By Alexander Bonilla
“Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.”
This was said by John Romero, creator of the Doom series and probably one of the most well-known developers in gaming history. While the many games of recent years can prove that wrong, like Bioshock, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Mass Effect, and the Witcher, that quote was pretty realistic in the early 90s. For the most part, games were only about having fun and just playing, well, a game. There were no complex plots, no interesting characters, and no deeper meaning (I know there are exceptions to this). Most of the popular games would just be complete nonsense setup for great fun. Games like Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros, Bomberman, and Mortal Kombat were all a blast to play, but when you think about it had a really simple or no plot at all.
Doom was among these titles that had a nonsense setup that has almost no development but was still a great game to play. The plot is about a space marine stationed on Mars where they accidently open a portal to hell. And that’s about it. Yes, they expanded on the story years later, but when it initially came out, that’s all the story gamers got. And back then, that was all they need.
As for the gameplay, this is one of the most important games in the FPS genre. Without this, we probably wouldn’t have Call of Duty, Halo, or Killzone, or at least not how we know them today. Doom had actually simple gameplay and controls that seem a bit weird at first, especially when you’re used to newer titles, but are easy to get a handle of. It had a weird 2.5D sort of style to it, meaning you can only go left, right, forward, and back, you can’t jump, and you can’t aim up or down. Despite all these faults, the game works with it surprisingly well. There’s an enemy on a high balcony shooting down at you? Don’t worry. Just point where he should be and the bullet will magically fly up or down, however, necessary. Can’t jump to the next floor? Don’t worry. There're some stairs over there. There’s a pool of acid between you and your objective that you can’t jump over. It’s fine. Run through it and the damage will be minimal.
While the game was very creative, one thing it was known for back in the day was that it was an eerie and disturbing trek through a facility of hellish creatures. Nowadays, though… it looks creative, but not really scary anymore. After years of space, marines fighting the Flood, Zergs, Necromorphs, and even Xenomorphs every now and again, the demons from Doom aren’t really as terrifying as they used to be. It’s like looking back at a classic horror film, where you can see the strings and can quickly figure out how they did certain effects, but it’s still enjoyable to watch. Is it as scary as it was when it came out? Not even close. But it’s still fun to look back and see how they were still able to accomplish all those scares with the limited technology.
So, should you play the original Doom? If you’re a fan of FPSs, you should absolutely check this out so you can see how far the genre has come along, and for a fun game that has aged pretty decently. If you don’t really like FPSs or Satanic imagery, maybe you should skip this game. For everyone else, I think it’s worth a look, especially if you have an appreciation for older games. You can currently get the Ultimate Doom (which has an additional chapter on it) on Steam for around $15. It also came out on various console including the N64, SNES, and Sega 32X. For the original version of the game, you'll need to either get a really old computer, or an emulator just to run it "properly."