February was a bit of a missed opportunity with my reviews, with me only posting two throughout the whole month and one of those was an archived review that at this point isn't really much to look at. It's there, but I only posted it because I did it and I wanted to fill a week. March will be a bit of a change of pace, with how Doom Eternal is set to releae this month and all. I'll be talking about Doom games, albeit not really in release order. This first one will be the most lengthy, as I'm going to be talking about all four megawads on the idTech engine as well as briefly gloss over the tons upon tons of source ports.
Doom, much like its successor Quake, pushed hardware back when it first came out. John Carmack was obviously looking to push hardware among saying tons of other things, such as how story in a game is like story in a porn movie to the lead story writer of Doom. Funny that, as Doom 3 was very story based and Carmack still worked on idTech 4, but that is neither here nor there.
Doom is what I'd like to consider an arcade shooter, much similar to Quake and Descent. Do X objective, move to next, more difficult level, do same objective, rinse and repeat until the end. Beautiful simplicity down to a T. Gone were the lives and overall robotic feel of Wolfenstein. Now instead we have a swaying gun, a less fake but still pseudo 3D engine, and music that just sounds better because it may or may not have stolen from actual songs in a clever fashion. Now you needed a 386 at minimum to play and a decent bit of RAM as well.
Doom, a 1993 game, was spread through shareware demos. Many people liked what they played, so they bought the full version. Much like what game devs don't do now, and then wonder why their games are cracked and played without people buying. At one point, even if it was still Win 3.1, Doom was installed on more computers than Windows. That's hard to believe now, as you require Windows to play Doom, but back then that was saying something. It eventually got a CD re-release called The Ultimate Doom, which featured the kick in the balls called Thy Flesh Consumed where you tear up Hell for killing your pet bunny Daisy.
Doom II was released not long after, only 10 months to be precise, and was a whole new megawad with one new weapon. The most important weapon.
The Super Shotgun.
And oh boy, does it ever live up to the name. It is super, alright.
Besides that, it has a set of 30 levels that continue the Doom experience, with new monsters as well. There was also an expansion for Doom II called "Master Levels for Doom II" that people don't tend to think about all too often and even I have yet to play.
Final Doom is a controversial one, however, as Plutonia and TNT Evilution were set to release and then iD snapped it up and they were sold for money, which ended up infuriating many a Doom fan that were waiting for the two megwads. Plutonia is the wad form of a middle finger, and TNT is... TNT. We'll get to those when we get to them.
Gameplay of Doom is simple. Run around, kill demons. Find medkits for healty with little vials for health over 100, soulspheres for 100+ health, and Megaspheres for 200+ Health and Armor. Run around more, find weapons and ammo for those weapons. Kill more demons. Find keys. Kill more demons. Do that until the game is over. There's also the Berzerk which gives you 100 health if you weren't at or above 100 and gives your fists amazing power until the end of the level.
Graphically, it doesn't look like much anymore and without perspective correction, it looks kind of funny when you use mouselook to look up or down. Same as with Duke Nukem 3D. But for 1993 on PC, this was amazing. Non-gradient floors and ceilings with more 3D looking areas, even if almost everything in the game is a 2D sprite. Lots of reds and browns, not too much of other colors, though.
The sound is the sort of midi goodness everyone likes. Not the shitty midis everyone jokes about, but actual, real midi-sequenced music played on your choice of device, but usually either an SC-55 or an OPL3 chipset. More acclaimed than Descent's SC-55/OPL3 soundtrack, but pretty good like Descent's midi soundtrack. More inspiration lifted from other songs, though, just cleverly disguised. Nice satisfying sound effects as well.
Doom. 36 Levels of demons, if you include all the secret levels and Thy Flesh Consumed, which you probably should. I don't count the Xbox version with the level Sewers, as that is not the megawad everyone plays. 9 missions in 4 episodes.
The enemies you have to face are as follows:
Imps which throw fireballs, two different types of hitscanners, pinkies, or Pink Demons if you prefer, which rely on melee attacks, Spectres, which are just transparent Pinkies, Barons of Hell which shoot green fireballs at the player, Cacodemons which shoot fireballs at you as well, Lost souls which can go fuck themselves and charge at you, Spider Masterminds which have chainguns that will murder you in a matter of seconds and Cyberdemons which shoot rockets at you.
And every enemy has a melee attack if you get up close and personal. Not just the Pinkies.
