Face-Off: Doom

There was a time when a new id Software release could make waves across the industry – redefining entire genres, upping the ante for high-end graphics, and changing the face of multiplayer games forever. With those halcyon days lingering in our rear view mirrors over the past few years, it has often felt as if the id Software we grew up with had been lost to time. Then, on Friday the 13th of May, everything changed – Doom was released to the world and blew the doors off expectations worldwide. To say that we were pleasantly surprised would be a vast understatement. To put it simply, id Software is back in a big way and this new take on Doom rockets the studio right back up to the top.

The release of Doom also marks id’s triumphant return to cutting-edge graphics engine development. Combining the high performance and virtual texturing capabilities of id Tech 5 with advanced lighting and materials, the new id Tech 6 feels like a long awaited return to form. Such results don’t come easy, however – while classic id Tech engines were architected primarily by John Carmack, who has since moved onto Oculus, id Tech 6 is the product of a massive dedicated team of id veterans and leading industry engineers, including a number of folks from Crytek, coming together under one banner.

The results are explosive. Doom delivers a full 60fps shooter on consoles with some of the most remarkable visuals we’ve seen this entire generation. In the wake of PlayStation Neo rumours and cries for new hardware, the release of Doom and Uncharted 4 in the same month demonstrates just how capable the existing machines are in the right hands. After all, no matter how much power is available, good performance still requires smart coding and design.

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Watch: Eight great games that used to be very different indeed

After all that worrying over nothing about Doom , the game released last week and surprised us all with an
which came very close to nailing the feel of its original 90’s predecessor.

But did you know there was once another version of Doom 4 in the works, one that looked completely different to the Doom we’re playing today? This cancelled version – developed sometime between 2011 and 2013 – was set on Earth, looked like a cross between Call of Duty and Homefront: The Revolution, and couldn’t have been more different to the classic Doom formula if it tried.

I used this cancelled Doom 4 as a springboard for this week’s Eurogamer Show, where I explore 8 great games that could have been very different indeed. Among the games featured are Team Fortress 2 – which used to be a realistic war sim – and Goldeneye, which at some point in the dim and distant past was meant to ship without its legendary split-screen multiplayer mode. If you can even imagine such a thing.

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Shogun: Total War and the art of a great video game story

Do you remember the first time a video game told you a story? By that I don’t mean the first time you played a video game that had a story. I mean the first time it made one up for you, like a grandmother who’s reached the end of her book of fairytales, but the grandchildren are crying “One more, one more!”. I mean the first time a game took a bunch of random numbers, fed them through a system of switches and levers, and somehow outputted a coherent, mesmerising narrative? Do you remember the first time you experienced this magical moment that only games can provide?

I do.

It was 2003, and the game was Shogun: Total War. I’d picked it up a couple of years prior and played with it a little. I’d gone “wow” at its ability to render hundreds, sometimes thousands of tiny soldiers on impressive 3D terrain, then forgotten about it in favour of the new Medal of Honor or something. I’d never been much of a strategy guy. Up to that point, the only strategy game that had held my attention for longer than a few hours was Age of Empires, because of its elegant simplicity and that compulsive rhythm of advancing your civilisation.

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