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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Getting Some Z

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Darren Blair

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As I mentioned earlier, I’d had reason to begin looking up walkthrough videos for the older “Doom” video games. It brought me a fair amount of nostalgia, and in the process helped me remember how good the game was and why so many people liked it so much. Before too long, I’d begun contemplating whether or not to go see if I could still somehow get the older games in a safe, legal fashion.

It turned out that yes, Steam – a digital service that is to video games as iTunes is to music and video – had a package set consisting of “Ultimate Doom” (that is, “Doom” and “Doom II”), the “Master Levels” quasi-official fan-created levels, and the quasi-official fan sequel “Ultimate Doom”. What’s more, this package set was among the items on sale for the July 4th holiday, being 2/3rds off the normal price. A family friend had paid me with a Steam gift card in return for a major (for this person, at least) favor, so it was a done deal.

…For which I should have kicked the tires first. Turns out that according to the discussion forums right on Steam itself, the “DOS Box” emulator that Steam provided for the games was next to useless. Sure enough, it wouldn’t load “Final Doom”, “Ultimate Doom” wouldn’t work beyond the game start screens, and “Master Levels” wouldn’t actually load any levels. So off I go trying to find something that *will* work.

Some fellow gamers I know recommend a free emulator known as “ZDoom”. I check it out, get the “GZDoom” edition, and go from there. Turns out that it’s plug-and-play, so I’m mostly settled. It’s not wanting to work with “Master Levels”, but I still have everything else. So off I go.

I’d basically watched all of “Doom” and most of “Doom II” via walkthrough, so I decided to go to “Final Doom”. First stop? The first of the two games, “TNT:Evilution”.

It was a few seconds in that I realized I perhaps should have started with one of the other games to get back into things. You see, “Doom” was created back in the days when DOS was still a thing and computer mice weren’t all that common. As such, all of the default controls presumed a keyboard and nothing else… and I’m a lot bigger and my hands are a bit clumsier since the last time I played. Not only am I having trouble working some things, I so badly fat-fingered the controls at one point that I accidentally reset the monitor into displaying the wrong way. Oops.

I’d already expected to use the “invincibility” and “show all the map” cheats my first time through, but now I’ll have to keep using the former since watching my keystrokes restricts my in-game play ability. And I’m also having to constantly use the “light amplification” cheat (which, in GZDoom, goes to thermal instead of simply turning the lights all the way up like the raw original did) to compensate for my personal lighting conditions. *And* I’m having to use the “pass through walls” code a lot because some of the triggers to open doors and hidden areas aren’t always intuitive.

But that being said? There are still parts of it that are fun and require a fair amount of planning to piece together. It’s not quite to the level of the official games, but it’s still better than other games I’ve played. So yeah – slowly getting to be worth it all.

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