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Entry updated 3 September 2019. Tagged: Game.

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Videogame (1993). id Software (id). Designed by John Romero, John Carmack, Tom Hall, Sandy Petersen. Platforms: DOS (1993); 32X, Jaguar, Lin, Mainframe (1994); Mac, PS1, SNES (1995); 3DO, Win (1996); Saturn (1997); Archimedes (1998); GBA (2001); XBox (2005); XB360 (2006); Others.

Doom is not the original First Person Shooter, but it was the game which popularized the form. Its combination of smooth and immersive graphics, rapid pace and casual hyperviolence proved extremely popular, and came to symbolize Videogames for many people who did not play them. Doom's violence is more cartoon-like than realistic; its aesthetic shares much with industrial metal music and Horror films such as Sam Raimi's deliberately excessive Army of Darkness (1993). Essentially, it is a well-designed action game that uses sf and demonic imagery as props to furnish its fictional world.

The game's somewhat stereotypical story is essentially a frame narrative (see Interactive Narrative), and of minimal importance compared to the gameplay. The player character is a space marine who is sent to the Martian (see Mars) moon of Phobos to investigate after a Matter Transmission experiment by the Union Aerospace Corporation goes mysteriously wrong, causing communication to be lost and Mars's other moon, Deimos, to disappear altogether. The game begins after the character has discovered that the experiment has opened a gate to a Parallel World loosely resembling the Christian Hell, and "demons" (see Gods and Demons) have invaded our reality. The player must fight their way to the end of the game and make it out alive; their journey takes them through Deimos, which has been transported to the Hell Dimension, and Hell itself. The gameplay revolves around combat, evading traps and solving simple puzzles; collecting impressive weapons and other useful items such as first-aid kits is important. Doom is structured as a series of discrete levels occurring in different areas, a common approach for action games. The various areas and monsters which the player shoots and punches their way through are consistently well crafted.

Doom was innovative in several respects other than its single-player experience. While it was not the first game to allow player-versus-player combat in temporary Online Worlds, its skilful implementation of the concept was the first to become truly popular, essentially creating a new form of sport. The game is also easy for its players to modify by designing and adding their own levels, a feature that gave birth to a community of "modders" and has proved very influential on later games. In 1997 the underlying program code for the game was released to the public, under a licence which allowed it to be modified and distributed freely as long as the modifications were also made freely available, an act which has contributed to some other games being released under various forms of public domain licensing. Other innovations made by id Software had less of an impact; notably, the distribution of Doom as an Independent Game over the internet did not have a major effect on the dominance of software publishing houses over the means for Videogame distribution.

Doom II: Hell on Earth (1994 id, DOS; 1995, Mac, Win; 2002 GBA; Others) designed by John Romero is a sequel, in which Hell has invaded Earth. The player reprises their role from the first game, helping to evacuate the planet's population and then sealing the dimensional gate from the Hell side; gameplay is similar to Doom, with some additional Monsters. The Ultimate Doom (1995 id, DOS, Mac; 2007 Win) designed by John Romero is a rerelease of the first game with additional levels set between the original ending and Doom II. Final Doom (1996 id / Williams, DOS, PS1, Win) contains two separate sets of levels based on further incursions by Hell into the human universe, largely designed by modders; the underlying game is Doom II.

Doom 3 (2004 id, Lin, Win; 2005 Mac, XBox) is a reimagining of the first game, with much improved visuals and similar gameplay. Unlike Doom, Doom 3 has a linear storyline which is followed through the game, scripted by Matthew Costello. It also has a more subtle atmosphere than the original game, borrowing from Survival Horror in its depiction of an archaeological dig on Mars which uncovers a cache of alien artefacts. The team uses these discoveries to build a Matter Transmission gate, which turns out to lead straight to Hell. The game received somewhat mixed reviews; while the graphics are impressive, the story presentation is somewhat clumsy compared to contemporaries such as FEAR: First Encounter Assault Recon (2005). Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (2005 id / Nerve Software, Lin, Win, XBox) is an expansion pack which largely repeats the plot and gameplay of its original. Doom 3 also provided much of the inspiration for the cinematic Doom (2005), notable largely for its demonstration of just how unsuitable a series of strongly combat-oriented First Person Shooters is as the basis for a film narrative.

Related works: Doom 64 (1997 Midway Games, N64) is a sequel to Doom II, with similar plot and gameplay. Master Levels for Doom II (1995 id, DOS, Lin; 2007 Win) is an expansion pack for Doom II, containing additional levels. Doom RPG (2005 id / Fountainhead Entertainment, Phone) is a turn-based Computer Role Playing Game played in a first person view, with a plot similar to that of Doom 3.

Knee-Deep in the Dead (1995) and Hell on Earth (1995) are novelizations of Doom and Doom II which change the games' demons into hostile Aliens; both are by Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver. Infernal Sky (1996) and Endgame (1996), also by ab Hugh and Linaweaver, continue the series. Infernal Sky reveals that Earth has been invaded as part of a war between two alien races over the relative merits of hyperrealist and deconstructionist schools of literary criticism; this is not an element which appears in the game series. Doom (1996) is a single-issue Comic, notable only for its memorably poor dialogue. Worlds on Fire (2008) and Maelstrom (2009), both by Matthew J Costello, make up a two-part novelization of Doom 3; a projected third volume was never published. Doom: The Boardgame (2004 Fantasy Flight Games [FFG]) designed by Kevin Wilson is a well crafted Wargame reminiscent of Space Hulk (1989) (see Warhammer 40,000), to which Doom: The Boardgame Expansion Set (2005 FFG) designed by Kevin Wilson is an extension. [NT]

see also: Nine Inch Nails.


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