Retro-Spective – 25 Years of Doom: Doom is Eternal

So, I woke up this morning ready to go to Uni, and realised something. One of my favourite franchises has hit a milestone. DOOM is now 25 years old, 5 years older than myself I might add. I also realised it’s been a few months since I had done a retro article, and after submitting my final essay, I now have time to bring it back. What better way to do that than by taking a look at one of my favourite franchises, its history and my experiences with the series.

1993 – Doom is born

Following the success of Wolfenstein 3D, John Romero, John Carmack and the rest of id Software set to work on revolutionising the FPS genre once again. This revolution hit in December 1993, when DOOM hit store shelves and shareware distribution sites, and man did it take the world by storm. Featuring plenty of engine updates over Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM was like nothing people had ever seen back then, with stairs, levels with verticality, and textured ceilings and floors to make DOOM a technical marvel. It also helped that it was fun as hell (no pun intended) with plenty of demons to slay and plenty of guns to do it with. Levels were labyrinthine with plenty of secrets to discover too. No one forgets their first encounter with the Cyberdemon at the end of Episode 2, nor the first time they fired a BFG at a horde of demons. The first entry in the series is certainly timeless, and paved the way for an iconic series.

1994 – Hell hits Earth

As with any great game, DOOM raked in the cash, and with that came the need for a sequel. id delivered fairly quickly when in 1994 DOOM 2: Hell on Earth hit stores. id clearly thought ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ as the game doesn’t change much from the original game. It did add a few elements that are now iconic staples for the series though, such as the super satisfying super shotgun and enemies like the Hell Knight and infamous Archvile. These additions were enough when combined with some more solid level design, and DOOM 2 was another smash hit, and became the basis for many mods that are still developed for the game to this day.

1995 – The ultimate version of the ultimate shooter

1995 saw a surprise for DOOM fans, as The Ultimate DOOM hit shelves. This was an updated version of the original game, featuring a few updates and bug fixes. Most importantly though, it added a whole new fourth episode, titled ‘Thy Flesh Consumed’. While not as solid as the original game’s 3 episodes as well as being hard as hell (can I stop with the hell puns please?), it was still a nice addition alongside the other fixes and updates and made it worth the purchase back then. This also became the basis for every port of the game going forth.

1996 – 2 Hellish experiences, 1 box

1996 saw the release of Final DOOM, which consisted of 2 standalone DOOM sequels: TNT Evilution and The Plutonia Experiment. Both of these adventures would become infamous for their own reasons. Plutonia was very challenging, designed by the Casali brothers to be played by those who mastered the original 2 games. They nailed that aspect to say the least. Evilution on the other hand became infamous due to its development, as TeamTNT intended it to be a free mod. Very close to release however, it was acquired by id Software and made a part of the retail Final DOOM. Despite this, both Wads in this pack are very solid, featuring great level design and in the case of TNT, a fantastic new soundtrack.

1997 – The forgotten sequel

1997 saw a DOOM sequel that was made exclusively for 1 console. DOOM 64 was, as the number suggests, made for the N64, and was a full DOOM adventure set after the events of Final DOOM. The game featured most of the weapons and enemies from the original, as well as a few newcomers, like the devastating Unmaker laser weapon and new Nightmare Imps. Despite its more obscure nature, the game was loved by many DOOM fans and was eventually ported to PC by said fans. You can also take a look at my Retro-View of the title if you want a deeper look at what makes this game so solid.

2004 – Hell Remade

After seven years without a DOOM game, id hit us hard in 2004 with DOOM 3. John Carmack set out to ensure DOOM 3 had the same profound effect on the industry as the original DOOM had, and boy did that work. For the time, DOOM 3 was graphically phenomenal thanks to the new id Tech 4 engine, allowing for some great lighting and overall solid graphics. As opposed to the run and gun design of the originals, DOOM 3 went for a more horror approach. While it is now infamous for the fact you can’t hold a flashlight and gun at the same time, back then it scared the pants off many a player, and is still a blast to go back to.

2005 – 2 games and a movie

2005 saw two DOOM games hit the market. The first one was Resurrection of Evil, an expansion to DOOM 3. The expansion is set after the main game, and has you play as a combat engineer who accidentally lets the forces of hell run rampant in Mars yet again. (Oops?). This expansion added a few new enemies as well as the Grabber weapon, functionally similar to the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2 released a year earlier, although infinitely better because now you can pick up Lost Souls and throw them back at other enemies. While a little on the short side, it was still a solid adventure.

