‘Tis the season to be jolly – again. The newest entry in the DOOM series has been spreading across the computer screens of gamers like wildfire and it has received positive reviews from the critics around the world. DOOM has been said to be an “Amazing continuation to the classic franchise”, as we stated in our review. Speaking of the classic franchise, one could wonder what kind of games could set a demand for such an outstanding sequel. To answer this question we have to go back in time – to the magical era known as the 90’s.
It was truly a pleasant era for the gaming industry. Nintendo and Sega had been wound up in a battle for the throne of the console market, Sound Blasters were found in every computer store and the name Sony was still associated with portable media players. Due to the technological advancements in the computer industry, PC gaming was on the rise. Previously, PC gaming had been a niche compared to console gaming. Home computers simply didn’t have as much power or capability to handle fast-paced games as consoles did so it had been underrated for a long time. In the beginning of the 1990’s, a few technological improvements changed the whole scene. The introduction of CD-ROMs and sound cards revolutionized the way people saw PC gaming. With CDs, the game developers were able to publish games that had full motion videos and higher-quality audio. One of the games that took advantage of these improvements was Myst, developed by the Miller Brothers and released in 1993. It remained on the list of best-selling PC games for three years, showing people that PC gaming was no longer a niche.
John Romero, one of the founders of id Software, was fascinated with the new capabilities of PC gaming. He had seen his friend in Looking Glass getting involved in the development of Ultima Underworld, and he began to wonder if their company could create a similar game. He called John Carmack and the other founders of id Software: Tom Hall and Adrian Carmack. They decided to give it a shot.
In 1992 Wolfenstein 3D was released. The game was played through the eyes of a commando, hunting down Nazi soldiers, attack dogs and eventually even the Führer himself. The game was a fast-paced shooter from the character’s point of view, which practically introduced a new genre: First-person shooters. It also used 3D graphics, which could be argued to be more “2.5D”. The levels were built with two-dimensional planes, arranged in a way that made it look three-dimensional. Strictly speaking, Wolfenstein 3D wasn’t the first first-person shooter, but it was one of the most influential ones. After the success of their title, id Software decided to make another game: DOOM.
DOOM hit the markets like a hurricane after its release in 1993. It had the same fast-paced action as Wolfenstein 3D had, but the biggest thing everyone talked about was the gore. Wolfenstein 3D had introduced the idea of bleeding enemies. It was common in games for the enemies to vanish after being shot by the player. In Wolfenstein 3D, the enemies began to bleed before falling to the floor, permanently lying in a pile of limbs and blood. DOOM took the concept further. In addition to brutalizing the enemies, the player was now able to see the physical damage dealt to the main character. In the bottom of the screen there was a small icon of the character’s face, getting more and more bloodied every time the character took damage. That wasn’t the only shock factor, however. The imagery of the game consisted of hellish beings and satanic symbols. The player played as a space marine, but the enemies consisted of creatures from the depths of hell. DOOM had created a phenomenon unlike anything before.
DOOM was very influential for its time. Many games followed in its footsteps: Duke Numem 3D, Jedi Knight, Unreal and Descent. DOOM also introduced a new concept of multiplayer called “death match.” In this mode, players formed teams and combated against each other rather than the monsters. Nowadays, this mode is a standard for any FPS title, like many things DOOM introduced to the industry.
It can’t be denied that DOOM is one of the most influential video games ever created. It practically set the standards for modern-day shooters and video games in general. It is great to see this franchise get revived, and maybe even bringing people to the original DOOM, the one that started it all.