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Doom

Back to Hell - A DOOM and DOOM II Retrospective

We took a trip down memory lane and looked to Doom and its sequel for this retrospective.

  • Kieran HarrisKieran Harris

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It certainly a testament to Doom's impact that fans were left foaming at the mouth and reaching for their wallets after seeing that the classic would be ported to consoles for the billionth time at this year's Quakecon. With Eternal set to crush skulls in November, Bethesda dipped into its backlog and treated fans placing the original trilogy on modern platforms and allowing them to revisit the series' illustrious past without having to dust off obsolete hardware. With the 25 year age gap between the original and the upcoming Eternal, we're sure there's more than a few who have yet to experience these older titles and that's why we are taking a look back today to see whether they still warrant your attention in 2019.

The first thing to note is that Doom is no Kingdom Hearts and there is no narrative thread tethering together these titles, causing newer fans to feel lost and alienated. Fans can seamlessly alternate between any of these titles regardless of the order. In fact, story content here is practically non-existent as you pretty much trail around like a demon pest exterminator moving from room to room blowing chunks out of them with an arsenal of weapons that include chain guns, plasma rifles and chainsaws. The gunplay here is frantic and you'll find your heart leap out of your chest on occasion as you swerve out the path of fiery projectiles in a desperate dash to save your vitals from draining completely.

Doom

There's no sadistically brutal glory kills, no RPG-like skill system or many of the other bells and whistles you may have grown accustomed to in the 2016 reboot and instead everything feels much more arcadey and stripped down in comparison. The levels are structured significantly different too and your goal within each is to simply reach the stage's exit often by locating a number of coloured key cards that open corresponding locked doors. These stages grow in complexity introducing tougher beats for you to grapple with and more environmental hazards such as pits of lava and collapsing ceilings that squish you like a pancake.

We opted for the Switch port of the trilogy as we felt they made for great pick up and play titles on our commute offering rapid bouts of bloodshed minus a story commitment. Both entries come stuffed with extra content that released post-launch and represents a package more than worthy of their modest £3.99 price tag (Doom II alone comes with 20 master level stages along with its main story mode). Both titles also come with local multiplayer deathmatch and cooperative modes which are now more accessible than ever as players can just grab a joy-con each when huddling around a Switch.

Not everything about these two-decade-old titles has aged so gracefully though. Firstly, we found it awkward how there was no option to jump and instead we had to just dash between platforms and hope that we were going at the right speed. A jump command is so commonplace within modern games so we were always instinctively trying to tap the A button (on Switch) to lift us off the ground. We also found that we would often get lost as many of the environments were masked with the same hue of blue and red. This was perhaps due to a hardware limitation that environments weren't too varied but it did get frustrating as we circled the same hallways looking for keycards.

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All these years later and Doom's soundtrack still ranks as one of the best that we have heard within the 1000's of hours that we have poured into our gaming experiences. The crashing drums and rapid guitar flourishes help to beautifully accent its blisteringly-fast gunplay and pay homage to thrash metal titans such as Metallica. Tracks such as the aptly titled Suspense and On The Hunt also help to convey a needed sense of dread and uneasiness. It's bright pixelated pseudo-3D visuals also don't look too shabby either and have aged much more gracefully than many titles that followed years later and tried braving the leap to full stereoscopic 3D.

With Doom and Doom II now on current-gen systems there's no excuse for you not to check out two of the greatest first-person shooters ever created. The pair features snappy and blisteringly-fast gunplay and are backed by a thrash metal soundtrack that beautifully compliments the carnage unfolding onscreen. Mechanics such as a lack of a jump action do feel dated and the lack of environmental variety can make you feel lost and frustrated but these are minor grievances that struggle to tarnish the experience even a quarter of a century later. Make sure to keep an eye as we will be returning to the Doom franchise with a retrospective look at Doom 3 in the near future.

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