As announced last week at QuakeCon, the first three games in the Doom franchise are now available to buy and play on PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch. We went for a trip down memory lane, filled with beings from the underbelly of hell – using a PS4 Pro.
I fully realize that many of today’s gamers weren’t playing games back when the original Doom appeared on the scene. Often dubbed the title that kickstarted the entire FPS genre alongside contemporary shooter Wolfenstein 3D, it’s a bit of a legendary name in the industry – and to get a chance to explore its roots is something I can recommend to anyone with an interest in the genre and its history, as these parts are well handled.
I personally remember my first glimpses at Wolfenstein back in the early nineties, and remember being blown away by its 3D graphics. I had a history of gaming on various consoles as well as home computers like the Atari ST and Amiga, but although 3D graphics weren’t new I had never seen them combined with the pace, action and level of detail I was seeing here (for a fun throwback, feel free to look up videos for Robocop 3 or Epic on the Atari/Amiga to see my frame of reference). With the release of Doom back in 1993 everything felt like it had been supercharged – it was faster, more detailed and certainly more action-filled.
Sure, there was no option to look up or down and you couldn’t crouch – but no one was missing these options back then. It wasn’t until Quake was released that id Software gave us “real 3D” graphics that allowed for this. So where does that leave Doom, and its 1994 sequel on a platform like the PS4? For many gamers who jumped on board the FPS train in the era of Call of Duty and Battlefield, Doom will feel unwieldly – perhaps a little less so if you played games like Painkiller in the past decade. There are no cutscenes, no set pieces, no voiceovers and no barriers to take cover behind. Doom II is especially unforgiving, with its higher difficulty level – and might scare off newcomers.
If you’re a Doom veteran, however, then you’ll love seeing it again after all these years. The ability to play local co-op and deathmatch (through split screen visuals) is a fun one that will no doubt evoke memories of carrying network cables around and hanging them out of a window to play Deathmatch games with the neighbors upstairs.
Which makes Doom 3 the odd one out here – but for many modern shooter enthusiasts, in a good way. Upon its release in 2004 it felt like an incredible leap forward for shooters in a technical sense , with gorgeous lighting effects and incredibly impressive enemy/character animation. When you consider the gap between Doom II and Doom 3 was “only” 10 years, it’s a huge leap forward – I’d argue it’s a bigger one than the one from Doom 3 to what we see today.
In terms of gameplay, Doom 3 is closer to today’s shooter than it is to Doom and Doom II. All that new (lighting) technology was used to create a very dark and atmosphere-rich sci-fi that showcased how a game engine could be used effectively for storytelling purposes, something we take for granted these days. It’s probably not a popular opinion, but I consider Doom 3 to be a landmark achievement for the genre just like the first game was – and it’s held up quite well over the past 15 years.
Despite the name of this review, this collection of three games isn’t actually available as a trilogy – the three games can be bought separately through the various digital storefronts. If you want, you can just stick to the initial two games for the classic experience (though I’d recommend starting with the first Doom) or you can start with part 3 to see if the journey back in time is one you’d enjoy because you’re only familiar with modern shooters. Either way, these are quality ports that long term Doom fans will certainly enjoy.