Why I consider Doom superior to everything mentioned in this thread by orders of magnitude:
- All enemies are simultaneously potential assets. The significance of this can hardly be overstated.
- The Doom level, as a "box of monsters" is a fluid and dynamic system. A good level may, conceptually, have dozens of "encounters" but only a few discrete combat zones within which many encounters can interplay. Compare to Serious Sam or Painkiller, which are functionally a succession of Smash-TV-Style "Screens" or "Rooms".
- A full, classic Doom level has an inherent escalation narrative, from shotgunning troos and posses through rocketing heads and bosses, then at last to a plasma-charged finale. Which is why when playing through the best megawads, you can end the level, watch the score rack up, then dive back in to the next pistol start with a hungry grin. There is no need to "break up the pace" with turret sequences, quick-time events, "puzzles" and "story" and whatever the christ they fill games with nowadays.
- A well-constructed Doom level is knit together by a space ownership narrative. You gradually gain control of the map and acquire more of what would be called "interior lines of movement" in a military context, as well as more potential for "defense in depth".
- A well-balanced Doom level is also knit together by a resource-management narrative. Most other games function at a tactical level, but Doom situates this action within a larger "operational" scenario.
To look at it another way, when you decide to do a certain thing at a certain time in Doom, what goes into that decision? What is the significance of chainsawing a demon or retreating from a revenant? Watching a roomful of people play Call of Duty is just a horrible, meaningless brown noise.
I haven't played many modern FPS games, but it seems they have generally thrown most of this away. The Build games and Sam/Painkiller are lovely and I've played them quite thoroughly, but holding them up to Doom is like holding Shannara up to Tolkien or Andrew Lloyd Weber to J.S. Bach. And Half-Life is a very nice thing, but it is really a different sort of thing altogether.
Much of what are today called "games" are really more like "electronic consumer entertainment products" that have more in common, fundamentally, with "Duck Hunt", "A Fork in the Tale" and "Putt-Putt Joins the Parade", combined with a bizarre electronic form of hoarding.
I might put the Williams Arcade classics in league with Doom. Robotron and Defender are dynamic, chaotic systems of great beauty. However, I'm not sure how I feel about the intense emphasis on muscle memory.