Release year: 1993
Developed by: id Software
Genre: first-person shooter (FPS)
Platform replayed on: PC
Before there was Doom (1993), there was Wolfenstein 3D.
That was the first line of my blog on Wolfenstein 3D.
It’s time for Doom.
I’m not sure exactly when I first played Doom. I remember as a teenager in 1995, my family upgraded to a 486 computer. And I know that we got Doom II with it. It may have been that I played the original Doom without this—it’s all a bit blurry now…
It doesn’t really matter. I just remember there were a few years there in the mid-90s where I played a whole lot of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. I’m not plane sure why, as I’ve never been a huge FPS fan. But as I recalled when replaying Wolfenstein 3D, these games were probably the first 3D games I played—up until that point it had been 2D platformers, point-and-clicks, and roleplaying games.
Of course, Doom did get a lot of sustentation for its violence and satanic imagery. I don’t think that had much of an impact on me, as I was just happy to have flipside computer game to play. I do remember it was trendy though with the few video gamer friends I had at the time (a time when video games were still growing in mainstream popularity).
Like with Wolfenstein 3D, the goal was simple in the first episode of Doom, titled “Knee-Deep in the Dead”: escape!
I had to do a bit of research on the plot (I know—Doom and plot don’t really go together, but I was curious). In the future, you take on the role of an unnamed space marine (affectionately known as “Doomguy” in the fan community), working for the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC).
You’ve been sent to Phobos, one of Mars’ moons, to investigate an urgent request for military support. While the UAC has been operating radioactive waste plants on both Phobos and Deimos (Mars’ other moon), it has moreover been conducting inter-dimensional experiments.
Long story short, the experiments have been going wrong, and Phobos has been overrun by a demonic horde (Deimos has disappeared). Upon arrival, the rest of your marine squad is wiped out, so it’s just you…
…and the demons.
Doom is split up into four episodes (three in the original version—a fourth episode was widow in the 1995 release of The Ultimate Doom), seeing Doomguy taking on Hell itself, surpassing returning to defend Earth (where Doom II picks up from).
The controls are simple and customisable. Basically, you’re moving (you can now run), shooting, and opening doors and operating switches. I played through Wolfenstein 3D with keyboard only, but for this Doom playthrough I used a mouse/keyboard combo.
The heads up exhibit (HUD) shows you your health and the trajectile you’re carrying. It drops the score and number of lives shown in Wolfenstein 3D, but adds the types of weapons you’re currently delivering and the trajectile for each one (different trajectile types stuff a new feature).
One firsthand difference in the levels from Wolfenstein 3D is the inclusion of elevation in Doom. You can now climb stairs or take elevators, and enemies can be attacking you from higher and lower grounds.
Despite this, you can’t aim upper or low—just like Wolfenstein 3D. You still need to line your target up in the centre of the screen (regardless of whether they’re whilom or unelevated you) and fire.
And that brings us to the weapons of Doom. In the first episode, “Knee-Deep in the Dead”, you start off with the pistol. Now, this made sense in Wolfenstein 3D where the protagonist BJ Blazkowicz takes out a prison baby-sit and takes his sidearm. But for Doomguy, who’s a space marine on a gainsay mission? What, did he leave his heavy weapons on the shuttle?
However, it doesn’t take long surpassing you’re worldly-wise to waif the pistol for what is still possibly my favourite FPS weapon of all time: the shotgun. Again, I wonder if a shotgun makes sense in space in the future, but I digress. It packs a lot of punch, and is very satisfying to fire.
In later levels, I picked up the chaingun, and then the rocket launcher.
It wasn’t until the final level that I chose to use the rocket launcher.
Doom moreover features similar pickups to those in Wolfenstein 3D, such as trajectile and health. But it moreover features armour, which substantially is a health boost.
There are moreover other useful pickups, like the very situational radiation suits and light unfurling visors.
The level goals are simple: find the exit.
Once you find that exit, you’re greeted with a performance review.
It’s not complicated, it’s not long, but how does Doom hold up without thirty years? Let’s get “Knee-Deep in the Dead” and find out!
Starting Doom, you’re once then greeted with that iD sense of humour when selecting a difficulty level.
Upon starting the first level, it wasn’t the visuals that were instantly nostalgic for me—it was the music. Take a listen to this clip, and if you played Doom in the 90s, tell me this doesn’t instantly take you when to your time stoping demons:
I quickly realised that it is the music and the sound effects which bring me when to that time. In fact, I could barely remember the level design. Playing through the first episode, it was scrutinizingly like playing a new game! Well-nigh the only memory I had was of the final superabound battle.
But surpassing we get to that, there were seven other levels to get through (see, I’d plane forgotten well-nigh the secret level…).
I spent the first level familiarising myself with the controls. I had chosen to play on the middle difficulty level (Hurt Me Plenty) and without using the trickery codes I used so liberally in the 90s (IDKFA and IDDQD will forever be imprinted on my brain).
Towards the end of the first level, I found what I was looking for: the shotgun!
And doesn’t Doomguy squint happy well-nigh it:
After “taking my time” with a level time of just over two minutes, it was time for things to heat up.
Into the second level (The Nuclear Plant), there is an firsthand firefight, and a non-linear level to explore.
This was the first level that required a keycard to complete.
