Seminal video game Doom returns with a feast of gore and mayhem

The title that did more than any other to popularise the first-person shooter is back, in a bloody and breathless homage to what made it so distinctive

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 8:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 8:02am

Nearly 12 years have passed since Doom 3, the last new release in the hugely influential shooter franchise, made its way into gamers’ hands.

For a sense of perspective, there have been 11 major Call of Duty releases since then. In fact, 23 years have passed since the original Doom popularised the first-person shooter genre that now dominates the video game landscape.

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On May 13, id Software will bring the iconic franchise to today’s gamers with a reboot, simply titled Doom, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

While there could have been temptation to follow the Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield series that rule the modern FPS genre, Doom game director Marty Stratton says he and his team were more focused on making their new game feel like a contemporary version of the game-changing 1993 release.

“We’ve taken a lot of the mechanics and gameplay elements that we really like, and the feel of what those original Dooms felt like,” Stratton says.

Stratton, who was a university student when the original Doom was released for PCs, understands younger gamers aren’t likely to have spent much time playing the franchise. Most 2016 college graduates were 10 years old or younger when Doom 3 came out and weren’t even alive when the first game took FPS games to the next level.

However, Stratton, an executive producer with id Software who joined the company in 2000, hopes Doom will feel different from the other shooters on the market, both to longstanding fans and newbies.

“Most people who play it, that do have that touch point with the legacy of Doom, they play [the new game] and they’re like, ‘Yes, this feels like Doom,’” Stratton says. “And that means something to me. There’s kind of this recipe – kind of like the Coke recipe – that is the feel or the DNA of Doom, and I think we’ve done a good job of capturing that.”

Part of that metaphorical genetic makeup of the Doom series, Stratton says, is the speed of the game. Many popular first-person shooters encourage the use of cover in skirmishes or shields that regenerate when not taking fire. The new Doom eschews such tropes by encouraging players to keep chugging along, blasting demons and hellish beings and picking up health from them in order to encourage constantly pushing forward.

“Movement is a really big part of our game,” Stratton says. “You’re always moving, whether you’re playing single player or multiplayer. It’s just a very rapid, fast-paced, action-oriented game.”

The original Doom is famous in the gaming community, but in its heyday it was also one of the most infamous titles on the market due to its violence and gore. The new entry promises plenty of both, but Stratton and his team aren’t looking to turn anyone’s stomach.

“We use the term around the office ‘popcorn horror,’ ” Stratton says. “It’s kind of like that Evil Dead 2 experience where there’s not just a little bit of blood, it’s copious amounts of blood. It’s so much blood that it’s funny when you do some of these things.”

While Stratton acknowledges that may not line up with everyone’s sensibilities, he points out that all the enemies in the new Doom are “demons and horrifically transformed beings” and not humans as is the case in many other popular shooters.

“There’s a lot of games where you play and you kill hundreds or thousands of humans in all different ways,” Stratton says. “I don’t have a problem with it by any stretch. I play all those games, too, but it’s a common theme. You don’t kill any humans in Doom.”

The impact of the new Doom on the gaming landscape won’t be known for a while, but few games were as influential as the original. Stratton says it was “humbling and scary” to work on the franchise, and he wouldn’t make any bold proclamations of surpassing the original. Instead, he paid homage to the series’ seminal first game.

“When you talk about influence on other first-person shooters today, Doom really did bring that first-person style, it elevated it to a level of popularity and mainstream acceptance,” Stratton says. “You look back at that, and you respect what the game did at that point – what a very, very small team did with the game.”

Tribune News Service