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DoomRL review

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Feb 10th, 2012
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  1. If you want to play something good, play Doom. If you like Doom and understand ASCII, play DoomRL. Now then, if you’ve ever read a post of mine before, you know I am want to drag on a little when it comes down to introductions, and today is no different. DoomRL is a free game available through the magic power of Google, and is an ASCII game based on the Doom universe. Or at absolute best, loosely based on that universe.
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  3. When you first get the game (which is free by the way) the first thing you should notice is the word “DOOM”. It’s essentially a picture made of ASCII. ASCII stands for American Standard Coding for Information Interchange. That essentially means that ASCII is any character you can create on your keyboard. This ranges from “&”’s to “h”’s. I mean that literally, everything is represented by a character. As is standard in roguelikes, you are a brave @, venturing out into the vast chasm of downwards stairs, attempting to get to the bottom and fight the beastie which lives there. Each roguelike is different, one may cause you to fight a demon, a god, just get an item which happens to be at the bottom. In this case it’s...I won’t spoil it! :D The other thing that is generally typical of roguelikes is that they are Ironman. This is a phrase to mean that when you die, your save (if the game saves at all) is deleted. Most modern roguelikes include save functions (in case you want to play later) however as said, when you die, DELETED. It is just another layer to the game’s difficulty.
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  5. When you first play the game, you will notice that you really don’t know what to do. Roguelikes are controlled by the keyboard completely. If you’re using the mouse, it’s going to do nothing. For example, to move up, down, left and right, you use the arrow keys. Or you could use your numpad if you’re playing on a real computer. (I’m playing on a laptop) To fire, you press “f” and then move your aiming cursor with the arrow keys. At first, you will stumble with the controls, but eventually, you will become in DoomRL-ian. You’ll just shoot off bullets, change your armour, and do it really quickly. Not that it really matters about speed. Unlike Starcraft or anything, your actions per minute don’t really matter.
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  7. DoomRL plays turn-based. When you shoot, move, or anything, it takes a certain amount of time based on armour, stats, traits etc. In DoomRL, it’s based on seconds. For example, by default, it takes one second to move one “tile”. This can be reduced by wearing certain armours, and reduced by wearing others. Same with firing rate, reloading, everything. Your stats are what makes you good at combat. If you can move quickly, there’s no point using a weapon which does not allow that. Having a “build” in mind is always good. Regretfully, like most games, there are “good” ways to do things, and “bad” ways. There are really only good and stupid ways to do things, and not doing the good things does lead to an early demise. For example, if you are going to build a pistol based character, your first “trait” should be “Son of a Gun” which increases your pistol damage, and helps you fire them faster. Picking something which isn’t that, reduces your chances substantially. Now you can branch out a little later in the game into things which aren’t directly relating to your class, but at first, you gotta stick to the line. It does help, trust me.
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  9. I guess I do have to explain traits. Essentially, DoomRL implements a levelling system. Your levels don’t get you extra stats however, just one trait per level. The traits available to you are based on your class, chosen at the beginning of the game. (These classes also give benefits of their own. For example, the “scout” is faster and also by default, knows the location of the stairs down.) These traits which you pick are divided into three catagories, Basic, Advanced and Master. To get Advanced traits, you need to have a certain amount of (specific) Basic traits, and it’s the same thing with Master traits. Their effects vary, but as I said, you should generally be “gunning” for a Master trait as soon as you can get one. Perhaps not direct line, but at least reasonably, four out of your first five levels should be traits towards your Master trait of choice. Once you have the Master however, you can do more interesting things with your character since you have your best power, you can increase your character’s power in general. You can make him faster, have more health, or a bit of both! The system is very dynamic, but to be dynamic you are virtually forced to static at first.
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  11. Combat is very much a force which you can base yourself off, by which enemy you are fighting. Although you do settle into various tactics based on what enemy you are fighting, the dynamics of switching tactics at a moment’s notice is really fun. But then also, you need a general tactic if two different enemies pop up at once, which isn’t really uncommon. (More so in later levels) Generally though, you hide behind a wall, press “f” and shoot the crap out of your enemy. The basics of your sensibilities still work even though it doesn’t look it. Shotguns work better at close range, the further away you are the harder it is hit enemies, etc. These conventions really let your imagination run wild. It’s really fun to just sit back, relax and imagine the ASCII images come to life in the art style of the Doom comic. But anyway, combat is also semi-based on abuse of AI. If you are in a door and an enemy is around the corner, you blast him with a shotgun – imposing knockback. However much you do this, the enemy will keep coming at you on a straight path, and will never fire a ranged weapon at you. It’s...interesting to figure out the strategies, and actually putting the enemies in the positions is hard, so it’s justified abuse so to speak. It’s still abuse, but it’s too great of a boon to pass up!
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  13. The special levels are great. Some are guaranteed to show up, some are not. Some give stupidly good rewards for little effort, some give rewards which are almost essential to completing later special levels. Naturally, these levels are not...mandatory, and it’s certainly good to keep it that way. To get to these special levels, simply wait for the stairs to show up for it (it’s random on any level, depending on the level etc) and take those stairs down as opposed to the normal stairs. The special stairs are red as opposed to the normal white, so it’s easy to differentiate. As an example of a really good special level, Hell’s Armoury (on Hey not to Rough – my difficulty of choice) there are only formers, demons, lost souls, and two arachnotrons. For this, you get a guaranteed two mod packs (of any “basic” kind), two ammo chains (10mm and shells) four green armours, four blue armours (not that you’d need ALL of them) and four weapons, of which there are a high chance of them being exotics – which is awesome. Then if you have the nuts, you can fight a special boss (who I won’t ruin) and you then get another guaranteed two mods, then either a special mod, or a schematic, which tells you how to make any assembly. (Any one assembly that is, and the schematic that it is denoted as, is which assembly you learn.) This is just one example, a couple of special levels give you BFG’s, one gives you a rocket launcher on the second or third level, one gives you all these skulls...which are useful...kinda. But they are really fun none-the-less.
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  15. All in all, I could go on for days about the intricacies of DoomRL, there really is a ton to talk about. Assemblies, bosses, move speeds, special assemblies, challenge modes, ranks, player levels and the list goes on and on. However unlike some of my most recent reviews, I’m not going to ramble on for 3,000 words or more. I’m just going to tell you to go out and fucking play the game. It’s just that simple. Here, I’ll even give you a link to the website. HERE. Are you happy you lazy bastards. Now then, time to play another round...
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