Welcome to First Person Spotlight, a series where I will be shining a light on FPS games of all types, be they famous failures or obscure gems. Consider it something of a sequel to my old First Person Saturday series, just without the restrictive deadlines. In our maiden voyage, we'll be taking a look at a glorious total conversion of id Software's Doom that takes the action far from the hellish landscapes of Phobos and straight into the golden age of piracy with the glorious Pirate Doom.
Pirate Doom is a total conversion for Doom that focuses on an unnamed heroic captain who is facing off against LeChuck in a bizarre crossover with the Monkey Island franchise. The whole tone is practically the same as Doom's but with a decidedly swashbuckling flavor to the whole proceedings. Instead of UAC facilities and the bowels of Hell, you'll be fighting your way through a surprisingly varied set of levels with themes including Tortuga, a hidden grotto, and even a standout mission in a sunken ship. To sell the pirate theme, a majority of the sprites have pirate-y facelifts or are just straight up taken from other games, with the weapons all being lifted from Outlaws and a good majority of the skyboxes (and music) taken from The Secret of Monkey Island. Enemies are wearing all sorts of pirate gear, such as tri-cornered hats and eyepatches, and do a lot less zombified moaning and a lot more spouting generic pirate phrases at every chance.
Levels in Pirate Doom feel less like those found in the original Doom and more like Duke Nukem 3D, containing frequently large maps populated with buildings and atmospheric additions. Levels never feel too labyrinthine, and overall a lot less complex than those seen in the later episodes of Doom or Doom II. There are also quite a few set pieces sewn into the layout of the nearly two dozen or so stages, punctuating the cooler environments with colossal battles. A personal favorite of mine was when a band consisting of Revenants, Hell Knights, and Pinky Demons attacked while AC/DC's Highway to Hell blasted throughout the room, which defies the pirate theme quite a bit but captures the absurdity of Doom masterfully.
Despite the age of the game it's based on, Pirate Doom manages to push Doom's DNA to its limit with all sorts of cool touches. There's a particularly interesting level in a circus that really has a lot of creative tricks, such as a trampoline, enemy multiplication, and speedy conveyor belts. The way that the level can twist, turn, and transform itself throughout play really is a testament to the power of the now-ancient id Tech 1 engine.
Pirate Doom's gameplay is practically identical to that of Doom's, but with a few minor tweaks. The pistol isn't completely useless now thanks to a dual-wielding option introduced later in the campaign, and the melee weapon has an alternate fire that allows you to do a quick dash, helping to close the distance between enemies and deliver them to Davy Jones via the cold steel of a cutlass. Besides that, this is Doom as you know and love it, and that's just fine by me.
Pirate Doom truly is a great mod that manages to nail Doom's simple charms as well as the grandiose pirate fantasy setting that conjures up thoughts of the supernatural moments found in films like Pirates of the Caribbean. The only reason you wouldn't enjoy this mod is if you happen to hate both pirates and Doom, in which case you should probably reconsider your life choices. For everyone else, it's a must play.