Is there a platform you can't play DOOM on? Seriously, you can even play it on your iPod. I suppose it's a testament to the title that helped spawn a new genre in video games, the first-person shooter, back in 1993. Now, 13 years later, the latest iteration of the classic makes it way to Xbox Live Arcade and I have to admit, it's still a whole hell of a lot of fun, as long as you're playing offline.
In DOOM, you play a space marine deported to Mars and forced to work for the Union Aerospace Corporation, a group performing secret experiments with teleportation between the moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. One of those experiements goes horribly wrong, opening a gateway to Hell and unleashing hordes of Demons upon the red planet. Of course, you wouldn't know this by playing the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game. There's no intro cinematic, no cutscenes, nothing. It's straight into the fire for players and that's totally cool because the story is just fodder for the ensuing mayhem of hellish creatures and destructive weaponry. Ah yes, DOOM.
With that said, the game has been faithfully ported to Xbox Live Arcade. You'll get all four episodes, all five difficulty levels, all the weapons, including the infamous BFG, and all the various demons and zombies chasing after you. You'll see the same HUD with the marine's face in the centre, altering as his health depletes. All the bells and whistles are here, from the grunts to the shotgun blasts. Even the graphics are the same, untouched in all their pixelated glory. In an interesting move, iD and Nerve Software decided not to enhance the graphics for HDTV support, though high-def gamers can stretch the window to get a wider view.
Up to four players can join forces for split-screen co-op through the singleplayer campaign and up to four players can compete in split-screen deathmatch. That's likely where you'll want to keep your friends, on your couch. Online multiplayer is dreadfully slow, both in co-op and deathmatch modes, which brings an unwanted element of luck into the picture. It's shocking really considering how smoothly this game ran back in 1993 yet with all this newfound processing power and high-speed Internet, the game has the problems it does here. If you do venture online, you'll want to pay close attention to any potential player's connection rating.
Fun fact: For a little over the $10 (800 Microsoft Points) you'll spend on DOOM for Xbox Live Arcade, you can purchase a used copy of DOOM 3 for the Xbox (backwards compatible with the Xbox 360) that includes DOOM and DOOM II bundled with it. Of course, you wouldn't get the split-screen co-op and multiplayer modes, or the 200 Achievement Points. For those reasons alone it's arguably worth buying DOOM one more time, but just keep in mind that while the singleplayer and offline multiplayer components hold their own, trying to play the game online could literally be a trip through hell.