This month has given us an old-made-new-again video game release that will be a nostalgic headtrip for those who were around for the beginning of First Person Shooter games. I’m talking about the days before they were available on consoles, back when you had to park it in front of a PC with your cheat sheet of ammo and health codes taped to the side of the monitor. But no using the “god” code. That’s just cheating.
I’m talking, of course, about Doom 2016, the long-awaited sequel to the daddy of all FPS games, the original Doom, released in 1993. There was one FPS that came before it, which we’ll call the granddaddy of them all, Wolfenstein 3D. But Doom represented a big leap ahead in game tech, specifically regarding things that make FPS games what they are, like non-orthogonal walls, and pseudo 3D effects like stairs and elevators.
The other big part of an FPS is, of course, the guns. Doom was pretty bare-bones compared to today’s gun-heavy games. The first gun you got was a semi-auto pistol, which was, like most of the firearms in the game, modeled from photographs of toy guns. In this case, it was a toy replica of a Beretta 92FS (M9) pistol.
Then you had a pump shotgun, which was actually edited images of a toy cap gun, the TootsieToy “Dakota” made from 1980s to the 1990s.
Doom 2 (1994) saw a much wider release than the original just a year later and introduced the infamous Super Shotgun, which was a powerful break-action double-barrel, along with the game’s signature heavy-metal-esque soundtrack. The gun in the game was just a repainted version of the pump shotgun.
The bigger guns in Doom and its direct sequel were undoubtedly the most fun. First you had the Chaingun, which was a high-volume machine gun that worked like a hand-held minigun, with a set of revolving barrels. It was made from a digitized toy cap gun, again from the TootsieToy line. This one was called “Ol’ Painless,” doubtlessly an homage to the handheld minigun used by Jesse Ventura in the classic 80s action movie Predator.
The “Plasma Gun” was again based on a toy, more specifically, the front portion of a licensed Rambo M60 dart gun toy from the late 80s. As a former owner of the toy, I can attest that it was possibly just as cool as the video game plasma gun.
And that brings us to, of course, the BFG 9000, which created a trope for FPS games that continued well into the Quake era. According to the game designers, BFG stood for “Big Fragging Gun” but gamers have come up with a far more obvious long-name for the gun since, and stuck to it.
You don’t even want to see the corny little piece of plastic the first BFG was modeled on:
Doom also set a precedent that an FPS better have some cool melee weapons to go along with all those projectile-shooters. In Doom, it was the chainsaw, possibly as a nod to classic horror movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Evil Dead series. The game chainsaw was based on photographs of a McCulloch 2.0 Eager Beaver chainsaw. Plenty of folks wondered, as they played the first two games, why a chainsaw specifically made for cutting wood would end up on an installation in outer space. If you played through Doom 3 and paid attention, you found out why. But who cared—it was just so much fun tearing through hordes of demons with that thing revving away.
It was so popular, the chainsaw even got an FPS sequence in the big film version of the video game, Doom (2005) starring Dwayne Johnson back when he was still billed as The Rock.
The new game is on sale now and begins on a Union Aerospace Corporation research facility on Mars. The project goal is to draw energy from Hell in order to solve an energy crisis on earth. It ends with a portal being opened to Hell, which forced the facility managers to release the Doom Marine from his sarcophagus and task him with pushing back the demonic invasion and closing the portal. (Hey…these were never supposed to be high-brow games.) The new entry in the series marks a return to more open ended levels and faster gameplay, closer in spirit to the first two rather than the survival/horror approach of Doom 3.
The weapons list for Doom 2016 is pretty long and includes old favorites like the BFG9000, the Chaingun, Chainsaw (called an insta-kill weapon), the combat Shotgun, plus a Heavy Assault Rifle, Gauss Cannon, Lightning gun, Plasma Gun, Rocket Launcher, Static Cannon and a Vortex Rifle, which is a beam weapon for sniping. There are also a host of non-weapon gadgets to help out the cause, like a hologram projector and a personal teleporter.
Want to step back in time a little? Check out the gameplay of Doom 2 here:
If you want to ruin it for yourself, you can watch a full playthrough of the new Doom on Ultra Nightmare difficulty mode. It’s almost five hours long, so strap in.