Or DooM if you must. Though don’t. Please.
Like anyone staggering into their 30’s, we love Doom. My growing up can be separated into two parts: the time I didn’t have, but wanted Doom and the Christmas I got the SNES version (all £64.99 of it). And the game still feels fresh today, the speed of it, the violence…busting into a room full of imps, former humans and demons and unloading a full load of Chaingun ammo feels brutal. It’s the simplicity of it all that keeps it fresh, the game is about killing things with an increasingly powerful arsenal and getting to the exit. No NPC’s to interact with, no extra story to learn.
And like all the best games, what story there is is told by the environment. This blog by Richard Cobbett goes into some amazing detail on that subject…I suggest you read it.
That brings us to Doom 3. A semi-reboot of the series that is very much ‘of its time’. Back in 2004, the FPS world was still attempting to catch up with Half-Life, a game that truly smashed down the walls and re-made the rules of what is capable in the genre. Doom 3 attempted to ape this, with its ‘guy going to work’ opening that leads to the ‘EVERYTHING HAS GONE TO SHIT’ moment, but it never goes to the levels Half-Life did. It lacks the detail that sells a world to you. HF made you feel like a guy who was late for an important testing, Doom just throws a couple of follow quests at you. The immersion isn’t there.
But, Doom 3 nails the atmosphere. The shadows, the enviroment noise…it’s heavy, dense and really unsettling. The environment design excels too, once the Big Bad Event happens, Mars City is a wreck of collapsed rooms, malfunctioning doors, corpses and glowing satanic markings. It’s everything my imagination made the SNES one to be.
Not that I want to be hugely down on Doom 3, I still think it’s a good game, but it lacks that magic that the first one had that makes it feel special, even 22 years later. Oh, and the weapons are shit. Like, really, really weak feeling. The shotgun has no power to it. For shame Id, for shame.
So onto the newly announced Doom. After holding out for some sneak footage and getting nothing (seriously…NO ONE got any footage out. Id had that room locked down tight), we’ve resorted to the descriptions of the footage. And by god, it sounds AWESOME. But we have fears. Much like how Doom 3 was trying to copy its peers of the time, what if New Doom does the same? What if studio pressure makes Id put some terrible NPC’s to talk to? What if the game is bogged down with an RPG-lite upgrade system? What if *deep breath*, it takes influence from CoD?
The thing that made Doom so good was at the time is that there was nothing like it (sans Wolfenstein, but even that seems archaic in comparison), it truly paved the way for the future of gaming. Made by two metallers who wanted the videogame equivalent of the music they were listening to. And much like the original taking influence from the metal of the 1993, New Doom could do much worse than glancing towards the metal of now for influence. Take Dragged into Sunlight’s 30 minute epic, ‘Widowmaker’
(part 2 here)
A slow, relenting nightmare of a song. Starting off with a haunting silence and the exploding into a rage filled onslaught, it’s a perfect parallel of Doom. Imagine the new game starting of with a black screen. You hear the pained screams of death all around then silence. The screen flickers into life as your character gains consciousness, around you the remains of your unit. Corpses, blood and chaos surround you. And a gun. You pick it up and off you go. No story other than what you learn as you go, because really, what story does Doom need? The corporate conspiracy of Doom 3 felt needless and Doom and Doom 2 had a single screen of text. Keep it simple. No NPC’s sending you on errands, no protect missions, no missions. Just levels, keys and hundreds of demons to kill in violently brutal ways all wrapped up in a nightmarish atmosphere like the one Dragged into Sunlight create. The sort of atmosphere that would come from Hell breaking through the walls of reality.
Of course, this is just two fans who know nothing about game development speculating on what Id might be doing, for all we know they’re making the best game we’ll ever play. I really hope so as the original Doom is a work of art belongs at the top echelon of gaming; a true classic, regardless of age and one that could be ruined by another failed reboot. A scary sign of Doom’s falling place in the world comes from Googling it:
Imagine if you’d only heard of this thing called ‘Doom’, you jump to the internet find out more and you see a film of it. You watch it. You cry. No-one should ever discover the film before the game. NO ONE.
Please, make the new Doom a good one, Id, there’s a bunch of 30+ year olds who can’t let go of the past counting on you.
PS:Because it deserves an immense amount of attention, Midnight Resistance put out a months worth of amazing posts about Doom in their ‘Doomcember‘ special last year. If you’ve not already, it’s well worth your time reading.