After a long wait, Doom is finally here.
Since Doom 3 exploded onto consoles and computers more than a decade ago, the franchise has stalled somewhat. Fans have been teased with a sequel for years now, and reception to the recent multiplayer beta was pretty lukewarm (to be polite).
Long-time Doom-lovers might also have found something to be afraid of when an embargo was placed on reviews – just like shoddy movies released without a preview showing for critics, video games that hit shops with no pre-release press coverage can be on the poor side of things.
However, now that Doom’s had a few days to settle in, it’s nice to discover that there was no need to be afraid – the game’s a great update of the beloved series, bringing the classic elements into today’s world with impressive gusto.
Running and Gunning: Simple Pleasures
Sometimes, when you boot up a game, all you want is some clear, no-fuss fun. You don’t want to sit through cut-scene after cut-scene, or engage in countless dialogues with NPCs. You just want to get into the action and have a blast.
Doom taps into this primal gaming urge beautifully, throwing players back into the halcyon days of gaming yore. In the first Doom games, the story was kept basic, as were your goals. What really mattered was the thrill of facing down hellspawn with an assortment of heavy-duty weaponry, revelling in the unsettling atmosphere and finding a way to open that next locked door.
This reboot treads similar ground, though there’s plenty of background and context for players looking for it in the codex. You’re simply tossed into Doomguy’s nightmarish world, forced to face the aftermath of the UAC’s (Union Aerospace Corporation) idiotic attempts to exploit Hell’s energy – demons are in your vicinity, they’re dangerous, and some badass with a shotgun needs to take care of business.
So. This is you, and in true Doom fashion, you’re able to waste demons with delightfully bloody flair. While you start with only a humble handgun, this gives you the ideal opportunity to become acquainted with Glory Kills. This new feature puts a fresh spin on gameplay, and proves helpful in various ways; triggering this is actually easy, and does nothing to slow the fast pace: simply blast away at a demon enough, and they’ll turn blue or orange. This is your cue to activate the Glory Kill with a simple tap of a button, and Doomguy will then launch a swift hands-on execution.
First and foremost, this gives you much-needed health-pickups – given that Doomguy’s unable to regenerate (unlike the heroes in many AAA games today). Second, these give you a moment or two of respite in the middle of a chaotic battle, as Doomguy handily becomes invincible for the second or more these executions take. Even if you prefer to stick to shooting, you’ll find Glory Kills prove essential to conserve ammo at times and to give you that all-important health.
Weapons like the BFG and Super Shotgun return, both as much fun to use as ever. The chainsaw also creates a significant amount of splatter, taking enemies apart in a grand style.
Thanks to the relentless pace and stripped-back approach to narrative, Doom retains that classic feel. For long-term fans, stepping into Doomguy’s shiny new boots should feel almost as comfortable as ever; for newcomers, this is likely to be a fresh change to more slower-paced, plot-heavy FPS games.
A Room with A View … of Carnage!
As you run, gun, chainsaw, and bludgeon your way through Doom, you’re forced to battle your way out of countless rooms. The UAC’s security system prevents many doors opening if demons are still alive, which means you have to kill every bad guy in a space before you’re granted access to another room. Often, this leads to intense gunplay and dodging, with players having to match the best weapon to a situation and use Glory Kills to gain space and pick-ups. While this can seem pretty overwhelming at first, you’ll quickly get used to it.
The diversity of enemies keeps the action feeling fresh during the 13 stages. You’ll face hulking beasts like the Baron of Hell (a grotesque, towering minotaur-demon hybrid), cannon-fodder zombies, the Mancubus with his gun-arms, and more. As before, the monsters are brilliantly designed and help to build a creepy atmosphere.
As powerful as common enemies are, though, the bosses themselves take the horror to another level – these encounters are based on old-school pattern-memorisation techniques.
If this sounds cheap, it isn’t. Rather than simply unloading thousands of rounds into a bad guy that comes at you with no discernible tactics, Doom’s bosses employ specific techniques. To take them down and reach the next area, you’ll likely have to try multiple times and figure out which weapons work best against them. Armour and guns can all be upgraded, which motivates you to search levels for secrets – the more you can improve your rocket launcher or armour, the easier your Doomguy will survive in later stages.
Another way to boost your performance is to complete the challenge rooms you might come across from time to time. Getting through one of these will grant you a special ability, so hunting each down is worth it every time. Any purists who might worry about upgrades and modding weapons getting in the way of the action will actually be pleasantly surprised – this is a pretty simple process, and you’re unlikely to spend any more time tinkering in menus than you want to.
Added Bang for your Buck
Outside of the single-player campaign, Doom offers multiplayer and SnapMap modes. Multiplayer received something of a cold reception during its beta stage, but it’s actually gone under some improvements since. Players can choose from Clan Arena (pitting teams of five versus five), Freeze Tag (in which players can be revived after death), and more. The action’s fast and furious, no doubt sure to keep fans coming back again and again.
The SnapMap mode is a level-creator. Using fairly in-depth tools, you can build your own maps and modes, as well as customising your own music. All stages you build can be shared online, which helps SnapMap fit into the classic Doom mould, as the series has always had a strong modding community. After the campaign is finished and all collectibles have been found, multiplayer and SnapMap can help players squeeze more enjoyment out of the game.
All in all, Doom is a fantastic update of one of gaming’s most iconic titles. The graphics are gorgeous, the action is bloody and fast-paced, and there’s plenty of content to seek out, offering even the most skilled players a challenge.
Based on the strength of this reboot, more Doom games will likely come our way in the future – but hopefully, we won’t have to wait quite as long for another.
What do you think of Doom? Let us know!