RETRO REVIEW: Doom
With the DOOM reboot making an appearance at this year’s E3, I think it’s worth looking back at the original game, released all the way back in 1993. Praised as the godfather of first-person shooters by many, Doom has undoubtedly influenced many games within the same genre since its release, and continues to do so to this day.
Although Id software gained a lot of popularity with Commander Keen and Wolfenstein 3D, nothing would compare with Doom. At the time, there was simply nothing like it – blasting your way through hellspawn in very demonic surroundings, complete with tons of blood and satanic imagery.
You might not think that would be a big deal, but back then this was considered controversial, which only made people want to play it that much more. The game has even been blamed for the Columbine High School massacre, but anyone with a brain knows a video game can’t influence that sort of behaviour.
Initially released on the MS-DOS, Doom would become perhaps the most ported game of all time, seeing a release on the Super Nintendo, PlayStation, Atari Jaguar, and even the Gameboy Advance. Personally speaking, the best console ports are easily the versions available through Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network.
You know when you’re relaxing in Phobos, just one of the moons of Mars, when all of a sudden some idiot somehow manages to open a portal, which allows demons to enter your world? The same thing happened to Doom’s protagonist, “Doom Guy”, making it his job to plough through hordes of bloodthirsty demons with any weapon he can find, including a pistol, shotgun, chaingun, and rocket launcher, among others.
Of course, there’s the extremely iconic chainsaw and BFG-9000, which literally does stand for Big F*****g Gun, not Bio Force Gun as it’s known in the movie. Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses, for example the rocket launcher is capable of dealing massive damage but use it close-range, and you’ll most likely blow yourself to bits. The chainsaw can mow through basic enemies such as zombies and imps, but against some of the later enemies – not so good.
Doom has a range of very unique enemies, which also have their strengths and weaknesses. First of, you’ll find yourself up against zombiemen, also known as “former humans” – these guys won’t cause too much trouble as they are armed with basic rifles or shotguns, depending on which type you come across. They are very weak, making for good practice during the earlier levels. Later on, you’ll come across the Demon, which ultimately looks like a massive pink pig thing that can walk – with no projecticles coming from them, they’re not too intimidating, but at close range, they can often deal a substantial amount of damage.
Even further on, two Baron of Hell enemies will appear as bosses at the end of the first episode, eventually making themselves known as regular enemies afterwards. The Baron of Hell is slow, but throws green flame balls at you, which can easily kill you in a few hits. The most iconic and dangerous enemy in the game is easily the Cyberdemon – wielding a mechanical arm that shoots out rockets at a rapid pace, capable of instantly killing you most of the time if you don’t have additional armour or health.
Doom is split into a total of four episodes, each getting more difficult as you progress, respectively. You’ll begin on Phobos as you make your way through various bases and such, which have been overrun with plenty of enemies. The levels are generally straight forward and more linear than the later levels, giving you a generous feel for how the game works, whether it be finding secret areas, picking up items such as health packs and other boosters, collecting particular keys to gain access to locked areas, or simply getting accustomed to each new weapon you find on your way.
Fast forward to episode four, appropriately named Thy Flesh Consumed, you’ll be put somewhere in between earth and Hell. In fact, it’s not clear where Doom Guy actually is during this episode, but it’s full of much more difficult enemies, including the Spider Mastermind – a gigantic brain covered in robotic armour, sporting mechanical legs and a chaingun attached to its front. The Spider Mastermind is slow but hard to avoid, especially when it shoots at such at a rapid pace.
Doom is all about atmosphere, putting you in this world of chaos with no real room for a breather, and it’s thanks to the music for immersing you so much. From the first song, “At Doom’s Gate”, that hits you as you enter the very first level to the eerie and frightening “Sinister”. Each song is perfectly suited to a particular level and theme.
Graphically speaking, Doom might look outdated but it still manages to build on an already impressive atmosphere that’s completely unique to Doom, whether it be the lava pits of Hell, silhouettes of enemies in the distance, or the creepy demonic symbolism dotted around. All of this makes for an intense gameplay experience, even to this day.
Whether you’ve played Doom before or are planning on trying it out, there’s one thing that’s certain – you won’t be disappointed. I often replay this game (along with Doom II: Hell on Earth) and never get bored of it. A timeless first-person shooter that I believe will still stay strong for a long time to come yet. Go get it… now.
Worth Playing Today: Absolutely
Available On: Practically every computer and console ever.
Released: 1993, MS-DOS