Game Overkill – Doom
If you follow me on Twitter and were paying attention (by following #GameOverkill), you might have noticed that as I started playing Doom, I slowly came to the realization that this game I thought I loved for two decades… yeah, I had never played it. Turns out I had it confused with Doom II all this time. I even had the original on my personal list of games everyone should play at least once, but not its sequel. Also, I played the DOS version via DOSBox. I also used the Doomsday Engine, which allowed me to play an enhanced port while easily configuring the controls. I should’ve played the PS1 version as well, since it was listed, but I wasn’t able to. I hear it’s good.
So besides confirming that I’m an idiot, what did I learn through what ended up being my first playthrough? Doom is one amazing game.
One benefit of not having played Doom until these past few weeks is that I have next to no nostalgia to cloud my view of the game. I don’t really remember when the game came out. For years, decades even, I’d pretty much been putting Doom, Doom II, Duke Nukem, and Wolfenstein 3D together into some bizarre PC FPS abomination, not really remembering clearly what was in one game or series and not in another. I had a vague sense that they were all decent-ish games, but that they had likely all aged poorly. Surely, all of them, especially the original Doom would pale in comparison to most modern FPSs, right? Maybe I should’ve talked to Francisco Velo, one of the people who listed the game, before playing. He would’ve set me strait with this:
Doom is one of those games that really cause a very strong first impression. It might be because there was little to nothing compared to it at the time. But the most impressive part is that it has aged remarkably well, the gameplay is so fluid and fun that it puts to shame some modern style FPSs, the pace of the game feels so right is absurd, it’s empowering, and just right, plus theres all the secrets room that you can look for.
While the story might not be a magnum opus, it was just about enough to give you a purpose to beat all those demos, and even invented one of the most famous weapons in the history of Videogames: the BFG9000.
Even graphically speaking I still find that it actually has not aged that badly, all the enemies are very iconic and the ambience it creates is great.
It’s a classic through and through I cannot recommend it enough.
He is right. At no point did the 1993 graphics do anything negative to my experience. In fact, you could argue that better graphics would’ve hindered my enjoyment. What passed for 3D graphics in this game was not only amazing for its time, it did a great job of creating a tense, action-filled, and dynamic atmosphere. From the bizarre textures, the grotesque enemies, and let’s not forget the music, all of it came together extremely well and holds up to this day to provide an experience I’ve rarely seen duplicated in any FPSs since. When you hit a switch, hear a door open somewhere, then hear an imp, and turn around to find the door opened behind you and immediately get hit by his attack, or when the wall in front of you slowly lowers to reveal a horde of Lost Souls, or worst of all, when you hear this:
and get goosebumps because you can’t even see the Cacodemon yet. You panic, you try to switch to the proper weapon, you start running and shooting, you rotate wildly in an attempt to discern where the damn hellbeast are and it is glorious. Simon Reed seems to agree:
I think Doom is one of the most influential games of all time as it really helped to demonstrate that first person shooters weren’t just side scrolling shmups with a fancy new perspective – the genre could actually help to create unique and memorable environments. It was one of the first games that could actually create a truly scary atmosphere. Well, if you played it in the dark with headphones on at least. Wolfenstein 3D may have set up the pins, but Doom was the one that knocked them down.
Everyone’s favourite clown, Lumpz the Clown, also talked about Doom’s immersiveness and importance in the history of gaming:
For me, DOOM changed my entire perspective on gaming! Up until this point, my gaming repertoire consisted of a random spattering of “cutesy pie” games for the NES and Atari 2600.
Around the time I was 10, my mother started a relationship with a former Marine who had no prior experience with children. Back then, he was an avid fan of FPS’s in the early 90’s, which included Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM! With no hesitation whatsoever, he “unleashed the beast”, so to speak, and showed me that video games can be cerebral and soul-shredding!
A spooky atmosphere, a wide range of enemies, fast-paced action, and a plethora of weapons to ventilate your opponents breathe malevolent life into the ruined moon base. DOOM set the bar for future FPS games and gave gamers a new way to get sucked into the environment.
YOU become the Space Marine trying to fight his way off the moon base, killing everything that crosses his path. YOU feel every fired shot, every enemy projectile whizzing past you, and hear every guttural battle scream.
I salute id software for changing the game and giving us not just a new game, but a new way of experiencing HELL first hand!
