Retro Game Review- Doom & Doom II
System: PC (ports were made for Doom to most mid 90s generation consoles- Sega 32x, SNES, Jaguar, 3D0, Xbox, Playstation, Sega Saturn, Gameboy Advanced, Mac)
Game Summary: Doom and Doom II were the foundation forefathers of today’s modern FPS Shooters. While games like “Wolfenstien 3D” and “Blake Stone” were pushing the original gaming standards and subsequently setting us up for a future of gore-filled explosive action-packed arena shooters and corridor crawlers. Doom, itself, was originally going to be a 4 character realm crawler based on the ideas of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. With the creative minds of John D. Carmack and John Romero working on the project it would propel PC games into headline news with the violence and satanic depictions in DooM and it’s sequel. While we could fill this summary with the same boring by-the-numbers content from Wikipedia I’ve decided (as the author) to give you a more personal take on the game from the perspective of an 8 year old who got his hands on the game at an early age…
It all started at an Office Depot in 1993. My parents were shopping for a printer for the family business. I was walking past a teenage employee that was playing a game like I’ve never seen before. To me it was “Realistic”. The only games I had played was Commander Keen, Duke Nukem, Monster Mash, Mario Brothers, Minesweeper, Ski Free and a slew of simple cartoony sprite based games. This game was visceral and fast paced. The guy looked over and said “Oh, hey kid, go ahead.” and stepped away from the display PC. Looking back I realize he could have been fired for playing games on the job but by introducing the product to the customer ultimately he could claim he was “Showing off the system”. I played for a good 15 minutes before I was picked up and whisked back home. My console games were never the same. I felt empty..
A year later my uncle (may he rest in peace) gave me a copy of the game around my 9th birthday which was a hand-me-down but I didn’t complain. Installed it on the family computer at home and played when no one was around. I memorized every map in all the episodes like the back of my hand. Blasting demons away and strafing. Trudging through Hell and it’s denizens with a Shotgun, chainsaw and a plasma rifle for good measure (I forgot all about the handgun and chaingun through most of the levels). At age 10 I picked up Doom II at a Garage Sale and like a delicious fudge frosted chocolate cake it consumed my life until I had beaten it. To give a rough Summary of the story-line:
You get to Phobos, Demon attack apparent, wipe them out, go to Hell, escape only to find Hell came to Earth, kick them back to the place they came from, kill the bossdemon, stay there to make them pay for killing your pet bunny.
There have been memes of that to a great extent. One of the designers had been caught saying “Games are like porn and a Plot makes them boring.” but that was for the early 90s when limitations of hardware and cut-scenes were limited to a screen-wide dialog box to give some narration. It was the sort of “Man versus the Devil” story and a bit of “We made portals, we invited them, they came…” sort of feel. They even released novels which were subsequently made non-canon and a comic book that was more of a fever dream inspired riot rather than something informative. Doom was a phenomena for it’s time. Over the years the lore changed little, new iterations were born: Doom 64, Doom 3, DooM 2016 and even Doom RPG for cell phones. It all hearkens back to the room with the pillars, the weird blue floor, and the room off to the left with the guys who open fire without question and some armor up on a platform just beyond them.
Graphics: Compared to today’s modern standards Doom has aged a little but not excessively. When it was the newest software to hit the home computers through Dos and Windows 3.1 it was pretty much the magnum opus of that year for PC releases. Gore, explosions, creepy monsters, thematic atmosphere and even depth through your field of vision was spot on. Moonbases to Hellscapes in most cases and it fit the bill through the original episodes and Doom II. The console ports and sequels beyond that were their own creatures.
Music: At the time: slow, methodical, midi compositions were set to the varying levels throughout Doom. Some were dark, some were more power metal, some simply fit the atmosphere. The sound design, while simple, also contributed greatly to the game with obvious influence from bands like Metallica, Slayer and Pantera contributing to the mood with the music and the growls of the demons from below. You could hear monsters growling in the next room and the audio cues from attacks gave you a heads up on what to prepare for or how to mitigate the incoming damage.
Replay: Doom had a slew of difficulties. From “I’m too young to die (Very Easy)” to “NIGHTMARE (Insane difficulty)” with monster density, health, and various little tweaks like “Monster Respawn” and “Fast Monsters” which adds a whole new level of tactic and complexity to gameplay. Not to mention the Multiplayer part of Doom over classic LAN/Ip connections where you could play deathmatch or Co-op with your friends which pretty much BEGAN what E-sports are today. That’s right, kiddies, if it wasn’t for Uncle Doom you’d not be able to run around dystopian future battlegrounds and pop each-other in the face with digitally created Airsoft Rifles.
In the End: Doom is a giant of a creature today. While most people’s first foray into Doom was Doom 3 and 2016’s DooM modern incarnation there is a massive mod community for the original 2 games and dozens of active players at any given time across almost a hundred or more servers. Doom and Doom II are a must play for ANY gamer. If all you can get is a port or a copy off E-bay that’s fine but it is up on Steam and a few other direct download platforms. Get to your roots, play doom, RIP AND TEAR!
Mod community footage coming soon…