Platform: Windows, Steam, PS4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PS4
Players: Single player, Versus and Co Op Multiplayer
Written by Whistler 18th May 2016
For what seems like aeons many fans both old and new have been filled with excitement and nervousness in equal measure when new footage was shown at E3 2015. It was perfectly understandable that the gameplay footage was given a cautious reception much like Wolfenstein’s reboot. On the one hand Wolfenstein was indeed a great iteration met with a positive reception and E3 gameplay footage for this new DOOM looked freaking sweet. On the other hand Rage still leaves a bitter taste in some of our mouths (or is that just me?), a lengthy development period and multiplayer beta that left a lot of us on the fence, it still leaves us with the all so important question: Can id Software gloriously bring DOOM back from the ashes of an era long since past, or will the weight of expectations and standards set by its predecessor prove too heavy to bear?
Well I can at least confirm DOOM’s reimaging not only meets my expectations but exceeds them. While it takes a level to get the ignition going (and trust me you need to crank it up to hard mode for the proper experience) once this reboot hits overdrive DOOM doesn’t let its foot off the pedal. DOOM delivers fast paced, high octane, unrelenting action that’s both faithful to it’s roots whilst placing careful consideration in its modernization.
DOOM’s simplified plot allows the gameplay to take centre stage but is solid enough to invest in should the player be willing. Players will step into the shoes of the infamous Doom Marine (or more casually referred to as DoomGuy), who emerges from a stone sarcophagus decorated in demonic runes to discover that Mars has been invaded by the hell spawn once again.
Now you must set out to exact the purification and extermination of hell’s forces, discover the source of the invasion and get knee deep in gore fueled demonic genocide.
The core mechanics are steeped in the school of old and then reinforced with modern techniques to deliver the best experience we could hope for given id Software’s ambitious attempt to marry FPS styles of old and new. The single player takes full advantage of this unholy matrimony with some of the most break neck speed fun I’ve had in a single player fps in a long time. Even once I had reached the last stretch of the eleven to fourteen hour campaign the satisfaction of darting past hordes of demonic monstrosities utilizing movement, a vast range of weaponry and the environment to my advantage never dwindled. Simply told DOOM revels in its simplicity that is then funneled through the plethora of options available to the player to allow complexity to flourish through creativity.
For all intensive purposes gameplay is repetitive as DOOM’s thirteen levels are largely comprised of small rooms, claustrophobic hallways and large open glorified arenas. But while technically repetitive I never got bored and it only became an issue in the more difficult sections where restarting to a checkpoint would start to grate due to the rather lengthy loading times.
DoomGuy’s arsenal builds up to a total of roughly eleven weapons including the signature super shotgun, chainsaw and BFG 9000.
I’ll admit that I was amongst those who after E3 voiced concerns that the cinematic melee kills risked breaking the flow of combat given how frequent they are. Glory Kills allow the Doom Marine to execute Mortal Kombat style moves like ripping out jaws, grinding skulls into dust underneath his boots and introducing a demon’s organs with his friend, the previously mentioned chainsaw. Thankfully not only are there a fair few different animations for each demon, they’re short, punchy and reward the player with a small amount of health (and later armour) to the point they’ll likely save you more often than not.
While some might think it breaks up the flow, the campaign also offers up a nice amount of organic exploration elements. Bar one or two maps, levels are large and expansive with plenty of nooks and crannys to dive into at your leasure that house upgrades, extra supplies and secrets akin to the original DOOM (including hidden classic DOOM levels which was a nice surprise). While the weapon mods were a little underwhelming once I had the ones I liked and the weapon/suit tokens don’t really make a large impact it would still leave me with a gleeful smile each time I found one of the many DOOM figurines or easter egges hidden throughout each level.
Aesthetically DOOM feels like a pure triumph, faithfully pouring atmosphere into the fine details in its fusion of bleak industrial and nightmarish hellscape art styles. Small details help deliver subtle narrative that helps immerse you into the world id have created and entice you to delve further. Both your tools of destruction and the various members of hell’s legion have been brought back and look better than ever. Weapons both look solid and feel impactful where each demon is lovingly handcrafted to give a certain amount of gravitas and dread.
From a distance DOOM brandishes great visual spectacles, and it’s easy to maintain this illusion as you blast your way through hordes of hellspawn. However it’s a shame that textures don’t quite stand up to close scrutiny should you stop to look at the environment for a moment. Granted the textures take a sizable downgrade to accommodate for current gen limitations and delivers a consistent silky smooth sixty fps.
Of course DOOM is also home to three modes consisting of the aforementioned campaigne, Multiplayer and Snapmap mode. While some will still likely make the same complaints, I’ll gladly state how much more time I’ve sunk into this mode even after playing the beta to death. While it still largely plays the same as it did during the beta I found myself really loving the added game modes. Sure there’s the classic Deathmatch (which I’ll admit I’m slowly getting sick of as each loss gets summed up to the enemy team finding a corner and huddling together), but the round based ones really shined to me. These modes are split into round robin matches, Clan Arena gives each player a single life and plays out elimination style till only one team is left standing. My personal favourite Freeze Tag takes the same concept where upon death players are encased in ice but can be unfrozen by their comrades if they can manage to stand next to them long enough. Both modes are fast paced, short and ever so sweet where even a defeat doesn’t linger in your mouth as you shake yourself off and jump straight back in.
I will say though that while the multiplayer is fun as hell there are questionable design choices at work. For one the customization is at best passable, at worst it’s woefully lacking with the majority of rather halo-
SnapMap is a creation tool suite that attempts to bring the famous DOOM Map Making of yesteryear along with the accessibility akin to Super Mario Maker. It’s not too complex that you’ll need to pray you just so happened to studying software programming but also not so simple that you can’t make genuinely interesting levels. Luckily SnapMap provides ingame tutorials to help ease you into the process and learn the more intricate techniques you can use to make your very own hellish arena. While I only dabbled in it to get a grasp for reviewing I actually found that I spent hours just experimenting with ideas and was impressed to see some already promising concepts created by the community. There’s already a music creator to make your own Doom marine band, a fast paced parkour race and a remake of DOOM’s famous E1M1: Hangar level.
Thankfully we can put the worries to rest and sigh in relief that id Software has successfully performed an ultra violent open heart surgery and reanimated one of the godfather’s of the FPS genre. DOOM has come back swinging that offers up an exhilarating and unrelenting single player experience amplified by enjoyable gameplay, smooth visuals and kick ass dynamic musical backing. Even just for the single player DOOM is worth picking up but the other modes packaged along are almost just as appealing that help DOOM’s already solid replayability. If smiling is good for you then DOOM is healthy by proxy. DOOM is back and I can safely say I’m looking forward to it’s sequel or the rumoured Quake reboot.
Disgustingly engrossing aesthetics.
Overly long load times,
Questionable multiplayer aspects,
Not so great textures,
Co Op is restricted to SnapMap levels.
DOOM goes knee deep in hell with a 8/10.