The new DOOM is out in a few weeks and I figured that I should do something to commemorate this unprecedented event; the first time in history a popular video game received a remake.
So I played DOOM.
(Man, that’s fun to type. DOOM.)
Now that we’re deep in the trenches and I’ve been doing this for a while, I’m trying to make it a point to cover what I deem to be “important” games. In theory, this should be a simple task, since it’s obviously easier to formulate thoughts and draw conclusions about such well-known entities. The problems arise when my anxiety-ridden brain comes into play and puts forth this expectation that I need to do those games justice; to have some salient point or profound statement I can make that will keep them elevated on the pedestals that they’ve already earned a place on through the course of history.
Of course, it’s rather presumptuous to think that I can undo that, as if there’s never been bad writing done on the subject of good video games. Hell, I’ve done a lot of it, but with a game like DOOM, especially when speaking about it in the modern era, it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking it was. Before the term “first person shooter” existed, they were called “Doom Clones”. Of course, being the hipster asshole kid that I was, I continued to call them that long after the term was rendered obsolete, in the midst of the genre becoming the biggest thing in gaming.
I suppose we can both thank and blame DOOM for that. In fairness, my gripes with the modern first person shooter really don’t have any connective tissue with what id was doing in 1993. Even ignoring the very distinct enemy design and metal as fuck setting, there’s a tone to the DOOM experience that’s seemingly impossible to replicate now; the sharp geometry of cramped corridors that would typically lead to a vast open space full of horrible things wanting to kill you or the sense of urgency you felt listening to the pounding soundtrack whilst running at 90 miles per hour.
For such a loud and frenetic experience, there so many subtle bits of design genius at work that most would never notice, so much that one could write an entire book about it, and many have. The story of DOOM and its creation is argubly more interesting than the game that came out of it. I read Masters of Doom in college, but the only thing I remember that the author insisted on mentioning John Carmack drinking Diet Coke every time his name was mentioned.
Instead of pretending that my brain works in a linear fashion, I won’t sit here and pretend to see the meaning behind of the brushstrokes, as if I booted up DOOM today to stare at the geometry instead of fighting Cacodemons. That was the initial draw anyway; finding a cool looking thing and hearing its awful death grunt, occasionally stopping to admire the pixelated corpse and wondering if that’s an orifice you’re staring at.
It totally is, by the way.