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  • rnlf

    Okay, I finished the three original episodes of DOOM now.

    Some (not looking at anyone in particular, Tijn) say that I cheated because I played with the mouse. And it’s true. It’s quite a bit easier with the mouse than with the keyboard alone.

    But that’s probably because I am very much used to playing with the mouse. I wonder how people back in the day felt about that.

    I really think the game manages to create a lot of atmosphere, especially when considering the (from today’s point of view) low graphical capabilities.

    Especially the fact that walls get darker in the distance creates a pretty claustrophobic feeling and a very dark, melancholic tone.

    The low number of colors also created some interesting graphics effects and gave the surroundings a very unique look. I think the same game in high resolution and more colors wouldn’t work very well.

    The enemy AI is extremely dumb and not very good at presenting a challenge to the player (compare the Grunts in HL, only 6 years later!), but they made very good use of what they had by placing them in the levels in interesting ways and letting them appear in fair but unexpected ways. So they don’t just spawn more enemies, they open doors that hid the enemies before. And usually, when I had to go into one direction for a while and it didn’t automatically lead back to the main area of the map, there were new enemies because I opened a door or something similar.

    One thing I didn’t particularly like were the boss fights. The first one was a bit overwhelming because of the sheer number of other enemies that were in the area at the time, but the second and third were pretty easy to beat – especially with the overwhelming number of rockets one is given in these levels. So the boss fight levels usually were very quick to end.

    The spider demon killed me the first two times, but once I figured out I just have to get down from the balustrade, it was not too hard anymore, really.

    I think even though it is only presented as a rough outline or silhouette, the story was entertaining enough to keep playing. The overview maps presented between the missions were not really needed, but the names of the levels seem to tell a tiny fraction of the story each.

    The game also managed to present very different challenges, at least to me. In some areas of the game it was almost puzzle oriented (E3M7, for example), others had me low on ammo so that I had to be very conservative or use weapons in other ways than I was used to. Still others threw so many enemies at me that I was constantly craving for health and armor.

    I noticed one thing though: Before I realized it was possible to save the game, I was playing very differently. I was very careful, planning ahead, trying to avoid every dangerous situation until I was sure I could master it. I replayed lots of levels many times because of this. After I realized I could save, I played in the usual, stereotypical DOOM way: 100% brutal action oriented.

    Those are my thought about the game so far. Since we’re going to discuss this question in the podcast: Do I think, DOOM has aged well? Yep. I think it is brilliant even after two and a half decades of other FPS games. I didn’t have to force myself to play at any time.


    Ooooh, I’m impressed! I’m still stuck at Episode 2, and really struggling at Ultra-Violence difficulty. One setting lower is a lot more manageable for me, so maybe I’ll finish it like that.

    But you’re using the mouse! I’ll just have to hold onto that to not feel like a failure 😀


    The original DOOM levels are really quite easy, even with keyboard only. However, if you are not used to playing keyboard-only, you will feel somewhat handicapped by that.

    Once you go to DOOM2 and the 4th episode of Ultimate DOOM, and then Final DOOM, things start getting quite a bit harder; however, it is still perfectly manageable with keyboard only. All of the original levels in the original games are. It is when you go to the user-created level packs that you find some really hard ones, for which keyboard-only can become an insurmountable handicap.

    The fact that the game can be difficult despite “dumb” straightforward enemies shows that good “smart” AI is not the only way to make a game challenging. Early FPSs like DOOM, Quake etc. (and similar concept games like Serious Sam) succeed mostly by presenting overwhelming numbers of tough enemies. Many modern FPSs will put you against smaller groups of smarter enemies instead. These are just different approaches and personally I don’t find one better than the other – it depends on how well a game implements whatever approach it chooses.

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