Sunday, August 28, 2022


Ah, Wolfenstein. In the early 90s the predominant genre was graphic adventures, and the original game stood out as a real adrenaline-driven experience

Actually I think I played Spear of destiny first, then Wolfenstein 3D. They were released in the US as shareware, and arrived to Spain in the usual way those days: Some friend would get a copy from another friend, you will copy it via floppy disks, and later on another of your friends will copy it from you

Actually, this pirate activity is one of the reasons why I bought the first reboot (2014) and also this one: I felt I owed Bethesda something for the time I spent playing without paying back in the day. Anyway, talking about Wolfenstein 2, it has been re-interpreted as a linear game (the original was maze-like) with a big focus on story and lots of scripted events. But the core remains more or less the same: Angry guy killing nazis

With so many open world and multiplayer games going on, its refreshing to play a good old single player experience. The great thing about these games is that you know where the player is going to be at any given time, and that it's not going to be a group of them. That means you can plan encounters, videos, animations, scripted events and world reactions accordingly. I would say the level of eye-candyness you can achieve is way superior on single player games. You lack freedom and team work, sure, but it's somehow closer to play a movie

The New Colossus is a good sequel to the previous title. The story is interesting, it has some surprises and to some extent a bit of a parody of the USA. The game systems generally work smoothly and there are some very interesting locations to visit. A professional work in all senses

On the minus side it´s mostly evolutionary over the previous title. No big changes or major risks taken. Also, I was close to lose all my game progress - thanks online storage - due to a confusing profile/saving system. On top of that the menus are a bit basic, I could have used some more options and flashier UI design

All in all a highly recommendable game. Killing nazis is always satisfying!

Monday, August 8, 2022

DOOM 2 (PS4)

Since I went through was Doom meant for me at the time of its release in the previous review (here), I will focus on this one on the actual gameplay of these games. Doom 1 and 2 are similar enough as to not consider them completely different products, but they have a number of substantial changes: Not only a bunch of new enemies and the double-barreled shotgun, but also a different level design approach: Apparently the ID team tried to take advantage of hardware progress to create bigger and more open scenarios. That´s probably the case, but in my opinion Doom 2 is simply more fun. In the first game they might have tried to be somehow “realistic” in the scenarios – trying to make players feel in a space lab or a moon base – whereas in Doom 2 scenarios make little sense in regards to authenticity, but are definitively more interesting to play. They spawn enemies in strange locations, the architecture is completely bonkers... but precisely that allows to create many challenging and surprising combat situations the first game only hinted

On the other hand, I think both games suffer from a certain indecisiveness in terms of what game experience they wanted in the end. Not unusual considering game design was at its infancy in 1994: Some of the game mechanics call for slow pace progression (keys, labyrinthic layouts, secret walls) and others call for fastness (par times at the post-level screen, quick resolution of combat encounters, most weapons don´t need reloading, sprinting). In terms of design, Romero explained they just followed their instincts, and added whatever felt cool to have fun. Nowadays I believe designers need to be more vigilant on what is the target experience you´re going for

Sometimes you can even get stuck. However, I guess is fair to say back in the 90s you didn´t have access to so many leisure options. There was no internet, no free to play games, less TV channels, movies were almost exclusive to theatres… you could expect your players to not only try the game but also be unable to make progress for months, and give it second/third chances if you didn´t find the solution to a puzzle or find your way to the exit. Funny enough, there was a way to know if you were getting closer to an unexplored area: Back in those days, your hard drive would purr when loading new data, meaning you were approaching uncharted territory. Also could it be Doom the one that created that stereotype that when you find a room full of health, ammo and armor... that meant you were about to face a boss? Ah, I miss those little things from the early days...

DOOM 1993 (PS4)

 After reading Masters of Doom, I thought it´d be nice to re-try those games. After all, last time I played them was… 1994? 95? Can´t remember. Their original distribution system was shareware, and that didn´t get to Spain easy. It probably took some months or even years for a copy to get to me. Plus, I´m not sure if I ever paid for them. Maybe I just got the free first episode. Or a pirated copy. I somehow remember paying for a pirated copy of Ultimate Doom, but it was so long ago…

Anyway, I guess it was time to pay back for sure, and relive those times. That´s something most will never get to experience, because when Doom was out it made you feel things. Feel BIG. Graphically speaking it was a leap forward in time so hard you thought you were playing a game five years into the future. The gap was just so huge

You need to remember, the early nineties were dominated by graphic adventures, cartoony style mostly, and the vast majority aiming for kid´s taste. Then Doom came along, with its satanic environments, horrifying sound effects and gory violence. It was a whole new experience, something that caught you by surprise

Apparently it created a lot of controversy in the USA. I didn´t get to see that, but there were congress hearings and everything. I also remember journalists talking about the insane amount of hours American workers have wasted playing Doom while pretending to work. It was a phenomenon, one that I believe set a before/after moment in Videogames: Before Doom, games had limited sales and were kind of niche entertainment. They couldn´t dream to rival movies or even TV. But Doom proved games could be the talk of the town, and make a lot of money on the way

After finishing the game, I was nicely surprised to see it still holds great. The game is just fun: Weapons are satisfying to use, enemy patterns are simple enough to develop strategies, and the different group combinations keep you invested. I also got as many trophies as I could get, and found some additional content (i.e. secret maps) I hadn´t seen before

All in all, still a game you would recommend to others. If Return to castle Wolfenstein (also from the twisted minds of Romero & Carmack) was the grandfather of modern First person shooters, Doom is imho undoubtedly the father. Its offspring continues to thrive to this day, and also pioneered online gaming, speedrunning, modding and the creation of fanbases. I would consider it a must for anyone who wants to be a developer, there are interesting level design lessons everywhere, and more importantly there is a simplicity forced by the tech of the time, that with the time become somehow a virtue