“Saved my hide, it did. The alien’s broad back shielded me as its brethren flung their fiery mucus wads; the fireballs burst, spraying flaming, red liquid that dribbled down my dance partner’s legs to pool on the ground, lighting the room with a hellish, red glaze. I fired nine or ten times, finally blowing a hole clean through the alien … a gory loophole through which I turned on the rest.”
Knee Deep in the Dead, Dafydd Ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver’s novelisation of Doom, is perhaps a little more theatrical than the Doom that played in my head during the summer of 1994. It features a sidekick and talking demons, and dramatised sequences in which protagonist Corporal Flynn Taggart finds ammo and bumps up against walls to find secrets. But it captures something of Doom’s intensely graphic nature. Doom was the first game I played that felt truly fluid and direct.
Playing Brutal Doom [official site] today feels like Doom always did, despite its custom levels and gouts of blood and gore, death animations and chugging live versions of Doom’s MUS originals. It overhauls pretty much every element of the original, and yet it’s the Doom that plays in my memory, amplifying the original’s gore and immediacy to suit a post-COD, Gears of War – heck, Soldier of Fortune – world. For me, the latest version, v20b, reaches a state of the sublime. But while the blood that drips from ceilings and screen-filling viscera are its obvious achievements, something far more prosaic lies at the root of how it works so well.
THE MECHANIC: Hitboxes.