Know Your DooM
Definitions of Doom as defined by Merriam Webster;
1: a law or ordinance especially in Anglo-Saxon England
2 a: judgment, decision; especially : a judicial condemnation or sentence
b (1): judgment, (2): judgment day
3 a: destiny; especially : unhappy destiny
b: death, ruin
They forgot a definition but no one’s perfect.
4: A genre defining action game where a lone Space Marine whoops the asses of the population of Hell single-handed.
This definition that the professional dictionary makers forgot about (the simple fools) is the one on which I will be writing about in this article. You may have gathered that incredibly obvious fact the moment you saw the title of the article. In either case sit back, relax, and prepare for a discussion on my favorite game. That’s right I’m not going to mince words or stall the reveal of my rating of the game. This is my favorite game. You must read the rest of this article to find out why it’s my favorite.
Now you should know FPS games are not my favorite genre of games. RPGs are my favorite. RPGs have been my favorite ever since I was a young child. Strategy games are my second favorite genre with FPS games coming in a close third. Don’t let this fool you into thinking that I don’t value FPS games pretty highly (I do). There are just fewer of them that stand out well enough for me, especially since FPS games (well games in general actually) have been going down hill in quality steadily over the past decade (as a whole). Yet Doom is my favorite game by far and I play it multiple times a year ever since I first played it back in 1996.
Doom’s history is a well known fact among those who have cared about it over the years (i.e. most anyone who played it), but I will go ahead and mention it for those who are ignorant. Wolfenstein 3d (a good game for its time) was made by Id prior to Doom and first released in 1992. Wolfenstein 3d was one of the first FPS games to be made. It was definitely the first to establish the very basics of the genre beyond just being first person and shooting things. Wolfenstein 3d was limited though (which is to be expected). Everything was on a single vertical plane, enemy AI was simplistic, floors and ceilings were untextured, and everything was brightly lit to the same luminescence. However its core gameplay elements made it fun (its even fun to this day for those who appreciate it). Id took these core gameplay elements and furthered them with their next project. Doom.
Doom was released in 1993 by Id. Lovingly created by its team it fleshed out the FPS genre, defining it for half a decade, and leaving ripples that can still be felt today (even if you have to dig hard through today’s shit games to see those ripples). Advancements over Wolfenstein included; floor/ceiling textures, sector based lighting, more advanced enemy AI, event scripting, floor height levels, dynamic floor/ceiling height manipulation, multiplayer/coop, free fan map creation and game expansion, and probably things I have overlooked mentioning. Doom was an ambitious upgrade over Wolfenstein 3d that paid off.
The labor of love and hard work that produced Doom is something that is hard to find in most commercially produced FPS games anymore. It’s unheard of nowadays to allow fans to create their own FPS maps for example. Yet this feature is a big part of what kept the Doom community going strong to this very day. There are literally thousands of fan made maps, mods, and expansions for Doom that are free to obtain. More than anyone could every play or experience properly in my opinion. This isn’t the case anymore not because of technology but mainly because of company greed. If fans can create so much of their own content then they aren’t likely to buy company made DLC or expansions.
Anyway back on track. Doom pretty much established the FPS genre. At one time there were more shareware versions of Doom installed on computers than Microsoft Windows. The definition of the FPS genre didn’t even exist when Doom reigned. For a long while other games in the genre were called Doom clones. That’s how much of an impact the game had. Now of course other games to be released after continued to revolutionize the genre and many of them are also some of my favorite games. However Doom was the genre definer. In fact it’s probably the most powerful genre definer of any series of games to ever exist (well not as powerful as Mario but more profound).
