Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Number 5: Doom - "Hangar" (id Software, 1993)

Well, looks like Yoggoth was right on this one. For the number 5 spot on my list of best first levels I've chosen the first level of Doom. A lot has been said about Doom. Though Wolfenstein was the first real first-person-shooter (also created by id Software) it was Doom that really grabbed people's attention and introduced them to the genre. Seeing everything from the eyes of the protagonist was a first for many people. But what really made Doom famous was its use of gore and violence. For its time it was an incredibly good looking game, and the blood, well, we thought it looked so damn real!!

I remember the first time I saw Doom I was blow away. Was this real? Could I really just walk around shooting zombies and other creatures, watching them keel over in disgusting death animations uttering a dying moan as I pumped another round into my shotgun?? Would I get in trouble for playing this game??? For it's time it was an extremely violent game. This was back in the era when Bart Simpson uttering "Eat my shorts" was pushing the limits and offending Barbara Bush. No one had seen a game quite like this before.

In terms of the actual level "Hangar" it's a great little introduction to the game. You start out with the wimpy pistol but in no time you get the shotgun, a highly effective weapon which also produced some of the more grisly death animations. Fighting through a small group of gun wielding zombies the player is soon introduced to the fireball-spitting Imps. An experienced Doom player can get through this level in under thirty seconds, but there's a surprising amount of depth if you take your time. There's a couple of secrets to be found, including access to the outside courtyard. This also makes this level the perfect level for the introduction of the "Deathmatch" mode.

Doom popularized Deathmatch mode for thousands of kids across the country. It seemed so revolutionary at the time - instead of shooting the monsters, you connected up two or more computers and shot your friends! The introduction of Deathmatch helped lay the groundwork for the online deathmatches that you can play today in hundreds of games, from Counterstrike to Call of Duty to Halo. In fact in most games today some sort of "multiplayer" mode is practically mandatory. But there was nothing like it at the time. In fact, once you got a taste for fragging your friends it could be hard to go back to the normal game. For all these reasons, this is why "Hangar" from Doom takes number 5. To take a look at actual gameplay footage click here.


Little Earl said...

I never played Doom but I used to play Quake (they were similar from what I understand). Maybe Quake will be on here? I played Diablo as well. And I even played Starcraft once or twice, although I never really got the hang of it. So maybe I know a thing or two about these "video games" after all, eh?

yoggoth said...

Did I call it or what?

Doom was so much fun when it came out.

Quake was similar to Doom, but not as memorable. The multiplayer aspect was better, but the atmosphere - environment and enemy design, sound, etc. - was not nearly as interesting.

Plus, Doom had that great ending. After you kill a giant mechanical spider-brain you teleport back to earth, only to be greeted by a picture of a rabbit impaled on a stick with a burning city in the distance. The demons beat you there and have wrecked havoc on the earth!

Diablo and Starcraft are both excellent games, some of the best ever made. Both also have sequels coming out sometime in the next year or so. I have to admit, I'm looking forward to them with far more enthusiasm than for that new Charlie Kaufman film.

Herr Zrbo said...

I never would have pegged you as a Quake player LE. I played a lot of that back in college. It was also done by id. Though it wasn't quite as amazing as Doom was when it first premiered, I have a lot of good memories of Quake. Great game.

Oh, I know Starcraft II and Diablo III are coming out. At this point I've gotten a little tired of the click-click-click of Diablo, I'm looking more foward to the Starcraft sequel.

yoggoth said...

I'll never tire of that click-click. See, in my universe all games other than turn based strategy are just varieties of click-click. I like mine pure! Did you play Diablo I or II multiplayer? Amazingly fun! My Diablo II abilities also led to dating a girl I liked, so maybe I'm biased.

When people talk about great gaming plots, they often overlook Starcraft. I think it has one of the best video game plots of all time. What do you think?