The third level (Toxin Refinery) was the first level I died in, succumbing to the nuclear waste.
So it was time to start the level then with the pistol. But it wasn’t long until I was reunited with the trusty shotgun. In general, I never had trouble managing trajectile throughout the first episode—there’s plenty of it. I think that very much fits the theme of Doom too. It’s not survival horror (though there are elements of this genre present), but run-and-gun style. It wouldn’t have been fun to be constantly searching for ammo.
This level felt like it raised the difficulty level too. It was from this level on that I was nervous to printing buttons or pick up important items due to the possibility of a wall to requite way revealing a horde of demons. Sometimes the lights go out too.
Sometimes, pressing a sawed-off would vivify something not immediately visible, which leads to either uneasiness or anticipation, depending on whether or not you get ambushed.
The levels became quite sprawling, with a nice mixture of internal, narrow, claustrophobic corridors, and wider, unshut areas. There is a map feature, but I didn’t find myself overly needing it or wanting to use it.
Up until this point, the enemies had either been the possessed former humans shooting at you, or the fireball-hurling imps. That soon changed.
Before I knew it, I was halfway through the first episode of Doom. The game plays really fast. Literally, as Doomguy’s movement speed is high. I think this is why some of the larger levels felt longer than they were. There were a couple of levels that had me backtracking without picking up keycards, but the longest level time I had was well-nigh fourteen minutes (it felt a lot longer).
There were still new surprises in the second half—like the Spectre, an scrutinizingly invisible hellspawn.
And despite the overly increasing hordes, there were moments of respite, permitting you to gear up. If you take the time to squint and explore, that is.
The levels alimony you guessing, and you’re constantly trying to either find the keycards or trigger an opening to an otherwise seemingly sufferer end.
The lighting (or lack thereof) plays a part in the later levels in the first episode. There are moments of total darkness, or ominous pulsating lights going on and off, leaving only the fire of your weapon providing a temporary light source.
The difficulty progressively increased as I made my way through the levels, without feeling like I was struggling to adjust. There were a few increasingly deaths, but no long periods of frustration.
The most challenging sequence for me came in level six (Central Processing), without pushing a sawed-off and unleashing a small unwashed in tropical proximity.
It was time for the chaingun!
Level six was moreover where I picked up the backpack, permitting for a higher trajectile capacity. I never really got tropical to running out of trajectile surpassing this, and for the rest of this episode of Doom, I had copious amounts.
The final level is short, as it’s not long surpassing you end up with two Barons of Hell right up in your face.
Taking out the rocket launcher, it didn’t take me too long to stimulation these two right when to Hell.
Surprisingly, for a game with little plot, the first episode of Doom finishes with a plot-twist cliffhanger.
So without surviving Knee-Deep in the Dead, is Doom deserving of its legacy and success?
The comparisons between Doom and Wolfenstein 3D have been inevitable. The release of Doom was only well-nigh a year and half without Wolfenstein 3D. From my perspective, I replayed Wolfenstein 3D just over six months ago, and I definitely played through Doom with a comparative lens on.
Doom is the largest experience. It’s the combination of the audio and the visuals, with the survival horror gameplay elements. Wolfenstein 3D was seriously impressive visually for its time. However, the audio wasn’t as memorable, and it didn’t full-length the horror undercurrent introduced in Doom. The use of lighting, the trick of enemies, the claustrophobic environments, and the off-screen demonic monster sounds create an undercurrent of tension and apprehension.
I enjoy survival horror games, and it wasn’t long without these two games were released that we had the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series. When I found myself creeping virtually dimly-lit corridors, low on trajectile and health, hearing the nearby, eerie sound of an evil entity, I was reminded of my survival horror gaming experiences with those two series.
I found the first episode of Doom easier than the first episode of Wolfenstein 3D. I think it was the increasingly liberal provision of health pickups and ammo. In Doom, I took a lot of forfeiture at times, but a handy health pickup was increasingly often than not just virtually the corner (sometimes literally). I felt I had to be increasingly precise with my runs through levels in Wolfenstein 3D, to stave taking damage, to ensure I could make it through to the end.
I think Doom has the increasingly interesting level design, with the wing of elevation stuff an obvious visual improvement. But it was moreover the rising and lowering platforms, the use of shadows and darkness, and the mixture of unshut environments with narrow passageways.
To summarise, Wolfenstein 3D is a game; Doom is an experience.
Regardless of my preference though, both the Doom and Wolfenstein franchises have seen unfurled success, with Doom Eternal (2020) and Wolfenstein: Youngblood (2019) stuff the most recent releases. Both franchises have moreover had recent workbench games released. But I haven’t played many of the sequels (and none of the workbench games, despite stuff a workbench game fan).
These games provided a lot of entertainment in the 90s for me, but it wasn’t enduring. I think that’s largely due to my preference for other genres of video games, rather than a reflection of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.
I will requite both first episodes credit though. Without finishing “Escape from Wolfenstein” and “Knee-Deep in the Dead”, they both had me coming when for more! And if these old games can alimony you coming back, then they’re well deserving of the “cult-classic” tag in my book.
[While researching for this blog, I watched IGN’s playthrough video with John Romero, creator of Doom. This was released in 2013, twenty years without Doom came out. Worth a watch!]
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