On December 10th, 1993 the world of gaming was shaken to its core with the release of Doom. Two years and ten million souls claimed later, Doom had given birth to a new culture of gamers and solidified the shooters as a key genre in the gaming industry. Doom II: Hell on Earth followed shortly after and further cemented the IP’s legend status. The term “Doom clone” was coined in reference to games who sought to get a taste of that pie, and eventually evolved to “first person shooter”, a term we use widely today. Just over ten years later, in August of 2004, id Software gave us Doom 3. This re-imagining of the original Doom title was critically acclaimed for nearly every aspect of the final product. And now, as we approach the release of next generation consoles, we can expect to dive right back into Hell with Doom 4.
I believe the Doom franchise is something that every gamer must take part in. The role this series took in shaping the rest of the gaming timeline is too important to miss. I don’t care if you’re 65 and your kids bought you a Kinect just for the giggles or if you’re 8 and still fighting your folks for the permission to play Call of Duty. Get your hands on any one of these installments. I have a personal preference for the third, but any will suffice.
Without this experience, there just isn’t a way to properly convey to anyone who wasn’t apart of gaming subculture during the time that the first Doom was relevant, how huge it was. The engine alone, id Tech 1, was a massive leap in the field of gaming. Little things we take for granted because they’re expected for realism just didn’t exist because the technology didn’t allow it. Thanks to John Carmack’s engine, we were getting a vast improvement in full texture mapping and custom color palettes. These are the most basic things of what make an environment believable and Doom delivered it to us.
A little further down the timeline, id Software did it again with Doom 3 in 2004. Remember how big of a deal the first Crysis was? Small time computer retailers would spend ten thousand dollars building a PC far ahead of its time and put it center room in their stores and let Crysis run at max settings just so the store owner could attract customers. Doom 3 was pushing technological limits years prior. The id Tech 4 engine was so progressive that only top of the line rigs would see its full potential. When the game finally made it to Xbox some six months later, while no where as impressive as the PC counterpart, it still raised the bar.
The most important thing Doom 3 gave the world of gaming were indeed its graphics. Rather than saving lighting in map data and booting it up during map generation as per the usual routine, id Tech 4 used unified lighting and shadowing. This allowed every object, both static and dynamic, to be shadowed in real time per pixel, at the expense of global illumination. We were also given a new take on interacting with the environment. GUI Designer Patrick Duffy wrote half a million lines of code and produced over twenty thousand images for various computer screens and displays throughout the game. A lot of these interfaces were so dynamic that the player could use the crosshairs as a mouse cursor to operate the screens right there in real time.
You know what? I don’t need to go to the bathroom anymore.
The entire Doom franchise has kept a few things consistent over the years. No matter the location or story rewrite, we always see “Doomguy” joy-killing his way through hordes of demons from Hell in an attempt to save Earth. No matter where the carnage takes place, the one thing gamers know will always be there is the overuse of gore and satanic imagery. Despite heavy assault from various sources after several school shootings and being dubbed a “mass murder simulator”, the developers stayed true and continued delivering the excessive violence married with controversial content that we had come to expect.
The only contender at the time was Mortal Kombat 2, which featured 1/8th the murder.
There was certainly a shift in genre between the second and third Doom titles. The first pair played aggressively. Less emphasis was placed on caution and the player was often rewarded for exploring his environments and taking on as many demons as possible. Doom 3, while still favorably received amongst fans of the series, slowed down in opt of adding more horror elements to the mix. I personally preferred this. If I were really thrown into a scenario where I’m facing the hounds of Hell, I’m certainly not going to be strolling along like everything is fine.
For Doom 4, I’m hoping for a happy medium. The third title did suffer from the lack of frantic scenarios that really helped the original games shine, but the latter suffered from almost no psychological intimidation. A series of beta photos leaked this month that are being widely interpreted as early location and model design, despite id Software Design Director Matthew Hooper stating over Twitter that the photos “have nothing to do with what you’re going to see in Doom 4.”
Do I even need my flashlight?
These photos showcase the more familiar setting of Earth, rather than the expected Martian landscape. I certainly hope these are just concept images. They don’t look Doom-y at all. If you ditched what looks like the Zerg Mutalisks floating around in that second image and told me it was from Call of Duty I’d believe you. I support the apparent move from the red planet to Earth, as we haven’t seen our home planet represented in the Doom universe with new technology. And I absolutely salute the idea of opening up the level design. The early titles featured large levels as well, but they still maintained the dark atmosphere we’d expect to see with satanic tones. I’m just not getting that vibe from these images. Give me darker. Give me scarier.
Combat must remain untouched. I sincerely hope id Software does not fall to its knees before elitist crowds and younger audiences. There is nothing wrong with the way any Doom approached combat. You pull up your gun, pull the trigger, and something explodes in a horrific, mangled mess of gore. I don’t want to see upgradable weapons that “enhance a weapon’s performance” but in all actuality just changes the sights or increases magazine size. I’m confident that the developers will aim true, and instead focus on giving us a ramped up display of firepower over beauty mods for our guns. We are pretty much guaranteed Doom‘s signature BFG 9000, a weapon so powerful that it wipes the screen clear of foes with one trigger pull. Let’s see what else the year 2145 has to offer us. Perhaps even the option to dual-wield. Shotguns have always been the bread and butter of this series; I certainly would love to run rampant with twice the stopping power.
Big F*$&ing gun.
Doom 4 will run on the id Tech 5 engine, which is the same engine that Rage ran on. Don’t panic at the thought though. We’re being assured that the next generation of consoles will support the engine far better than the current systems, and the engine will be scaled appropriately. The only question is what game changers we can expect. So far, id Tech engines have raised the bar substantially for competitors with each release of Doom. I’m anticipating texture resolution no lower than four thousand on top of the already phenomenal lighting mechanics.
Maybe this time around we’re going to see a new AI system. Based on the leaked photos, it’s likely we’ll see less attacks of opportunity and more enemies en masse. I eagerly await how id Software plans to utilize the latest model of their engine. For years I’ve been begging AAA titles to start incorporating real time gore. I want my bullet wounds to be present on my enemies. If I get bloodthirsty and whip out the chainsaw, let me see rendered flesh and tissue rip from my foes. These sorts of injuries should remain on the corpses of the fallen so if can go back and revel in my damage. Track each swing. Track each cut. Track each bullet. I can’t think of another title that this would fit more perfectly than Doom 4.
So now that we have hundreds of first person shooters of all types of subgenres, what’s the biggest reason to keep the radar glued to Doom 4? Long time fans already know that id Software isn’t exactly copy and pasting their titles anymore. If you aren’t familiar with the series, these developers take their time. Doom 4 was announced as far back as May of 2008, and not much else has been revealed. So yes, you can expect to feel as if you’ve done it all before. But the next installment will sand, base, clear coat, paint, seal, and polish the first person experience as it has many times previous.
You can also expect the content and imagery to push the envelope. Modern Warfare 2 received some flak for the controversial airport massacre level, but what Doom delivers hits home on another level. We live in a religiously obsessed world, and the developers will capitalize on this by cramming as much pure evil, entrails, and limbs into your eye sockets as they can before you suffer from complete sensory overload.
“Thats an interesting way to play hopscotch…”
Doom 4 has a lot of the older generation of gamers hyped for good reason, and it’s unfortunate that the younger generation is not seeing the coming storm. I once again implore virgins of the series to pick up Doom 3 and play with an open heart. Check out the video closing this article to get you going.
These games set the stage for the clones you see today. Don’t expect to have your hand held in this one. Don’t expect any apologies. Expect a trip through Hell. Literally.