To Strafe, Perchance To Doom

A plasma blast from the past, Doom is an evergreen FPS from once-giants Id Software. It’s about some guy on Mars who shoots all the bad guys. It’s perhaps not a game that requires much of an introduction, though that is not to say that there isn’t a lot going on here.
Like any child of the 90s, Doom was a huge deal among those who only occasionally had access to their parents’ Windows 3.1 PC. It was crazy, it was intense and it was super-violent. This was around the same time I was discovering the VHS copies my parents had of RoboCop and Terminator as well, so it all coalesces into a bloody mist of wonderful, premature grown-up entertainment that I could only occasionally (and surreptitiously) have access to.

Pfft, four imps and a shotgun zombie? Puh-leeze.

I have to say, though, that most of my time spent in the UAC laboratories on the twin moons of Mars were on the SNES version, in many ways perhaps the hardest of the iterations. For one, you could barely see shit, due to the considerably lower visual fidelity that Mode 7 and Nintendo’s other graphical wizardry could provide in lieu of cutting edge PC technology. For another, the SNES Doom did not let you make intervening saves during missions, which meant I never had the courage nor patience to play on anything harder than “Hurt Me Plenty” (Doom’s colorful analogue for medium difficulty). It also doesn’t have cheats, at least not any I was cognizant of. No IDKFA or IDCLIP to rely on for difficult situations. It was more than nerve-wracking, let’s just say.

Oh, that's not good...

Now that I finally have the XBLA copy, deciding I had very little else to spend 400 points on, I’ve been rocking Ultra-Violence (the game’s Hard mode) and having a blast. The game’s changes are ever so subtle on this mode: The mechanics behind the game won’t change, so you don’t take more damage, get less bullets per ammo pick-up or have any other unjustifiable impediments. Instead, there’s just more monsters. Way more monsters. Tougher monsters, too. The game then becomes more focused on skill than exploration, though the latter is still important if you want to have something more than a few pistol clips to kick the next roomful of demonic butts. It’s a classic example of a difficulty mode making a considerable gameplay difference, beyond simply “you will die more and get frustrated a lot”. It’s really the difference between “Alien” and “Aliens”: Some of the atmosphere of dread and trepidation is gone with having so many of the monsters in your face with every new door you open and corner you turn – but it’s no less tense, especially when your ammo conservation skills are failing you.

Needless to say, it’s gotten me a lot closer to figuring out why Doom was such a hit back in the day. Buy some points below and get Doom II as well! It’s the same, but with even more antagonistic map design and a demon that resurrects other demons!

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Olli Warelius
May 25, 2012
Magnificent! (As usual. :-P )

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