I'll admit right now that I'm not going into this one even slightly blind and I doubt I'll be able to think of anything worthwhile to say about the game that you haven't heard a thousand times already, but it's not like I've ever let that stop me before. There's a Doom shaped hole in my website and that needs fixing.
The scientists at the base had been experimenting with portal technology and it seems that they may have accidentally opened up a gateway to hell itself. Well it was either going to be that, a resonance cascade leaving them open to alien invasion, or the base computer going mad and killing them all with nerve gas I guess. I gotta give them kudos though for having the sense to do these experiments 140 million miles away from the rest of humanity.
- The game engine is far more advanced than Wolfenstein 3-D's tech, with different floor levels, angled walls, textured ceilings, shaded sectors, and the ability to show some mountains out of the window.
- The science team in this base are assholes.
This is the sneaky change I mentioned earlier, as the door was added for Ultimate Doom to presumably make it a better deathmatch level.
Wait, this is a door to outside? Have these people not heard of airlocks? I know it looks like quite a reasonably nice day outside, but Phobos has a radius of just 7 miles, so you can imagine just how much of an atmosphere there's going to be out there. It's damn lucky I have a helmet on really.
There's no tutorial text necessary for this lesson: my enemies have been practically lined up in my sights for me, and the incoming fire lets me know they're not friendly. Sadly there's no opportunity for one-shot head-shot kills in Doom (or even the ability to look up towards their heads), but couple of bullets in their general direction is enough to put them out of my misery regardless.
The Sega 32X version you're looking at here was the first console port of the game released (narrowly beating the Atari Jaguar version) and it seems to look, sound and play a whole lot like Doom to me. Well okay the Genesis/Mega Drive's FM synth chip doesn't exactly do the soundtrack justice but at least it actually has music, which is more than the Jaguar game can claim.
|'Doom' (ZX Spectrum)|
One thing both the 32X and Jaguar have in common though, is that neither has shoulder buttons on their controller, so they have to make do with a push to strafe button. Which is a pain in the ass to be honest.
(I did finish the game in co-op once though, so +50,000 points to Doom for letting me say that.)
I was actually planning to get a shot of me heroically dodging that imp's fireball attack at the last second, to demonstrate how incredibly easy it is to do (when you have dedicated strafe buttons that is, like the DOS game does). But the imp went and screwed that up for me when he antagonised the zombie nearby. Now the two of them are fighting each other and totally ignoring me.
Incidentally a few of the console ports are missing this monster infighting feature, simply because they're missing the frames needed for enemy sprites to turn away from the player.
Actually I'm not going to leave just yet, as just entering this part of the base was enough to open up that room that the imp was shooting me from a few seconds ago.
Oh right, this shot is from the PlayStation version by the way. Like the other ports it's very much like DOS Doom with slightly simplified levels, except this time the world is glowing with that coloured lighting effect that was all the rage at the time and the metal soundtrack has been replaced with dark atmospheric tunes. Oh plus the opening title music sounds like it's trying to be the 1989 Batman movie theme.
This is one of the faster ports, the controller suits it well, and it doesn't even have the PlayStation's typical texture warping because it's not rendering polygons, so thumbs up for this one.
The PlayStation version also includes the entire second game on the disk, and Doomguy does have his Doom 2: Hell on Earth haircut in this art, so perhaps this is actually meant to be taking place amongst the purple mountains of Earth. Not that it makes much difference, as he wears the same space marine gear in-game in the sequel too. They should have totally put this outfit that in the game as an optional multiplayer costume though.
|Doom 0.4 Alpha|
Though they'd apparently changed their mind by the time they made Doom 3.
|Doom 3: BFG Edition (PC)|
Hang on, there's something bothering me about this screenshot. There's something not quite right with what I'm looking at here, but I can't quite pinpoint it.
For the new version of Doom included with Doom 3: BFG Edition the developers made a subtle tweak to the art, replacing the traditional video game red cross health symbol on the medikits with a red and white medicine pill symbol due to complaints from the Red Cross. Which kinda sucks.