You may be chuckling to yourself about my using the word profound to describe, as quoted by a random Doom hater I have encountered pretty recently, “a mindless action game”. What can be profound about a game where a nameless Space Marine runs around at 50 miles per hour killing demons? Well what’s profound about Doom is how all its elements came together to create a game that defined a genre, stands the test of time, and really remains unrivaled to this day (in my opinion). Too much depth in story would have ruined the pacing of the game. That’s a major problem with modern FPS games today. Relying on story and scripted events to play the game for you instead of leaving the player to manage the devices of a level by their self in creative and inventive ways. A test of intelligence, skill, hand-eye coordination, and planning to survive against all odds. Sure there have been a slew of great games in the genre to employ these (though they have dwindled over the years), but what’s important is that Doom did it first and left such an important mark on those who have played it.
You are a nameless Space Marine working for the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC). You have been sent to a UAC base on Mars after punching out your superior officer when you were ordered to fire upon unarmed civilians. UAC also happens to have two bases on Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos. These bases have mainly been used to research dangerous technology far away from Earth. The main technology in question happens to be teleportation. While experimenting on a teleportation gate between the two moons things go horribly wrong. Minions of hell begin pouring through the gatways killing or possessing all the UAC staff in the bases. The moon Deimos disappears completely (it has been pulled into Hell).
Receiving the distress signal from the moons your character’s security team that was housed on the planet take a shuttle to the Phobos base to mount a rescue operation. Your character is left behind to guard the shuttle while the rest of your team enters the base. Over the radio your character hear’s the failure of the operation and the deaths of his squad. He then proceeds to enter the base himself to complete the operation. This results in you fighting your way through both bases and ultimately through Hell itself until you have kicked so much Hellspawn ass that Hell opens up a door to Earth so you will leave.
Now that’s my paraphrasing of the plot from the manual (and from the text intermissions in the game). Some of it is creative and some of it is cliche (mostly cliche NOW after many games copied it from Doom). The story borrows from several inspirations (such as Aliens) and gives them a unique twist. The setting isn’t as important as the overall gameplay but the setting is still important. I can tell you when this game was brand new and I was young it scared the shit out of me. Dark corridors, hellish sounds, unrelenting enemies, and being all alone created an intense feeling of dread. Now Doom wasn’t a horror game and it shouldn’t be thought of as such. I’m just saying that the atmosphere of the game did a lot (and can still do a lot) to create immersion and losing yourself in the game.
I’ve already covered in brief a lot about the gameplay. I’m going to try and get a bit more indepth in this section though as I feel it is both needed and deserved.
Difficulty: Doom originally came with only four difficulty levels. Later on a fifth one was added on for fans who found the other four were not hard enough. Unless you are new to the game I don’t think you should chose a difficulty less than Ultra-Violence. If you are new to the game then choose Hurt Me Plenty. Only wusses choose anything less.
- I’m too young to die - Easiest difficulty. Ammo pickups are doubled and you take half damage. There are also a lot fewer enemies (and some are replaced with weaker enemy types).
- Hey, not too rough - Weaker enemies with some being replaced with weaker enemy types.
- Hurt Me Plenty - This is Doom’s normal difficulty.
- Ultra-Violence - More enemies.
- Nightmare! - More enemies, enemies are fast, ammo pickups are doubled, and enemies respawn.
Weapons: The number of weapons and their balance are incredibly important to Doom’s gameplay. This is a failing of most modern games where there may be dozens of weapons but most of them are indistinguishable from each other, unabalanced, and made to be realistic instead of just fun. Doomguy (your Space Marine) is capable of carrying around seven weapons (in original Doom), eight in Doom II, and more in modded versions of the game. None of that two weapons bullshit. Each weapon also has a purpose and role which makes having so many weapons not only fun but important to the gameplay.
- Fist/Chainsaw - The fist is a default weapon where you punch enemies. It can be useful if you are skilled enough to dodge enemy attacks while employing it. It is weak though and requires you to get close to enemies. The chainsaw is basically a rapid fire punch as far as effect and damage is concerned. The chainsaw has a particular use against two specific enemies (depending on situation more).
- Pistol - A mostly worthless pea shooter. Well alright it is useful in that you have to use it before you get something better and it can be used to hit targets at range. If you are skilled enough you can beat any enemy with it and enough ammo as well.
