During last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (more commonly known as E3), video game fans young and old were gifted with gameplay footage from the newest installment in the Doom series, which finally hit shelves last month.
Although the footage shown promised graphic combat sequences, flawless landscapes, and exciting enemies, E3 presentations are known for being scripted and are often not a true reflection of the real product. But, since Doom holds a dear place in the hearts of both horror and video game fans around the world, it was naturally given a special chance to fulfill the legacy of the original. And thankfully, this latest installment of Doom not only electrifies, but also pays great homage to the first game, which paved the way for the all-too-familiar first person shooter design that is so inescapable these days.
Doom first came out in 1993, igniting the debate about ratings in video games, since the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) didn’t exist at the time and concerned citizens were horrified that their children, grandchildren, and young people in their community were partaking in one of the most controversial games of all time. In response to the concern, the United States Senate passed an Act, enabling the ESRB, barely a year after Doom was released.
As for the game itself, the graphics were great for 1993, but in comparison to today’s games the original Doom is hardly the violent, mass shooting inspired machine that people of the time desperately wanted to make it out to be.
The Doom of today, on the other hand, not only acknowledges what its original players loved about the first installment, like puzzles and hordes of endless enemies, but it also challenges its contemporary counterparts. For example, the entire game is played in first person, immediately making Doom different than most first person shooter games on the market, today.
While confronting demons, there is an option for a Glory Kill or a kill that is particularly brutal for extra points. These types of kills see the player witness their character plunging his fist into his opponent’s chest, and then savagely ripping their heart out, tearing apart a demon’s head with his bare hands, or embedding the butt of a gun in the skull of anyone who dares stand in the way.
Similar modern games include acts along these same lines, but dull them down by zooming out which creates a certain disconnect in terms of the level of violence that is being portrayed onscreen. The kid gloves are off in 2016, with Doom, which promised to be brutal at E3 and has delivered multiple times over.
However, the ruthlessness is taken one step further and rears its head as a huge ‘fuck you’ to those who once protested the content of the 1993 version, alongside anyone stupid enough to claim it inspired Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the shooters of the Columbine High School Massacre.
Avid players of Doom who are interested in more than the storyline can spend extra time in each level finding secret objects that are scattered throughout the map. These objects include adorable Space marine figurines, extra power-ups, and note logs that give insight into the horrific situation that the player has to deal with. Pieces of the maps from the first Doom can even be collected and virtually stitched together to recreate parts of the 1993 original.
Yet, even though the map is an exact replica of the original, the levels are littered with enemies from the current Doom, and the players use the interface for the space marine and weapons in the 2016 version. In the nostalgic maps, the level of violence is transferred directly from the main storyline where Glory Kills and brutal methods exist, instead of the so-called ‘controversial aspects’ of the 1993 version.
The blending of old and new can be passed off as being used for convenience, or nostalgia purposes, or perhaps the developers of the game (some of the original programmers reportedly had a hand in this new version) wanted to poke fun as a sort of, “1993 wasn’t violence, let us show you violence,” type of middle-finger to naysayers.
So, Doom does live up to its bloody legacy, begun in 1993, but it has also challenged developers to step up their game and be as innovative as Doom has been over these past twenty three years. However, not only does Doom have much to offer to video gamers, it also has much to offer to fans of the horror genre who want to virtually act out their horror movie fantasies.
There are multiple scares scattered throughout the game, along with intense moments of tension that can leave the player jumpy, and Doom can, and will, induce panic by presenting the player with extremely difficult situations that call for immediate attention.
Although Doom 2016 does not provide a true virtual reality type of experience, it can fuel the adrenaline junkie who dreams of saving the world, pulling out one heart at a time.