. Yet, the decisions to be made throughout the game are significant and will affect the outcome of the game.
That being said, this game isn’t rocket science. As I said, it is “kill or be killed”. While the decisions are significant, they aren’t terribly deep. This game will never develop the reputation as a “brain burner”, or a rich, deep experience. No, it will never threaten to break into my personal Top 10, but when I’m in the mood for such barbaric fare, Doom will be one of the top choices.
Michael, Jerry and Keith led the marines on their perilous journey through the Mars base, hoping to reach the exit before being overwhelmed by the invaders. We opted to move straight into Scenario II: The Shores of Hell, and they didn’t stand a chance. I was fortunate to acquire numerous spawn cards early, increasing my alien numbers to dangerous levels. The brave group of marines managed to make it to Area 3 before succumbing to the seemingly endless hordes of invaders.
Ratings: Jerry 8, Mike 6, Greg 6, Keith 6