Product Type: other PC games
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Doom - birthplace of the BFG
Ultimate Doom (PC)
Member Name: Retron
Ultimate Doom (PC)
Date: 31/07/01, updated on 31/07/01 (72 review reads)
Advantages: Superb atmosphere, Great level design, Large online community of fans
Disadvantages: Dated graphics
As any player of Quake 2 or 3 knows, the BFG is the biggest, most destructive weapon there is. But it all started nearly 8 years ago, in December 1993 - when Doom was released to an unsuspecting world.
ID had written plenty of games before - including the platform game series, Commander Keen, as well as Wolfenstien 3D, the direct predecessor of Doom. Indeed, the programmers had written 3D games before then, including the Catacomb series and Hovertank 3D. But it was Doom that catapulted ID into the limelight.
Doom places you in a futuristic setting, on the moons of Mars - which have become over-run with hellspawn. Your mission - to blast your way through each level, typically by collecting keys and pressing switches, while killing as many monsters as you can.
Doom's graphics are primitive (although you can get OpenGL 3D accelerated versions since ID released the source code), but the gameplay is still good - yes, it is repetitive and simplistic, but the overall theme is fast, frenetic; zooming along corridors, hearing faint animal like noises of monsters around you, wondering if you'll make it to the next health kit in time.....
Doom's atmosphere is what really makes it great for me. Running along dark corridors with monsters you can barely see at times is scary enough, without taking into account the exquisite level design. As Doom is really only a 2D game (no rooms-above-rooms, jumping or looking up and down in the original version), ID had to do marvels with the levels. There are classic traps (a key, glowing, all alone in an empty dark room. Pick it up and all Hell breaks loose), devious level designs (involving pseudo 3D bridges) and above all a coherent, consistent feel to everything. It really feels as if you're systematically working your way through various space bases, unlike say Doom 2, which is more of a collection of random levels.
All of the classic weapons are there to use - chaingun, chain
saw, shotgun, etc. (no double-barrelled shotgun, though, as that only appeared in Doom 2). Unlike today's games, the weapons don't have extra fire modes; Doom also auto-aims to compensate for not being able to look up or down, which means it's easier to kill enemies - to me, this adds to the fast-paced feel of the game. Add to this the fact that you don't need to use a mouse to look all around you, and you end up with a very fast paced game - Quake seems sluggish by comparison to what can be achieved by a competent Doomer.
Doom uses sprites, meaning that some levels have 15 or more monsters to a room - something that's not seen in games even now, due to the extra CPU power required for polygon clipping calculations.
A motley selection of power-ups is available, from soulspheres (which originally gave you an extra life - this was changed to an extra 100% health upon Doom's release) to armour and radiation shielding suits. The monsters are good, too, ranging from demonically possessed humans, to pink demons, floating tomato like monsters (Cacodemons), flying skulls (Lost souls) and the most famous of all, the rocket firing Cyberdemon. New monsters are introduced logically as you progress through the levels - note that Doom 2 includes (lots of) extra monsters not found in Doom itself.
The original 3 episodes of Doom are amongst the best levels in any game I've seen - the 'ultimate' part of the game's title refers to the inclusion of an extra mission. This extra episode adds 9 extra levels, which, while difficult, don't have the cohesive feel that the originals had - they feel more tacked on.
Doom was one of the first games (apart from Syndicate) to include network play over IPX - many hours have been wasted at companies all over the world due to people either playing co-operatively (working as a team to kill all the monsters) or in deathmatch (familiar to everyone as the kill everyone else type
of game). Other games such as capture-the-flag have been included in ports since then.
One of the main plus points of Doom is its expandability - there are literally thousands of extra levels out there, ranging from small deathmatch levels to complete replacements of all the levels and graphics. Since ID released the source code, ports of Doom have occurred for most systems from Psion palmtops to Sun minicomputers - people have added 3D acceleration (ZDoomGL), Internet play (csDoom) and a lot more.
There are lots of websites devoted to Doom - and with Doom III on the way, there's bound to be a small resurgence in interest for the game that most say started the 3D revolution. Grab the (9 level, 3rd of the game) demo to try it out for yourself!