Doom shook the world in 1993 as one of the first FPS games to be made and critically acclaimed. Developed by id Software, Doom shared the milestone with Wolfenstein 3D, another FPS made by the same company in 1992. Both games have been a huge influence on the current market of popular games, and have seen several re-releases and sequels on various consoles.
Doom made its way to Xbox Live Arcade in 2006 when a port of the game was released for purchase and download. Although at one point it was delisted from the service, the legendary single-player experience made a roaring return in 2012, guns blazing and demons dying. While it might seem odd to come back to the game so far after re-release, the next generation is nigh, possibly heralding a new chapter in the franchise.
Doom takes place on Mars (Yes, Mars) in the grim, desolate future of humanity. When a gate to hell opens, releasing demons and spirits into the Mars research facility, the player, a marine, must fight their way through armies of nasty beasts. The backstory is an absolute cliché but appeals to the charm of the game. Its simple and kept in the background, not interfering with the gameplay. However, this is all the story comprises of. No cutscenes, no text, nothing. While the focus on gameplay consistency is a good idea, the complete lack of any story progression sometimes puts little meaning into the game. Even a little text box before each level would be refreshing!
Speaking of gameplay, this remains unaltered. Retaining its single-analog style (the player only moves and doesn’t need to aim, gunfire locks on the closest enemy to the centre of the screen), Doom is one of the fastest paced shooters I have played. There are sometimes hundreds of satanic enemies coming from all directions that the player has to deal with. Quick movement speed allows for some close escapes from these hoards, but can make the player feel as though they are rushing through each encounter and not taking to the time to appreciate the level design (levels are usually shaped like demonic symbols). Acute Doom players will also be happy to see secrets return. Hidden in special rooms are power-ups that can completely refresh the
gameplay. Berserker makes the player’s melee hits inflict punishing damage, invisibility does what it says on the tin, and invincibility lets you sit back, relax, and enjoy the carnage without taking damage for a brief time. Both fun to discover and to use, power-ups are a welcome feature of the game that give you priceless, memorable moments of bad-assery.
As Doom progresses, it gets harder and harder. Enemy damage is pumped up to the max. On the higher difficulties, it can be excruciatingly frustrating. While a challenge is always good, a few levels are almost unbeatable without straining and sweating. The difficulty can add tension, but unfortunately, this is usually lost after repeated mauling. Yet, somehow, the satisfaction of exploding a pinkie’s face with a plasma gun after battling with him for a good few minutes never seems to get dull. With slick weapons- ranging from miniguns to rocket launchers- and a sense of achievement with every level complete, Doom’s difficulty doesn’t hamper the fun too much.
Boasting new, high definition graphics with 1080i support, Doom’s classic, pixel graphics look sharper than ever in this port. Colours are defined and clear, while detail on enemy models is much easier to pick out than previously. Gamers that prefer more modern, three dimensional graphics may want to steer clear, as Doom retains its flat, blocky structure. It also hasn’t solved the problem of objects rotating to face the player when they are circled- something many players have found unsettling in the past. The lack of gamma alteration, too, may put a few off.
The sound and music returns in all its glory. Monster screaming, the pounding of the shotgun and mechanical grinding of doors is untouched; a wise decision not to change what doesn’t need changing. What’s more, the game’s masterful soundtrack is present, adding a sense of pace and rhythm to your baddie blasting.
All in all, Doom was a genius creation in its day and after several ports, the addictive gameplay looks somewhat basic compared to modern shooters. Its still wildly fun and a great challenge for hard-core gamers, but the difficulty isolates more casual players. Fans of retro titles will be pleased with the crisp graphics and unique sound design, although, those who tend to steer clear of older games will have little interest. I’d say this is the perfect title for anyone who hasn’t experienced shooters before and wants to learn about the basic mechanics, and, of course, budding nostalgia junkies such as myself!
(Reviewed on Xbox 360)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Lasting Appeal- 7/10
(Not an average)
Platforms: Xbox 360
Developer: id Software
Ratings: M, T (ESRB), 16+ (PEGI)