Doom
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation, Multi
Publisher
Williams Entertainment
Developer
Id Software Inc.
Genre
First Person Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Animated Blood and Gore
 
Grade
The Good

• Great level design
• Core gameplay is classic for the genre
• Multiplayer and co-op add to single player
• Customizable controls

The Bad

• Dated graphics may turn off those spoiled by current standards
• Story is non-existent

 
Grade
A

Since Id Software is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Doom this month (Dec, 2003), I decided to break out this classic game. While the game has seen life on many platforms, including the PC, Mac, Saturn and GameBoy Advance, my own copy was the version that Williams Entertainment put out on the Playstation in 1995, which contained over 50 levels from Ultimate Doom and Doom II and came in the oversized packaging before Sony switched to jewel cases.

Along with Castle Wolfenstein, Doom is considered a first person shooter (FPS) classic, establishing what would become a massively popular genre that has given birth to the likes of Duke Nukem, Halo, Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark and Half Life. For those not familiar with Doom, this title has players take on the role of an unnamed soldier who has been sent to Mars as punishment for fragging his superior officer. When a teleporting gateway project on Mars' moons goes horribly wrong, you have to go in and find out what's wrong. This of course, leads the player through a space station filled with monsters to deal with. Of course, this whole story is only told in the game manual as there is no narrative at all in this game.

Players are tossed into the first level with their bare fists and a handgun. At this point, you'll work your way through the level, killing everything that gets in your way, collecting ammo, health and armor and finding one of three potential security cards, skull keys or a necessary switch to flip as you progress to the end of the stage. The game is played out in first-person perspective with a pretty comprehensive heads-up display at the bottom giving you all the info you need.

Controls are pretty swift and responsive. Since this game was released for the Playstation early on, it's designed for the original controller, meaning there is NO analog support. If you're spoiled by the dual analog control scheme found in titles like Halo, you're going to have to get used to sticking with the D-Pad. Luckily, you can customize your button layout. Yes, before Timesplitters made this feature such a premium, Doom was allowing you to set your controls how you like. There's a button to shoot, use switches, strafe left and right, run, and flip through your weapons. Yeah, there aren't any grenades to lob, no ability to jump, no ladders to climb and you can't whack enemies with the butt of your weapon, but what did you expect? Id Software had to leave something for other people to introduce into the genre.

Power-ups include health potions and armor, which can take the brunt of damage before it actually affects your health. You can also find soul spheres, which boost your health, blur artifacts, which make you hard to see, and invulnerability artifacts, which make you temporarily unkillable. If you're spoiled by newer FPS, the list of weapons may seem small, but they are effective and tend to be all you need. Along the way, players will find a chainsaw, shotgun (regular and double-barred), chaingun, rocket launcher, plasma rifle and the ultimate - BFG 9000, which kills everyone and their brother in one shot.

While the core gameplay behind Doom is a pretty simple corridor shooter, it's all the additional elements that make it work well. Level design is quite excellent - most players may run from the beginning to end, but dedicated players will spend the time to find hidden locations in each level. And there isn't just one or two rooms to find, but whole sections of the stage that just take a little effort to find. Most stages play out like large switch/key-oriented puzzles, where you'll need to find the opporpriately colored key/skull to move on to the next section. The game is riddled with boobytraps and you'll need to keep your head on a swivel to survive. While the enemy A.I. man not be too deep (they all come after you when they see you), you will find that enemies of different type will fight each other, especially if you get them to hit one another while you dodge enemy fire.

Along with the massive single player experience, the Playstation version comes with Deathmatch and Co-Op modes which can be played with the system link. To do this, though, you'll need two TVs, two Playstations, and two copies of Doom. Fans of Halo are pretty familiar with these kind of things, so you can imagine how much fun the system-link can actually turn out to be.

Visually, the game is definitely dated. The enemies are composed of moderately-detailed sprites with a handful of animation frames running around in polygonal environments. Even though the textures used in each location tend to be pretty pixelated upon closer inspection and heavily reapeated throughout most of the game, the use of lighting and the overall dark theme makes the game's look standout. While the game may start off with a sci-fi theme, the growing presense of demonic themes only ups the ante as you push further and further into your journey. Yes, the game's graphics do date the game, but unless you're completely spoiled by the current standard of graphics, you'll ignore how the game looks before too long.

For its time, Doom features a nice array of sound effects, given proper weight to limited range of weapons. All the enemies have their own signature sounds, which gives you a good idea of what's nearby. When you hear the barking grunt of a demon or spectre nearby, you'll know when to start firing. The Playstation version features stereo sound, which helps locate your enemies. To top it off is a great soundtrack that really sets the mood with dark industrial ambient soundscapes that set a nice tone.

You should be able to find a copy of this classic on the Playstation in a used game store or on Ebay with little trouble. In fact, you might be able to nab a copy of PC original or recent GameBoy Advance version with little trouble. Fans of the FPS genre or retro-gaming should own a copy of this title. If you do, break out your copy this month in celebration.

- - Kinderfeld

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