I thought I was a hardened space marine. Then, I realized I’m just getting old.
After finishing Batman: Arkham City during my summer break, I had nine months of teaching ahead and little free time. I really wanted to return to a stripped-down experience that I could put down for a few days and return to it without penalty. Doom 2 seemed like a good choice. It’s the first FPS I ever played; in spite a few false starts, I’ve never completed it. I predicted that would change with enough time and persistence.
For those unfamiliar with Doom 2, I will do my best to summarize. After the portal to hell was opened and then destroyed on Phobos and Demos (Mars’ moons), the forces of damnation invaded Earth. Although taxed by the events of Doom, it’s up to the unnamed space marine to defeat the legions of demons once again. It’s 30 levels long, there is one new gun and some new enemies. If more information is needed, countless others have written on the subject.
The one feature I appreciate over its predecessor, is the ability to keep weapons from one level to the next. It was somewhat disheartening to earn a cache of weapons and ammo only to be relieved of them at the beginning of the next episode (I’m looking directly at you, Metroid). I also had a greater sense of narrative flow embedded in the environment. The game more smoothly progresses from sci-fi to the dark, cyber-heart of hell itself.
As my nameless avatar (Doomguy?) slogged his way though countless horrors, I thought to myself ,“Thank goodness for the save feature”. Why? This game is old-school difficult. If players doesn’t use the save-anywhere feature create a checkpoint, they will be sent to the beginning of the level with minimal weapons and power-ups.
My gratuitous use of the save feature was very indicative of my lack of reflexes. Whenever I would enter a new room, the monsters would often get the first hit on me. Was I always this slow? I don’t think so. One of my few gaming achievements came out of beating the SNES version of Doom. This was no small feat as the game has no save/password feature and must be beaten in one play session. I had the time and the manual dexterity to finish it; that was 20 years ago. Presently, I’ve neither of the two and my journey through Doom 2 took two months of effort (not counting the false starts). I thought experience would see me though this, and in fact, it did. Experience informed me when I should be cautious instead of careless (most of the time). Experience reminded me to save before going into an obvious trap or overwhelming firefight. Experience taught me when to take calculated risks based on my status, abilities and previous knowledge. Even though I didn’t beat the game spectacularly, I still won. Even though I may not be E-sports material (if I ever was), I get to apply what has kept me alive as a more mature adult.
My driving record is perfect; I don’t go more than 5 mph above the speed limit. I don’t smoke or drink (I’ve not had an alcoholic drink in the past 4 years). I don’t really do any outdoor things (hunting, rafting, mountain climbing) that put me at risk.
In other words, I have a really boring life.
But that’s okay. As long as I stay alive long enough to play more games with my future grandchildren.