DOOM! Shake, shake, shake the room!
HIGH It’s… it’s Doom! A real, modern Doom game!
LOW These gun sound effects are a little underwhelming.
WTF Why didn’t I pick Ultra Violence first time through?
Video game heroes have clearly gone soft these days. They’re all charming smiles and ‘fashionable’ haircuts, frequently shrugging off near-deaths with little more than a pithy one-liner and a knowing wink to the camera. They’re all complete bastards, and Doom is the perfect antidote to the irksome shenanigans of these bumbling fools—minutes after starting the game, demon skulls have been crushed against unrelenting stone sarcophagi, head-bursting shotguns have been pried from the hands of the dead, and, uh, elevator controls have been smashed beyond repair just because they happened to be nearby.
It turns out that this new Doom is pretty special. It’s a breath of fresh, blood-scented air when compared to many of its contemporaries—it’s more interested in streamlining the ability to pulp demon flesh in the most visceral manner possible than waffling on about tiresome moral quandaries and paper-thin protagonist motivations. Here’s the all the motivation Doomguy needs: demons from Hell are on the loose, and plenty of weaponry is readily available. Go!
The setup is wonderfully uncluttered, but that’s only a small, small part of why Doom works so well. The pacing is exactly the right kind of relentless, battling a wide assortment of demons with only a few slightly-misjudged story sequences popping up to slow things down. The rest of the time it’s constant circle strafing, leaping across yawning chasms, unloading buckshot into Cacodemon eyeballs, and generally wading through a river of blood to make it from point A to point B.
That’s not to say that the maps are simplistic, though—it’s possible to get momentarily lost in the sprawling environments even with compass waypoints available. There are also secret areas squirrelled away all over the place, usually containing decent rewards within. In a small concession to modern conventions, there are a number of upgrades available such as reduced environmental damage, additional health, and a bunch of weapon mods to make the arsenal even more ludicrously lethal. That chaingun’s nice, but wouldn’t it be better if it transformed into a mobile turret and spawned more barrels of whirling death to cream demonic hordes? Of course it would!
While taking cover is a valid strategy at times, the game encourages players to get stuck right in. Most enemy attacks can be sidestepped or otherwise dodged even without pillars or walls to block them, but there’s a new addition to Doom known as a ‘Glory Kill’. Weaken an enemy to the point where they’re dazed and it’s possible to waltz up, click the right stick, and murder them on the spot in swift, brutal fashion. Neck snapping, arm removal, punching them clean in the face— there’s a decent variety of animations associated with this close-quarters murder (though perhaps a few too many are relatively simplistic punches to the face) but it’s not just a stylish way to end lives. Performing Glory Kills causes demons to spill out health pickups alongside their guts, encouraging players to continually advance rather than retreat. Health doesn’t refill automatically as in most modern shooters, so these pickups are essential for continued survival.
The multiplayer’s a little pedestrian, sadly. Choose a loadout, run around blasting other players while picking up health, armor and ammo, and try to transform into a massive demon for a brief advantage. It’s okay, but offers less than countless other online shooters out there competing for attention. Worse, the season pass prioritizes this mode over the superior single player content for some demented reason. I don’t get it, quite frankly… I’d buy campaign expansions, but have no desire to pay for more of the multiplayer.
Offering significantly more value to the package is the SnapMap mode, which allows players to build their own levels with custom enemy layouts and rules for other players to download. It’s a substantial level editor, with plenty of freedom for creativity. There are also additional weapons that are only found in multiplayer mode, too. It’s a mode that’ll only prove its worth once players really go to town on it, but my initial impressions are reasonably positive.
There’s not much to dislike about this new Doom. The multiplayer’s bland, the sound mix could be a little punchier, and players who expect deep worldbuilding and story twists are straight out of luck, but putting all that aside, Doom remains packed to the gills with exceptional blood-spraying gameplay and deserves respect for this unfiltered, uncompromised approach. My advice? Grab a chainsaw, rev it up and get stuck right in.
Disclosures: This game is developed by id software and published by Bethesda. It is currently available on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 28 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. 2 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Mature and contains blood and gore, intense violence and strong language. While learning how to snap the fang off a Pinky and then slit its throat with said mouthpiece could be useful information under the right circumstances—a demonic invasion for example— perhaps it would be best to keep younger kids away from this one. Yes, I know they’ll love it. That’s the problem.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles are available, but anyone who can’t hear imps chucking fireballs from behind them, distant doors opening up, or the heavy breathing of demons lurking around corners is going to be at a disadvantage.
Remappable controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls—at least with Keyboard and Mouse. Quite a few controller configurations are available as well.
Colorblind modes: There are colorblind modes available in the options. Which is great!
The chance discovery of a muddy, burnt out copy of '50 Shades of Grey' in a hunting pit gave him an appreciation for complex plots, characters and overarching narrative, and the unexpected gift of a Spectrum 48k allowed him to indulge in these newfound sensibilities with intelligent, highbrow games such as 'flee from the badly animated spinning turquoise dolphins' or 'avoid the deadly glowing bricks of doom'.
The fusion of both these interests finally culminated with Darren teaching himself how to write by basically guessing at what words might look like when jotted down on paper as opposed to being howled inarticulately at the skies.
Now others occasionally get to read his scribblings. Lucky them.