With Doom 3: BFG Edition hitting the new NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, we take a look back at the history of one of gaming's most iconic names.
It's hard to believe Doom is 21 years old. Originally released by id Software late in 1993, it wasn't the original first person shooter by any means. Its immediate predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D, laid the blueprint for the modern FPS and was a huge hit. However, Doom blew Wolfenstein right out of the water with a cutting edge 3D engine that allowed for amazing visuals and lightning fast action that suddenly marked the PC as a proper gaming platform.
Doom boasted complex levels that lent extra depth by clever lighting effects used to full effect, creating a dark, forbidding game world filled with loads of monsters to shoot and a fat arsenal of weapons to blast them with. As a lone space marine armed with just a pistol, you quickly come up against legions of possessed marines and hideous hell-beasts that look all the better for having been modeled in real life, then photographed from all sides and digitized. They take a fair bit of shooting with the pistol, so it's a relief when you get your hands on a shotgun – Doom's most iconic weapon – and really let it rip.
With the first of three episodes made available as shareware, which you were positively encouraged to copy and pass on to your friends, Doom spread quickly around the world in the days before Internet access was widely available, and the full game sold over a million copies. Beyond its single player game, it had the extra appeal of being playable over a network either in co-op or deathmatch mode, and it soon became a feature of pretty much every computer lab in every university. Another great feature was the fact that it was relatively easy to create your own levels and even modify Doom's graphics and sound, resulting in a massive Doom-editing community that generated thousands of levels and modifications over the years.
id was quick to capitalize on Doom's success, following up in 1994 with Doom II: Hell on Earth, this time released as a full retail game rather than shareware. Looking much like the original but with larger, more intricate levels and even bigger boss monsters, Doom II sees Earth invaded by hell spawn and introduces a new weapon, the super shotgun, a lot more powerful than the original but with a slower reload time.
'Doom clone' became a by-word for first-person shooters, at least until id released Quake in 1996. Along with expansion packs for Doom and Doom II, id also licensed the Doom engine to other developers. However, there wouldn't be another Doom game until 2004, when id rebooted the series and brought it back up to date in the form of Doom 3.
Built to showcase id's new 3D engine id Tech 4, which boasted dynamic lighting and shadows, skeletal animation, advanced texture effects and much more, Doom 3 is a very different game compared to its predecessors. It's grittier and more realistic, with dark and claustrophobic passageways replacing the original's wider spaces, and only a handful of fantastically detailed demons and possessed undead to face at a time. While it lacks the exhilaration of running and gunning against a mass of enraged monsters, it makes up for this with plenty more tension and a much richer story than the first two games.
Doom took an unlikely turn in 2005 when it was made into a film starring Karl Urban and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. Interesting to say the least, and you can find it on Netflix today.
Over the years the original Doom received assorted unofficial updates, thanks to id releasing its source code in 1997, and with source ports such as GLDoom and ZDoom you can enjoy it on a modern PC with enhanced graphics and new features. For the ultimate modern twist on the original games, though, there's Brutal Doom. First released in 2010, it's a hugely ambitious modification that ramps up absolutely everything, with more weapons, bigger explosions, extra animation and a bucket load of blood. It even has the approval of Doom designer John Romero; if you have a Windows PC and any of the original games, be sure to check it out.
Doom 4 was originally coming in 2008 but ran into problems, with development being completely restarted in 2011. It's still on the way, now renamed simply as Doom, and promises a return to the feel of the original. For now there's the Doom 3: BFG Edition; first released in 2012, it includes all the old Doom games in a single package, and gives Doom 3 a hefty update as well.
It's been given an extra bit of polish for its latest version, too. The brand new release of the BFG Edition is for the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, a monster of a set-top box that does home entertainment at up to 4K video resolution with 7.1 surround sound, but also has an impeccable gaming pedigree. If you want to play Doom 3 on your big TV in 1080P at a rock-solid 60fps, the SHIELD Android TV is the perfect platform, and it's available now with prices starting at $199. Doom 3: BFG Edition is also available to download from Google Play for $9.99.
Now read about the newest Doom video game, set to debut next year.