Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Number 5: Doom - "Hangar" (id Software, 1993)

For the number 5 spot on my list of best first levels I've chosen the first level of Doom. A lot has been said about Doom. Though Wolfenstein was the first real first-person-shooter (also created by id Software) it was Doom that really grabbed people's attention and introduced them to the genre. Seeing everything from the eyes of the protagonist was a first for many people. But what really made Doom famous was its use of gore and violence. For its time it was an incredibly good looking game, and the blood, well, we thought it looked so damn real!!

I remember the first time I saw Doom I was blow away. Was this real? Could I really just walk around shooting zombies and other creatures, watching them keel over in disgusting death animations uttering a dying moan as I pumped another round into my shotgun?? Would I get in trouble for playing this game??? For it's time it was an extremely violent game. This was back in the era when Bart Simpson uttering "Eat my shorts" was pushing the limits and offending Barbara Bush. No one had seen a game quite like this before.

In terms of the actual level "Hangar" it's a great little introduction to the game. You start out with the wimpy pistol but in no time you get the shotgun, a highly effective weapon which also produced some of the more grisly death animations. Fighting through a small group of gun wielding zombies the player is soon introduced to the fireball-spitting Imps. An experienced Doom player can get through this level in under thirty seconds, but there's a surprising amount of depth if you take your time. There's a couple of secrets to be found, including access to the outside courtyard. This also makes this level the perfect level for the introduction of the "Deathmatch" mode.

Doom popularized Deathmatch mode for thousands of kids across the country. It seemed so revolutionary at the time - instead of shooting the monsters, you connected up two or more computers and shot your friends! The introduction of Deathmatch helped lay the groundwork for the online deathmatches that you can play today in hundreds of games, from Counterstrike to Call of Duty to Halo. In fact in most games today some sort of "multiplayer" mode is practically mandatory. But there was nothing like it at the time. In fact, once you got a taste for fragging your friends it could be hard to go back to the normal game. For all these reasons, this is why "Hangar" from Doom takes number 5. To take a look at actual gameplay footage click here.

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