The other game we got in 2005 was DOOM RPG, a mobile title. Rather than a run and gun shooter or even a horror game, it was a turn-based first-person RPG which had you explore a UAC facility doing the classic DOOM objective of slaughtering the demon hordes. The combat and movement was all turn based, and enemies even had new variants each with their own strengths and weaknesses. There was also a few new weapons like a dog collar that turns hellhounds into friendly dogs. For a mobile title you couldn’t go wrong if you wanted your DOOM fix on the go.

Not only that, we also got a Doom movie that same year. Starring The Rock and Karl Urban, the film featured a squad of marines answering a distress call at the UAC research facility on Mars. The film was not very well received as all video game movies are, but I for one love it, although not because it is an actual good film. It has a phenomenal first-person segment, some great acting and cheesy one liners/chemistry between Urban and The Rock, and also has a cool rendition of the Pinky demon and a strangely blue and organic BFG. If you go in with no expectations you’ll have a fun time with the film.

2009 – Hell hits mobile twice over

2009 was a good year if you had an iPhone, as two titles came out for mobile platforms and one of them was an iOS exclusive. The first title was June’s DOOM Resurrection. Set parallel to DOOM 3¸the game tells the tale of a soldier from the ill-fated Bravo Team as he fights his way off the base. It plays as a first person rail shooter, akin to House of the Dead, but manages to keep the tension of DOOM 3 making it a solid mobile adventure.

The second title mobile platforms got was DOOM RPG 2, obviously a sequel to DOOM RPG. The game plays pretty much the same as the first game, although with much improved graphics, a DOOM 3 aesthetic and 3 playable protagonists. It’s worth playing if you’re wanting an obscure DOOM title but don’t expect too much new over the original.

2010 – I experience Hell for the first time

So I figured I’d take the time to tell the story of how I experienced DOOM. Back in ’07, I saw DOOM when it had its own page on the Guiness World Records Gamers Edition 2008, and wanted to play it but never could. My first experience came in the form of a flash port someone made. Somehow, a guy managed to make the first episode of DOOM , Heretic and Hexen playable through flash. Someone at school introduced me to it and I was hooked instantly, playing it at school during break and at home whenever I could. Through blood sweat and tears I got to the final level of the episode and proceeded to get torn apart by the two Barons who were the bosses. After that I just knew I had to play more, and thus my DOOM obsession was born.

2012 – The Big F*cking Collection

After three years without a new DOOM game, fans kind of got their wish granted when DOOM 3 BFG Edition was released. This was an enhanced port of DOOM 3 and its expansion pack, with enhanced graphics. It also included a brand new expansion titled The Lost Mission as well as included both of the original DOOM games, with DOOM 2 even having a bonus episode previously exclusive to the Xbox 360 port. The port also added other tweaks too, such as a built-in flashlight allowing for you to be able to use a flashlight and a gun at the same time, although some felt it took away from the tension. BFG Edition was definitely good value back when it launched, and I bought it on release mainly for the console versions of DOOM 1 and 2.

2016 – Rip and Tear

It had been 12 years since the last main instalment in the series, and fans were clamouring for the next true DOOM game. DOOM 4 was in development hell for a while, with id even scrapping the original version they had made as it had become a ‘Call of Doom’ game. Going back to the drawing board was probably the best decision they ever made, as the new DOOM was a fantastic return to form for the series. Going back to the series’ roots, the game is all out action with plenty of DOOM’s staples intact: big guns, horrifying demons, and plenty of gore. The game added new verticality and platforming elements as well as satisfying glory kills. Mix in some of the original DOOM’s levels as secrets and you have the best game the series has had thus far.

2017 – Virtual Fucking Reality

With the rise of VR, almost every series is getting some sort of VR treatment, whether it be a mode or a whole new spinoff. DOOM ended up getting the latter when DOOM VFR hit the scene. Acting as a side story to 2016’s outing, VFR has you play a recently deceased doctor whose consciousness is uploaded to a combat droid. The game has all the guns, gore and demons of the main game, as well as a BFG Grenade launcher hybrid. It doesn’t hold a candle to the main game, but is a blast for a VR title if you can find the right control method.

2018-19? – Doom is Eternal

At E3 of this year, we saw the next game in the series finally unveiled. DOOM Eternal is a direct sequel to 2016’s outing and adds a whole slew of new features such as a Predator-esque shoulder cannon, a grapple barrel to the super shotgun, a knife gauntlet, and redesigns of enemies and weapons to look more classic. The game is set to be a fantastic sequel to a fantastic game, and I can’t wait.

And that’s the history of the DOOM series. It was long and eventful, not even counting the books, the terrible comic or the long modding scene that continues to this day. The franchise has resonated with many fans including myself, and continues to do so to this day. I can’t wait to see what the franchise’s future holds and how DOOM Eternal will fare when it releases.

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