This seems like a good time to mention that the game has health pick-ups instead of regenerating health. Honestly I like either system if it's done well and Doom gets it totally right, with health potions scattered around everywhere like coins in a Mario game and medikits and supercharges as a reward for finding secrets. The gameplay is absolutely not diminished when the player is low on health and creeping around desperately trying to find more.
Holy shit, the par time is 30 seconds? Well I find it hard to care about level records in a game without a level select, so I'm going to go and be extra slow on the next stage just to spite them. Actually the next level's set in a nuclear plant so that's probably not the best idea.
E1M2: NUCLEAR PLANT.
Oh look at that in the background on the left, it's a red key card door! Annoyingly it's not marked on the automap so I'll have to remember where it is for later.
This is the Super Nintendo version of the game by the way, powered by the mighty Super FX 2 chip and... well the music's pretty decent at least. The game is authentically recognisably Doom, with more accurate wall textures and levels than some of the other ports, but it has no floor or ceiling textures and it doesn't exactly run at a blazing frame rate. There's even a noticeable delay between pulling the trigger and watching the gun fire. This is pushing the SNES way out of its comfort zone though and I'm impressed they got as much as they did out of it.
Though giving me separate strafe buttons and still not letting me turn and strafe at the same time is unforgivable.
Oh and look, there's that key I was looking for, just sitting on the floor in all the filth. Well if it wasn't a red key before it definitely is now that it's been showered with zombie goop.
|Game Boy Advance|
Also interestingly, the game has a GBA port! Is there anything that wasn't eventually ported to this system? You can even get Max Payne on it. To be honest, despite the apparently low effort HUD, this seems like a solid port. It's fast, it's got the floor and ceiling textures and it even lets me strafe and turn at the same time, giving it a big advantage over the SNES, Jaguar and 32X versions.
In fact the biggest problem I had with it is that I kept accidentally switching weapons because the developers were forced to stick multiple actions on the same few buttons.
Nope, you just shoot it and it opens. Man I feel dumb.
Incidentally you might be wondering why there's a giant chainsaw sitting on a twelve foot high column surrounded by an acid pit inside a hidden room in a nuclear plant in a secret portal research base orbiting Mars, and the answer is actually fairly obvious when you think about it.
Don't worry, it's for his own good; no man should be forced to live with green eyebrows. Plus observe that he is unable to fight back when there is a chainsaw blade lodged in his abdomen; this also applies to my other attacks and it a pretty handy thing to keep in mind if I ever find myself in possession of a chaingun while locked in a room full of enemies scheming to end me.
Oh by the way, see that big rifle he's holding? I can never have one of my own. I can grab the shotguns from shotgun zombies, but never the rifles. It's so distressingly inconsistent. Then again if it let me carry just one extra weapon then there wouldn't be enough space to write "ARMS" underneath the numbers anymore and that'd ruin the whole HUD bar.
|Doom 3: Limited Collector's Edition (Xbox)|
Doom 3 on the Xbox does not include a bonus copy of Doom 1 and 2, but the Limited Collector's Edition shown here does. Fortunately for Xbox owners who aren't Limited Collectors, the games are also on the Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil expansion pack disc, along with Master Levels.
Xbox Doom is pretty much just the PC game, but with the wondrous inclusion of split screen local co-op and multiplayer, and it plays like a dream with dual analogue sticks.
|Doom 0.2 Alpha|
The sandwich never made it into the final build either.
E1M3: TOXIN REFINERY.
Anyway this wall on the left drops down when I walk across a pressure plate in the corridor behind me. But it doesn't stay down for long so I've got to run for it.
The secret wall led to a secret passage which got me a secret supercharge power-up, but that wasn't the end of it. After grabbing the power-up, I walked back outside to this area and noticed that lowering the wall again to get out had opened up another wall across the room from me.
Oh by the way, this is what the 3DO version looks like, as I don't think I've shown this one yet. It basically has to run at that screen size just to get a decent frame rate out of it. I think this shows off very clearly why the fifth console generation had such a false start, when next-gen machines like the 3DO and Jaguar didn't even have the power under the hood to comfortably play a PC game released a couple of months earlier. No one could have known where games would go from the SNES era, but they took a gamble and they guessed wrong.
