Thanksgiving – Remembering DOOM

In the brief lifespan of EDR so far, we’ve been a bit topical. We scurry like hungry videogame fleas over the grotesquely matted fur of the industry, burrowing for whatever the hell it is fleas want, while laying our word-eggs in choice locations. Why are we doing this? For hits, natch.

But today, I have taken it upon myself to give the middle finger to hits. We don’t need no hits, blood.* We’re keeping it real. And how are we keeping it real? With a celebration of the gore soaked, imp-infested dirty old man of games.

DOOM.

Nostalgia is huge. Everyone loves stuff that stops them feeling old, right? Stuff that reminds them of the heady carefree days of the youth. This being the case, games have now reached a point of sufficient maturity (or at least , age) where nostalgia comes into play. SEGA have licensed out the Mega Drive to a third party, and it’s back on the streets. The Wii has the virtual console (which may be the best thing about the platform), the Xbox has that arcade thingy, and the PC has the brilliant GOG. Nostalgic gaming is huge.

Most of the time, nostalgic gaming is a terrible mistake. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have been mind-blowing on the arcade machine in the swimming pool foyer, but for 400 “Microsoft Points” its flaws quickly become apparent (the most notable of these being the fact that it’s rubbish) and anyone excited by the prospect of playing the original Mortal Kombat on a real genuine (if very small) Mega Drive is in for a nasty surprise (the surprise being that it’s rubbish). Sometimes though, it all works out beautifully and your memories prove correct. Streets of Rage is just as great as you remember. Uridium. Mario Bros 3. But most of all – DOOM.

Doom was brilliant when I was eleven. Doom is possibly even better now that I am storming the gates of twenty five, and for some reason it plays beautifully on the Xbox. The gamepad works perfectly in a way that (and I’m sorry, console kids, but it’s true) it just doesn’t for any game with the extra axis and a jump button. The weight feels just right for Doom.

Gosh, but it’s fun. Simple, clean, elegant fun. Doom is crisp and pure as a blade. Level + Demons + Shotgun = Bliss. The hypnotic rythmn of the shotgun punctuating the howls, moans and MIDI music is still some of the best sound design in gaming and the blood soaked psychotic rage of the marine as he is variously torn, shot, irradiated and mauled sweeps you along with id’s furious pace and the purity of ultraviolence. No NPCs. No story. No Russian. Just you, seven guns and hordes of monsters. Hell can send everything they like at me. I’ve got a plasma rifle, and I absolutely will not stop.

Doom is also very different from modern games. Doom was not an entertainment event. People didn’t gasp and marvel at the amount of units sold. Doom was a phenomenon, a dangerous and thrilling moment for gaming. It didn’t have the cleanliness or professionalism of modern games. Doom was rough and hard and dirty. Doom was fast, and Doom was superviolent. Doom listened to Trent Reznor before he hit the big time and drank like George Best. Doom probably didn’t wash and it definitely had skull tattoos**. Playing Doom felt (and still feels, in some ways) genuinely subversive. It is not laden with DRM, it wasn’t pimped to death by the big money fatheads who control gaming today. Doom just happened, and games went critical.

So today, Edrites (that’s you lot), give thanks for Doom. Many came after, learned from Doom and did all sorts of different and wonderful things with the shooter genre – but sometimes I feel like they made it safe, made shooters easier to categorise. Half Life and it’s imitators brought shooters into a recognisable world, but in doing so they lost the frenetic invention of Doom (and particularly, Doom2). Doom happened, a genre was born, and with genre came rules and conventions. Doom was blessed with inventing a genre, and the enormous freedom that came with it. What Doom did, Doom still does the best, and in a way that is completely its own.

Run. Gun. FUN.

____________________________________________________________

*This is a barefaced lie. We love hits. Hits are the electric junk injected into our digital veins.

**Tattoos of skulls. Not tattoos on the skull. Although maybe those too. Actually, Doom probably had tattoos of skulls on the skull.

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11 Comments on “Thanksgiving – Remembering DOOM”

  1. Joe Says:

    What was that game, Axe something, it had several characters you could choose, like a dwarf or barbarian or scantily-clad woman. I think that was the game that taught me the words ‘Decapitate’ and ‘impale’. Important life lessons from games started then!

  2. Paul S Says:

    Cripes. I hadn’t even finished editing when you commented.

    Golden Axe is the game to which you refer. No decapitations though. Sadly.

  3. Joe Says:

    I have an essay to write, so naturally I’m wandering the wild places of the internet seeking amusement.
    There was a game that involved graphic decapitations, I remember the fountain of blood. Ditto the impaling. I don’t remember anything else about it.

  4. Gillbo Says:

    I love Doom, but if I’m honest, I prefer Quake. I know; I said it. But we were all thinking it.

  5. Sho'rock Says:

    Doom on 360 is definitely one of the best XBOX aracade game around although it doesn’t beat Duke Nukem 3D, what other game has an achievement called ‘clean up in aisle 4’ for standing in excrement, genius!

  6. Nightjuju Says:

    Ahh Doom, the game that had me trying to peer round corners by leaning around the screen and looking at it from different angles…
    One heck of a game. However Quake scared the pants off me. So I’m not sure which one I prefer…

  7. Paul S Says:

    Quake was cracking, but it lacked the bug eyed focus of Doom. It also had less monsters. Quake 3, though. Quake 3 was perfect. Completely perfect.
    @Joe – Ultimate Warrior is the name that springs to mind. It had a lizard with a scimitar.
    @Sho’rock – Don’t get me started on achievements…

  8. Scruffy Says:

    “Many came after, learned from Doom” – Wolfenstein3D came before! Not always the best things, but it does set the standard for everything that follows.

  9. Paul S Says:

    Bless Wolf 3D. It did come first, and strictly speaking invented the genre. But Doom was the crisis point. Doom demonstrated what was possible and blew everyone’s minds while doing it.


  10. @ Paul: I completely agree, Q3 was – and in many ways, still is – the perfect shooter. Doom’s greatest, unavoidable, weakness was a lack of 3D. When three dimensions became the norm, it took a while to regain the focus lost by its introduction. Quake 3 nailed it.

    Having said that though, Quake 2 was pretty bloody good, as was Half-Life.

  11. TD-43 Says:

    Oh, this has just made me go and download DOOM for a run through. Great game!


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