Doom’s influence on video games is also something 1 More Castle’s editor-in-chief Eric Bailey echoed:
If you were a kid in the early 1990’s, video games were magical, but they also existed in a unique cultural time. We did not quite have the Internet, and the idea of games being violent was still a new, sensational phenomenon. So there were a few big events that really captured our imagination and our interest in a truly deep, viral, whispers-on-the-playground kind of way. Mortal Kombat was a huge, enormous thing. And then there was Doom.Word of Doom passed around like wildfire, to use an overused cliché. Most of my friends were not PC gamers, but a couple were, and Doom was one of those experiences that made people say “You HAVE to play this game, it’s awesome.”And it was. There have been very few titles in my lifetime that made me not only want to go to a friend’s house just to try it, but that I followed up on. And Doom delivered: It was gruesome, it was scary, and it was… fun. So fun. Still fun.That “fun” part might be the craziest aspect of the zeitgeist: Many games of the period tried to sensationalize and titillate with gore or other means, but most of those examples end up being a poor product in hindsight (see: Chiller). This is not the case with Doom. Sure, it may have its well-documents flaws — but, c’mon, you had to admit that it is fun. Even now, even today, even without any polygons. If you fire Doom up today and play for a few minutes, you’ll find yourself wanting to go back for more later. That is a powerful force on humanity. That is Doom. This is my overwrought writing about it.
Without having played it at the time of its release, partially because none of my friends were PC gamers yet, but mostly because I was 12 when it came out, I can’t really comment from personal experience. I can certainly say that I see why. I mean, it’s only been a few days since I beat it and stopped playing and already, not only do I miss it and want play some more, but in my head, I picture the game in HD and it looks just as good as any Call of Duty game I’ve played. Like Bailey said, the game is just so fun that any flaws it may have are very easily glossed over.
Another part of what makes it so fun and drives up its replayability is the secrets. There is so much satisfaction to be had from finding yet another hidden area or finishing a level and seeing the “Secrets” percentage hit 100. A good deal of that comes from the great level design. Every area feels unique and makes you want to explore it. Jonathan Hallée, who so far has listed every single game to make the cut, echoes some of this:
You guys are probably tired of seeing my take on games, but screw you. There were two PC games in my youth: Doom and Descent. While after replaying Descent, I noticed that is was…. decent, Doom still stands out. It gave us great level design with tons of secrets, some easier than others. It had decent graphics for the time, but enemies that didn’t need better resolution to look monstrously great. It was also able to bring that powerful sensation to the player. If Doom had any crazier weapons than what it had, it would end up being less enjoyable. The bigger weapons feel like a reward, they feel special! They’re not for show, they’re a blessing in hard times. In short, Doom is a reference for a reason.
Jonathan is right about the guns. For the most part, I ran around with the shotgun, occasionally switching to the rocket launcher for Cacodemons and Barons of Hell or the chaingun when a bunch of Lost Souls showed up. Powering up the BFG9000 and unleashing it on an area full of strong enemies with extremely satisfying because you would get to do so seldomly. you had to conserve your ammo, especially with the stronger weapons, so when you did use it, the effect was always powerful because it never got cheapened by an overabundance of ammo being scattered across the levels. You had to make every shot count as there was nothing worse the firing off your last shotgun round and the game automatically switching you to the only thing you had left, the pistol, or worse, your fists.
This is part of the game’s difficulty, to be sure, but it is also part of, again, the game’s fun and replayability. You can always play a level again and try to conserve more ammo for the next levels, kill all the monsters, or beat it in less time. There are 5 difficulty levels to challenge you as well. Because of all this, Doom is the first Game Overkill game so far that I plan on playing again. If it wasn’t for Game Overkill and needing to move on to other games, I’d still be playing it right now.
One thing Bailey mentioned in his comments that we haven’t addressed is the gore. There is no doubt that the game was controversial when it came out. You don’t have to have been around at the time since there is information about it all over the web. This game is violent and gory even by today’s standards, and seeing it be attacked for that isn’t surprising. This isn’t anything new for gamers. Every once in a while, some scaremongers try to justify their existence by blaming games for what ever ills they happen to want to crusade against. But rather than cause school shootings, I’ve personally seen video games, sometimes especially the violent ones, offer a form of catharsis or therapy for people going through difficult times.
One person who listed Doom shared a personal story that fit this. Here’s K. Alex Rosen:
Doom helped me survive a time when I hated my job and constantly got into fights, and thought that maybe Hell wouldn’t be so bad by comparison. Back then Doom’s pseudo-3D was like another world I could slip into as alcohol does nothing to me and drugs have never been appealing (and were too expensive to even seem practical). Although I’m doing better now, Doom still feels like an old friend that I can still count on and we get together once in a while to hang out.
Books often get praised for their ability to let people escape reality, even if for only a brief moment, and enjoy all kinds of fantastic worlds and experiences. Not Doom personally, but I’ve had similar experiences with and relationships to other games and I’m sure many of you reading have as well. You had a shitty day at work? A loved one passed away? Your significant other left you? One of the many postive things video games can do is give you an outlet for what you’re feeling, whether it’s a way to process them or to escape them for an hour or two.
Anyway, here’s Woodyman to give us a nice, tidy summary for us:
Doom is a staple of the FPS genre and gaming as a whole. That’s because Doom was just so damn fun to play, and still is. Gamers loved strafing and shooting the demons of hell. The controversy of Doom being a game for satanists just made it more sought after by gamers. It was the FPS game to clone and the FPS game all others were measured against, and should be played by everyone.