A personal testament concerning the most important video game of all time.
March 02, 2010
Doom. Sixteen years after its first appearance in humble Shareware form, this game is officially retro.

It is also unforgettable.

-In 1994, it was awarded Game of the Year by both PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World.

-Yahoo! Games has it listed as one of the top ten controversial games of all time.

-PC Gamer proclaimed Doom the most influential game of all time in its ten-year anniversary issue in April 2004.

This is just a taste of the mountain of accolades which Doom has earned over the years. Popular interest was soaring even before its late-1993 public release, and controversy grew to unprecedented levels for a video game immediately thereafter.

However, my personal experience of discovering, then playing, and eventually becoming addicted to this game starts a short while later...

A genealogy of Doom, and the current universe of first-person-shooter, should always trace back to Wolfenstein 3D. I consider that my own portal to Doom began with CD_\WOLF3D.

In the waning days of our Windows 3.1-equipped home computer, I remember playing three games from DOS command: Microsoft Space Simulator, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (no article will ever be necessary for this one), and Wolfenstein. This final game was my favorite. A few of my eleven-year-old compatriots only had the episode 1 shareware and I had no idea how I ended up with the full version--cool parents I suppose. I must have replayed all six episodes dozens of times. Something about the FPS gameplay seemed unique for me at the time; outisde the gaming world I always enjoyed heading out and doing things, all things, on my own. And while I still enjoy a wide spectrum of games, I enjoy the satisfaction of completing a task or an entire video game in the first person, by myself.

Somewhere around mid-1995, my family invested in a new computer. A friend from my parents' workplace was savvy enough to get it running with the new Windows 95. Did we pay for the software? Who knows. Lo and behold, it also came with a slew of new games, including Doom, Doom II and some racing game which had 3D-like vector graphics instead of flat images. Once again I was able to skip beyond stupid shareware and immerse myself into the full gaming experience. Since I like to follow a linear path, I stayed away from "Hell on Earth" for the moment and began to tip-toe into the Doom experience.

this is NOT your light-hearted, can-I-play-daddy? type of video game
I honestly cannot recall my virgin experience with the game (as it seems like it must have occurred in the ancient past). What I like about Doom in retrospect is the all-encompassing evolution of its gameplay. Better weapons are found and tougher enemies cross your path, sure enough, but the design of the game is a convincing descent into Hell. The programmers attention to lighting and a progression along a color palette from steel grays and green to crimson red were unparalleled for its time.

The first level, Hangar, is almost light-hearted in its presentation of your (as in you, Doomguy's) situation. With mostly a few zombie marines shuffling around with popguns and few other hazards, it is an appropriate segway for the heroic survivor of Wolfenstein castle. Just make sure you embark for the first time in the "Hey, Not Too Rough" or "Hurt Me Plenty" skill ranges.

The level completion map provides a hint of your journey to come. Amidst your travels across nine levels of the Phobos Labs, you become familiar with the surroundings of the Union Aerospace Corporation.

As a young teen I wasn't quite aware at the time, however Phobos refers to the Greek god of fear. Which makes perfect since, as you progress to that watershed level...

Continuing on across the Shores of Hell, this series of levels is actually a twisted manifestation of the science labs you had hoped to grow familiar with. ID Software certainly exhibit their newfound creativity here, since the layout and design is a great departure from Wolfenstein's monotonous levels.

This second UAC installation, on the moon Deimos, references the Greek's own likeness of the Grim Reaper, a figure representing dread. Cue episode-ending cutscene...

Perhaps it is my personal inability to express myself without visuals, but the only way to accurately describe Inferno is by way of screenshots.

As the game nears its conclusion, fear and dread should be supplanted by rage. Needless to say it is empowering to wield the BFG 9000 in order to perform the grandest what-would-Jesus-do on the minions of Hell

Who needs God to sprinkle health and ammo around when you can be Him?

Other games in the genre offer a tantalizing array of weapons as well as bad guys to destroy; yet all too often the gameplay becomes routine. Certainly the "freshness" of Wolfenstein plateaus around the fifteenth or sixteenth time of finding that creeking secret door along the never-ending stonework panel. With Doom, you follow an eschatological trajectory, beginning with the first metal door shut behind you in Hangar, descending rapidly into the throes of horror.

Sometimes a good thing needs little to no improvement, which is why I can also close my eyes and trace myself through the 32 levels of Doom II from memory.

beware the new and improved zombie popguns...

When the smoke settles, Doomguy can rush headfirst into the next epic struggle

I'm sure many posters here have spent countless hours in Deathmatches and tinkering with the layouts of the game. I should mention that the glories of dial-up at my house was still a futuristic concept until 1997 or thereabouts. Blizzard would eventually convince me to venture into the world of online gaming, but that was never what I asked for when I returned time after time to traverse the blood-soaked corridors of Doom. For me it was a personal escape, one that didn't require dealing with people or teamwork or communication. I firmly believe that single-handedly surviving a trip to Hell and back is a gratifying experience.

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss