If you don't know what the hell Doom is, then you are clearly not very familiar with First Person Shooters, or possibly gaming. Doom wasn't any normal First Person Shooter - it was THE FPS. The FPS that increased the potential of 3D game design, what the genre could do and made the genre popular. Wolvenstein may have given birth to the genre, but the genre wouldn't be as popular as it is now if it wasn't for this legendary game.
... but the question is, does it still hold up? Let's get on with the review!!
The story is as simple as early 90s games go but there is also a backstory to the player character as well - after our hero has disobeyed orders from a commanding officer to fire upon civilians and decide to stop him instead, he has been sent to work at a military base on Mars, which behaves as a Security post for a Multi-Planetary Conglomerate called the Union Aerospace Corporation (abbreviated UAC). The UAC itself is currently testing teleportation between Mars and it's two moons Phobos and Deimos in secrecy. Nothing special was really happening there... until one day, all hell quite literally breaks loose. The base on Deimos completely disappears off the face of the moon and a frantic distress signal was sent to Mars from Phobos, stating that something... "evil" has poured out of the teleportation gateway. Our hero (called Doomguy by the community, seems like a fitting enough name I guess) and several other Marines set out from Mars to Phobos to sort out this problem, and as they land on the Phobos base, Doomguy gets commanded to guard the perimiter, only equipped with a mere pistol, while the rest of the squad set foot inside the base. As our hero waits, he hears radio chatter followed by gunfire and screams which was eventually followed by an eerrie silence. Doomguy is the only man in his squad left alive. He loads his gun, opens the entrance door, and and sets on through the darkness and prepares for the worst. He hears inhuman cries and wails from the distance. There is no turning back now. He is Doomed... is he?
Just a quick heads up: the Steam version of Doom is a DOSbox emulation, so because of this, there will be some things that fans of Modern shooters may need adjusting to. For instance, the controls will be strange to some, as back then there probably wasn't any real support for the mouse - if you move the mouse forward, you walk forward. If you need help trying to adjust to some of the admittedly dated things in this emulation, try checking out the Discussions in Doom's Community section, They will have a ton of solutions, definitely helped me out. But despite having some dated things, once you get the game running how you want it. it will be worth it.
OK, let's get to Gameplay. Despite lacking a lot of things that modern shooters have, it does amazingly well without them and very easily makes up for it. You cannot aim up and down due to he fact that there is no Y axis to aim with, but this is very easily made up for with an auto aim that can help hit enemies a floor above or below. Headshots and stuff like that don't exist at all, but the action is so frantic anyway that it would be unnecessary for such a thing to be useful, and besides, the weapons are deadly enough anyway. Oh, and there is no health regen. We don't like that anyway.
The level design was incredible back in the day, and it still is very impressive, personally I still think that this game has some of the most well made levels that have ever been made for a FPS, and it makes the more modern shooters out there look amateurish with their linear corridors. Doom's levels are very labyrinthine and dungeonlike - there are loads of routes to take to get from the start to the finish, as well as coloured keys to look for to help progress through certain levels. What's more if you keep a careful eye out, you will find a secret! With it's complex level design, Doom loves to reward players who explore ... which is something more modern games should do really, it makes the game just that bit more immersive and rewarding. And if you ever happen to get lost, don't worry, check the map.
The weapons are limited but still pretty effective and are useful depending on what situation you are in. You start off with a measly pistol, but as you get further into the game you will find more devastating tools, such as a shotgun, Rocket Launcher, the franchise's beloved BFG (Quite literally stands for Big F*cking Gun) and even a kick ♥♥♥ Chainsaw! There are powerups as well, such as Invincibility and a Berserk Pack which gives you enhanced unarmed combat. Most of the weapons and powerups are so effective you'd want to save them for when you really need them, sometimes levels require you to use these to progress which makes this game a lot more strategic then some people thought an old shooter could be.
Enemy types are varied and hard as nails, and the difficulty curve itself is well paced. They start of simple at first, but as soon as the difficulty curve stars to rise, you will see more threatening types of monsters and more insane situations. for instance, during the first episode of the game, "Knee Deep in the Dead" everything will be very easy for the player. Ammo will be plentiful, enemies will be easy to deal with, facing nothing but zombies, imps and those pink demon things. The Cacodemons are probably the only real challenge here, as well as the end bosses in this episdoe, but other then that, this episode will hold your hand, unless you play carelessly that is. It wont be THAT easy. Beyond the next two episodes, the difficulty will start to pick up, forcing the player to play smart.
Then you get to Episode 4, "Thy Flesh Consumed".
Enemies come in relentless hordes, health and ammo is scarce, there is a threat around every corner, corridors and rooms are incredibly tight, and looking for secrets is vital. This last episode is UNFORGIVING, even on "Hurt Me Plenty" difficulty, and it requires the player to put their Doom skills to the test. Either that, or they are doomed.
And... if you thought the game was a bit too easy on the last episode on "Hurt Me Plenty", then don't worry, Doom has harder difficulty settings, of which will alter the challenge in a couple of ways in the levels, such as harder enemies in certain places.
As for Audio, although it uses a dated MIDI format, is really good. The soundtrack ranges from fast paced tracks that suit the fast paced action of the game, and then there are more somber, ominous tracks that suit Doom's gothic style. Weapons sound great, the chainsaw for instance sounds as grisly as a chainsaw should be. Monsters sound excellent and the kind of noises they make differ from each type, which can help the player develop a twitch reaction on how to deal with them if they bump into them (eg: Was that an Imp? I'll get my shotgun out...).
Graphics... Ehh. Alright they are horribly dated but there seems to be a gothic style going on here. and not all the levels look the same. Plus each enemy type has a distinct silhouette which can also help develop a twitch reaction on what the player should do to deal with them. Doom isn't an amazing looking game, but it's still not a bad looking one.
I think I described enough of Doom now, now to answer the question I said at the start of this review: Does Doom still hold up?
In two words: Hell yes. Doom was not only a revolution in the game industry, but it is a achievement in solid game design. while it may have aged poorly in the graphics department and it may lacks some thing most other modern shooters can do, everything else it can do, it does it FLAWLESSLY. The game brought several things to the table back then and it can still do them again and impress. If you haven't played Doom, then for the love of god, DO SO. Doom is a truly unmissable classic. So, what are you doing? Buy it. Lock, load, rev up that chainsaw, and get ready to rip and tear. Bring on the Ultravionce!!