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7  |  Doom Is a (Great) Four Letter Word
Darryl B. , 4/22/2009 1:14:39 AM

Ahhhh Doom, what can you say about it? All kinds of things, actually! It started a revolution in gaming, giving rise to the first person shooter genre. Sure, it by far wasn’t the first – there are those that point to the arcade game of Battlezone as to being one of the earliest PFS’ out there – but it rose the popularity of the genre to new heights. (Or if you want to get nit-picky about it, you can say it was one of the earlier “behind the gun”-perspective games out there; happy?) It was also blamed for real-life massacres and all kinds of other fun stuff.

But enough with the finger-pointing and culture-dissecting of the thing, onto the game!

As per usual story line, you’re a lone hero (a Marine actually) trying to fix an experiment gone horribly wrong (is there any other kind of experiment that doesn’t end on a peaceful note in video games?) by pretty much blowing everything to bits. Some of the enemies you’ll face include ex-fellow Marines who shoot first and...well, never ask questions later. It would make you wonder what crawled up their butts and made them so crazed they shoot at former friends, but I guess I would be mad too if I were turned into a zombie that had green hair. Other denizens include imps that shoot fireballs, demons that have a one-track mind in just trying to bite you (aim for the chompers!), and flaming, floating (and sometimes *attacking*) skulls (a popular tattoo come to life) called Lost Souls.

Then there’s the gameplay elements, which, yeah, include shooting at everything, although you have to keep an eye on your ammo and armor supplies. You start off with a crummy pistol and no armor, although better weapons include a chaingun that can fire bullets in rapid succession, a shotgun, a rocket launcher (just not at point-blank range!), a chainsaw, and a plasma gun/BFG 9000, which they both use the same ammo, but the latter can clear out an entire room of lesser deities.  

Ammo and weapons you’ll find scattered around various levels, along with a backpack (increases the amount of ammo you can carry) and armor, which provides protection against getting beaten to a pulp; once your health reaches zero, you have to start your current level over with that crummy pistol again. At least regular green armor will raise your armor level to 100%, while the more rare blue armor will raise it to 200%. There’s also spiritual armor that will raise it up 1% per piece, and can raise it up past the 100% mark, as well as health kits to increase your health up by 10% or 20% as well, depending on their size. A rare blue sphere will raise it up 100% though, as well as some blue drops will increase it 1% per piece, and an odd berserk kit is an evil version of a health kit, not only raising your health to 100% instantly, but it gives you the power to knock the crap out of anything for the duration of a level, should you use your fists as a weapon (not too advisable!).

Back to the gameplay elements though, in Doom you walk and run around a 3-D environment shooting at anything that moves. However, it can be a bit of a puzzle figuring out how to get to the next level, as there are switches to pull and buttons to press to activate various platforms and all. Some lead to secret rooms and even levels, others are a bit devious, like one platform in level four that will open up a nasty surprise of a room, which you’ll suddenly hear the sounds of many a violent enemy behind you, which you’ll need to turn around and wipe them out before they do too much damage, much less kill you.


Doom box, instructions - fatmandoom.jpg



Ah yes, you use most of your senses in this one, especially sound: if you’re walking around a level, and suddenly hear a big commotion, chances are something suddenly happened and released a crapload of enemies, which isn’t always a good thing. I remember the first time I heard the incredibly scary sound of the hissing Cacodemon (a flying, gigantic mouth that spews fireballs and takes many bullets to take down) when I flipped a switch on a wall during one of the later levels, it scared me pretty good indeed (but luckily no underwear change for me though). And I was very impressed with the A. I. of it too, what with leaving a room with an enemy to having them tail you, no leaving a room to having them stay there, they want to smoke your butt into oblivion! If SMELLS were incorporated into games, I’m sure that sense would be used in this one too (although I’m sure they wouldn’t be good smells)!

The game is so incredibly well done, with upping the difficulty just a notch here and there to totally throwing a wrench (or an exploding barrel of waste) into things, just like the first time I encountered only two Barons on level eight, it took me 45 minutes to kill both of them initially! There’s also all kinds of bizarre level designs as well, which is about the only thing I don’t like about the game, is that a lot of it is just flat-out strange, along with some of the grotesque imagery of ripped-up people hung from the ceiling and on walls and all. Granted, it’s rated Mature for a reason, but still, I thought some of that wasn’t really needed.

Speaking of the graphics, they were good for back then...until a creature got up close, then you could see how pixilated they really were. The controls work smoothly, although people have griped about cycling through weapons, rather than pressing a number on the keyboard (for the PC version) to switch weapons that way, although the weapon cycling is quick though (and better with a six button controller). Sounds aren’t bad, although the music is muddy; I was surprised at how well it sounded on the SNES version, which is pathetic!

Ok, now I know what you Doom afficionados are thinking: “why all this praise for this version? There’s an ugly brown border on the screen; this version SUCKS! It’s not Doom!” Oh yeah, the game sucks because it’s not full screen? No it doesn’t. If this was the first version of Doom you ever played (like it was for me), it’s not bad at all. The game runs smoothly and you don’t know what you’re missing with only the fronts and backs of enemies being shown, as I found the original version of Doom to be a bit harder (I’ll admit) on The Depths of Doom Trilogy where demons would run and trying to shoot them when you have their side view as well to deal with is more difficult. I think there’s a crushing ceiling or two missing as well, I can’t recall what all I’ve heard about this as compared to the PC version. And it’s funny how people slam this, yet always fail to mention the 3D0 version ran slow as hell, the irony being that it had one of the best versions (since it had a map!) of the precursor of Doom, which was Castle Wolfenstein. That, this, the SNES, and the GameBoy versions of Doom are the worst.

No, what makes this version stink is there being no way to save a game via password or anything, that's what bogged it down a bit. And as the 32X was poorly designed – only having two small vents to try to keep it cool – many units overheated by long games of Doom on pause, since it takes a good three hours to get from start to finish (more or less), if you’re not running all gung ho throughout the levels (which isn’t a smart thing to do!). I fried one 32X unit myself due to this, but luckily I only paid $30 for it (rather than the initial $150 [U. S.] release price), and $15 for the second one, as I was tired of Doom by then. And I still have my [working] second 32X unit too.

After all, the replay value of this game is great; just try it on a harder level once you start getting the feel of the game and see how the strategy changes then, although I’ll admit that this isn’t the best version of Doom out there. It’s pretty much for hardcore game collectors only, as most out there that have been around long enough in the gaming world (Doom’s like 15 years old now, at the time of this writing) probably already have a better version than this one as it is.

Oh, and skip the Doom movie too, from what I’ve heard. Barf! 7/10



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