To talk about how far gaming seems to have leapt along since the original Doom graced consoles is about the same as talking about how far telephones have come since the 1900s. New genres have sprung and bloomed with the simplistic, straight-forward methodology of Doom Guy - keep moving and shooting - powering the various franchisal cores. Yet, id Software has been around, absorbing the trends and new bases of reference like an ageless, benevolent blob. The new Doom, returning in only its fourth main entry since the early 90's, has just been expunged unto the world, adding new layers atop the tested-and-tasty gameplay of the lovable old days.
That core concept of moving and shooting literally makes Doom the game it is, hand over fist atop any other feature. You wake up in a satanic environment, immediately receive a pistol, and slap down some weaker demons with hot lasers, just a room removed from your power armor and the introduction of your plot. Doom Guy moves at a constant run, doesn't supply you with a reload button, and actively discourages standing still; the entire game's pace is plastered across the screen, daring you to keep up and think on your feet. It all feels faster, beautifully so with the player having to adjust through wide open battlefields with whatever ammo you have left. The game seems to give you every opportunity to succeed, but in an old-school wrapping that still requires your reflexes and prioritization to optimally absorb.
Your paces will be tested inside of Doom's fairly wide levels that, while still being fundamentally linear, feel dauntingly large. However, between Mars, Hell, and some interior environments, the scenery itself won't change much with lots of red and blue outlining your greenly-lit pathway. In fact, Hell seems particularly disappointing without any sort of strange architecture or variety - just more red and rocks mostly. Most levels have plenty of secrets to be found that spin together replayability, collecting, and curiosity around every new path on the map. There are things to find, therefore you pay more attention to the surroundings to find those things, most of which are aimed at upgrading your arsenal or Doom Guy himself. This feels like a natural feedback loop sewn together between hellacious demon spawn pits and keeps you moving through with your attention fully engaged.
For the most part, the action itself is realized in the same kind of simple, unabashedly grotesque approaches as the rest of Doom. Your shotgun feels thunderous as it rocks enemies to pieces, making it feel like the most satisfying weapon in the game by far, but that doesn't make it the most useful. There's no doubt that your main attack strategy should be to rush enemies, popping them until they begin to blink, and then killing them with a gory finisher that nets you extra health and ammo. As the game wears on though, you might find the mini-gun or rocket launcher as your go-to for ranged devastation, always being wary of a gory finisher for re-upping your supplies. A consistent drip of new enemies counters your roller coaster ride through lesser foes, the last half dozen or so introduced requiring something that hits a little harder than even your Super Shotgun to reliably take down.
Ironically, it's when the stream pushes you into the wave pools of demons where the action is at its peak and valley. There's very little to complain about early on as the enemies all seem appropriate for your shotgun's peppering, allowing you to still move and usurp health without any momentum feeling lost. You swirl in these wave pools to be shot out the other side feeling stronger and wiser; that is, until you come to your first big firefight in Hell. From that point on (less than half of the way through the game) the shooting rings your deposited into just seem to go on longer and longer, stronger enemies no longer feeling balanced by your strongest weapons. You're let to mostly strafing and spamming attacks, wondering along the way why it takes four rockets to bring down a single Cacodemon. This makes later-game arenas feel like they go on for an eternity as round after round after round of huge enemies spawn without a counter-balance. Running out of ammo isn't the issue in these spots. Running out of fun certainly seems to be as all that momentum begins to feel like weight on your shoulders.
Even the later game level design seems to betray you alongside some inconsistent checkpoints. For example, there's one section extremely late game where you have to take a train from one spot on Mars to another, making a stop to clear out some ghouls along the tracks. Whereas most locales in which you battle monsters are circular as well as tiered with an open feel, this area is entirely linear with two floors of three lanes with which you have to work through a 20+ minute fight. The enemies you face by this time are either faster than Doom Guy or can shoot deadly projectiles - or both - on a straight way, making running along your only available paths a useless strategy. And dying at any point will send you directly back to the entrance, as is the case in many fights but, bafflingly, not all of them. This doesn't feel earned when the level is actively handing your enemies the advantage, and the game is ignoring the fact that you could use a checkpoint for that little extra push to the other side.
