Doom is a first-person shooter developed by Id Software for MS DOS. It’s one of the most popular and important first-person shooters out there. I doubt you’ve never heard of it. It has been ported tons of times, played on many devices, and still seems to stand the test of time. It wasn’t the first first-person shooter, but it’s definitely one of the first ones to come to mind when you think of the genre. So what is it about this game that makes it so damn appealing?
Well, there’s probably a more detailed plot than I’m aware of… but I don’t have the manual. In fact, I just have the game digitally on Steam through the Doom 3: BFG Edition version, so I apologize for any inconsistencies. However, as I understand it, the main plot is basically that you’re trying to find out what happened on a base on… I want to say Mars. You’re investigating what happened to everyone when you come across strange aliens and zombified men. It’s not long before you find yourself assaulted and killed, sent directly to Hell itself, but you’re not going down without a fight. You battle your way through Hell and get revenge on the wicked demons that decided to ruin your day. But hey, who needs plot when the action is this good?
The gameplay is pretty simple stuff, as you might expect from an early first-person shooter. You can move forward and backward, turn left and right, and even strafe left and right. There’s a sprinting button, the ability to toggle through your weapons or select them with hotkeys, an action button for opening doors and hitting switches, and of course there’s a firing button. You can toggle your map on and off as well to help find doors, switches, and secrets. You’ll generally go through labyrinthine levels as you pick up a variety of weapons to gun down an array of demons in your path. You’ll often find colored keys to open correspondingly colored doors. There are sometimes certain switches or buttons that need to be pressed in order to unlock more areas as well. Every now and then you’ll be locked into a room and forced to fight off a group of enemies in order to proceed. You can also pick up health, armor, and other bonus powerups like temporary invisibility or invulnerability. At the end of each level you’ll get to see a percentage of how many enemies you killed, how many items you collected, and how many secrets you found along with how long it took you to beat the level compared to the par time for said level. The original game consisted of three main episodes containing eight levels each. A fourth episode was added later. There are also secret levels to find as well as some secret areas within levels that can yield some nice rewards. At the end of each episode you’ll be treated to a special picture and a passage of text explaining the situation.
I think a lot of the charm of this game, along with its timelessness, comes from its simplicity. There aren’t tons of controls and techniques to master. You run around, pick up guns, and shoot monsters. Though I DO really like how not only can you sneak up on monsters, but you can also get them to fight each other by luring one into another’s attacks. A lot of the levels are set up in interesting ways, but they’re still pretty easy to navigate and understand. Plus, while they have a general theme, the levels don’t seem too caught up in focusing on set pieces or anything. There are no cutscenes or drawn out story moments. It’s all about the action. The auto-aim makes up for the lack of looking up or down. This not only makes the game easier to play, but also decreases the chance of motion sickness from the 3D first-person perspective. The ease of use also makes it more accessible for kids. This goes for the visual design as well. The vibrant blues, reds, greens, and yellows really pop and make the game catch the eye. So the simple gameplay and cool concept of blasting your way through Hell make for quite and appealing experience. It also has varying difficulty levels for all ages and degrees of gamers. I personally play on the easiest because… I suck at games. And yet I STILL have a great time with it. Not to mention there are some rockin’ midi tunes in the background to really get you pumped up for the action. It’s no wonder why it’s still a big deal to this day… but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
I can understand that not everyone is as forgiving of pixelated graphics as others. You may find the presentation to be too dated for your liking. You might also find the controls limiting as well. Auto-aim makes it feel a little cheap at times, not requiring much of your aiming skills other than facing the right way. Also, sometimes the game will automatically aim at an enemy generally in front of you rather than the other one that you actually want to hit that’s also generally in front of you. There are some platforming parts of the game, but you can’t jump. So it usually involves running and falling onto other platforms, which is difficult to judge sometimes, especially without being able to look down to see where you’ll be landing. And while the secrets are nice, some of them are overly difficult to find for their underwhelming rewards. Then again, perhaps they’re much more useful on higher difficulties where your supplies run lower. Other than that, all I could really ask for is that they put something in the start of the game to explain the main plot before you start. Something like a simple paragraph of text as they use at the end of the episodes would suffice.
So you can see why Doom is so influential and important. It was one of the most played first-person shooters of its time and paved the way for many others to come, going so far as to give many the term “Doom clone” as a result. The tight gameplay, great presentation, and large availability has turned this game into an immortal classic. Pick it up. Honestly, if you’re into first-person shooters, especially retro styled ones, then you absolutely must play Doom. And since it’s on everything, you have no excuse. I wish I hadn’t waited so many years to play it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. It’s a true masterpiece. Then again, I’m sure you didn’t need ME to tell you that Doom is awesome, but maybe this’ll reassure you and motivate you to finally get it and play it. Are you a bad enough dude to fight your way through Hell?