The weapons at your disposal are also as follows:
The Pistol, the Chainsaw, the Shotgun, the Chaingun, the Plasma Rifle, the Rocket Launcher, and...
The BIG. FUCKING. GUN!
Talk about overpowered weapons, the BFG will decimate anything and everything it hits. Maybe not one-shotting enemies like the Spider Mastermind or the Cyberdemon, but it will one-shot almost everything else, if not everything other than those two. It will also send out invisible trackers (beams you probably saw in Quake 2 when using it) to kill any enemies nearby. Uses 40 cell ammo and is one helluva weapon.
We start with the iconic E1M1. Hangar. A recognizable classic for everyone, even those who haven't played Doom. It gets you used to how the game plays, and allows you to get a shotgun if you know to go back in the level and not exit immediately. The song "At Doom's Gate" plays and is instantly recognizable unless you play the PS1 or Saturn version where the soundtrack was replaced with ambient stuff, reminiscent of Quake. The only songs from those versions to note are the Title and Doom 2 ending songs, but otherwise it's more of background noise. If you read my Quake review you know that I didn't care for it, and that won't be the last time I talk about ambient Doom music for that matter.
The rest of Knee-Deep In The Dead is a way to get the player used to playing Doom. No BFG in this episode, but this episode was supposed to be Shareware anyways. With cleverly hidden secrets, such as guns you can get earlier than expected, this episode is a solid proving ground for Doom. This episode is completely devoid of cell weapons in general, so you have the RAWKIT LAWNCHAIR (that reference is still funny) to take on the Barons of Hell in E1M8. Head into the Deimos Anomaly which is a room with the Damaging Floor of Type 11 that nullifies God Mode and sends you to the episode's end text.
E2 is good as well. I enjoy playing through The Shores of Hell since it is a really good challenge without taking its time. It's a nice midpoint between E1 and E3. But don't you worry, I'll get to Inferno when I get to it. You start in the Deimos Anomaly and nearly instantly can pick up the Shotgun. You can also get the Plasma Rifle if you know your secrets well enough. The rest of E2 is maze-like, but not all too terrible with it. Deimos lab can be a bit of a pain in the ass as well as command center, but not overall too bad. You fight a Cyberdemon at the end.
E3 is where it gets bad. Inferno is where the maps got too labyrinthic and too overwhelmingly confusing, not to mention that in E3M1, you have to fight a cacodemon with the pistol.
WHO DOES THAT?
E3M1 though is very short and mercifully so, as E3 tends to be mercilessly long at times. My first run through of it took me about an hour and 15 minutes, whereas no other episode did that. Be aware of that for those of you who haven't played Doom much.
E3M2, Slough of Despair, is a very infamous one for just being a huge unlikeable pain in the ass. It will take inexperienced players at least 10 minutes and you will have to pistol-fight your way through a lot of it. You can get the plasma rifle, but still you will be doing a lot of pistol-fighting unless you can do it *just* right.
E3M3, Pandemonium, is only better because of the song Deep Within The Code, which is a midi version of Behind the Crooked Cross by Slayer, from the album South of Heaven. There's no denial about that. It's a pretty alright level and you can get the BFG in it.
The rest of the Inferno levels are slogs that just are not fun. They take way too long and are way too big if you are to ask me. You fight the Spider Mastermind at the end of the episode, and then you go on to face E4.
E4 is meant to be really difficult. Sometimes hard for bullshit reasons. See also, E4M2. Is it Plutonia hard? No. But, it is still meant to be a challenge for those who wanted extra. You fight another Spider Mastermind, and Doom is over.
But I'm not done yet! Call right now and I'll include SIGIL! The latest Doom wad from iD developers!
Yes, I had to do it like Billy Mays.
Sigil was a release from 2019 that added E5. It is a very, very difficult map pack and was completely designed by John Romero. It's definitely a different experience, but it, like E4, is meant to be a bonus challenge.
Doom II: Hell on Earth. Fight more demons. 'Nuff said.
Doom 2 is more of what Doom 1 was, with a new weapon and seven new demons. It gave us the level Dead Simple, which has special flags that trigger the game to do different things when X type of enemy is destroyed. That scripting system came back in Doom 64 in a more intricate manner as well as "Even Simpler", a map that does the same thing but is even more difficult than Dead Simple. Doom 2 also adds the Super Shotgun, a weapon that of which is so powerful, it can take on any type of enemy that you throw at it with ease. Not to mention that ammo is abundant as hell, no pun intended.
