While the idea of a First Person Shooter (FPS) wasn’t exactly all that new to iD Software and the rest of the gaming world by the Winter of 1993, and witnessing the largely successful launch of “Wolfenstein 3D” just one year prior, it would be “Doom” and its hellacious Martian landscape that would single-handedly revolutionise the entire genre into what we know it as today.
Starting from humble beginnings as a Shareware version of the game on Microsoft’s MS-DOS, “Doom” would then go on to ship nearly 2 million copies upon its official release, a number that was still relatively unheard of for its time. Since then, in the 23 years that have followed its original release, “Doom” has gone on to take its rightful place as one of the most revered games in the industry’s history, extending its wide reach across nearly every console to date, with each new re-iteration remaining as intimately faithful to its PC origins as possible.
Placed directly into the blood-covered boots of the sole surviving space marine stationed on the Martian moon of Phobos, you are instantly thrust into a very dim and gory world that feels as though it is set well into a distant yet primal future, where a portal to Hell itself has been mistakenly unleashed. It is your job from there on out to pick apart and demolish every last demonic creature you encounter, as you make your way through one demon-infested level after the next, each one infinitely more twisted and macabre than the last.
Placed rather appropriately between the game’s three distinct episodes, all of which hold approximately 10 levels, players will find the several minute shreds of plot that tie the game together, each being delivered through its own somewhat text-heavy variation of a cut-scene. However, beyond these brief few trickles of narrative, “Doom” offers a very minimal storyline, and instead relies heavily on its ability to create one extremely hectic, combat heavy environment after another, all of which are designed to test both the metal and patience of even the most time-tested players. It was perhaps for this reason alone that the game’s controls were made to be as moderately simplistic as possible. Player movement uses the directional buttons of an average keyboard while weapon selection was achieved through numbers 1-6. Moreover, the advanced movement was also possible by holding down the shift button to allow for minor strafing.
Of course, no true First Person Shooter would ever be complete without its own fair share of unique weaponry, and it is here of all places that “Doom” truly leaves what is quite possibly its most lasting impression upon the genre. While relatively dumbed down in comparison to most of the industry’s current First Person Shooters, it was “Doom” that originally set the bar by first including many of the most commonly used and sought after weapons in games today. It did this by providing the player with an arsenal that ranged from a chainsaw to the comically overwhelming fan favourite, BFG 9000. Each would eventually go on to find their way into nearly every First Person Shooter created in the last two decades, leaving no doubt that no matter what your favourite method of attack might be, “Doom” definitely had everything you needed in order to come out on top against even the most hellacious enemies.
Graphically, “Doom” was certainly ahead of its time back in 1993, having pushed the limits of what 3D imagery could do in a video game that was run solely on what is now considered to be Microsoft’s most primitive operating system (OS) in MS-DOS. For anyone that lacks any real interest in the realm of nostalgic gaming, “Doom” and its overly boxy graphics simply do not hold up to the test of time, however for those willing to overlook its out-dated models, “Doom” may still carry some of its original charm through its unique style and over the top demonic aesthetics.
Beyond its explosive game-play and grim design, one of “Dooms’” mightiest triumphs can be found within its ripping heavy metal soundtrack and purely guttural sound effects. Whether it is the mysterious groans of unseen enemies lurking in the dark or the screams of agony they create as you mow them down, it is impossible to deny the spine-tingling aura they produce.
Unfortunately, unlike nearly all of the First Person Shooters we see today, “Doom” was created primarily for a single-player audience, however, a very inconvenient form of multi-player did exist for those brave enough to put their patience to the ultimate test. This is where the idea of multi-player death-matches would have been originally pioneered. In order to play a simple two-player death-match, each participant would need to use a modem to connect to a common server via his or her own separate internet connection. While this doesn’t sound all that different from how multi-player modes are run today, it must be taken into account that nearly every internet connection at the time of the game’s original release was done through a dial-up connection (and yes, for you young kids out there - that’s the one that made all those irritating noises!). This made any attempt to partake in one of “Dooms’” few multi-player aspects particularly painful, as the slow speed and inconsistency of most connections would bring most games to an abrupt end without any real warning or solution.
All in all, despite the industry’s many vast advancements since its release, particularly where it pertains to graphics and the implementation of various modes beyond the simple solo-campaign, “Doom” still manages to rise above the rest as one of the most historically significant video games to truly stand the test of time. So it is without question that if you prefer a fast paced, heavy hitting game that will truly put you to the test whether you’re young or old, “Doom” is definitely the game for you.
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