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Gamer Education: Doom

By Taylor Howarth on September 15, 2021

Ottawa local Taylor Howarth turned to PC gaming last spring during the pandemic, and is playing through numerous classics in what she dubs her Gamer Education. Her review of Doom (1993) is the second installment in this series.

I was told that every gamer should play Doom (1993). So I did.

It’s kinda clunky; you get stuck on objects and corners of the map, you are relegated to using only your keyboard, which forces some serious gamer posture, and it’s brutally punishing.  So, of course, I loved it.

Despite Doom not being the original 3D first-person shooter (FPS), it was the one that brought the genre and style to the forefront, says Gamezetera owner Pierre Tessier. The developers, id Software, released Wolfenstein 3D first, he told me, but for some reason, Doom was the one that really caught on and continues to be regarded as the granddaddy of the FPS genre.

Since there is no fancy intro or story that provides any context for why you are playing a dude that has to purge his surrounding of demons and the undead, you just have to go with it.

Demon in Space from Doom. Screenshot.

You, a nameless marine, are dropped in the middle of a crater somewhere in space tearing through bad guys for an unclear objective. Perhaps simply because dudes rock.

Although the main character may be nameless, he is unofficially referred to as Doom guy, or Doomguy. He is a crewcut-sporting tough guy who, to my surprise, cannot jump and can only move his weapon on an x-axis. He also moves way too quickly, even at a walking pace, and running was just too much for me to properly control.

I played for about two hours on the “Hey, not too rough” difficulty level (2 of 5), and well, even that may have been ambitious. I made it a few levels into the game and acquired the secretly cached shotgun and chainsaw, which were incredibly satisfying to use and elicited some pretty gruesome graphics.

Finding secrets in Doom. Screenshot.

The secret passages are denoted by discoloured walls that I absolutely could not distinguish from any other wall. I had to be told where the secrets were in order to find the good weapons, which I swiftly employed to cruise to the next level.

Getting owned by the baddies in Doom. Screenshot.

This degree of ease was very short-lived, however. My hubris led me to a quick death and I lost all of the good weapons that had been compensating for my lack of skill. This was the beginning of the end for me and Doomguy. His animated portrait changes as you take damage, and once I lost the best defence I had (my superior offence), he became increasingly more bruised and beat up, ultimately culminating in death. Over and over again.

I got stuck in an area that requires strategy and finesse, and when you lack both, it just becomes demoralizing. For the record, I did not rage-quit the game; I just logged off in frustration. I did enjoy the experience overall, though.

It must be noted that the death rattles of the baddies are exceptional in this game. Lots of hypnotizing lights and music too. This is another soundtrack packed with absolute jams that carry you through each map and fill you with unearned confidence.

Frame of Computer Room in Doom. Screenshot.

It is also very accessible, despite some of the technical limitations that come from it being a decades-old game. My biggest complaint about modern shooters is that you need an encyclopedic knowledge of weapons and the types of ammo they take and best mods etc. But this is simply: pick up gun, shoot gun. Easy for me.

Well, in theory.

This 30-year old groundbreaking game is still very cool. The graphics are still awesome, the music rocks, and all you do is find secrets and shoot guys. A simple formula for the making of a cult classic.