Doom: Still the Demon-Dusting Daddy

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chris-littlechild - March 30, 2012

Legendary shooter Doom first arrived in 1993. It marks gaming's first foray into first person shooter territory, and was ridiculously, work-grinding-to-a-halt-ingly popular. Geeks the world over failed to bathe for days, their bleeding eyes transfixed by the screen. Its legacy lies not only in contributing to a worldwide body odour epidemic, but in popularizing certain gaming elements now taken for granted.

You take the role of Mr. Anonymous Badass Space Marine (We're not on a first name basis, alas. He shunned my advances. After all the flowers, chocolates and Barry White CDs, too). A routine tedious assignment on the Martian moon of Phobos goes pear-shaped, leaving one almighty shitstorm to be dealt with. A portal to Hell opening, it transpires, is rather a big deal. Not to mention completely beyond a few ragtag troopers with pistols. Soon, only Mr. ABSM remains. He's the manliest man in the history of manly men, though (as you can see from his GRRRR portrait on the HUD), and so opts to take on the unholy hordes alone.

Doom seems to exude iconic and retro goodness from start to finish. The whine of the doors. The shrieking of the Imps. The blast of incoming pump-action death to the face from the shotgun. All are completely unmistakable and deliciously nostalgic. Even so, archaic elements persist to remind us of the dangers of rose-tinted glasses. Its age is certainly showing now, as you'd expect from a 90s title (a denture-wearing, shuffling-about-in-slippers octogenarian in video game years). Questionable visuals aside, the aiming mechanic is frankly horrific today. Even the masculine-to-the-max eats lesser men for breakfast (literally, by the look of him) Mr. ABSM can't target opponents on a higher or lower level. Instead, he relies on magical bullets of some kind. Thanks to what I can only assume is actual witchcraft, shots find their way straight to enemy's groins from a gun pointed 100 feet below them.

Further, Doom was born in a simpler time, excuse enough for being as mindless a shooter as can be imagined. The puzzle element of the game amounts to:

1. Wander up to a locked door, blasting everything to buggery and back.
2. Wander a little further, blasting everything to buggery and back.
3. Discover the key to the aforementioned door, guarded by some more things to blast to buggery and back.
4. Open the no longer locked door, revealing a liberal helping of things to blast to buggery and back.
5. Return to step 1. Don't pass go, don't collect $200.

Petty qualms aside, Doom remains the very definition of classic. So many aspects of the game have been pimped out remorselessly over the years. With a title that practically created a genre for itself, parallels will always be drawn. It's amazing how many of today's space marine games/shooter games/space marine shooter games owe everything to this masterpiece.

It may have moved on visually, as you can see here, but the timeless concept remains unchanged. Undoubtedly one of gaming's most popular and influential offerings.

My fellow retroheads will surely appreciate this trip down an alarmingly bloodstained memory lane. Here's a quick jaunt through the final level:

Article by Chris Littlechild

Tagged in: doom , retro games ,

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