The only other level to mention... hmmm.
Oh yeah, The Chasm.
That level sucks. 'Nuff said.
There's also a Wolfenstein E1M1 secret map hidden in Industrial Zone. You can also get to Grosse!, a map where if you use infighting to your advantage, you can have a bunch of Wolfenstein Nazis fight a Cyberdemon. No, they did not include MechaHitler. This level also has 4, count em, 4 Commander Keens hanging that you can turn into a pile of guts and his head. Get to Level 32 and destroy the Icon of Sin or John Romero's head and the game is done.
Also the song "Into Sandy's City" is amazing. That's the best song in the OST period.
The new demons for Doom II are the Chaingunner, a chaingunning hitscanner much in a similar vein to the Spider Mastermind, the Revenant, the ruler of Doom memes that shoots homing rockets, the Pain Elemental, who needs to die and die fast because he only exists to spawn Lost Souls which I already hate, the Mancubus, which just shoots regular rockets, the Hell Knight, who is just a recolored Baron, the Arachnotron, which is just a small Spider Mastermind that has a plasma gun, which means it can't hitscan anymore, and that motherfucker the Arch-vile, who will roast you in fire and resurrect dead enemies.
For the quick aside for Final Doom, I'll go over the megawads, just not in intricate detail.
Plutonia has many, MANY maps that are built out of Chaingunners, Revenants and Arch-viles. They are strategically positioned to fuck you over in the meanest way possible. Not to mention lots of Barons and Hell Knights, and I'll say you've definitely got your hands full with Plutonia. Also, Go 2 it is a thing, and is a super secret level like Grosse! and is the hardest commercially released Doom level period. There's a reason why they hid it. You fight the Icon of Sin again, and that's over with.
Only downside is that Plutonia should have had Into Sandy's City as one of the featured tracks. It had Deep Into The Code, but it doesn't have Into Sandy's City.
TNT is a mixed bag because it has very labyrinthic levels that take wayyyy too long. Hell, 4 had to be thrown out because they were too big. It starts like Plutonia, but it gets easier as it goes on, just with the levels getting bigger and bigger and less interesting. That's a big problem, as Doom is supposed to be keeping you engaged. But, the levels feel kind of eh because of that. It's also infamous because it had a deal brokered for it and plutonia at the last possible moment, but that's a different discussion for a different day. It also features new music whereas Plutonia doesn't.
How would you like some ports? I've got lots and lots of ports for everyone!
We have a SNES version that has a new Super FX chip and pretty faithful music to the original sound for the SPC. It gives the game a different feel overall and is interesting in that manner. It would be nice if you could tell what the hell was going on, but you can't because of how the image just looks really poor since the SNES can only do so much.
We have a 32X port that looks good but sounds very thin and has that signature Genesis TWANG, just... in the way people don't like it. It plays OK and overall isn't that bad. It also doesn't include Inferno which I have no problem with.
We have a Saturn port that was gimped by John Carmack because he doesn't like texture warping. He regrets it now, but he'd regret it less if he knew that it would turn out so poorly.
We have a Jaguar port that is technically impressive, but because the APU is used for math calculations (something it was also designed for), it doesn't have sound! It's too bad, but you can just listen to an SC-55 rip available on the net somewhere else.
We have a GBA port that is technically impressive and gives us green blood. That makes Germany happy, and until 2014, was the only version of Doom not banned in Germany.
We have a 3DO port that was shat out in 10 weeks and that features pretty ok re-recordings of the music. Look here for the original lossless AIF files, but shit gameplay because of how quickly it was rushed out. https://github.com/Olde-Skuul/doom3do
We have a PS1 port of Doom that is notable for being a worthy opponent to the Jaguar Doom in terms of how good the port was. It features maps from Doom 1 and Doom 2, and there's a Final Doom what features primarily, levels from Master Levels for Doom II, but also a few levels from TNT and Plutonia.
But that's irrelevant because everything can run Doom. Everything.
I'd usually give a final word that means a damn, but I don't have to, other than you should probably buy the game legit, even if the wad is so readily available it's not funny. Also deathmatching came from Doom, but seeing as I haven't actually gotten a chance to netplay it like Quake, I'm not saying anything about that.
Now what are you waiting for? Go play Doom!