A nostalgia filled gore-fest of a masterpiece!
Unlike past DOOM releases from Bethesda, this DOOM (2016) reboot seemed to release without much fanfare, and even with some doubts with the multiplayer beta. Even more surprising was that review codes weren’t sent out until the game's official release to the gaming public. Usually when this happens it’s due to the expectations of less-than-stellar reviews from the gaming press about the overall quality of the final product. So I’m very happy to reassure any gamers on the fence that DOOM is indeed it’s everything I had hoped for, along with a few new surprises.
As with previous games in the series, DOOM starts you off on Mars, in a UAC facility overrun with all manner of hellspawn. As you progress through the game, you’ll find yourself navigating through the UAC facility, traveling through airlocks that lead you to the planet’s surface and eventually to the depths of Hell. You’ll meet a few significant characters along the way who will help to keep you progressing forward, and as with any entry in the DOOM franchise, that’s all you really need.
DOOM will keep you on the edge of your seat. The visuals are top-notch and the details in the environment will keep you looking in every direction whether it’s a shower of sparks from an overhead lamp, a wall of steam that you can just barely see through, the butchered remains of the UAC staff, or what might be the footsteps of a possessed facility worker waiting to attack just around the next corner. The environmental sounds are intense and always feel level-appropriate along with a soundtrack that intensifies as you lay waste to the attacking demons. Surprisingly, the game looks as impressive—if not more—as it did when the first gameplay trailers were shown almost a year ago.
DOOM is fast, fluid, and visceral, and offers an experience that no other modern FPS does. DOOM's controls are spot-on, the visuals keep a solid framerate, and the old-school vibe comes with modern customization options. The general movement and shooting mechanics are reminiscent of the old DOOM but with some slight tweaks. Notably, movement, while fast, is marginally slower than it was in the previous games in the franchise. This is an important point, given that there has been some promotional material that has clearly sped up the gameplay to be more reminiscent of the old games, and this is not reflective of the final product. While this may disappoint some people, this speed feels very appropriate and it never feels like you can’t retreat quickly enough when you’re about to die.
Easily one of my new favorite additions is the Glory Kill, a quick finishing move that can be performed on any enemy. The trick is to know when to stop pumping enemies full of lead. Once a demon is in an injured, stunned state, they flash a blue/orange color so you know when to move in and finish them off. The cool perk is that by finishing off demons in this manner, it causes them to drop a small health boost for you which may just keep you alive long enough to survive your next demonic encounter. The animations do change as well depending on which angle of your stunned enemy you approach from; if you score a Glory Kill from up above stunned enemies, think curb stomp!
All the weapons you expect to have in a DOOM game are present and accounted for: your default pistol, shotguns, assault rifle, plasma rifle, rocket launcher, and your old trusty chainsaw. Some might feel it’s unnecessary to have both a standard shotgun and the super shotgun, but the standard shotgun (as do all the campaign weapons) has modifiers. These include switchable add-ons like faster reload speeds and explosive rounds. Are these necessary? No, but they're a lot of fun to experiment with and they provide options use what works best for you.
Along with the reimagined weapons returns the health, armor, and ammo pickup system. At the beginning of the game, I always felt like my ammo reserves were stocked reasonably well and I almost never ran too close to empty. In later levels, though, I felt myself scrambling for ammo and using the chainsaw to take down enemies. When using the chainsaw, downed enemies always drop ammo refills (just like a Glory Kill drops health); it might not be ammo for your weapon of choice but it will hopefully provide you enough to survive long enough to find what you do want.
DOOM plays pretty much plays just like you remember, and the updated mechanics don’t conflict with the gameplay. Along with the unlockable weapon upgrades, your suit of armor can be upgraded a few new ways as well. Health, armor, and ammo capacity are all upgraded by finding downed soldiers, usually sequestered in some secret area, that have a chip that you can reclaim. Once you reach some of the later levels, you’ll also come across demonic runes earned by completing trials which also provide you with some significant upgrades. Once all the rune slots are unlocked, you can equip a total of three runes at any given time with a dozen runes in total to pick from, which can increase mobility, stun time, and general survivability.
Using the map frequently and exploring every nook and cranny are key to earning your upgrades. This is also key in getting access to weapons earlier in levels instead of just mashing through the game to completion and hoping you find what you need to survive. Classic levels from the original DOOM can also be unlocked as hidden secrets that can be played once the campaign has been completed. The rewards for exploration have a nice balance between standard character models and production art and character upgrades, so it really is worthwhile to take your time and explore.
Multiplayer in DOOM is extremely close to what you may remember too. There are a number of modern customization options for both character and gun models, but the general flexibility and options are fairly standard. The map designs are intricate like some of the campaign levels, there's a healthy amount of game modes, and all of the necessary mechanics one would expect are present. The only really notable twist is the ability to transform into one of several demons through the use of a power-up. The demon form is extremely powerful and a blast to play, although it can present a strong imbalance to team play. Other than that, there's not much to say about DOOM's multiplayer; there's nothing wrong with it, but nothing that hasn’t been done before either.
That said, one of the shining additions to DOOM is the SnapMap editor, though it is difficult to comment on as there is little user-generated content at present. Anyone who has spent time playing world building games like Disney Infinity should see some of the similarities. There are both basic and advanced tutorials to get players familiar with how all the object placing and tools work. You can work in several modes that include a blueprint style, where you can see through all your structure's walls. There is a flat shaded style as well as the option to view your level from a top-down view, reminiscent of the old D&D-grid style of mapmaking. I think this is where the majority of DOOM's fun will be had once players complete the campaign and unlock all the upgrades and secrets.
DOOM is hands-down one of the best reimagined and exciting FPS games this generation. With the mixture of old-school and modern gameplay with a touch of world-building, it is easily a recommended buy for both fans of DOOM and the FPS genre. It’s everything I wanted in a solid single-player campaign with the added bonus of worthwhile rewards for those willing to take the time to explore all of DOOM's nooks and crannies. My first runthrough the game took approximately 12 hours, and I still wasn’t able to find all of the secrets and collectibles. The game has great pacing and has the option to replay the campaign levels with new weapons. The multiplayer, SnapMap editor, and unlockable classic levels are all welcome additions to the single-player campaign. Again, if you were thinking of a purchase but were just a bit unsure, rest assured you won’t be disappointed.