Twenty one years and three days ago, a little game named Doom was released. This ambitious spiritual successor to Wolfenstein 3D took everything the World War II first person shooter did right and did it better. Doom is truly a masterpiece of a game, and is the standard I hold other shooters to. If you’re regularly reading this series, then there’s a chance that you probably already know what Doom is and why it’s so great, but for the few of you who don’t, please allow me to give a quick rundown on why Doom is the best thing since sliced bread. Or arguably better.
Doom has basically no plot to speak of. There are demons on the moon of Mars. Doomguy doesn’t want any demons on the moon of Mars. Doomguy kills the demons. It’s as simple as that, and it’s honestly all the game needs. The rest of the story is told through level design and atmosphere, as the farther you get in the game the deeper you descend into Hell. Atmospheres are oppressive, with some dark corridors, satanic symbols, and blood staining walls left and right. It does a really good job of getting you into the game’s mood, which is to say metal album covers meet a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
However, everyone knows gameplay is at the heart of Doom. Doom’s gameplay is a FPS in its most pure, refined state. You have lots of enemies to kill in mazelike environments with a handful of unique weapons good for different scenarios. The easiest place to start with the gameplay is obviously the shooting, which is normally locked to a X axis. However, if that’s not really your thing, you can easily switch the shooting over to full X and Y aiming.
The game doesn’t have many weapons, but that’s its beauty. It really doesn’t need any more. The weapons are superbly balanced, not only giving players a sense of progression as the game goes on, but also having early game weapons like the shotgun still be useful for late game encounters. Enemies are rather varied as well, with a handful of hit-scan enemies along with more interesting foes like the melee-focused pinky demons or the rocket-shooting, agitating skeletons known as the revanants.
The music is extremely catchy and fitting for the game, as well as having some of the most iconic video game tracks out there. If you need further proof that the game’s soundtrack lives on, just look at the hundreds of metal covers on YouTube. The overall sound is great as well, with some wonderful grunts of pain from enemies and satisfying sound effects to go with each weapon. Even if you’ve never played Doom, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard the Imp’s cry of death and the doors opening before, as those two noises tend to get reused in games, movie, and TV.
So is Doom worth playing? I think the answer should be obvious by now. While Doom’s been played by everyone and their mother already, I do believe that it’s always worth going back to every once and awhile to see what really kicked the genre off. I hate to sound like a grumpy old man telling kids how much better shooting games were back in the day, but Doom really is an experience few games have even come close to capturing.
So, this is to Doom and the genre it helped build. Without it, I doubt I’d be writing these weekly pieces. It’s revolutionary, it’s atmospheric, it’s got one of the most active modding communities, it’s fun, and overall, I can easily say it’s one of my favorite first person shooters of all time.