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North American box art
|Engine||Modified id Tech 1|
Doom 64 plays almost identical to earlier Doom series; the player must advance through numerous levels fighting demons, collecting weapons and keys and hitting switches in order to reach the level's exit while surviving deadly traps and ambushes. Changes were made to the Doom engine for use in Doom 64, and gameplay elements were altered.
Key differences from the previous games in the series include:
- 32 exclusive new levels
- New, larger sprites for all enemies, items, weapons and projectiles, created from high-poly rendered models, which were anti-aliased when close to the player to prevent pixelation.
- New, higher-quality sound effects (the same as used in the PlayStation version).
- Darker, more foreboding color schemes used to increase a sense of fear in the player.
- All new textures, scrolling skies, limited room-over-room architecture and more advanced line triggers.
- Scripted events through macros, such as almost-complete alterations of room structures.
- Enemies that appear out of thin air after triggering a tripwire or switch.
- Tripwire booby traps, from darts to homing fireballs.
- More advanced atmospheric colored lighting and special effects, such as parallaxing skies, fog, and thunder and lightning.
- An ambient/horror soundtrack versus the MIDI rock music of past Doom games.
- More ambivalent usage of Satanic imagery (pentagrams, inverted crosses, depictions of sacrifice) than the PC version of Doom with differing usages of horror schemes.
- No former commandos, arch-viles, spiderdemons or revenants (perhaps removed due to the limited storage capacity of Nintendo 64 cartridges).
- The nightmare imp and Mother Demon were introduced as new monsters.
- The player's viewpoint is from chest level, rather than eye-level, making all objects and characters appear larger in relation to the player.
- The hell knight and baron of hell can hurt each other with their projectiles, and infight as a result, contrarily to the PC version where there is a hardcoded exception for them.
- Certain monsters were rebalanced with new behaviors or attack properties (e.g. such as giving the arachnotron a weaker twin plasma gun instead of a stronger single-barrel one).
- Re-designed weapons that act more devastating than previous installments of the game series (realistic jostling movements when firing the weapons are also present, including being knocked back a few inches from a fired rocket).
All the weapons from the original game are present, but redrawn with new sprites. The chainsaw was given two blades instead of one, the fists have bloodstained gloves on instead of brass knuckles, the plasma rifle has an electric core that emits a sparking sound when equipped, the rocket launcher has a small kick when fired, pushing the player back a bit, the shotgun's reloading cock is at the handle instead of under the barrel and the Super Shotgun reloads faster and causes recoil.
A new weapon known as the Laser, or "Unmaker", has been added, using the same cell ammunition as the plasma rifle and BFG. It was first mentioned in the Doom Bible and was planned to be featured in the PC Doom games but never appeared. Its appearance in Doom 64 is its only official appearance, and with the power of three ancient artifacts found in the game, it becomes more powerful by shooting three laser beams (at a quicker rate than default) instead of one, the first artifact increases the laser speed, the second artifact adds a second laser and the third artifact allows the weapon to fire three simultaneous lasers which can automatically aim separately from one another allowing the weapon to attack three different enemies at once.
Following the conclusion of the original Doom series, the sole Marine who survived the horrors of hell had returned to Earth, reclaiming it from the invasion that almost eradicated the human race. Demons still lingered within the abandoned halls and complexes of Phobos and Deimos. As a last-ditch effort, the military decided to bombard the moons with extreme radiation in hopes of killing off any remaining demons. Initially it was successful, however something survived the exposure. The radiation blocked the military's sensors and allowed something to slip past them undetected. This mysterious entity, possessing the ability to resurrect any demon it came across, recreated the entire demonic horde and made it stronger than ever before. A Marine strike force was ordered to contain the advancing armies of hell but was mercilessly slaughtered within moments. The player's character is the sole survivor of this group.
Midway's original title of the game was "The Absolution", but the name was changed to "Doom 64" for brand recognition. ("The Absolution" was reused as the name of the last level of the game.) Midway wanted to include every demon from the original games, as well as a few extra levels, into the final product, but deadlines and memory constraints of the small capacity of the N64 cartridges made them scrap the levels and leave a few demons out of the game.
The music and sound effects were done by Aubrey Hodges, who also did the original sound and music for the PlayStation port of Doom two years earlier. The original Doom 64 team was working on a potential Doom 64 2 not long after the first game was released, but decided to scrap it due to the "Doom engine looking dated", and players' attention focusing on Quake and other, more modern 3D shooters.