This is going to be a short review of Ultimate Doom for the PC. I don’t feel a need to inflate the score because of the history of the product and what it did for gaming as a whole, because it’s not 1993 (or 1995 when Ultimate Doom was released), so that aspect doesn’t feel pertinent to this review.
As a young kid in the mid 90’s, video games where always something I was drawn to. It took some time for my brother and I to figure out how we can scam our way into getting a console in our house; at that time we’d have to go to friends houses to play NES or Atari. My family wouldn’t get a computer for a few more years, so that style of gaming was out of the picture.
During a family party at my Aunt and Uncles house, my Uncle showed us his computer and he booted up a few games. I’m not sure what the other games were since I have no recollection of them at all. All I could remember was Doom. Yes, we were kids, too young and all that bullshit, whatever. Seeing that game and it’s graphics blew my mind. It was the first FPS I had ever seen. The graphics were light years ahead of any console games I was playing.
I kept that image in my head for a long time. We soon got the Sega Genesis for Christmas and I remember going through all my gaming magazines that I had looking for games that I could play that looked like doom. My magazine collection was massive at the time, if I can’t afford systems to play these games, I’d imagine them in my head as I read through and studied all the images. So that’s what I did.
It took a long time to find something that I could play that was like Doom, that game being Zero Tolerance for the Genesis. Please don’t laugh. I’d rent that game from the local rental place and play it with my brother, it wasn’t Doom, that’s for sure. I eventually picked up a 32X for really cheap at our local Toy’s R Us, this was when they were just trying to get rid of their stock. With that contraption bolted onto the top of our Sega, my brother and I could finally boot up Doom. Just so you know, our parents didn’t care what we were playing, so gore and violence wasn’t an issue.
It was a great game, not the best port or anything, but I had no frame of reference at the time. I just knew I could play doom and I was in heaven. Smash cut to today. I’ve played Doom 3 and Doom 2016 and that’s about it in all that time. I never went back to the original even though I’d always run through the memories I had of it in my head.
Booting up Doom on Steam (I bought the whole collection) was a process in and of itself. It worked, and then it didn’t work. I watched a video and learned about ways to fix this by using a different launcher that updated the graphics and controls and all that good stuff. Now I could play Doom on my 3440×1440 – 120hz monitor.
The first level, I still knew like the back of my hand, even if a thing or two was a little different. That’s how a few levels felt, since the 32X version isn’t really proper Doom, it had to be changed here and there to run on the hardware.
The controls are buttery smooth and everything just feels right as you blaze your way through the maps at breakneck speeds while lighting up your shotgun at demons of Hell. It was a nostalgia trip that just felt right, to finally be playing the game the way it was meant to be played. The rendering technology is still something that blows my mind, given that’s it’s not truly a 3D environment that you’re running around in.
I’m trying to put my nostalgia to the side and see it as a game in today’s world. So is it a good game? Yes, sure, it’s okay. My Steam clock shows that I went through all 4 episodes of the game in 4 hours which I actually find entertaining. I was able to play this in-between sessions of Borderlands 3 which was a nice break. So what’s my big issue with the game? It just feels like it’s a game of its time, the early 90’s.
The level designs, while classic, is a little stupid, especially the middle two episodes. You end up just running around the map, find a key, open the door, find another key, and keep going until you hit the end. I get the history and everything, I love it all, believe me. That part of the game just got a little daunting to keep doing. Some of the later levels just became weird puzzle mazes that you had to fumble your way through.
I liked when the combat encounters became a mini-game in their own right. You’d have to figure out the combat scenario just like a puzzle, which way to strafe, who to fire at, all while keeping track of the swarms of monsters. The battles when there are a massive amount of enemies all around you are thrilling. Towards the end of my play-through, the monster closets became a joke. You end up gaining a sixth sense where you can just predict where enemies are going to spawn from.
I also just wish the last boss level had a bigger fight at the end. I wanted this crazy hard encounter where I was blowing through all my ammo while strafing through fireballs, but it ended up taking a minute. I spammed my BFG a bunch of times and killed everyone pretty quick.
This game will always have a special place in my heart, it’s a part of the reason I fell so hard into the world of video games. The feeling I had when I first saw Doom running on an old CRT monitor on my Uncle’s PC is the exact same feeling I chase as an adult today.
Final Score – 7.0
Video games are an evolving medium. The revolutionary products of our past are superseded by each new generation of games, building upon the lessons learned bit by bit. Doom, while not necessarily a relic of the past, holds firm in an ideology of computer gaming of the early 90’s. It’s a revolutionary title, a masterpiece that ushered in the FPS genre and the ESRB. The Doom engine was a programming work of art that can still impress today. Go on, give this game a try if you’ve never experienced it’s wonderful shotgun and fast past FPS action.