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Written by  :  Jeremy Johnson (769)
Written on  :  Sep 20, 2007
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Oh hell yeah.

The Good

Ah, Doom. I think everyone on the planet knows about this game already - in that sense its sort of like Super Mario Bros., except with 12 gauge shotguns, high-powered energy weapons and unlimited numbers of hellspawn. But yeah, in terms of popularity, it's like SMB. In a more personal sense, Doom is also the only game I have ever played that caused me to have a major physical reaction (ie: more physical than jumping out of my chair) while playing it. And it is also the very first game that made me have a major mental reaction; it was way too dark to see in most of the areas in the game (primarily because I had a rubbish monitor which was as dark as a black hole on its brightest setting), so I was afraid to play the game. The only way I felt comfortable progressing was using IDBEHOLD and choosing the light goggles. Of course, that was when I was ten-years old, don't do that anymore.

Anyway, let's get down to business.

Since Doom doesn't have much of a plot (kill demons and exit the level), I'll just skip right along to the technical aspects. First, the graphics. The graphics were revolutionary in 1993-94. There was nothing else on the market that could compete with Doom in terms of "realtime" graphics. Yeah, there were the FMV games like Myst and Rebel Assault, but those were glorified point-and-click affairs. But Doom had the fastest and best looking game engine available, a situation that persisted until well into 1996. The visuals themselves where excellent, especially in the areas where the ID guys took their time and put some extra detail into the game. All of Episode I or E2M7, for example, still sends chills into my spine even in a day and age with real-time bump mapping, sophisticated particle effects and antialising.

The sound system is also the subject of heavy work. While not quite as innovative as the graphics and the game engine, every sound for every monster or object has been perfectly picked and mastered. The music also - in the MIDI style, at any rate - is phenomenal, ranging from blaring rock to slow apocalyptic movements.

The control system is as simple as it gets for an FPS. Use the arrow keys to move around, Control to fire and Space to open doors. Not much different than what games use these days, except now you have mouselook and you use WASD instead of the arrow keys. Either way, it works.

Gameplay is excellent. The combat is fast and furious, and you can get quickly overwhelmed with scores of enemies attacking you at once on the higher difficulty levels. But the in-game save system is, as always, eminently helpful and even with saves it never really gets too overwhelming.

The Bad

To quote PC Gamer UK's final assessment of Theme Park from June of 1994: "You'll die someday and won't be able to play it anymore".

OK, its not that good (both in regards to Theme Park and Doom), but it's pretty close in Doom's neck of the woods. Still, some areas of the game just don't seem to have had much work put into them. I am not sure if it is E2M4 or E2M5, but there is one level midway through Episode II where there are a lot of technical textures and a river of poisonous waste. Now, while a good portion of that level is just fine, there are also instances of pedestrian level design to be found in that map as well. Interesting architecture can really go a long way in improving the enjoyment of the game, so levels where said architecture is lacking can feel like real slogs.

In addition, the game just gets repetitive by Episode III and you start to want it to end. You can only stand wasting three thousand imps before the whole process gets a bit dull and tedious.

The Bottom Line

Instead of asking people to get this game, I would elect to ask prospective buyers of Doom why they don't already own it. Whether you like Doom (or FPSs in general) or not, you simply are not a hardcore gamer until you have been baptized by the fire that is Episode I.

If you don't own Doom, you must get it and play it. Plain and simple.