SFcrowsnest

The Art Of Doom (book review)

Ahh, ‘Doom’! You think having children is responsible for sleepless nights? How about all-nighters blasting away on ‘Doom’ – the game that popularised the first person shooter – as you made your way around dark corridors reducing demons to bloody chunks with the BFG (the first word meaning ‘Big’ and the last meaning ‘Gun’. I’ll let you guess what the middle word means, though I’ll tell you it’s not ‘Flipping’). For an entire generation of gamers, ‘Doom’ was violent, addictive, socially irresponsible and the biggest amount of fun you could imagine.

There have been sequels and follow-ups over the recent years with the most recent, also simply called ‘Doom’, hitting current generation consoles over the past few months. Here the player, now known as The Doom Slayer, has to fight various demon hordes on Mars and in Hell in various bloody ways. It’s not stop action and violence as the Doom Slayer finds himself confronting ever more disturbing and terrifying creatures. But as long as you have a BFG/Chainsaw/whatever else you find by your side, nothing is that scary as you mow them down.

‘The Art Of Doom’ is a showcase of the art and storyboards that went into the making of the game. Chiefly, this is done by showcasing ever more disturbing and inventively disgusting monsters. The likes of the Spider-Mastermind, The Revenant or The Baron of Hell are all deliciously Lovecraftian, all tentacles and gaping maws filled with razor-sharp teeth. They certainly link into the game’s idea of excess and sense of being over-the-top. The art is certainly stunning, in a disturbing kind of way and game and genre fans who like their creature artwork will find much to admire here. It’s a coffee table book, though if the vicar comes for morning coffee and biscuits you might find that you scare him away.

As gorgeous as much of the artwork is, it’s a shame that the almost all of the scant text is written in an ‘in-universe’ style. It would have been much more rewarding if we were taken into some of the ideas of the design process and why certain choices were made. For fans of the original ‘Doom’, everything may feel a little too smooth and epic. Where are the block pixels or John Romero’s badly rendered head (one for the hardcore fans there)? Of course it’s meant to concentrate of the current version but given that even the new game allows you to play classic ‘Doom’ levels, a couple of nods to the original artwork and graphics would have been nice.

But fans of the new game will find it a worthy companion to their play and reading it may even give them a breather before they head back into Hell to blow even more things to Kingdom Come

Laurence Boyce

July 2016

(pub: Dark Horse. 184 page large hardback. Price: $39.99 (US), £29.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61655-934-2)

check out website: http://www.darkhorse.com/