January 16, 2020 at 1:59 PM #1292
Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding
While everyone was frothing at the mouth for what Bethesda showed of Fallout 4 at last year’s E3, I was more impressed by Doom. The game wasn’t even on my radar until Bethesda showed it off during its first E3 press conference in June of 2015, and the gameplay footage shown of the game blew me away with its over-the-top action, incredible graphics, and almost comical use of violence and gore. E3 attendees oo’d and aa’d at the spectacle that was the Doom gameplay trailer, and I’m happy to report that, unlike many games, Doom is just as good as its E3 showing promised it would be.
Doom is as pure of an FPS as can be, and is rooted in an old-school mentality. It rarely lets the barebones story get in the way of keeping players engaged in constant, insane action, and any cut-scenes it has last a mere few seconds, at that. Unlike many modern titles, Doom fully embraces its status as a video game, and puts gameplay before anything else.
Most of Doom is spent slaughtering vast hordes of demons, which come in various shapes and sizes, and all require different strategies. Players go from one room to the next, and usually have to kill every single demon in each level in order to proceed to the next, and that is the main gameplay loop throughout the campaign. There is some minor platforming, and those that want to find the many secrets hidden in the campaign can do so, but otherwise, Doom consists of killing a lot of things.
And that’s not a bad thing. Other games try to do too many things at once, but Doom knows what it is: it’s a first-person shooter, and it is primarily concerned with letting players shoot things. Its other gameplay features are just icing on the cake, and never distract from that core tenet of shooting things. In fact, I didn’t even bother upgrading my Doom Guy in any significant manner until I was very far in the game, and even then I only did it for achievements.
This new Doom adds RPG elements that are common in many FPS games as of late, including the recent Wolfenstein reboot as well. Doom takes more than few cues from Wolfenstein: The New Order, actually, as its upgrade system asks players to complete challenges with specific weapons to upgrade them to their most powerful state.
Speaking of power, Doom is a total power trip, but it’s earned, in that if players are good, they will feel powerful, but if they’re bad, they may feel frustrated. Doom doesn’t hold anyone’s hand, and instead bombards players with seemingly endless hordes of demons that are capable in killing the player in just a few hits, even on the lower difficulty levels.
Killing these demons is done by shooting them, blowing them up, the usual FPS fare. However, Doom has (perhaps too much) a focus on melee attacks that helps it stand apart from other titles in the genre. Players are encouraged to melee kill demons as much as possible in Doom, and are even given a visual indication when to do so, as the demons will start glowing and stand still when they can be killed in especially gruesome melee fashion.
Players are also able to utilize melee attacks with the trusty Doom chainsaw, which returns for this installment. Other killing tools include the classic BFG, a rocket launcher, the absurdly powerful super shotgun, and more. Mastering all these different weapons makes for a fun challenge, and figuring out which weapons and strategies work best against each different demon is a blast.
Demon killing is made a little easier by the runes that players can collect as well. Rune trials are hidden throughout the various levels, and players that activate them then have to complete a specific challenge. Upon completion, these runes will give players perks, like infinite ammo, for example. Like the weapons, these perks can also be upgraded by completing challenges, which helps to add an extra wrinkle to the gameplay.
Overall, the campaign gameplay in Doom is a phenomenal ride. The constant melee killing can get a little excessive and boring in the earlier stages, but the intensity and overwhelming nature of the later levels makes them a godsend. Anyone that is a fan of FPS should enjoy Doom’s campaign, at any rate.
Sadly, I can’t necessarily say the same about the multiplayer.
Since its beginning, Doom has been a franchise that has offered top of the line multiplayer experiences. While I personally love the multiplayer in this new Doom, I can see why there are people that aren’t big fans of it.
For one, all the maps are bland. They’re all just different takes on Mars, Hell, or research facilities. None of the maps stand out, and despite playing the multiplayer for more hours than I’m comfortably with admitting, I couldn’t tell you the name of a single one.
To its credit, Doom’s multiplayer tries to mix things up by having some unique game modes. For example, Freeze Tag is a mode where players are literally frozen in ice when taken too much damage, and the game goes on until every player on the opposing team is frozen. Even so, it seems like most people simply gravitate towards Team Deathmatch, and sadly, the game’s community already seems kind of small on the Xbox One, despite the fact that it just launched a couple of weeks back.
