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DOOM Review – 100th POST EDITION


Celebrating our 100th post with a massive bang.  To do that, I’ll be ripping and tearing into one of my favourite gaming franchises of all time.  Is this Return of King? We’ll find out soon.  This is the DOOM review.

DOOM is a game that has been through development hell, that at some point it was completely scrapped and restarted from scratch for not being anything like “Doom”.  The game had a lot of high expectations from the fans and a lot of them were soured by the Multiplayer Beta that was held some time back.  Did Id Software do the impossible, and create a classic Doom for the new generation of gamers?  That’s what I’m here to find out.

that trophy best describes this entire game
that trophy best describes this entire game

DOOM doesn’t waste anytime to get you into the fight.  Right off the bat, you are greeted with your first, gory kill of some possessed while freeing yourself from the table you are chained to.  The game barely bothers with any sort of exposition to the story.  It gives you the basic premise through some holo recordings and computerised voice, over a speaker, warning of a demon invasion.  That’s it, off you go tear some demons a new one.  The rest of the story is fleshed out through Codex that are picked up scattered all over the location, or details about demons you face.  The game does a very good job at pacing itself.  When you start off with the lower level possessed and imps, it gives a bit of time to get some confidence.  You’ll face a dozen of these guys, some soldier demons.  But don’t get too comfortable.  The game is an expert at training you for what’s to come.  But getting back to the story a bit there.  Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a whole lore that is expertly written.  At face value it may seem like its “dumb shooter”, but DOOM is far more competent than that.  Best part of the story is that, with or without it, the pacing works beautifully.  The game makes sense and you’ll enjoy the heck out of it.  The developers leave it to you to choose how much of the story you want to invest in.

The bigger they are, the more giblets they leave behind
The bigger they are, the more giblets they leave behind

As I mention earlier, pace is everything in this game.  Those who are used to Call of Duty style FPS, you’re in for a shock.  DOOM is fast, I mean really fast.  There’s no sprint button, you are running at full speed at all times.  There’s no Iron Sight, and believe me you won’t have time to stop and aim.  In DOOM, your shootouts are frantic, fast and dynamic.  That training I spoke about, it’s happening all the time.  The game is training you to move faster, to change your tactics mid battle and to never stop moving.  You stop in DOOM, you die, violently.  What makes these battles so engaging is the enemies you face.  You might think they’re just dumb demons, should be easy…WRONG!!!  Each and every demon has a specific role they play and they play it out beautifully like a well practiced orchestra.  Those slow lumbering zombie type possessed, though easily dispatched, can over run you if you are cornered.  The imps are crazy fast on their feet and always moving, climbing rails and jumping to walls making it hard to get a beat on them, all while throwing fireballs at you.  Soldiers will rush in with projectile fire, while security possessed have shields and can back you into a corner before finishing you off.  All the while Hell Razers hang back sniping you from a distance with a focussed laser beam.  And just when you think it couldn’t get worse, DOOM will throw in a massive Hellknight who’s the brute force of the demons, the gladiator,  he’s huge but he moves ridiculously quickly.  And just when you get used to facing just one Hellknight, you get two then three.  You are ever constantly being challenged, every thing you learn you refine to the point you become an unstoppably demon slaying machine.  All thanks to training and the best damn weapon arsenal of any game.

Trophy reference to an obscure Doom comic in the ninties...nicely done Id
Trophy reference to an obscure Doom comic in the nineties…nicely done Id

The enemies in DOOM are only as good as the weapons used to dispatch them.  The game does not disappoint.  In fact, they nailed the weapons in this game.  Not just in design, but the different variation of the weapons and the pacing at which a new weapon is introduced.  As you play you begin to learn that certain weapons work better against certain demons.  Just as you get really good at that weapon, the game throws you a new toy to play with.  Kinda like the same manner at which they throw new enemy types.

Old favourites join new ones.  Shotgun is your go-to close combat weapon, Super shotgun is a high damage close range room broom.  Plasma rifle makes a return and is joined by the new Heavy assault rifle.  The all time classic chainsaw makes a comeback as a one shot kill tool, however they balance this out buy giving it gas which can run out.  Not to mention the bigger the Demon, the more gas it will require to take them out in a glorious violent spectacle.  The list goes on, which I won’t spoilt for you. To top that off, every weapon has a secondary fire mod which you can attach.  These are found scattered all over the map on a supply drone.  Some of these weapons have multiple mods which, once unlocked can be swapped out on the fly.  Like the shot gun having explosive rounds mode, or a three burst fire mode.  All of these come in handy particularly in very intense battles with the much larger enemy types.  But the mods don’t stop just there.  Your suit itself, now called the Praetor Suit, is able to be upgraded.  You pick up energy sources called Argent energy littered throughout the game world that you assign those point to either your shield, health and total Ammo count.

More meat for the grinder, meet my boomstick
More meat for the grinder, meet my boomstick

No two weapon limit in this game, you carry all weapons at all times like a real manly space marine.  If you don’t have time to iron sight, you can be damn sure you don’t have time to reload either.  And that’s exactly what Id did, they completely stripped away the reload mechanic, your weapons will fire endlessly until you completely run out of ammo.  As strange as that sound, be glad it’s that way because mid-hectic battle there’s no time to do anything but move and shoot and rip and tear and rip and tear until it’s done.

