Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: id Software
Release Date: 5/13/2016
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Well, 2016 seems to be a great year for the comeback of shooters. First Overwatch, now DOOM (well in reviewing order). DOOM could have gone so bad, so quickly. However, id Software went back to its roots, updated it for the 2016 technology, and gave the middle finger to all the rest of the stuff plaguing the genre. DOOM is by far one of the best FPS games I have played in over a decade. It’s fast paced, challenging, fun, full of secrets for veterans, and is just plain old shooting.
The game actually does have a bit of a story and it’s done just right to where it won’t get in the way of the shooting. You play as Doomguy, a UAC Marine, who has to help a robot scientist, named Hayden, stop another researcher from bringing Hell to Earth. Amanda Pierce let the tech and religious aspect of Hell get to her and it overran the advanced Mars facility. Most of the story is told through logs which are actually the best way of keeping the story from getting in the way or becoming a train wreck. There are few cutscenes in DOOM, and when they play out, they are a nice break from the challenging gunplay. It’s light and crisp and isn’t stale ever which is great for the genre. Too many games, Battlefield, and Call of Duty, in particular, try to do this Hollywood sci-fi script of I don’t know what the hell to impress the edgy gamers out there. It doesn’t work, it’s a train wreck, and those stories are a complete mess. The FPS genre is relying too heavily on story and not enough on gameplay.
With that said, DOOM is just like you remembered all those years ago — forget about Doom 3. As soon as I took control of Doomguy I was in heaven. It’s fast paced, controls amazingly well, and the guns feel fantastic. The slow build up of your arsenal makes you smile every time you acquire a new weapon. Seeing Doomguy pick up the shotgun brought a “Hell Yeah” smile to my face. Seeing the chainsaw rip through enemies just gave me a satisfaction in a shooter I haven’t felt in years. There’re a strong arsenal and not all classic weapons return; a majority are new. The chaingun is fun, the heavy assault rifle, and the gauss rifle is just so much fun. DOOM starts bringing the series into 2016 with weapons mods and Praetor Suit upgrades. These seem unnecessary at first, but the way the enemies are balanced and maps are laid out you feel you need them. Each weapon has two different mods which are incredibly helpful. The shotgun can get an exploding buckshot or a three round burst. There’s no reloading ammo in the game so the R key is used for switching between mods. To keep things balanced, there’s a mod switching animation so going into combat with what you want is necessary.
Let’s talk enemies. The game is chalk full of them and all the classics return. Pinkies, Hell Knights, Cacodemons, Imps, etc. They look fantastic, blow up great, and the game is so gory and full of detail. The game isn’t the most technically impressive as some textures are lacking, but the game has incredible lighting, and the games runs at a nice smooth clip at 60 FPS. It does require the latest PC hardware to run at maxed out settings with Nightmare textures needing a GTX 980 or higher as it requires 6GB of VRAM. If you have the rig, you’re going to be in for a visual spectacle. I also have to commend the audio. The explosions, gunfire, enemy sounds and gory splats are fantastic. The game also has the good ‘ol heavy metal soundtrack with a techno twist. This is one of the best video game soundtracks this year.
DOOM’s level design is actually very old school and it works well here. Each level is made up of arenas with linear hallways in between. 50 % of the fun in DOOM is finding all the secrets thanks to the excellent map. Once you find the Auto Map all secrets are revealed, but they are still challenging to find. You might see a collectible floating in the air, but you have to find the right switch or path to get to it. I haven’t had this much fun finding collectibles and secrets in a game in a very long time. It was done right here and not forced. Everything you miss can be reacquired by replaying levels. DOOM also features a new Rune Trial mode which are super fun mini-games of sorts that are quite challenging. I was able to beat them all through the first play through, but a few proved tough. You get timed to complete certain goals such as killing a certain amount of enemies under certain circumstances. They change up the pace and are a warm welcome to the series.
Multiplayer is a bit of a disappointment, but it’s not awful. It’s fun for quite a while, but won’t have you coming back months later like other shooters. You have your classic modes and it’s just plain old run and gun fun online. It just feels like it’s lacking something or something needs adjusting. Hopefully, the next DOOM will address this issue or we get a stand alone DOOM multiplayer suite.
DOOM is a fantastic shooter and one of the best to come out in the past ten years. It does have a few flaws, I forgot to mention Glory Kills which are melee kills used when an enemy is stunned and flashing. Pressing F can launch you towards the enemy to acquire health and ammo, but it’s overused quite a bit. Thankfully it’s totally optional and towards the end of the game the novelty wore off and I only used it for health and ammo. The game does get repetitive towards the end, but not in an overly bad way. It’s just part of the genre and series and is a staple that will never go away. Outside of these issues, the game is worth a full purchase.