- Shotgun - The workhorse of the arsenal. The stock shotgun fires seven pellets in a horizontal fan. It does descent damage against enemies and ammo for it is plentiful.
- Super Shotgun - Available only in Doom II and wads that use Doom II. The SSG fires twenty pellets instead of the shotgun’s seven. It can kill even the strongest enemies pretty quickly and is a lot of player’s favorite weapon. I tend to prefer the shotgun myself unless I am in tight corners. The SSG uses two shots every time it is fired and has huge spread effect which makes it poor at anything but close range.
- Chaingun - Rapid fire pistol. This weapon is good for dealing rapid damage to enemies that flinch easily (from being hurt). Some enemies can be rendered helpless due to this while you pour ammo into them. Ammo for it is plentiful. Basically once you get this you don’t really need to use the pistol anymore.
- Rocket Launcher - Fires rockets at a descent rate. Each rocket does a great amount of damage when it hits directly and a good amount of damage from the explosion’s splash. It’s good for decimating multiple targets that are clustered together and for dealing large amounts of damage to large enemies. Ammo for it is plentiful enough but you shouldn’t spam it too much. Explosions can hurt you too if you fire too close to a wall or enemy.
- Plasma Rifle - Probably the best overall gun in the game. Ammo is a bit more rare but it does a lot of damage very quickly. It can stun enemies that flinch easily like the chaingun while dealing assloads more damage per hit.
- BFG 9000 - The main ball of the BFG does a lot of damage to whatever it hits (it one shots all but bosses) and hits other enemies with invisible rays depending on their proximity and location respective to the player. Uses the same ammo as the Plasma Rifle. This is best saved for large hordes of enemies close by or for quickly dispatching bosses.
Powerups/Items: There aren’t a lot of powerups in Doom but there are enough to make things interesting while still being balanced.
- Stimpak – Heals 10 health up to a maximum of 100.
- Medikit – Heals 25 health up to a maximum of 100.
- Bullet Clip/Box – Refill bullets 10 and 50 bullets respectively up to a maximum of 200 (400 with a backpack).
- Shotgun Shells – Boxes refill 20 and shells refill 4 up to a maximum of 50 (100 with a backpack).
- Rockets – Boxes refill 10 rockets and single rockets refill one. To a maximum of 50 (100 with backpack).
- Energy Cells – Cells refill 20 and cell packs refill 100. To a maximum of 300 (600 with backpack).
- Invisibility – Partially obscured from the view of enemies making it harder for them to notice the player (until alerted) or hit them with long range attacks.
- Light Amplification Goggles – Brightens all areas to an equal degree (very bright). Will go unnoticed by scrub players who already play with gamma maxed because they are afraid of the dark and of using skill.
- Hazard Suit – Prevents hazardous surfaces such as toxic water or lava from hurting the player when stepped on.
- Spiritual Armor – Raises armor by 1 up until 200.
- Health Potion – Raises health by 1 up until 200.
- Green Armor – Raises armor to 100 if it is not already at or above 100.
- Blue Armor – Raises armor to the maximum of 200.
- Soul Sphere – Raises health by 100 up to the maximum of 200.
- Mega Sphere – Maxes health and armor both at 200.
- Berserk Pack – Raises health to 100 if it is not already there. It also increases the damage of punches significantly.
- Backpack – Doubles ammo capacity and also refills all ammo types by a small amount.
- Invulnerability Sphere - Makes the player invulnerable to damage for a short period of time (also shades everything in black and white).
Enemies: The game wouldn’t be complete without the armies of Hell to do battle with in this game of manliness! One of the best things about Doom is enemy variation and balance. Unlike a lot of modern FPS games where every enemy might as well be the same enemy. The best thing about Doom enemies though has to be the ability to spark monster infighting when they accidentally damage one another. That’s another thing absent in a lot of modern FPS games.
- Zombie - Now don’t imagine this zombie like a horror movie zombie. They aren’t slow shambling melee opponents. They are demon possessed and altered marines equiped with rifles (they fire like your pistol though). They aren’t hard by any stretch of the imagination though but can be a bit more annoying at long distances. Attacks are direct and instant hit.
