Doom isn’t just a game for me; it’s an experience that has lodged itself deep into the recesses of my mind. I still remember the first time I started playing it, all these years ago. The only FPSs I had played previously were Wolfenstein 3D and some other shareware FPS that looked similar to Wolfenstein. And then a friend showed me Doom. I was flabbergasted. Incredibly intense, fast paced gameplay, violence en masse, gory graphics, wide open vistas that seemed to allow a look directly into hell and a level architecture with big halls and dark,twisted corridors with flickering lights. It was a mind-blowing experience.
Yes, compared to what you can see today in some FPSs it’s hard to believe that something like Doom could have that effect. But it was a real quantum leap. It wasn’t just the next step in the evolution of FPSs, at least it didn’t felt like that, more like the ID guys had omitted some steps on the way and created technology that was decades ahead. At that time my conception of what games could be was too limited to imagine something like Doom and when I played it I felt like stretching my mind, slowly adapting to what could be. I can’t remember any other game ever having such an impact on me, although some of my other early gaming experiences on the SNES came close.
Still, I do wonder how younger people will react to the game. The gameplay itself can become pretty boring if you expect a narrative-driven game, which Doom is everything but. It’s all about shooting demons and finding the keys to open the doors to get to next level. Not very sophisticated compared to modern shooters, but it’s still fun today. And the art direction is still pretty much unrivaled.
The Ultimate Doom (1995)
This retail store version of Doom added a fourth episode, Thy Flesh Consumed, to the first three episodes. While I loved the first three, I’m not a fan of the fourth one. The difficulty is much higher, but the fast and intense gameplay is slowed down to a crawl by too much searching for hidden walls and the door keys. Unlike in previous episodes it’s far easier to fall into lava or acid without getting out again. There aren’t any new monsters; it’s only more of them. There are a few well done levels, among them the last one, but overall it’s more harrowing and less entertaining to get through all of them.