Monday, 2 September 2013

Doom



The doors are locked, you’re down to 12 health points, demons are approaching from the rear, the lights have failed, your shotgun is down to its last round and there’s an army to slaughter ahead of you. Make your choice wisely or meet your DooM.

Yes, Doom. A very key and prominent component in the machine of pushing to the forefront the First Person Shooter genre of gaming, while Doom itself is very similar to Doom2, I’ll be focusing on the first game for this particular review as the two have some very large differences that almost make them completely different games from each other. I’ll explain that a little better during this review.

Doom. Bow down and worship it for the Grand Father figure that it is, Wolfenstein 3D could be the Great Granddaddy but Doom is the more widely recognised forerunner on this genre. While other systems might recognise Encounter, Marathon, Dungeons of Doom (no relation), Doom has been the more successful and iconic game for many reasons. (Don’t talk to me about Doom 3... that’s for another day).

Doom, has a very simple premise and get go for a game. You’re a marine. The end.

I joke.

You’re stationed on a moon base while covering for secret lab stuff involving teleportation. They open the teleport, it works, great celebrating. That would make for a royally shitty game but then it all starts going wrong with the teleporters from the moon to mars. Things start to come back through the teleports and a whole lot of skullfuckery happens. The marines go in and you’re sat on your arse while they get ripped, slashed, chewed, munching and generally hurt to death in the way a trained army usually does and you’re left all on your lonesome.

50 rounds in the pistol and that’s it. Go save the day, Hero. To which you’ll do this by running through 3 (or 4 if you have Ultimate Doom which wasn’t the last doom, that’s Final Doom and even then it’s Doom 2 but enough of that complex mindscrew) episodes of 9 levels (8 and a bonus) filled with corridors, darkness, keys, switches, traps, monsters, monsters, monsters and monsters, with some monsters for bonus and then a monster or two.

At the end of each chapter is a Boss setup where you’ll need to kill the key monster(s) to progress and claim to have beaten the game. But what monsters have we got? Some of the infamous in video gaming history ranging from zombies with pistols and shotguns to imps that throw fireballs, flaming spectral skulls that just ram you repeatedly, huge bloated tomato gasbags that belch plasma at you, large bipedal shaved demonic mouths on legs. Barons of Hell that serve as the first boss(es) and later as a significant obstacle in later chapters, the infamous Cyber demon with its obnoxiously huge health and infinite supply of rockets it’ll pump down your throat faster than a teenager watching the scrambled porn channel before the teaser time is up. A huge spider/brain monstrosity with a Gatling gun on robotic legs as the final boss, all await the player during the course of the game.

And some of the demons are invisible.

Yes it’s all coming from Hell. So the religious right should stop reading or keep reading and then play to kill the demons they will come for them at the day of judgement. To defend yourself you’ve an array of weapons and power ups. Health boosters, radiation suits (some of those areas are flooded with nuked liquid), invisibility, armour, light amplification goggles, berserker packs (for punching things REALLY hard in the face for splatification), for one. Shotguns, chainguns, rocket launchers, plasma guns and the all powerful Big Fraggin’ Gun 9000 series, the staple for Big Gun standards and thankfully, not a weapon your opponents have.

Now this is a game that didn’t use mouse aiming, the guns automatically aim up or down as long as you see the opponent but left/right aiming is done by you. Mods... can change that and I’ll talk in a moment on that one. Most of the game can be defeated by simply standing in a room and firing until everything is dead without moving on the easier levels (with double ammo by the way). It’s not until the first boss and absolutely by the Cyber demon that you will have to learn the key movement principle that almost every FPS has ever had since Doom, strafing. Once you learn how to sidestep, you can get through most of the game entirely unscathed as enemies are 100% accurate save for the zombies, or if you’re invisible. You will eventually know that when you see something shoot at you, it WILL hit unless you move or are partially in cover.

Having said this, I’m making the game sound like a roaring rampage of destruction and vengeance. It is not. Doom is the more atmospheric of the games between itself and Doom 2. On the higher difficulties there is definitely more enemies and the fights get more frantic with tactical use of explosives to help thin out numbers. But you’ll wandering dark corridors, avoiding crushing ceilings, hunting down the noises of demons wandering the levels while they seek you. At times the game feels almost claustrophobic with the dark closeness of the levels while being attacked at close range and short range.

The limitations of the engine do keep snapping the player back at times from the possible emersion of the game. Some levels are very well designed and certainly give the illusion of complex military bases, science labs and warehouses. But the engine has this little restriction of every wall being flat and straight up/down. Each section of any map has a floor and roof and nothing between it. Yet while modern shooters make for more complicated levels with 3D mapping and polygons, Doom‘s style leaves the players experiencing an almost comic like horror experience, some areas are dark and moody but the monsters are cartoony in their own regard.

On its own, Doom is a very solid, very polished and well designed game that while lacking some of the features synonymous with today’s modern games (and in many cases NOT, thankfully...damn cut scenes...), remains as a standard for games being made today of the First Person Shooter genre.

But we’re just scratching the surface. The online scene has made doom one of the most modded games of all time and the creativity behind it has been incredible to behold. From mods that change the appearance of the game i.e. having all of a cartoon series as characters in the game rather than the monsters, to new monsters being made, to new weapons and levels being designed. The online competitions have hosted servers for FAR more players than the usual game allowed, speed increased/decreased, gravity for jumping (not featured in the main game) crouching, melee combos and gory deaths and fatalities. New music, remixed music, single level madness, whole 32 map packs, co-operative bullet hells, 2D platformers, VoIP mods, MP3 Players, remote access viewers, total conversions to other games and engines and I’m barely even touching the surface at this list.

A lot of the doom mods are very quick and easy to install and can add a great longevity to a game that has been around for a long time already and given the violent nature of the game, there’s plenty there to keep fans coming back for a LOT more.