There was a time when the concept of Doomsday was not greeted with delight. Ah, but that was back in the day when D-Day was an actual catastrophe, and not a game. Today, in the age of online gaming, the end of the world can actually be fun, and gamers have more opportunities than ever to demonstrate their crisis handling abilities in a number of formats.
Doom (id Software, 1993)
If the theme is doomsday, is this an apt title to start with or what? The granddaddy of “shooter” games, the story unfolds from the perspective of the player, who takes on the role of a space Marine, fighting demons from hell through nine levels of play through several episodes. This game, originally only available through shareware and mail order, was such a huge and influential hit, it developed its own cult following. Later available through retail, the title generated a slew of sequels through the 1990s, and even a motion picture in 2005. After a break and some technology upgrades, the Doom franchise resumed in the mid-aughts.
Left 4 Dead (Valve, 2008)
You’re always in good company when that company happens to be zombies, and there’s plenty of the undead roaming around here. The plot is the aftermath of a pandemic with unfortunate side effects, and once again, it unfolds through the eyes of a first person shooter. Left 4 Dead was developed for Microsoft Windows, XBox360 (and won its “Game Of The Year” award) and Mac OSX. There are four separate game modes here, and it’s possible for one to eight players to play here. Although an artificial intelligence called “The Director” throws various obstacles into the path of players, the game has drawn criticism for not having much plot. That doesn’t seem to have affected its popularity however, and this game has spawned sequels.
Buck Rogers Countdown To Doomsday (Strategic Simulations, Inc. 1990)
Like zombies, it would seem Mr. Rogers is always in fashion, and this is one of a series of games in a number of formats featuring the hero. In Buck Rogers Countdown To Doomsday, each player creates a party of space goers in a race to prevent bad guys from setting off a super weapon. Each of the player’s characters comes equipped with “attributes”, and can pick up more along the way through devices such as “combat experience”. The game playing field is grid based, and players conduct battle through 3D tactical maneuvers. The game can be played on Amiga Commodore 64, MS-DOS, and the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis platforms.
Doomsday Warrior (Laser Soft, 1992)
No pandemics, natural disasters, or terrorists here, just a nasty, super powered wizard, and his six henchmen. Doomsday Warrior can be played on the Super Nes/Fam Com platform, and might be best enjoyed by fans of manga.
Maybe when you’re playing with lots and lots of friends, life doesn’t look quite so bad? You’re not going to find some of the grim titles and themes in MMORPG games that you might elsewhere, but don’t worry; life here isn’t exactly unicorns and lollipops, either. Some examples of doomsday-themed MMORPG:
Infantry Online (Harmless Games, LLC, 1999) War, any war, is hell. Play it on Windows.
Astrobattle (Lava Lord Games, 2004) Fight for the fate of the galaxy in spaceships you design yourselves! That’ll make a mess. Play it on Windows and Linux.
And of course, gaming websites and publications can steer you to yet more doom, with new tragedy due this year. As always, parents should be aware that some catastrophe is more mature than others.
Roxanne Barbeau loves and has played many an end of days game, but she’s an up person, really.