Requiem for DOOM
In the cold December of 1993 id Software released Doom onto the general public. Gamers were suddenly engulfed by what at that time was considered to be amazing graphics, great immersion, fast and furious gameplay, awesome multiplayer, and even a high level of customizability. It was this game that revolutionized and popularized the first-person shooter genre and also spawned various “Doom-clones” during the mid-90s. But many years have passed and you may wonder: “How does this game hold up to today’s standards?”
The answer is: extremely well. Even now, Doom is still one of the most fun first-person shooters on the PC. The very simple gameplay is still a boatload of fun, and the atmosphere is still excellent. The graphics are ancient but they still hold up and do an adequate job of pulling you into the game’s world. An extra bonus is that the modding community of Doom is still very active and is continuing to make innovations in mapmaking and other things that can be done with the id Tech engine. But let us lean towards a specific version, that being Ultimate Doom. It is Doom with the 1.9 patch and a new, original, and challenging episode named Thy Flesh Consumed.
The plot and the storyline are very simple. You are an unnamed space marine sent to investigate Phobos after experiments by the Union Aerospace Corporation go wrong and demons suddenly pour out, overwhelming and even infecting the UAC personnel. You are alone and armed with only a pistol and 50 bullets. Your mission is to survive the entire onslaught of demons and try to prevent them from invading Earth.
You must fight through Phobos, then to Deimos, then to Hell. It’s a simple enough plot, but it’s not the story that really shines. Gameplay is what really shines the most in Doom. You might wonder… “How is Doom different from every other shooting game today? It’s just shooting, kill, shooting, kill.” Well… take a generic shooter. Add weapons with different uses. Then design monsters that pose different threats to the player. Spice it up with great levels. Create an interesting atmosphere. And then serve. Doom’s action is fast and flowing. There’s almost never a dull moment, even if it’s just shooting at monsters over and over again.
Part of why it is still so good is because of the way the weapons, monsters, levels, and powerups were made. All weapons and powerups are useful in many different situations. The monsters are varied and each one of them has a role to play. The levels are well-designed and they use the resources they have very well. In fact, the great level design pretty much gives the game a fair level of challenge on any skill level, even on the hardest difficulty setting. Graphically, the game holds up admirably. Despite the age, it’s still quite the
looker in some areas. Every texture is natural and has a purpose. The architecture is simple enough to be non-obtrusive to gameplay and complex enough to give you a sense of atmosphere and immersion. The lighting is excellent, especially because of the way it is used, it adds a lot to the horror and tension of fighting the hellspawn.
Sound-wise, it’s great. The sound effects are decent, though I think that the PSX version of Doom has the better samples. However, the music is of another level, another dimension even. It’s only MIDI, but it’s one of the best MIDI compositions ever. Even now the music is awesome and really adds to the game. In fact, the music is so awesome that you may just find yourself listening to the MIDIs more often than you normally would for any other game.
Overall, The Ultimate Doom is a really solid package. It may be a simple shooter, but it doesn’t feel bland or generic. Rather it feels fun, tense, and even scary, all because of the other elements that support the game. If you wondered why first-person shooter games have become so good today, turn your eyes to Doom. It is an amazing standard-bearer for first-person shooters all over the world. If you haven’t played it yet, well don’t just stand there. Do it!