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Classic First Person Shooter Games for DOS (The DOOMs and Quakes of Yore)

Updated on October 28, 2010

Did you play old DOS computer games back in the day? Among the old favorites for DOS are the many retro first person shooters that came out way back in the early- to mid-90's--they were just so easy to pick up, instantly playable to anyone who happened upon them. These (by now, ancient) games set up so much precedent for the genre that a lot of the common elements of FPS that originated in these games are evident in shooters today.

With Windows came DirectX and better and better graphics, and though this was wonderful, one has to concede that there's still some charm in the old 2.5D shooters.

Let's take a look at some of the greatest of the old school classics:

Wolfenstein 3D and Its Clones

I already made a hub about this one and some of its ports, but it's one of the first and certainly one of the most influential FPS's ever made. It was preceded by Catacomb Abyss and a few others, but its place as a classic of the genre is indisputable.

It was a standard maze shooter game, of which there were several clone-type games. One of the better of these clones is Ken's Labyrinth, which is now available as a freeware download (not abandonware) in its entirety. The source code is also online, free and open. Look it up; it's quite good for its time and was coded by the master game programmer Ken Silvermen, who would go on to code the Build Engine for Duke Nukem.

DOOM and its Sequels

DOOM is one of those instantly-recognizable games that has been ported onto every system you can possibly imagine. It's the kind of game that gave you nightmares as a kid, but when you played as an adult you realized the sprites of the monsters look kind of lame (though it doesn't detract from the fun).

A collection consisting of DOOM, DOOM II, and Final DOOM came out for Windows some years ago (It ran fine on a win98 machine of mine, I believe, but it should work on XP and the others as well), so you can easily re-live this classic for next to nothing.

Duke Nukem 3D

One of the first FPS's where you could look up and down as well as to the sides, Duke Nukem was a silly, over-the-top game where you embody a terribly masculine guy named Duke and shoot as many aliens as you can all over a city, military bases, etc.

The engine is open source now and there have been a few, equally silly games built with it that I've seen, including one that involves shooting ones way through the middle east in search of Saddam Hussein, and another similar one dealing with Osama bin Laden.


Quake was, I believe, one of the first if not the first genuinely 3D first person shooter. Unlike Wolfenstein and DOOM by id before it, Quake did not consist of a "2.5D" environment peppered with sprites as the enemies, but actually had real polygons--true 3D, not just the illusion of it.

Similar to DOOM, Quake had hellish imagery and is a little creepy even to this day.

Several sequels have been released, but none of them are really anything like the original Quake; they seem more science fiction and fail to match the eerie and unsettling tone of the original with its zombies, bloody knights, and dark castles.

These are just a few--the main ones out of the bunch, really--so if you have any favorites I didn't mention, let me know.


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    • collegeman2 profile image

      collegeman2 4 years ago from long island NY

      I went back to a bunch of these old games recently, and the ones that stood out to me were quake and blood. Both games standup even today which is impressive considering their age.

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