DOOM / iD / PC

It's tricky to review old games that have basically been enshrined by the gaming community as unquestionable classics. Aside from the fact that nearly everything has been said about them already and collated effectively *somewhere*, there's also the dicey question of the criteria used in rating them. Do they deserve an automatic top rating because of pioneering qualities, etc? Or do you rate them on how well they stand the test of time in fun and playability?

I tend toward the latter. I don't like putting anything on a pedastel, and I think the true test of a game is that it is as fun to play 50 or 500 years from now as it is when it comes out. Of course, this leads you into another dicey issue of relatives. Is DOOM to be rated lower because we've had over a decade of more advanced, frankly better FPS games made to choose from, which you'll likely pick over DOOM if you're in the mood for a DOOM-type game? Here I say no - the game should be taken on its own merits.

DOOM passes the "desert island test" for "classic" games - if I were stuck on a desert island for a month with nothing but DOOM to while away the time, I'd still be able to get into it and have fun with it, regardless of my knowledge that someday I can go back to Goldeneye or Halo 3 or whatever.

Really, the only knock against it I can come up with after replaying the first episode in 2009 is that the level design is honestly kind of shit. Of course, this came at a time when the concept of FPS "level design" had no precedents to draw from other than Wolfenstein 3D, so it feels pissy being judgmental about it. But it does rely on a lot of cheap shit continuously - the goal of most levels is to explore to find all the keycards and doors, yet you constantly get punished for exploring, like when an unexpected elevator throws you into a narrow corridor with a bunch of Imps, or you get baited to a window by a health item and then some unseen monster who was waiting quietly underneath it blows off a third of your health with a shotgun. Ultimately, this is counterbalanced by the customization of the game - if you don't like the way Romero shoots his WADs you can simply download one of the 18 billion that the community has made since 1993, or make one of your own.

Also, this had smooth modem/LAN multiplayer at a time where that was rare. Not just rare to even have the feature, but rare for it to work reliably without sync issues between all the computers involved causing everyone's movements to look crazy to each other.

So yeah, DOOM is a pretty cool guy. It certainly didn't do anything positive for the medium in terms of literacy or emotional maturity but it did tell us a lot about how to make a fun, atmospheric reflex-testing 3D game, and it's still pretty fun to play even now - and it will continue to be even when Halo 57 and Call of Duty 122 come out.

Links :

* DOOM Shareware (first episode - nine levels)

Videos :

* Gameplay Video

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