Speaking of ripping and tearing, the new risk reward mechanic is introduced to the game called glory kills.  Basically you shoot a demon enough times and stagger them, they begin to glow, letting you know you can pull off this glory kill, where you come in for a close up melee kill that involves ripping things apart with your bare hands, or feet.  The reward here is your dispatched enemies will drop health and ammo pickups.  So you’ll constantly be assessing which enemy to kill first, run low on health, take down an easier target with a glory kill to get more health and keep moving.

Hell, never looked so good
Hell, never looked so good

All these different mechanics and systems at play, are delivered to your brain, through your eyes by way of 1080p 60 FPS blast of amazing visual fidelity.  The game looks sick…in a good way.  DOOM is a technical behemoth.  The framerate never seems to dip regardless of the carnage going on at any given time.  Real time lighting is everywhere producing believable shadows and the most amazing looking smoke effects and shadows on the smoke itself.  Honestly, pictures don’t do this game justice, it needs to be seen in motion to be truly appreciated.  The level design adds to this glorious achievement.  Gone are the days of corridor shooting.  Sure it has those every now and then, but you will spend most of your battles in these huge multi-levelled arena’s that encourage you, no, force you to keep moving to the ground, up above as you face relentless foes.

DOOM’s campaign is a masterpiece, dare I say the very best FPS experience of this generation.  Nothing comes close to how engaging, well designed and well paced this game is.  Who knew that the key to the future, lies in the past.  Taking all the elements that were great about the original and expanding them ten fold, spicing it up with some of the things we’ve come to expect from modern shooters.  And that’s just one of DOOM’s three tiered game.

Doom MP, not great but still fun
Doom MP, not great but still fun

Now we get to the section of DOOM that is most polarizing.  The Multiplayer component.  A lot of fans rated the Beta very poorly, claiming that this is a huge misstep.  I am not one of those people.  I see exactly what the team was trying to achieve with the MP.  It’s not the best out there, and probably the only weak link in DOOM’s indestructible chain, but boy is it fun.  Take Quake III Arena, splash in some modern Call of Duty-esque load-outs and player level progression and you pretty much have the idea.  But unlike all its modern counterparts, you still have no regenerating health, you have no iron sight, no reload and damnit I love it for it.  The game is still as fast paced as the single player campaign and each skirmish feels like this cat and mouse game between you and your opponents. The glory kills are imported from the single player too, though they do tend to leave you open to attack while the kill animation is playing out.  What’s also new is for the first time in a doom game you get to play as the demons using a Demon Rune pickup.  This power up will transform you into one of those hulking demons as you go on a rampaging killings spree for a short time, and you are not invulnerable as the enemy can take you down and steal the rune for themselves.  Quite a nice touch.  The MP comes with six different game modes.  You get your obligatory Team Deathmatch and Domination modes.  Soul Harvest is exactly like Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed mode.  The other pure take on a classic mode, Clan Arena is a game of elimination: the last team standing wins. All pick-ups are removed from the map, and players won’t be able to restore their health or armor. Once you’re dead, you’re dead – no respawning.  Freeze tag is simply that, your team has to freeze the other team.  Frozen players can be melted by team mates standing over them for a short period.  The first team to freeze all team members wins.  The really fresh mode on offer is the Warpath Mode.  Here there’s just one control point which is constantly moving through the map.  The two team battle it out to capture and control this point.  It’s frantic, and fun and the one I end up playing the most.

You guys get that IPXSETUP.EXE?? The older gamers get it
You guys get that IPXSETUP.EXE?? The older gamers get it

The cherry on top of this hellish gem, is the SnapMap mode.  This is robust and powerful map editor.  But it goes far beyond just Map editing.  If you have any issues with the Multiplayer component, SnapMap gives you the tools to make your own classic DOOM MP as you want it.  Strip away the glory kills, speed up movement speed and tweak the weapon damages, you can do that!  Don’t like load outs, get rid of them and have all the weapons spawn in the map, go ahead.  But that’s just the tip of the ice berg.  With SnapMap you can create entire story level with scripted events.  You can create Tower defence games, co-op experience, Gears of War-esque Horde mode the list is endless.  Honestly the only limitation is the creativity of the players themselves.  Out the box there’s already an extensive collection of Maps and experiences to try out.  That list grows every single day, this alone will guarantee huge replay value.  I’ve enjoyed classic DOOM levels recreated with the new engine, demons, weapons and my goodness was it a sight to behold.

What big eyes you don't have!
What big eyes you don’t have!  Oh wait I’ve used that line before

DOOM is a phenomenal achievement.  It has taken everything you loved about the original and brought it to the modern age in a stunning and meaningful way.  It is an expertly crafted experience with a slightly tainted multiplayer that can be easily remedied with the help of the powerful SnapMap Mode.  I love this game and you can see the love the developers have for it too.  This is a title that is worth every single penny you spend on it.

 

 

 


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