Thursday, August 15, 2013


Here's the granddaddy of the First  Person Shooter genre!

Does it still handle a candle to today's new kids?

Hell awaits your soul, will you dare face more id Software reviews through the following links?

From id Software
Played on PC
Also available on Mac, SNES, Sega 32X, Saturn, Jaguar, PSX, 3DO, Game Boy Advance, Xbox 360 & PS3

Type FPS
Year 1993 (1995)

And here's the original Doom 1, finally!

I originally planned to review this one earlier, but I kinda forgot h
ow long it really was and how difficult it turned later on.

Shortly after id Software finished the work on Spear of Destiny, they started the development of their follow-up game "Doom" as soon as late 1992.

John Carmack started writing what would be their new engine. The Doom engine, now properly known as "id Tech 1". The objective with this new engine was to improve what the team had learnt from Wolfenstein 3D and finally offer a real actual "3D" environment. Meaning improved graphics, actual altitude, more complex architecture, full texture mapping, lightning to set different moods on each map, which aren't static now and can evolve through the game and stereo sound to create an atmosphere.

Sadly they wouldn't be able to achieve all those goals right away. For starters, the map are still not fully three dimensional but built upon a 2D plane (the map the player can check out anytime), using tricks to build height on only one plane. That would finally be developed on such games as Duke Nukem 3D and Quake 1 later on.

The crew at id Software was inspired by movies like Aliens, Evil Dead II and Dungeons & Dragons as well. Particularly the idea of a sole protagonist fighting the forces of evil.

Tom Hall then wrote the Doom Bible, a very detailed document presenting a storyline, the characters and features that would help create this world. But Carmack ditched quite a lot of elements from the Doom Bible, to simplify the game and streamline the content (such as more plot/dialogues or weapons like the "Unmaker" that would end up used in Doom 64 in the end). Tom Hall would leave the team shortly after because of that (he would join later Apogee/3D Realms and work on games like the Duke Nukem series and Rise of the Triad - with elements from his bible finding their way on these games).

The rest of the team would comprise guys like Shawn C. Green, Sandy Petersen and John Romero on the design, Michael Abrash, John Carmack, Romero, Dave Taylor on the programming, and Adrian Carmack and Kevin Cloud on the graphics/artwork.

The "story" might seem like a trivial thing in Doom, but it is also responsible for a lot of the oppressive and creepy atmosphere in the game.

The game follows an unnamed Space Marine that was sentenced to work on Mars after an assault on a senior officer.

There he joined the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC). A military company running inter-dimensional experiments far from Earth.

But there's been some anomalies lately. And after a travel through one of these doors, they ended opening the gates to Hell!

Hordes of demons arrived and surrounded the facilities. They killed most of the staff and turned all the soldiers into zombies.

YOU play as the sole survivor, trying to secure the perimeter and close the doors back.

Since the character's meant to be the player he has never been given a proper name. Fans usually call him the Doomguy (though in his appearance in Quake 3 he's called simply "Doom"). His only proper name comes from the Doom Bible as "Buddy Dacote", the Doom novels call him "Flynn Taggart" and that awful Doom live movie gave him the name of John Grimm "Reaper". To date he has finally been given an official name nowadays, in the official Doom RPG games for mobile phones, as Stan Blazkowicz (making the Doomguy a distant descendant of Wolfenstein's protagonist).

As far as First Person Shooter games go and for what they've come from since then, the game is far from being a linear straightforward experience.

Taking cues from the labyrinths seen in Wolfenstein 3D, the goal is go from one place on a map to another. The levels are large, span over multiple rooms, corridors, halls and open places. There are hordes of enemies ranging from small fodder like zombies, marine zombies, Imp demons that can shoot fireballs, Lost Souls heads on fire to larger Pinky creatures, Spectres and more!

There's a wide variety of guns you can find lying around or grab from human enemies from your short range punch to a chainsaw, a powerful shotgun, a machinegun and bigger damaging weapons like the Plasma Gun, Rocket and the super-hidden-powerful BFG9000!

Since this was one of the first of its genre, you can't jump (what for anyway?), crouch or even aim freely. But the Doomguy will auto-aim/shoot enemies above/beneath your field of vision if they're in front of you.

The game takes place over 3 episodes of 8 levels each + a secret hidden stage. There's also hidden places you can find, with bonus ammo and whatnot. At the end of each chapter a score will pop up with your total enemies killed/items grabbed/secrets found.

The first episode was the one offered as a free shareware copy originally and starts on the UAC , on the first moon of Mars, Phobos. It's pretty fun, and short. The difficult will rise progressively and the chapter end with the first confrontation with the Barons of Hell (a parody of Super Mario's Hammer Brothers!).

After that, you get a screen full of text for a "cutscene", narrating the on-going adventures of the Doomguy.

The adventures continued on "floppies".

