As someone who grew up in the 90s with a power mac, I very fondly remember the Marathon games. They were the first FPS games that contained a complex story beyond run-and-gun, delivered via the computer terminals throughout the game. In all honesty, I don't think there was any game that came close to the complex story it featured until Deus Ex was released years later.
However, if you want to REALLY feel atmosphere and **** yourself in fright, load up an old mac emulator and play "Pathways Into Darkness" - by the makers of Marathon and Halo, was their first FPS game. Movement was slow, graphics were basic and gameplay was very paced. It also made you **** your pants in fright as a result! It was also near-impossible to complete, at least the first couple of play-throughs due to the maze-like game (it was easy to spend ages going the wrong way) and some really tough puzzles. The monsters are the most cartoony things you've every seen, but that just made them MORE scary! To this day I still can't play it for more then 30 minutes at a time!
Long time reader of the site but haven't feel obliged to register until now.
NO shooter has ever come close to doom and doom 2 yet imho. Doom guy runs at the fastest pace of any character in any fps since. The action is pure arcade and there's nothing like taking on hundreds of enemies at once and looking at their dead corpses after the massacre. Doom 3 missed the point of doom entirely. Doom's greatness always lied in the fact that it was about pure arcarde action. The fantastic weapon balance where even if you had all the weapons they would all still useful depending on the circumstance, a great map would force you to use all the weapons well. And that's not to mention the fantastic, varied bestiary.
Plutonia (Final Doom) would have to be my favourite megawad of all time. Unbelievable amounts of enemies.
The doom community is still alive and well.
Check out http://www.doomworld.com to grab a source port. Gzdoom or prboom are both great. Mouse look, anti aliasing, high resolutions etc. You'll have to grab a megawad, steam sells all the dooms cheaply. Just grab the megawad out of the directory and dump it in the source port folder.
One thing I think really helped the atmosphere as well was the complete lack of a flashlight back then.
When a room was pitch black while hearing gurgles and grunts from the enemies hiding within, then hearing a roar and watching as the room is lit up only by a big fireball (or 10) as it flies toward you before going pitch black again was a great atmospheric feeling. Knowing there could be unseen enemies right next to you, breathing down your neck.
Or my personal favourite were the strobe lit rooms where you could only see a quick glimpse of the environment every other second.
I have a much better time playing modern games like fear or doom 3 by avoiding using the flashlight. But they aren't really built for that and a lot of rooms can get a bit too hard if you don't use it.
great article. I think the most fun I had with Duke 3D was the simple map editor (so easy I could use it). I made many levels in that game, challenge maps that i'd swap with friends for theirs, it was brillant!
Doom was awesome, Doom 2 was great. I played Quake 2 before i played Quake, still like no2 better but that could be because I played it first.
Always took UT over Q3Arena however lanning with either is the f'ing bomb!
Cyclobs, sif you would suggest Open Arena (bit meh) compared to Sauerbraten, thats where the awesome gaming is at folks! Had a few rounds of that again the other week (after not playing for ages) against Cyclobs and some others of his clan and realised how horribly I was outclassed....though I did beat Cyclobs one round