The 3DO port's soundtrack on the other hand is kind of awesome. Here, check out its version of the E1M1 theme on youtube and see what you think.
|Doom 64 (N64)|
They should have released this on PC and called it Doom 3, because this is actually pretty good.
I was thinking of showing off the monster closet immediately following this that opens up when you grab the blue key, but the lights go off as well so there's not much to see. It's the game's favourite trick to sneakily open up walls behind you and unleash hordes of enemies on your ass. It's not so bad when there's nothing else going on and I can hear them growling behind me, but when I'm already fighting a group of enemies and I'd very much like to step backwards to avoid a shotgun blast to the gut, it's not much fun to find they've secretly installed a wall of demons behind me.
Most versions of the game restart you back at the beginning of the level armed with just a pistol if you're killed, but the SNES version is nice enough to let you restart with the gear you had. Personally I prefer the PC version's quick saves though, as I've never been a huge fan of needlessly repeating content I've already beaten, especially when the game kills me off for falling off walkway near the end of a map.
E1M4: COMMAND CONTROL.
I'm sorry you can't actually see what's shooting me on this screenshot, but to be fair I can't either. I'm unloading the last of my ammo on any flickery pixel in the background.
I found this map fairly easy to get through on the DOS version on default difficulty (I didn't even need my quick saves), but incredibly frustrating on this, to the point where I decided I'd had enough here and turned it off. If I wanted to get sniped at by barely visible figures in the distance I'd have played a recent Call of Duty-type of shooter.
E1M5: PHOBOS LAB.
E1M8: PHOBOS ANOMALY.
Honestly with circle strafing and rockets these things basically become slightly tougher versions of an imp, going down in just five hits each without even being able to touch me.
And then the level opens up to reveal a teleporter platform painted with a troubling illustration of a pentagram. I'm 95% certain it's not going to take me anywhere even near Disneyland, but there's no exit switch around and I'm not exactly blessed with an over-abundance of choice here.
Well crap, it turns out that the entire moon of Deimos was dragged into hell due to portal antics and that's why demons keep leaking out of the gateways. So the good news is that we've solved that mystery now and we can be pretty sure there are no survivors, so our job here is done and we can go home. But the bad news is that poor Doomguy is now literally trapped in hell and I've been kicked back to the title screen. I knew I should have just waited back in E1M1 for a pick up.
Still reading? Here, you've earned a link to the 3DO's version of the E2M1 theme to help get you through the last few paragraphs.
So what do I think about Doom then, now that I'm revisiting it at a time so far into the future that Daikatana, Prey and Duke Nukem Forever have all finally been released? Well I still wasn't sure to be honest, so I continued playing it a bit longer, through tougher levels that I wasn't so familiar with, where I didn't know all the secrets, and I have come to the conclusion that this is a good game. It's a bit of a controversial opinion I know, but that's just how I feel about it.
You're not outwitting foes in Doom, you're evading swarms of fireballs while trying not to walk backwards into a pinky demon, and it tests your reactions more than your aiming skills. Combat is all about mobility and making sure you're never pinned in, facing down predictable threats from unexpected directions. But the game is as much about exploring complicated complexes as it is gunning down ridiculous numbers of enemies, with the maps continually twisting around on themselves and bringing you back to places you've already been. The limited resources give you a good motivation to go off the obvious track and as you're hunting down health and shiny new guns instead of just grabbing Hidden Intel File 2 (of 5), you tend to appreciate the rewards you eventually earn for your initiative a whole lot more.
Doom wasn't the first FPS, or even the first with a deathmatch mode, or textured walls, or multiple floor levels etc. Okay it's the earliest first person shooter I can think of to have proper strafing, but it doesn't seem like the developers quite realised what they had there. So it didn't really invent the genre, but it refined it and then defined it, and after this came out there was a good reason that nobody called them Wolfenstein clones anymore.
Congratulations, you now possibly know something new about Doom, even if it's just that I like it a lot. But I'll have no clue what you people think of the game (or my article) unless you leave me a comment. Hint hint.