Sunday, 27 October 2013

1993 - The Ultimate Doom


Doom. Where do I start with Doom? Well first off, it's the first game I ever played in my entire life. One day when I was about 2 or 3 years old, I came home and my dad sat me on his lap at the computer and he started up Doom. I saw this amazing art of some badass dude holding a gun (I didn't know what that was at the time but it looked awesome) and he was kicking some demon ass. My dad pressed buttons. I was thinking "OH MY GOD BUTTONS DO STUFF ON THE SCREEN THIS IS AMAZING ALREADY!" and then he got into the game. I was instantly blown away by how amazing the game looked. Despite the year was some time in the late 90s, I had never seen anything this amazing before. My toddler mind was thinking that this was the best thing in the history of anything. He walked into the room in the left and the weapon was moving at the bottom of the screen, and it looked like a little face was staring back at me. There were some dudes in this room on the left seemingly attacking me. My dad pressed a button and POW POW they were toast. I instantly fell in love with Doom.

What is Doom?

Anyway, nostalgic sentiments out of the way, let's get onto what Doom really is. If you don't know what it is by now, then what the hell have you been doing for 20 years now? If you're not a 90's kid, or not that much into computer games, I probably forgive you. If you are 13/14 years old or you never really played games all that much back in the day, let me give you a brief description. Doom is a first person shooter which changed the way the world saw first person shooters and moulded the FPS genre as we know it today. Without it, we wouldn't have FPS games in the same format. It's hard to tell what it would be like without it, and of course, without Wolfenstein 3D as its predecessor, the true first FPS which combined all the elements of an arcade game with the elements of what we now call a FPS, making it the first great leap towards modern FPS games. Doom being the second, was much improved, with greater technology and therefore, greater gameplay.


Gameplay in Doom by today's standards is rather simplistic. All you really do in Doom is run around, shoot things, find keys and bigger guns and ultimately, the exit across four different episodes, roughly taking one hour each to beat if you know what you're doing. But there's more to that. The gameplay is fun because you are in a maze. This maze is filled with challenge in the form of monsters that are out there to kill you. However, this maze is also filled with supplies which will help you overcome these monsters, with things like medkits, ammo, bigger guns and keys to unlock doors blocking your path. The gameplay can be somewhat repetitive however it stays interesting as the enemy variety is fairly large enough, especially in later episodes, however it leaves a fair bit to be desired. There really aren't all that many enemies when you count them and you really notice it, especially in the first episode where all you fight is 2 kinds of zombies, imps, demons and that's it really until the boss fight, where you fight 2 Barons and some invisible demons. The level design is absolutely spot-on for the game. The levels come in two kinds of variety: The first and most common kind is a huge labyrinth which sometimes can be fairly difficult to navigate, but that's part of the fun. The second kind is a very fast paced run 'n' gun type of level, which tend to have levels which compliment the fact Doomguy can run at 53 mph (Yes this is actually true) and a lot of enemies which lead to hot fire-fights and not a huge amount of tactics required other than circle-strafe the shit out of that room and fuck everything up with your chaingun, and personally I find these a lot more fun than the other ones, and unfortunately these are less common. The weapon variety also sadly leaves some to be desired, with only 8 weapons, including your fist (which can be powered up to roughly 10x its regular strength with a powerup which lasts the whole level), a chainsaw, a pistol, a shotgun, a chaingun, a rapid fire rocket launcher, a plasma rifle and the almighty holy grail of weaponry, the BFG9000, which is the most powerful and interesting weapon in the game. The weapons are rather self-explanatory. With the fist, you punch things. The chainsaw cuts things. The pistol, shotgun and chaingun shoot stuff. The rocket launcher shoots a big explodey thingy of death. The plasma rifle rapidly fires blue pretties that rapidly murder everything and the BFG fires a big green pretty that just fucks every mother fucker in the room with its rather OP effect, only balanced by the fact it fires extremely slowly, has a charge-up time and uses 40 cells per shot, which is shared with your plasma rifle. Though despite this may seem like a lot of weaponry, you'll probably find yourself sticking mostly to the shotgun or chaingun, as the ammo for these is most plentiful, and only using the rocket launcher or plasma weapons in bigger fights, as the ammo for these weapons tends to be quite rare to find, most commonly in secrets, in single packs laid around or in large amounts near boss fights, such as something like 20 boxes of rockets could be found near the start of a Cyberdemon battle.


Finally some screenies, yaay! The graphics for Doom at the time in 1993 were mind-blowing. The weapon sprites were incredibly detailed, the monsters looked terrifying and you could mutilate said enemies into bloody corpses on the ground which stayed there until you left the level. Nothing like this had ever been done before and even to this day, people are still making graphical mods for the game so it looks modernized, since today, for obvious reasons, it looks extremely dated.
Take a look at the screenshot below and you will see the first thing that is hard-coded into every Doomer's memory.
That is the legendary E1M1: Hangar. Tears of nostalgia are dripping down every true Doomer's cheeks right now.

This is a screenshot from Classic Doom 3, a very faithfully created Doom 3 mod, which creates the first episode of Doom rather well in the Doom 3 engine and looks absolutely stunning in the ID Tech 4 engine, which even by today's standards still looks pretty good.


The music in Doom is absolutely mind-blowingly awesome. It is by Bobby Prince, who is now hailed as one of the best game music composers ever. The music fits the gameplay perfectly, with each song fitting each level's theme, pacing, style and everything.
Every Doomer has these two songs hard-coded into their memories.

Not enough good words can be said about these two songs, but of course that is subject to taste and you will have to see for yourself if you like that style of music. I have never come across a Doomer that doesn't like Doom's music, however, so if you don't like it, you must be new.

Doom today

Doom is still alive today with a highly active community online, with Zandronum allowing people to play Doom over the internet, countless online forums such as Doomworld, Newdoom and many others, and quite literally billions of mods have been created since 1994 and are still being created today and being downloaded from sites such as ModDB, Doomworld's WAD section and many FTP servers which host hundreds or even thousands of WADs which people download from hundreds of times daily. It is still going strong after 20 years and hopefully will continue to be strong in the coming 20 years.


In conclusion, Doom is an absolutely brilliant game. It defined the genre, absolutely destroyed its competition such as Rise of the Triad and a few others and it offers thousands of hours of fun with its community-made content which never gets old, despite the technology is extremely dated. It isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and is indeed not the best FPS ever created, and has its problems. However in my opinion, it is my favourite FPS ever created despite not being the best one. It is extremely highly recommended that you buy Doom, with your best bet to actually finding a copy is via Steam, and it is incredibly cheap to buy the complete classic package or the individual games.

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