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Review: Final Doom

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: M - Mature Audiences
My Rating: Adults - 18+
Genre: First Person Shooter
License: Commercial
Release Year: 1996
Review Published On: June 16th, 2021
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

See below

Save System:

As with Doom and Doom II: Hell on Earth, how saved games are managed varies by source port.

That said, most source ports allow you to pause at any time by pressing ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

This is an expansion pack for Doom II, so everything found in that game is also present here. For reference, violent gameplay, gore, and demonic imagery are the top three issues.

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
Not quite the Bruiser Brothers

[view screenshot]
Don't mine at night

[view screenshot]
Nothing good will come of this



Game Overview

By the late 1990s, various groups had begun capitalizing on the success of Doom and Doom II by releasing CD-ROMs filled to the brim with low quality level packs. id Software eventually decided to combat this problem by releasing their own expansion sets, called Final Doom and The Master Levels for Doom II. As these were both marketed as stand alone products, I've opted to review them like any other game, starting with Final Doom.

Although Final Doom bills itself as a direct sequel to Doom II: Hell on Earth, it contains two separate adventures for you to enjoy. These are TNT: Evilution and the Plutonia Experiment. The former gets its name from the group who developed it, TeamTNT. In turn, the TNT part of their name stands for The New Technology, which I believe is a reference to the fancier modding tools that were coming out at the time.

In Evilution, the forces of Hell have figured out how to travel through space via a spaceship made from corruption and viscera. Their first action was to attack a UAC laboratory on Jupiter, and thus the battle between Doomguy and demons resumes. As before, the player must work their way through the complex, reenter Hell, and remind the demonic hordes why they lost the original fight.

This set of levels also showcases some of the best Doom level design I've seen. Many of the levels really look like places where people would have comfortably lived and worked, which not something I thought I'd ever be able to say about anything in the Doom franchise. You can find libraries, offices, and even a cubicle farm in the previously inhabited areas. TeamTNT even managed to manipulate the game engine to create transparent windows and a deadly color-coded tile maze in their final level.

Many of their levels also incorporate large open areas, which has the (probably intended) side effect of making the normally weaker enemies like the Former Humans or the Shotgun Guy really dangerous. Since most of the game's weapons use a hitscan mechanic, they quickly become insanely effective and accurate in these areas.

Moving on to the Plutonia Experiment, this level pack was clearly made with a different mindset. There is a story about the demons stealing a prototype quantum accelerator of some sort, but it takes a backseat to the gameplay. Plutonia is more about exposing the player to new concepts and challenges than anything, so coherent level progression is sometimes set aside in favor of an interesting gimmick. This resulted in a collection of levels that was aimed at expert players and a frantic run-and-gun playstyle. Frequent traps and large numbers of powerful monsters are the rule in these levels, and it clearly left an impression on the Doom fandom, as there are at least two fan-made sequels to the Plutonia Experiment floating around online.

That said, I personally didn't care for the Plutonia Experiment. I generally favor a slow and methodical playstyle that just didn't mesh with the whole "more monsters = more fun" approach. But, to each his or her own.

Anyway, the Doom franchise is known to be very controversial, and Final Doom was no exception. However, it wasn't controversial for the reasons you'd expect; by this point in time, people were generally aware that Doom was a violent and bloody game.

What made Final Doom controversial was that people were rather upset that TeamTNT "sold out".

One of the things that has kept Doom popular for all these years is the huge modding community. Anybody can make new levels, and various websites exist to help distribute these creations among the fans. Historically, these fan-made collections have always been free, and when TeamTNT announced they were working on Evilution, it was going to be released as yet another free level pack.

And then, at practically the last minute, id Software brokered a deal to purchase Evilution from TeamTNT and market it and their newly created Plutonia Experiment as an "official" expansion rather than free content. People got angry, said some harsh things about TeamTNT breaking promises, and in some cases there was even a refusal to support the new product.

Today, most people are just happy to have more classic Doom to enjoy, even if the group that made it were a bunch of sell outs. If you enjoyed Doom and Doom II, then the two new adventures in this collection will give you plenty more of the same. If you're not a hardcore fan, then Evilution will probably be more your speed than Plutonia, but you have the option to try them both for a very low price.

In fact, depending on what version of Doom or Doom II you own, you might be able to get these expansions for free now. See the section below for more about this offer.

Points of Interest

64 New Levels
Each megawad (the term for a large Doom level pack) comes loaded with thirty normal levels and two secret levels, creating a total of sixty four new maps to fight your way through. Both sets of levels can be further broken down into groups by theme; For example, Evilution starts off in the overrun labs, then moves into the neighboring military bases and a set of industrial levels. The adventure concludes by sending the player through Hell to stop the invasion from the other side of the breach.

The secret levels of Evilution are particularly unique, as they are set in Egyptian pyramids and the Caribbean.
Something for everyone
Although they were made by the same group, these two megawads could not be more different in tone or playstyle. Evilution's slower pace and emphasis on puzzle solving contrasts heavily with Plutonia's intense combat and overarching sense of danger. The end result is that you'll probably prefer one of them over the other, but there's definitely something everybody will enjoy.
Plutonia's design forces a specific playstyle
The biggest problem with the Plutonia Experiment is that it's designed around a specific style of gameplay. Aside from regularly pitting the player against extremely strong monsters like Mancubi, Archviles, and Revenants, lethal traps are everywhere. In some cases, it feels like the player is expected to make progress via trial and error rather than strategic planning.

Unsurprisingly, one of the level designers stated that they wanted to make something that would challenge players who finished Doom II on Hard. They definitely succeeded.

Concerns and Issues

Basically everything mentioned regarding Doom II
As Final Doom is an expansion pack for Doom II, everything that was an issue with Doom II is also going to be a problem here. The only exceptions to this lie in how TeamTNT handled the game's assets as they crafted these new experiences.

By placing existing assets in new ways, they were able to depict some unsettling things, such as the concept of demons roasting human meat over a firepit. Appropriately enough, that level is entitled "Human BBQ".

Other disturbing things that are new to these expansions include altars where people had been sacrificed and "pantries" of human remains.

Where to get Final Doom

Although you can still purchase Final Doom on its own (it's on Steam and the Humble Store for example), there is another option that I think most players will prefer.

Recently, Bestheda has up released an update to the Steam versions of Ultimate Doom and Doom II that links these games to Bestheda.net . Once you setup an account (which is as simple as entering your email address in a form), you'll be able to simply download Plutonia and Evilution from the "Add On" menu and play them for free. If you want to play them via a source port, you'll need to do a little digging through your filesystem to find the WADs, but that's easy enough.