But like I said, I personally loved the multiplayer. Yes, it’s terribly unbalanced (Super Shotgun is one of the most OP weapons I’ve come across in any multiplayer game ever), the maps are bland, and the game modes are not very well populated, but damn it if it’s still not an absolute blast. Like the campaign, it’s just so fast-paced with insane action everywhere, and there’s really nothing like it in terms of FPS games on current consoles.
I also greatly enjoyed the heavy customization that’s allowed, and the random loot drops players are given after each match. These random loot drops ensure that not everyone’s multiplayer character looks the same, and the result is some very unique looking Doom Guys online. There’s also a healthy amount of hilarious taunts to collect, and these rewards help to make every multiplayer match feel worth it.
My biggest gripe with the multiplayer is its lack of split-screen. Doom really could have benefited from catering to the local multiplayer crowd, and I’m sad to see that yet another big name shooter leaves the beloved mode by the wayside.
The final piece to Doom’s gameplay puzzle is a unique feature called SnapMap. This mode gives players tools to put together their own maps or even their own game modes, with many people using it to create versions of Horde from Gears of War or Nazi Zombies from Call of Duty.
Talented people can do impressive things with these tools, but they’re not as robust as creation tools seen in games like LittleBigPlanet, so I question SnapMap’s longevity. Even so, it’s really quick and easy to hop into any given SnapMap creation, and that combined with how easy it is to find quality content makes SnapMap a feature that definitely adds more value to the overall Doom package.
Earlier I said that Doom’s story is very barebones, and that is true. There are only a handful of cut-scenes, and each one only lasts a few seconds each. Even the final cut-scene of the game takes about no time at all, but regardless of how thin the story is, there is still somewhat of a story here.
The basic gist of the narrative is that the Doom Guy is on Mars, and some researchers have opened a portal to Hell on the red planet. The objective of the game is to close the portal to Hell and kill any demons that you come across, while also having to listen to some NPCs rattle on every once in awhile to give context to the endless bloodshed.
Could developer id Software have done something more with Doom’s story? Sure, but I’m glad they didn’t. So many FPS games wrestle the controls away from the player for the purpose of plot development, and while that works for some games, it’s refreshing that Doom rarely does that throughout its entire campaign.
At any rate, don’t expect any blogs dissecting the hidden meanings of Doom or anything. It’s a straight-forward demon murder fest, and little more. Perhaps the story of the rebooted Doom universe will be expanded in a sequel, but I hope that id Software keeps the storytelling focus to a minimum in any potential future installments.
Graphics and Sound
At the top of this review, I mentioned how Doom turned out just as good as its E3 2015 gameplay showcase suggested. While that’s true for the gameplay, visually, Doom does drop the ball a bit. This is mainly apparent with a problem of textures not loading quick enough, but there is talking of that being fixed in a future patch.
Otherwise, the game is pretty gorgeous, and the frame rate is steady, even when there’s absolute madness on screen. The heavy use of the color "brown" may not help Doom win any "Best of" awards for its visuals come the end of the year, but it works given the game’s overall tone and bleak subject matter.
The sound design manages to match up with the game’s tone and bleak subject matter as well. Doom features heavy electronic rock as well as some more heavy metal sounding tunes during its intense firefights, which really help to make the battles even more exciting.
The voice acting is hardly noticeable, with Doom Guy never really speaking, and the various characters in the story not important enough to bother listening to what they have to say most of the time. It’s passable, but nothing special by any stretch of the imagination.
Play Time and Replayability
So far, I’ve put nearly 30 hours into Doom since I purchased it at launch. I have yet to unlock all of the achievements, but I’m well on my way to doing so, and have spent a lot of time with the game’s multiplayer, despite its apparent flaws. SnapMap is something I’ve barely used so far, as I’m not really the creative type, but as long as people keep pumping out interesting things with it, then Doom theoretically has unlimited replayability.
Doom is a must-play for FPS fans, period. The game is like a love letter to the original Doom games, and manages to raise the bar for the franchise. While the constant melee killing in its campaign can sometimes feel repetitive and its multiplayer has issues, Doom is still loaded with content, and has some of the most pure fun gunplay in video gaming out of all the FPS titles released this gen so far. Doom helped to popularize the FPS genre in the 90s, and it’s great to see that it’s still going strong in 2016.
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