Monday 18 January 2016

Great Gaming Moments - 01 : DOOM (Id Software)

In a new regular series, I will be taking a look at moments in classic videogames that have left a lasting impression on me. The moments that filled me with a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, or empowerment. They brought a smile to my face or a tear to my eye, and they have made the titles in question a personal experience that have shaped who I am as a gamer. The gameplay mechanics that make it to this list may be original and clever, or just dumb and instantly gratifying. Either way, I present to you the first of many in this series of.. Great Gaming Moments.


Title : Doom, Doom 2, Final Doom
Developer : Id software 
Year : 1993, 1994, 1995
Systems : PC
Also On : SNES, 32X, PS1, Saturn,  3DO, N64, Jaguar, GBA, X360, PS3

Not that I need any excuse to play Doom - one of my favourite games of all time - but here I am, some 22 years after first being introduced to Id Software's masterpiece, and I still get the same buzz of excitement when playing as I did as a hyperactive youngster. I love Doom - as my two part special feature on the game will attest to. Of course, this is the kind of love you have for a lifelong friend, or your childhood pet, not the sticky kind of love that leaves you needing a box of tissues and a nap.

Whether skulking through the dimly lit corridors of the abandoned space station, or charging through the demonic caverns of Hell laying waste to the familiar set of hideous adversaries, I found myself experiencing a few events that brought a huge smile to my face. Every time I went through the same procedure I would be filled with the same sense of elation and accomplishment as the last time, performing something I must have now have performed thousands and thousands of times over. These moments are just a small part of what makes Doom a fantastic game, and it is impossible to choose just one (my original intention), so as a courtesy to the videogame that has provided me with an insane amount of pleasure over my life time so far, and whose characters feel as familiar to me as my closest friends, I am going to include three great gaming moments in Doom that will never, EVER get old, even when I am.

1. Beserker power-up

Oh boy, oh boy! Picking up the Beserker pack - a black version of the large medikit - sends your nameless hero into a fit of blind rage. The screen becomes red, you're automatically switched to your fists, a strange gong-like sound effect chimes in and you know it's time to unleash the pain! Granting you an instant 100 health points is all fine and dandy, but the real showstopper is the fact that you can now pummel the shit out of anything foolish enough to stand too close. Fireball hurling imps giving you grief? Not any more! Simply run at them and punch those brown blighters and watch as they explode in a satisfying pool of gibs. Old Pinkie demon trying to bite your face off? Maybe a large swarm of them - usually a nasty occurrence. Not a problem! Simply find yourself a nice narrow corridor and let those morons run straight into your fists of fury. Punching these pig-like abominations is insanely satisfying, a combination of the 'thwack' sound effect, and the way they reel backwards, omitting their bovine death-cry as blood spurts skywards. Simply perfect!

Mmm.. satisfying!

2. Exploding Barrels

The exploding barrel is now a videogame staple. What first person shooter these days doesn't have a barrel (usually red) that can be used as a makeshift explosive? Well, this common occurrence is all thanks to Doom - as are a great many FPS mechanics still in use today - and still hasn't been bettered.
The barrels in Doom are of the fairly unassuming white variety, although on closer inspection, the green goop frothing up inside them looks like an accident waiting to happen. Indeed, a few well placed bullets, a shotgun blast or, if you're really playing with fire, a rocket, will cause the barrel to detonate in a mighty explosion, often sending the barrel, and splash damage, in the opposite direction. Generally, they are best avoided, as these explosions can cause you serious damage. However, this caution goes out of the window when you realise that you can use them to inflict fiery pain upon the meddlesome Hell-spawn out to ruin your day. While they will cause harm to larger foes such as the Mancubus and Hell Knight, the fun really starts then you spray a barrel with bullets when lowlier enemies such as grunts, imps and pinkie demons are close by. 

There is nothing quite as satisfying as luring a couple of irritants towards a barrel, the demonic glee that rises inside you as you wait for the perfect moment to shoot the toxic container, creating an explosion which emulsifies the approaching monsters into a puddle of gore. Even better is running into a swarm of grunts, chaingunners and imps all vying for your blood. You retreat back, selecting a weapon such as a rocket launcher or, heaven forbid, the BFG, but then you spot a barrel nestled among the monsters. Switching to your shotgun, you take careful aim and fire. Boom! The barrel explodes, creating a cacophony of hideous cries of pain, blood and guts flying every which way. The first explosion reaches another barrel which you hadn't even spotted, causing a quick-fire set of chain explosions which rip through the crowds to devastating effect. The area is now cleared, your work here is done!

3. Monster-on-monster action

While the above methods of administering punishment to the demonic abominations is exceptionally gratifying, sometimes you just want to sit back and let them do all the work. In Doom the demons are so pissed off that they will happily start attacking their own kind, should an errant projectile from their kin collide with them. This will often cause them to forget about you entirely - the human intruder they were so keen to eviscerate only seconds ago - and turn their attentions to the clumsy ne'er-do-well who dared attack them. In the heat of battle this can provide much needed relief, but it's also satisfying and often comical to watch unfold. Demons will growl and chomp at enemies far hardier than themselves, usually resulting in their rapid demise, while imps and shotgunners can be incredibly persistent, chasing their attacker through corridors and across lava or acid. All the while, you can sit back and watch the action, saving yourself some precious ammo in the process.

So there you have it, just three reasons that explain why I am still playing this sublime game 22 years later. It's not as if I have to recommend Doom 1 & 2 to anyone - after all, I am sure you have all played them many times. But I hope that my choice moments have brought a smile to your face and you recall experiencing them yourself, and that it inspires you to go back and play it again! The excellent has recently completed its annual Cacoawards, showcasing the best user mods and levels of 2015, so what better time to get yourself back in the fray! Be sure to check out part two of my Doom special for more info on the many excellent source ports, mods and addons available!

Happy Dooming everyone!

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