- Sergeant - Just like above only they wield shotguns. They do less damage with their shots than the player’s shotgun but they can be a mean enough threat to compliment other enemies. Attacks are direct and instant hit.
- Heavy Weapons Dude - Found in Doom II and wads that use it for their base. Very dangerous. Probably one of the most dangerous enemies in the game depending on placement and number. They wield chainguns and can whittle your life down very rapidly.
- Imp - Has a descent melee attack if you are close by and launches slow fireballs at the player at a distance. Not a big threat unless you are busy concentrating on other enemies.
- Pinky Demon - This big bull like enemy runs in erratic patterns on two legs and attempts to bite the player at close range. Usually they come in large packs. They can take a fair amount of damage and do a fair amount of damage. The chainsaw is the best weapon to deal with them. Pick a corner, put your back to it, and chew them up one at a time.
- Spectre - This is the same as the Pinky only it’s partially invisible. In dark areas this can make them harder to notice allowing them to sneak up on the player.
- Cacodemon - This large red one eyed floating creature fire lightning balls at the player. If it is close it will bite the player instead. Both attacks do a good amount of damage if they hit. This creature is easily dealt with if you have the chaingun though. It flinches from pain fairly often and can be rendered unable to attack if you use the rapid attacks on it. The chainsaw can work on it as well if you are good enough and it is at ground level.
- Lost Soul - This flaming flying skull attacks targets by flying into them. They can be quite fast on their charges as well. It’s best to deal with them soon as you see them.
- Pain Elemental – Found only in Doom II or wads based on it. Same shape and floating ability as a Cacodemon. This creature however has two eyes and instead of lightning balls it spits out Lost Souls. Kill it quickly to relieve the pain its presence causes…
- Hell Knight - This large demon walks around on goat legs, has horns, can take a lot of damage, and throws plasma balls at the player at long distances.
- Baron of Hell - Hell Knights with double the health.
- Revenant - Found only in Doom II or wads based on it. A skeleton with metal torso armor and shoulder mounted rocket launchers. Fires small homing rockets at the player (sometimes they are unguided). At close range they punch for a lot of damage. They can also take a fair bit of damage before dying.
- Mancubis - Found only in Doom II or wads based on it. A fat behemoth with two fireball launchers grafted where it hands would be. Fires two large fireballs in the player’s general direction. It can take a fair bit of damage to kill.
- Arachnotron - Found only in Doom II or wads based on it. A big brained creature on four robotic legs. It has a plasma gun built into the front of its leg platform that it uses to fire rapid shots toward the player. Can take a fair bit of damage but can be made to easily flinch much like a Cacodemon.
- Archvile - Found only in Doom II or wads based on it. This sickly yellow/brown demon has a withered gaunt physique, can take a fair bit of damage, can raise dead enemies back to life (unless they were gibbed), and hits the player with explosive fire attacks if they can’t get out of sight in time.
- Cyberdemon - Massive horned creature that has a rocket launcher replacing one hand and walks on two hooves (one replaced with a robotic version). Can take a shit load of damage and fires waves of rockets at the player when it sees them. This is a boss creature.
- Spider Mastermind - Massive creature that looks like a giant Arachnotron except replacing the plasma gun with a chaingun. It’s not generally as formidable as the Cyberdemon due to less health and increased chance to flinch from damage. Final boss of Doom but used extensively (like the Cyberdemon) in Doom II.
Levels: Collect keys, find secrets, kill enemies, find weapons/powerups, and then find the exit to a level. Sounds simple right? Well in most levels it’s not, particularly if you have suckled the teat of modern FPS games for too long. Levels are large, labyrinthine, and without a clear indication of where to go. Every level is a test of discovery. Now to the ignorant that may sound hard and boring. Without someone holding your hand and telling you where to go or what to do. Man up and explore. Half the fun of Doom is figuring things out and finding secrets on maps. Thousands of fan based maps were made for these reasons.