CSG Retrospective – Doom
What is it about the Doom series that has made it resonate so well over the years? Without Doom we would not have the basic foundation for first-person shooters as we know them today. It was a pioneer for the genre and popularized it on an unprecedented scale, bringing it mass commercial attention. Doom also generated a lot of controversy back in its day for its gratuitous amounts of gore and satanic imagery, but a lot of that controversy has died down now. Some of its major contributions to the first-person shooter genre are its multiplayer options, intricate levels designs, and fast-paced gameplay.
The original Doom holds a special place in my heart as one my favorite first-person shooters. I will always be eternally grateful to the Doom series because many of my other favorite shooters like Half Life and System Shock took some form of inspiration from it. My first experience with Doom was on the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Both ports terrified me as a kid, but I could not take my eyes away from it for a second. I was completely captivated by its haunting atmosphere of shadowy corridors where monsters would let out horrendous, bloodcurdling screams when they spotted me. Memories that I still have embedded in my mind to this very day. Doom was developed by Id Software and released on December 10, 1993 for the MS-DOS computer in a series of floppy disks; it was then ported on tons of other consoles in the following years. Each floppy disk contained an episode that comprised of eight levels and each episode acted as a chapter in the larger Doom narrative. The episodes are set on the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos and soon take the player to Hell itself. Doom’s plot involves a megacorporation called the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) that is conducting teleportation experiments by use of gateways. An anomaly occurs during one of these experiments that leads to the creation of a gateway to Hell. Demons begin to pour out the gateway and kill all personnel on both research stations. The resulting chaos leaves Phobos in disarray and Deimos is left dangling directly above Hell.
You play as a nameless marine whose platoon is sent to the Phobos installation to investigate a distress signal. Once the platoon arrives your buddies tell the marine to wait outside as they explore the installation’s interior. However, your squad mates never return from their investigation so the Marine enters the installation only to discover the horrible truth: all your friends are dead and the Marine must now enter a fight for survival against Hell’s ravenous hordes.
Doom’s gameplay is pretty straightforward, your objective is to reach the exit of each level. Sounds simple, but it is easier said than done because each level in Doom is practically a maze that you must prudently navigate. Armies of monsters, environmental hazards, and plenty of locked doors requiring color coded key cards will all stand in your way of reaching the exit. Exploration is a huge part of Doom as each level is packed with plenty of secret rooms that hide nice little power ups. You also have access to an arsenal of weapons to reduce demons down to a gory red paste starting with your run-of-the-mill pistol all the way down to the super powerful BFG9000. Demons come in a variety of forms and they will attack you either by themselves or in large groups so you must always be on your guard in Doom.
Doom set a an unsurpassable standard for first-person shooters that was emulated with games like Duke Nukem 3D and Rise of the Triad. The game only got bigger with the release of its sequel Doom II in 1994. Doom II is practically identical to the original with the only exceptions being that there are now new levels, new monsters, and an amazingly effective weapon called the Super Shotgun. Doom II’s plot picks up right after Doom where the Marine, who has just finished destroying the last of Hell’s forces on Mars’ moons, must now stop any remaining demons from decimating Earth. After two successful Doom games and more mods that you can fire a shotgun at, the series experienced a long period of stagnation. It was not until the release of Doom 3 in 2004 that Doom finally came back into the mainstream. Doom 3 served as a reboot at the time of its release that retconned the first two Dooms and completely overhauled the series with a heavier focus on plot. I have never had a chance to play Doom 3, all I have heard is that is was very well-received by critics even though many were split about its departure from the classic run and gun formula of the first two. To the surprise everyone, the Doom series was once again thrown into a dormant state with no new material for over a decade. It was not until last year in 2016 that we finally got another Doom reboot for the PS4 and Xbox One. Unlike Doom 3, Doom (2016) takes full advantage of the fast-paced action of the originals. What is also nice about the reboot is that it incorporates features of modern first-person shooters like weapon and gear upgrades that only enhances the madness. If you want to know my full opinion on Doom (2016) check out my review for it here.
Despite the small number of main Doom entries, every game has left a positive impact on the gaming world. Part of what makes Doom a groundbreaking series in my eyes is its emphasis on simplicity. There is no convoluted plot to wrap your head around or droning cutscenes to sit through. Once you begin a new game you are thrown right into the action and in less than a minute you are already shredding up demons with a chainsaw. Simplicity has always been the essence of Doom so if you love shooting everything in sight and exploring vast levels then Doom is the perfect series of shooters for you. If I was to recommend any of the Doom games I would suggest playing the first two because they are two action-packed gorefests that you will never forget.
Source on Doom 4 information: Doom (2016) on Doom Wiki