Episode 2 continues on the second moon, Deimos. The UAC is now visibly overrun by demons. On the main map you can see the progressive construction of the"Tower of Babel" by the demon forces. Their you will fight the Cyberdemon creature, one of the series' most iconic creatures. The difficulty rise up a notch, everything's bigger and more complex. But you can now find full maps of the levels lying around more regularly which helps gets the secrets. (the first episode had some moments you could miss and block yourself away from getting secrets) It all feels like a big improvements, with more open original areas. A smarter level design. Secrets easier to get when you think a second.

The final 3rd episode takes place in Hell. The Doomguy followed the demons over there and now has to clean the place, secure and escape and leave Mars for good. The final boss is the Spiderdemon, an experiment gone wrong. The monsters are now playing with technology! This episode requires some strategy to keep your ammo, it's not all just "BOOM! Headshot!" like it used to be. Or you will run out of weapons at the wrong time.

The 3 episodes are meant to be played one after the other though you can do as your please from the complete version of the game.

The monsters are smarter that most enemies from any game at the time (and to this day). There's an Hell-ysh hierarchy and you can play monsters one against the other. A Baron of Hell will take on all the nearby creatures that just slighlty touch him or cross his path. Allowing you to finish the job once his health deplected.

Doom is not all about running around careless (that would be more Duke Nukem 3D's case).

It starts that way but it needs you to plan your path, find keycards for locked doors, explore the areas and avoid causing firefights in closed spaces. You can take monsters by surprise or one by one. You can hide behind a door. Some time you might find a place with a creepy setting, monsters that jump from nowhere at you or poorly light spaces to scare you...

It's a great early attempt at bringing the science-fiction genre and an horror setting to videogames.

You can also face this invasion through a coop gameplay! Doom was responsible for introducing deathmatchs to computer gaming.

And id has always been quite open to the community and allow mods from fans. There's been all sorts of fanmade Doom games over the years.

A lot of the tone of the game comes from the splendid original cover art, provided by illustrator Don Ivan Punchatz (Heavy Metal, and even National Geographic). The team took a lot of inspiration from his work for the game.

The music is also as memorable as the game itself, composed by Robert Prince. It is responsible for a lot of the mood of the game.

Overall, this is a perfect example of a timeless classic.

It has barely aged over the years, thanks to its 2D graphics and sprites over a 3-dimensional world.

The game is simply pure fun, engaging and very entertaining. Once you start a quick playthrough it is quite difficult to stop.

With its quick gameplay, fast pacing, creepy/rockin' atmosphere, challenging difficulty and little puzzles here and there, it's an experience like no other.

The game has known many, many ports over the year, on most game systems ever released. But the best experience still is the PC (on its native Dos if possible). The Playstation and 32X ports are some of the best despite some adaptation to a limited home system (this means rearranging bigger stages, changing some music tracks and moving a stage here or there). The Game Boy Advance version is surprisingly good despite one might think at first. And more recently the Xbox Live version offers the original experience back right down to its exact pixel. The SNES and Sega Saturn are okay I guess, but really watered down ports of the original. And the 3DO is the worst one, cropped out, awful framerate, etc. All the possible mistakes in a single game. Don't mistake Doom 64 or Doom RPG for ports of the original though, since they're original spinoff sequels.

The copy I have here is actually the 1995 Ultimate Doom edition. It is actually a complete port of the original Doom over the Doom 2 Engine. This means little minor changes here and there, Doom 2's HUD and graphics. As well as an added fourth episode, speaing of which...*
(*more below)

It's the same version that has been more recently ported on current HD systems through the Doom 3 BFG edition. A faithful port.
I give it:
3 / 3 Invaders!

VGR: The Ultimate DOOM 
By id Software
Type Enhanced port
Year 1995

The Ultimate Doom was an enhanced re-release of the original Doom made for retail stores originally.

It added the Fourth and final episode "Thy Flesh Consumed". I already wrote about the upgrade above, so I would like to only focus on this last episode here.

This "expansion pack" was also offered as a free upgrade online.

Although it was led by John Romero with American McGee and Shawn Green, it is mostly a quick rush job to offer some more additional content for fans while the major work was upgrading DOOM to the Doom 2 interface.

This means very little effort was put into it since the team was already hard at work on another game at the time.

Episode IV adds 8 news stages + another secret level. It doesn't fit anywhere in the plot since at the end of Episode III the Doomguy was then sent back to Earth. But fans like to imagine it "in-between" Dooms, taking place in upper realms of Hell and ending on planet Earth properly.

This episode doesn't feature any new enemy, in fact it ends with two previous final bosses at the same time. No new weapon either. And it simply reuses all previous musics from past levels.

This game also contains 2 fan designed levels. And it shows.

Simply said: they almost detract from the original experience. They start ridiculously hard (although I consider that a nice challenge), get surprisingly easy midway through. And you can't complete this episode with 100% secrets found since two buggy levels contain some glitchy secrets (only possible through cheating)!

And they haven't been fixed to this day on recent releases such as the Doom BFG pack or on Xbox Live!

It's a nice addition to Doom, but you're better off with Doom 2, or Final Doom!


I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score! 

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