That said, Doom does have a killer arsenal that can turn you into a whirling death machine when fully stocked. The BFG is a demon-tethering instant killer with a dedicated button, just to cement its importance, much as its brother the chainsaw allows for a free kill or two and an ammo dump as long as you have fuel. Power-ups feel like water to a man in the desert in some situations, saving Doom Guy's hide plenty of times, and upgrading your weapons and armor has lasting impacts that do feel like those branching options in combat that could've turned the tables at later levels. As they are, each make differences that can still be felt, but it doesn't feel like enough.
Take note that Doom does have a story, and it's one that may have those that made Dead Space dialing up their lawyers. The two are strikingly similar in many respects in their structure and overall conceit; their main difference is the divide between the game's dedication to this telling and Doom Guy's utter apathy towards the entire concept. He's shown repeatedly to seem like a dumb brute with no patience to be found, pushing away speaking monitors and having to be tethered a few times just so the player can get a bit of story. If you want to just blow up demon faces with a couple of your buckshot friends, take solace in the fact that Doom Guy's just as antsy. If you want an original story, move on along to the next town.
Multiplayer feels like the most mixed bag of the bunch for Doom. There's an abundance of speed and craziness that doesn't quite move into Call of Duty territory, but begins to resemble more of old-school Halo. Your speed being how it is, the most prudent strategy is to move as fast as possible with a shotgun out, blast, and melee without pausing for a break. Those that are already level 40+ in the various modes have found this out, dropping the fun factor by scores the faster they charge your position. When you do have some distance, there's plenty of hellion levels of fun to be had with a quick, robust unlock system giving you everything from new weapons to skins and customization opportunities at a steady rate.
The modes and maps are a bit of a let down with both feeling not quite vanilla but not quite exotic either. Each map feels like it could just be connected to the others, but there's plenty of room to maneuver and find armor pick ups, which are essential for streaking. Modes, however, aren't much of anything new - mainly Deathmatch, a Kill Confirmed clone, and Domination - but do introduce some new possibilities inside of old structures. When you pick up a demonic coin, you can become one of four creatures that basically serve as a boss character, roaming and often killing in one swipe/lunge/blast until downed by the enemy. These beasts quickly become either the focus of the battle or the bane, scattering the opposing team as the score counter quickly buries them. Even with their by-the-numbers objectives, there's fun to be had in multiplayer as long as your team has a strong will against those giant invaders.
The last chunk of Doom is the Snapmap feature which, as project Spark is on the way out, could become a new destination for level creators. All of the tools are certainly there with options ranging from drag-and-place to all out coding suites with early created highlights being tributes to old games and tower defense snippets. Playing around in this mode earns you credits for skins and weapons, which represents about the edge of my interest in the mode. It's there, it works, but a first-person shooter doesn't seem to have the depth of possibility to make all that many marvels of invention.
Doom has an arcade-like simplicity at its core that, when it's not trying to build out too far, serves as momentum nirvana. You can keep going and going without breaking a bit of your flow, each crack of the shotgun and burst of health and ammo giving you new rage to spread into the next hapless enemy wave. You come to feel so locked into that flow that the severance of said momentum, which happens fairly early on, feels jarring. Beyond that, you catch only glimpses of what could've been a challenging but continually moving row down the stream of this timeless concept in gaming. Even while sputtering as it does, Doom simply delivers on every level of gun-toting limitlessness you remember from the stone ages of video games in a new, bloody casing.
Rating = 1
You will like it if...
You won't like it if...
- Pure, uncut shooter action is your raised margarita
- You can handle a bit of speed with your shooter
- You love multiplayer rewards and want to make the most of Snapmap
Don't understand our review scale? Look it up, dummy!
- You want a new story
- You're looking for a consistently fun time
- Original multiplayer modes are a priority for you
Doom Review | Doomed Space 4
id Software has brought back Doom: the grand pappy of all first person shooter, summoning along for the ride one of the goriest, swiftest, and deepest titles of the genre.