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10 Old-School Shooters To Play While Waiting For Doom

Lucky QuakeCon attendees got a sneak peek of the latest Doom in action. The newest entry in the influential first-person shooter series refocuses on old school genre pillars like fast movement, gory gunplay, and taking down large packs of enemies. The news has our blood pumping, so we've pulled together a list of awesome old school first-person shooters that you can play while enduring the long wait for id's new Doom.

For this list we excluded obvious bets like Doom, Wolfenstein, and Duke Nukem 3D to highlight some lesser-known gems. We also limited it to games that feature 2D sprites in 3D environments, so no Quake, Half-Life, or Serious Sam. Those are awesome shooters, but not exactly the old-school vibe we're talking about here.


Catacomb 3-D
Year: 1991
Developer: id Software

Wolfenstein 3D is heralded as the granddaddy of first-person shooters, but Catacomb 3-D at least deserves an asterisk. Similar to Wolfenstein, John Carmack and John Romero's Catacomb series began as a 2D adventure with a top-down perspective before making the leap to 3D, first-person dungeon crawling. Players shoot fireballs at orcs, spiders, spear-toting tribesmen, and all sorts of fantasy tropes. The groundwork for Wolf 3D is present in spades, including secret passages, bloody deaths, and a character portrait that morphs into a skull as players take damage. It's an important piece of gaming history for anyone with an interest in the popular genre's roots.


Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold
Year: 1993
Developer: JAM Productions

This sci-fi shooter looks like Wolfenstein in space, which makes sense since it's operating on a modified version of id's foundational engine. The titular hero blasts aliens and enemy soldiers with a recharging pistol, resulting bloody deaths as they cry out "medic!" in their tinny voices. All the weapons look like slightly more futuristic versions of Wolfenstein's standard pistols and machine guns, making this title's differences from its predecessor mostly aesthetic. But it's hard to argue with a game that includes a robotic boss with chainguns for arms and a head that's just a brain in a tank.


Rise of the Triad
Year: 1994
Developer: Apogee Software

Originally destined as an expansion for Wolfenstein, this early '90s FPS literally took the genre to new heights by introduced increased verticality to both the campaign and multiplayer maps. Floating platforms and elevators offer players a new vantage point for destruction. A host of deadly weapons further the carnage against the cultists and military forces. Dual-wielded pistols and a trusty MP40 offer basic firepower, but a healthy selection of bazookas send limbs and eyeballs flying. One launcher lets loose a salvo of drunken missiles, filling the periphery with explosions and giblets. Rise of the Triad was recently remade by Interceptor Entertainment, but the original's 2D sprites and ambitious MIDI soundtrack secure its place in our hearts.


Marathon
Year: 1994
Developer: Bungie Software

Long before Master Chief suited up for Halo: Combat Evolved, Bungie began telling first-person stories with Marathon. The series – one of the genre's rare Mac exclusives – combines 2D characters with detailed 3D environments. The hallmarks of the developer are in place here with colorful, unique enemy design, consistent interfacing with in-game tech, and audio that's well ahead of its time. The protagonist's hand is even a dead ringer for an armored Spartan glove. Checking out this classic is a must for fans of Microsoft's lauded FPS series.


Heretic
Year: 1994
Developer: Raven Software

Raven Software's Return to Castle Wolfenstein is one of the genre's best, complete with a globetrotting campaign and intense multiplayer mode. The studio made a splash working with id Software even before Return with Heretic, a game that runs on a modified version of the Doom engine. Heretic swaps out Doom's sci-fi corridors for a dark fantasy world filled with flying monsters and giants. The pistol is replaced with a magic staff, and the shotgun is now a powerful crossbow. If you love the idea of experiencing the core gameplay of Doom with a completely new aesthetic, Heretic delivers.

Up next: Becoming a friend of the Rebel Alliance and an unexpected part of a well-balanced breakfast...

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