Twenty years ago, Doom was released to the world. To celebrate, I reviewed it. Have fun.
There is a lot of debate over what the first “first-person shooter” video game ever created was. Some consider Wolfenstein 3D (1992) to be the first, some consider it Quake (1996), and in between the two– is Doom (1993). Wolfenstein was certainly a first-person game, and certainly a game with shooting, but is outdated and distanced from the actual FPS genre as it is known today. Doom built upon the basic bare mechanics of Wolfenstein, while adding plenty of new staples that still hold up today, establishing the genre. Before Doom, there was no variation in floor or ceiling height, floor or ceiling textures, or varied brightness in map sections. The differences between Wolfenstein 3D and Doom marked one of the biggest technological jumps in video gaming history. Doom was also the first game to feature LAN multiplayer deathmatch. Quake sprung even further with this, and revolutionized multiplayer in its own right. But it couldn’t have gotten there without the game-mechanic advancements of Doom, which would set the standard for every first-person game released after it in the following few years. And while the hype has died down, it has yet to die out. Now, over twenty years after its release, Doom continues to support a considerably large community of dedicated fans, still growing in size. Doom popularized custom user-made modifications with it’s simple WAD file format for game content. While not an official feature of the game, this accessibility spawned a community of thousands of hobbyists creating new textures, levels, music and sound, weapons, enemies, and more to this day. Due to the simplicity of modding, as well as the game’s source code release in 1997, the Doom community is continually active, becoming more and more intricate with the releases and continual updates of dozens of source ports. Doom is historically significant for what it did for first-person shooters, PC gaming, gamer culture, and video games as a whole. Although historical significance does not necessarily correlate with quality significance in any medium. Luckily for Doom, the connection is there.
Of course in comparisons of graphics, Doom is lacking to most anything released in the past ten years. Luckily, graphics are absolutely, objectively, unimportant– in any and every video game. Better-looking games aren’t necessarily better games. But eye-candy is appreciated in a medium so visual. Games SHOULD look good. But there’s no reason 2D sprites can’t compete with 3D models. If I had to rate Doom’s visuals on how three-dimensional they are, I’d give them a 0/10. (Doom is technically 2.5D.) This means nothing about the quality of the game’s aesthetic appeal– which is NOT so objective. Everyone will have their own opinions on which art styles are attractive and which ones are not. There is no such thing as objectively good graphics or objectively bad graphics. Doom’s graphics are repetitive, but consistent. Dark, but thematic. A little dated, but extremely nostalgic. There is nothing undisputedly good or bad about the graphics. Overall, they set the tone nicely and convey the gameplay in a way that fills the environment you are in clearly and crisply.
Doom’s sound and music can be very pleasing or very boring, each in different ways. To start, the in-game sounds are for the most part enjoyable. The guns’ sounds accurately communicate the behavior and power of each weapon. The enemy sounds are fitting and satisfying. The main problem with the sound would be lack of diversity. Not repetitiveness necessarily, but the similarity of many differing sound clips. This is subjectively a problem based on how appealing you find most of the sounds to be. You’re likely to either like most if not all of them or hate most if not all of them, based on their unvarying nature. The in-game music suffers from the opposite issue. The music tracks are diverse (while staying in a steady theme) but repeat often on different maps. This is only a problem if you don’t love the music to begin with. The music was heavily inspired from many different rock and metal artists, often modeled after single specific songs. If that’s what you are looking for, Doom does a phenomenal job. If you’re more of a Bee Gees kinda guy, you might wanna knock the volume down a little bit.
The storyline of Doom is almost non-existent, and often ignored by fans. Although multiple Doom novels were made, as well as a comic book, the storyline is lackluster at best. Thankfully it’s mostly irrelevant. With no cutscenes and no dialogue, questions aren’t important. Run. Shoot. Find secrets. Repeat. If you are looking for a captivating storyline, you should check out the Doom movie. (Note: Do not actually do this.)
Gameplay. The game engine is fast, efficient, smooth, and has minimal bugs. The controls are simple. Level design is non-linear, which (usually) leads to more entertaining exploration, but could be a negative for the more casual gamer. The game has five skill levels, affecting item and enemy placement and behavior. (These will not have an effect on level layouts.) The gameplay is addictive, and the multiple multiplayer modes put it over the top. Doom has clever mechanics, satisfying kills, complex secrets, and fantastic replayability due to its simplistic single player enemies in decidedly non-simplistic levels, as well as oddly unique multiplayer gameplay.