Doom Classic—a pure survival shooter that set the standard for the FPS genre

Posted: October 31, 2009 in Shooter

Alone…

That’s the essence in the timeless first-person survival shooter, Doom Classic. Doom blasted onto the gaming scene back in the 1990s, creating the genre and serving as the foundation for today’s FPS games. For a few years, Doom was really the only credible and viable FPS in town. So it was only a matter of time before it ultimately appeared on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. For those who grew up with the franchise, the port delivers a mostly entertaining experience along with a bit of nostalgia. And for a new generation of gamers, Doom Classic is an opportunity to see how it all began.

Building on the theme of alone, Doom is all about survival—yours. In response to a distress call from Phobos Base, your marine squad has been sent to investigate. Of course, Phobos Base is part of UAC, a mega corporation involved in strange experiments. As things would have it, the scientific base has been overrun by demons from Hell wiping out everyone including your squad. As the sole survivor Doomguy, your objective is simple: return the favor by cleaning up the UAC base and preventing the underworld vermin from reaching our world. The rules are even simpler: shoot whatever moves.

Unlike Doom Resurrection, Doom Classic is off-rails, meaning free movement wherever your heart desires. Doom Classic is a compilation of 4 episodes: Knee-Deep in the Dead, Shores of Hell, Inferno, and Thy Flesh Consumed with a total of 36 missions. Since the missions are unlocked, they can be played individually or as part of a progressive campaign. The game has 4 difficulty levels that are identified by the number of monsters. The easiest setting depicted by a few monsters is the easiest, while the hardest is full of monsters. For the best effect, play the progressive campaign on the hardest setting. On a side note, the game is so faithful to the original that cheat codes work. To enter these, tap the screen with four fingers to bring up the keyboard.

In the conventional sense, Doom isn’t really a thinking person’s game when compared to many of today’s FPSs. The puzzles focus primarily on locating certain color-coded key cards to open doors to progress. While this sounds like I’m selling Doom short, I’m not because it is an enjoyable pure shooter through and through.

Graphically, Doom holds its own against some of today’s FPSs. Remember, this is a two-decades-old game, but the 2D animation is smooth and gory along with a fast-paced, B-movie-type soundtrack. The maze-like passages along with the enemies in the base are well rendered which is important as you quickly move from place to place.

Doom offers three control schemes and variety of customization options. In general, the two dual-stick layouts provide one control for moving forward/back and another for turning left/right. A single stick scheme is also available that provides lateral and bilateral movement, which is personally works well for me. A separate fire button is provided for shooting. In the Move controls section, the placement of controls can be rearranged and saved based on personal preferences. Other customization includes move and tilt speed, auto use (which makes opening doors a lot easier), status bar, ramping and touch click. The controls work pretty well, although they initially do feel loose. But, plan to spend time experimenting with control tweaks and placement. Also, keep in mind that Doomguy like most white men can’t jump, which may be disconcerting for those new to the game, but it really doesn’t impact gameplay.

The HUD which you can turn off provides an overview of ammo reserves, health and armor protection. The HUD also keeps track of the key cards you’ve acquired. One of things you’ll notice is the face of Doomguy located in the middle of the HUD. Various emotions are expressed throughout the game depending on the status of health. Tapping the face of Doomguy will bring up the weapons display where you can shuffle between available weapons to use. Speaking of weapons, throughout Doom Classic, random weapons and ammo will appear at random spots and mostly after killing an enemy. Weapons include the default pistol, shotgun, chaingun, rockets, plasma, BFG, and chainsaw. Note that a double shotgun is listed for whatever reason, but doesn’t work in this version of Doom. If you prefer more hand-to-hand combat, fist is also an option.

Besides weapons, Doom Classic has a number of power ups available as Doomguy wanders through the passage ways. These include health bonuses, health superchargers, health repair, invisibility, armor protection, and radiation suits to name a few. They tend to be pretty plentiful, and in some cases when you’re maxed out, you won’t be able to acquire anymore. A mini-map icon can be accessed which provides a simple if not effective line drawing diagram of the base section you’re in. And most importantly, the save function is located in the mini-map screen.

Doom Classic offers the same exact gameplay you’d expect. As mentioned, the game is not about solving puzzles in the traditional sense, although finding the right keys to unlock doors is, well, key to progressing. For those new to Doom, haven’t played in a while or just can’t find their way out of a paper bag, don’t worry. While you have complete free movement, Doom is a rather intuitive game even if you wind up walking in circles. Demons and zombies come in all shapes and sizes, and the one thing to keep in mind is that they attack and shoot. From a pure AI perspective, the enemies are not shy about approaching with the sole intent of killing. Defensively, they don’t hide or duck for cover, which is perfectly fine.

One potential pitfall especially for those new to the game is the level of intensity. Doom Classic is not an inherently scary game when it comes to adrenaline-pumping, pants wetting intensity. It’s a classic survival shooter, and if you’ve played many of the more modern FPSs, Doom Classic may feel a bit toned down in comparison. The lack of an online multiplayer component which was a trademark of the original back in the 90s doesn’t help, and hopefully is added in a later update.

If you look at today’s FPSs, I’m sure you’ll see where those got their inspiration. Doom Classic faithfully brings the original FPS to the platform, and for many, it’s a reminder of what video gaming was back in the day. While the graphics are starting to show their age, the gameplay itself still holds it own against many of today’s survival shooters. Whether you’re nostalgic or new to the game, Doom Classic still packs a punch.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (solid FPS with good controls; graphics starting to show their age, but still very comparable to today’s games; smooth animation and intuitive gameplay, although intensity level may not appeal to newer gamers who have been brainwashed—kidding; AI is what you’d expect with a pure survival shooter; must manually save to save progress; lack of online multiplayer)

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