Tron Digs on Doom

The game is fun. Relentless, hard, frustrating confusing, cheap and fun. Pretty much what makes all those other games awesome today 17 years ago.

So a good buddy of mine got me a point card for Xbox Live with way too many points on it, which is where all these game reviews have been coming from lately.  Besides downloadable content (like the Tomb Raider Anniversary levels or the Modern Warfare 2 level packs which are normally waaaayyyyy too expensive), the other selling point of Xbox Live’s marketplace are the classic (and not so classic) arcade games available for sometimes reasonable prices available for download right to your profile, just so you have something there when you fire the machine up instead of having to throw some disc in.  Needless to say, I am a sucker for old games which I was never good at so besides nifty new remakes of Techmo Bowl and Puzzle Bobble and first-time-on-console gems like Call of Duty Classic and Marathon, I have spent an inordinate amount of points on old school hits I already have on a million other systems.  Leading the way, of course, are 17 year old classic Doom and it’s 16 year old sequel Doom II.

Doom was a revolutionary first person shooter that came from the mind of John Carmack and id Studios that dropped 3D graphics, networked multiplayer and user-created content on an unsuspecting world and paved the way for such monsters as Goldeneye (1997) and Unreal Tournament (1999), as well as the modern shooters we all love today.  Back then, things were different.  No jump button.  No aiming stick.  Just move, shoot and switch weapon.  Simple and effective.  The story?  Things are wrong on Mars.  You, a Space Marine, are sent to check it out.  Turns out to be demons.  You must shoot them all.  Simple and brilliant.  Nothing better I’d like to do, actually.  And I did, along with 10 million other fanatics in it’s first two years and it’s surprising because I am not, nor ever was, really a PC gamer.  Oregon Trail was about my limits but when Doom came along I struggled with the key system of moving and space bar firing just to be a part of the carnage.  Serious Sam (2001) would later affect me the same way with it’s simple, “shoot a million monsters and look for secrets,” premise but that hit the original Xbox console with Part II included and that was way more to my liking and abilities (hey, I’m an Atari kid!!).  Doom and it’s sequel were a whole different story and I PC gamed, my friends, shooting hoards of difficult enemies, swearing in different languages and hunting all over every level for those pesky secrets for way too many hours.  Since the halcyon days, Doom has come out on every single system imaginable and whenever I get one I manage to get Doom as well.  It just seems to come along as part of the kit, like Mario used to with Nintendo.  Hell, even Nintendo had Doom (SNES 1995, Doom 64 1997).  If you had a console or computer, you had Doom.  Quid pro quo.

So now we have the Xbox 360 and for 800 points you can get Doom and Doom II is sitting there for 800 more points (exactly $10) which is pretty expensive for Doom, even with the achievements and multiplayer and online support and, in Doom II’s case, the sweet Doom II Avatar Award T-shirt and it still took less than no time at all for me to hit those “download” buttons and even less time than that for those puppies to download and even less time than that for me to have that thing fired up and begin shelling the demon hoards that occupy my Mars base.  Part of it could have been my having received that card as a gift so I really didn’t pay for them but had I bought that card with my meager cash supply I would have made the same decision.  It’s Doom; Godfather of All Shooters (well, Wolfenstein 3D 1992  but that was also id Software so it’s kind of Dagon/Cthulhu if you catch my drift).  Out of respect alone I pay that price but nostalga only gets so far.  Doom has been around forever on every system and still crops up in today’s modern Modern Warfare-dominated advanced shooter arena and my pals have the same question: “why are you sitting around playing Doom when you have Borderlands, Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield 2, etc?” and they sit down and I hand them the joystick and for the next hour they’re playing Doom, man.  The game is fun.  Relentless, hard, frustrating confusing, cheap and fun.  Pretty much what makes all those other games awesome today 17 years ago.  The games are so big (Doom II for sure) and so damned hard that the playability is incredible and you’ll be a while in finishing it, even with two players, but the attempts must be made and therein lies the frustratingly good time.

So, indeed, the past week or so has been spent playing Doom or Doom II quite a bit, a game I’ve played a million times but to do it with pals locally or on Xbox Live is worth the price of admission for me but also one of the reasons this isn’t a game review.  Because it’s not really worth $10, especially since we all already own it somehow, but if you’re asking me would I spend the 800 points apiece ($20) for Doom or Doom II I would tell you I already did and if you wanna co-op on Xbox Live hit me up.  I’m always down to reclaim my Mars base.

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