“Ooh! It’s Doom! I haven’t played Doom in a while…”
Those are famous last words. What that usually means is that I’m going to start playing Doom and I will not finish it. But wait a minute…I did complete the SNES version, AND without a save function! Doesn’t that count?
Why? The amazingly good Super Nintendo port (had better music than Sega 32x version!) had only a portion of the original PC maps. So…after a few failed attempts on the Playstation One, I gave it up for a while.
However, thanks to the always-tempting Quakecon sale on Steam, I was able to buy and download Ultimate Doom, Doom II, and Final Doom for less than the price of 20 piece Chicken McNuggets! I’m into Episode 3 (the last level in the original game), and I’m now remembering why I end up putting this down. However, I am determined to finish this time. As I point my pixellated shotgun down flickering hallways of damnation, my memory is jogged once again.
1.) OH MY! This game is difficult!
As I play my little Borderlands with its easy respawning and overpowered weapons, was so easy to forget how hard DOOM is. If you know anyone looking to get into FPSs, tell them to stay clear of this game lest they go back playing hidden-object games. The levels are confusing at the later stages, there is a level of backtracking that would even make Samus cry in her helmet. Even at full health and armor, your avatar is only a few flaming orbs of death away from game over. Once again, even though it’s old, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Often, it’s the opposite.
2.) Keys! Doors! Almost NO plot!
Do you know why the Doom film tanked? No, it’s not because The Rock was in it. Everything that guy touches becomes gold…or a bloody pulp. The biggest complaint is that the film’s plot strayed too far from the game. Do you know what? Let’s imagine the film stayed faithful. Let’s also imagine the trailer for this film…
“In a world…where you spend most of your time collecting colored keys and trying to remember where you saw that matching door…”
…yeah…it would crawl to Cinéma Vérité levels of pacing. We praise Bioshock for embedding the story in the environment. I don’t even know what I’m looking at half the time in Doom. What is all this technology built for? What does it do? Is there any practical use for any of this crap lying around? Even though humans built the technology, it’s this alien aspect of the far-flung future that’s part of the scare-factor. The gameplay is great in the confines of the game itself. The storytelling serves the gameplay. No need to muck this up, but don’t expect complexity and subtext.
3.) The design can be very unfair.
One thing that I forget is that Doom has a number of “F**k You!” moments in its level design. Sometimes, it’s a bridge over lava that unexpectedly falls under your character’s feet. Often, it’s a trigger the unleashes a cornucopia of imps, bull demons and those floating meatballs with one eye: spawning behind your back.
4.) The weapon sounds are so satisfying!
Yes. Yes. Yes. The are more realistic portrayals of weapons in the latest games. Receiver seeks to take it to the next level. But Doom….but Doom…there is something about the sound design that makes the gameplay that much better. Unlike Borderlands (I’m seriously not hating…I really like that game.), the sounds feel real and brutal. When your character puts a shotgun slug to a bull demon, or discharges the plasma rife, it rips through the air in visceral stereo.
I can turn down the lights. Put on some headphones. Those growls make me nervous. I think the statues and etchings on the walls will start blinking at me. After a while, I start sprinting in a panic. Just like a character in a horror film.