Welcome to day two, week 15 of our 100 reviews in 100 days!
Creating a Genre in the #29 Position…
DOOM. Just four simple letters, but to any gamer it is synonymous with the beginning of the FPS era. While there were other FPSs before DOOM, none of them had anything close to DOOM’s success. From a historical standpoint, DOOM is the undisputed granddaddy of the modern FPS.
Beginning of a genre
DOOM was the signature release of 1993, which was a huge year in gaming already: Star Fox, X-Wing, Virtua Fighter and Myst are all benchmark titles that saw release that year. DOOM built upon id Software’s blockbuster hit Wolfenstein 3D by expanding the game’s atmosphere while allowing for multiple textures, different levels and varying degrees of light. The latter contributed to DOOM’s visual authenticity, atmosphere and gameplay, as the use of darkness to frighten or confuse the player was nearly unheard of in previous shooters (You can make a strong argument that DOOM was not only the first runaway hit FPS, but also was the first glimpse we had of the survival-horror genre). These features, which were so unique at the time, are practically requirements in your typical modern FPS, and we simply don’t have that without DOOM.
DOOM pushed the envelope not only in terms of graphics and gameplay, but development as well. The game was developed by a grand total of five people, with only two of them being tapped to do the actual programming (Something unheard of in current developmental cycles). Interestingly enough, the game was originally supposed to include multiple player avatar options and a much more detailed story, but they were scrapped in favor of making a more streamlined game with a core focus on gameplay and mechanics, and that decision paid off. DOOM functioned perfectly.
The end of the world (No, really)
When DOOM was released, it gained instant steam and a huge popularity boost from being shareware. Shareware, for those that don’t know, is basically a demo that is not allowed to be distributed for profit. This marketing scheme worked wonders, and allowed anyone and everyone to join into the world of DOOM to experience its excitement and its horrors. Unfortunately, this shareware approach made people think they’d finished the game after they’d beaten the first level, as there was no way for them to know that things kept going after “Knee Deep in The Dead.”
DOOM brought the 3D FPS genre to the forefront of gaming and into the media spotlight, but to some people that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Yahoo! Games has the game listed in the top 10 most controversial games to date, 5th overall. The extremely violent graphics and satanic imagery prompted numerous consumer advocacy groups to fightfor the banning of the game. For all the negative pushback it initially received from some corners, DOOM’s worst moment came on April 20th of 1999, with the Columbine shootings. Several research groups pointed out that both of the disturbed youths that committed the atrocities that day were spurred on by DOOM. This theory was refuted by the Harvard school of medicine, the Secret Service and the Department of Education, but it’s an association that has (unfairly) dogged DOOM ever since.*
No matter where you stand on the graphic violence of the game, you cannot deny that DOOM helped to shape the FPS world. It helped spawn all of the FPS games that have become blockbusters, but it’s influence doesn’t stop there. Any game that has a “3D” type attached to it owes DOOM for its revolutionary ideas. This alone grants DOOM a 5 out of 5.
*Editor’s Note: For more information on DOOM and it’s association with Columbine, read Blood & Guts: Violence in Gaming in our All Your Blog Are Belong To Us section.