Year: 1993 Original review score: Not Reviewed
Doom was the “it” moment for video games, a perfect convergence of technological and gameplay innovation that blew the doors wide open on the embryonic medium of video games. Doom was final, undeniable proof that video games were the future of state-of-the-art entertainment. Over the last 15 years, Doom’s influence on the industry – and on modern video gaming – has been nothing short of seismic.
Why It Was Innovative:
Doom’s key revelation was to place a player inside of the game’s world, transforming him from a detached observer to a real-time participant surrounded by 360 degrees of danger and menace. Playing Doom on your PC screen was like living another life, like being the hero instead of awkwardly controlling his actions. Doom’s predecessor Wolfenstein 3D had employed a similar first-person perspective to groundbreaking effect, but Doom was light years ahead because it wove a tapestry of art and sound, light and darkness, color and texture in a way best compared to film and television.
In this era, the concept of “gameplay” mostly consisted of bombarding the player with robotic enemy patterns to be memorized and exploited. But with Doom, for the first time players had to adapt and predict in order to survive as Doom’s demonic cast prowled and attacked with malevolent intelligence (intelligent for the time, anyway). Another innovation: Doom’s environments were practically characters onto themselves, reacting to the player’s presence by cutting the lights or opening a hidden door to trigger unease or panic in the player. Doom was alive, and it was dangerous, and the result was the most realistic and compelling virtual world ever created. And though countless games have vastly improved on Doom’s graphics and gameplay, Doom was the wellspring that shaped the industry.
Doom’s unprecedented immersion was only the beginning of its contributions to videogaming. Doom also introduced the world to the concept of online multiplayer gaming by enabling players to connect remotely over phone lines and play cooperatively or competitively (coining the term “deathmatch”). Then there was the popularization of the “shareware model” of game distribution, which gave away the first chapter of Doom for free and encouraged players to pony up to buy the rest of the game. Sound familiar? It should — that “try before you buy” spirit lives on in downloadable game demos on services such as Xbox Live and PSN. Finally, even Doom’s creators, Texas-based independent developer id Software, set an important precedent by embodying the indie game development movement that is still so vital to the creativity of the industry.
For these reasons, and many, many more, GamePro is proud to name Doom as the most innovative game in the history of GamePro. We salute you, Oh Dark One.