As one of the most sad and annoying Doom fanboys you'll ever meet, I've played just about every official, commercial version of Doom out there. I own many console ports of the game, and the one's I don't, I've still played at some point in my life, from the humble Jaguar port to the abysmal 3DO interpretation. Just because these ports have the Doom logo slapped on the case, don't expect all of them to be worthy of that name. Two of the ports that I find particularly interesting, for different reasons, are the PlayStation and Saturn ones. Both games are similar as a whole, yet one is vastly superior to the other, despite the fact both systems are around the same power. Here's a comparison of the two...
The PlayStation port was developed by Williams, and was released in 1995. To make things a little more complicated, the game is technically a port of the Jaguar version of Doom, which featured all three chapters of Doom, and of the twenty-four levels featured, many were altered slightly; these were mostly just minor changes, such as a few odd rooms and details removed here and there, but you still got a great Doom experience either way (plus, the completely re-done versions of Hell Keep and Spawnign Vats were actually better than their original counterparts, in my opinion). To add to this, many levels from The Ultimate Doom's added bonus chapter, Thy Flesh Consumed are also thrown in for good measure. Heck, if that's not enough, you're also getting at least two-thirds of Doom II, which leaves a total of over FIFTY levels. It should also be noted that a couple of levels were also console-exclusive and never seen before the game was released.
Doom for the Saturn was developed by Rage Software and released in 1997, and is more-or-less a direct port of of the PSX game, so, admittedly, there isn't much to say in terms of actual game content. You're getting every level that you saw in Williams' port. HOWEVER, Rage Software lied to their American market. The US box claims that the game features over 60 levels, when in actuality there are 59...
Of all the Doom console ports out there, the PSX version is certainly one of the better ones. Williams' took advantage of the 32-bit system by improving Doom's light sourcing and using coloured lighting that you didn't see in the PC original or any other port. This not only gives the game a very atmospheric vibe, but it also makes many of the levels feel completely different to how they did initially, in a good way. While the actual textures are a little on the pixellated side, they are more than acceptable for an early PSX title (which it is). Also, the framerate is fairly consistent throughout. It's true that the game will occasionally bog down when the action really picks up, the game runs probably around 30 fps for the most part, and it's great. It is true that many of the levels don't quite have the detail that the PC had, but the game still looks and runs nicely, and with the coloured lighting, Williams actually improved upon Doom's atmosphere.
The Saturn port is similar to the PSX in terms of textures, but lacks the coloured lighting that was exclusive to the port. The game doesn't look particularly bad without this lighting as such, but at the same time the Saturn, being a 32-bit system like the PlayStation, was more than capable of having that same lighting Williams implemented in their port.
That's not the problem sadly, because Saturn Doom's legacy as a rushed port is all because of it's framerate. Anyone who's ever, EVER played Doom on the Saturn must have complained about the choppiness of the game upon their first (and probably only) time playing. As soon as you are dropped into Hangar, the first level, you'll instantly notice the horrendous framerate. It makes no difference as to how many enemies there are on the screen, or how large the level is as the framerate is always sub-par, no matter what. It's an absolute abomination to the Saturn! And come to think of it, Doom is quite possibly the most simple, straight-forward first person shooter on the Saturn, yet powerhouse games (at the time)like the true-3D Quake and the impressive Duke Nukem 3D ran far better on the system. The simple answer: lazy programming.
Williams did an amazing job here. They completely re-did all the sound effects and music, and what you have is something truly unique. With the limitations of the PlayStation, Williams focused their port on atmosphere and horror, something that was present in the PC game, but not nearly to the extent of the PSX port. The music is much, MUCH more eerie and ambient, and to this day stands as some of the best video-game music of that direction in my opinion. The sound effects are often echoed too, depending on the level, and this is something else the PC didn't have. With the coloured lighting effects, foreboding music and sound effects, this is the most atmospheric and disturbing version of Doom to date, and for that reason alone it's still worth playing. I have absolutely no complaints with the Williams' sound design overall.
The Saturn version boasts the same sound and music you saw in the PSX game, only some of the music tracks have been removed and they appear in a different order. What is also missing is the echoed effect you saw in Williams' port. While this isn't exactly the biggest complaint, it is a flaw none- the-less. Without the coloured lighting, Saturn Doom doesn't really feel 'right' having the same music and sound effects however. Because the game lacks the atmosphere of the PSX, the game is a little brighter and if anything looks more like the PC version than the PSX, and therefore, I think it would've made more sense to have imported the original, up-beat MIDI music of the PC. Not a huge con overall, but certainly not a pro either.
Doom is by far the most-suited FPS for the PlayStation controller. Because the game lacks the ability to look up and down, playing with the D-Pad is just fine. Add to this the fact that you can customise the controls at your own will, and you have the best handling console port of Doom out there. The shoulder buttons are perfect for strafing, and the entire layout just feels perfect. Naturally, this being a console FPS, you can't compare it to the good old keyboard and mouse, but as far as the controls go, I again have no complaints.
The Saturn controls are also customisable, but I never found the Saturn controller to be particularly good for shooters. There's just something about the design of the controllers' D-Pad and buttons that never felt right. Saying that, the controls are technically as good as they can be. Circle-strafing is still easy and there's nothing about the control schemes within the game that are worse than any other FPS on the system, it's just that PSX controllers suit first person shooters better while Saturn controllers are more suited to arcade/fighting games etc.
Actually, both games are completely worthless in this sense, yet the Saturn still comes off as worse purely for the fact that the game came out two years after the PSX version, meaning they had more than enough time to work on a functional multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, both versions of Doom require two TV's, two consoles and two copies of the game to play the co-op and deathmatch modes within the package. To be quite honest, I just don't see the point in even bothering with a multiplayer mode of any kind if split-screen is not available.
The box of the US version of Saturn Doom contains another, BIG error, and claims that the game supports the multiplayer I have just described. Well, it doesn't. Only the PAL and Japanese versions do. Fail.
This category is basically just an excuse for me to rant about any other pros/cons within these ports. The PSX version does not have memory card support of any kind, and instead you are stuck with passwords. This is a minor inconvenience, not really a big deal, at least in my eyes. Since Wiliams' port was released in '95, it was an early PlayStation title anyway, and I would imagine that the majority of PSX games at that time lacked memory card support too. The Saturn version also features passwords, but in this instance, there's absolutely no excuse for it, a) Rage had two years to sort this out and b) the Saturn has INTERNAL MEMORY as well as a memory cartridge option.
So, there you go. An in-depth (almost) comparison of the two ports. One is superb, the other is an epic fail. True, the PlayStation does have it's flaws, but they are outweighed by the game's unique atmosphere and intense sound design. In my opinion, PSX Doom is a must-have for all Doom fans. The Saturn port on the other hand is a depressing mess of a port; an abomination to id Software that doesn't take advantage of, well, ANY of the 32-bit power brewing inside the Saturn console. The only thing it has going for it is the fact that it has all the levels of the PSX version. But seriously, just thinking about that sluggish framerate makes me sick!
If by any chance you own a Japanese or mod-chipped Saturn, you may want to track down the Japanese version of the game, which has a slightly smoother, cleaned-up framerate, but honestly, it's not worth it at the end of the day. Even if it has been improved, the PSX still runs faster.