Doom opens with the main character, Doom Guy, awakening inside a sarcophagus and promptly smashing a demon’s head against the side of it. You then immediately fire your gun at two approaching demons, exploding both of their heads as well. A few slaughters later and you are watching the title appear, with the classic theme gearing up in the background as Doom Guy cocks his shotgun. Doom isn’t fucking around.
I don’t think anybody expected much of anything from a new Doom game. It spent years and years in production, with one whole iteration of the game being scrapped completely. Then we had the multiplayer beta, which was hard to muster much enthusiasm for, beyond “well that was ok I guess”. Then word came out that review codes were not going to be sent out to publications until the day of release. Not necessarily a death sentence, but another sign that all may not be well in the world of Doom. The morning of release however, rumblings started to make their way around the internet. Rumblings that Doom was good. Really good. Great even. It wasn’t just 1 or 2 people saying it. It was most everyone. So hey I bought it and guess what? Doom IS great. Fantastic even!
I can’t even begin to imagine how tough it must have been to sit down and figure out what exactly a Doom game looks like in 2016. You have to keep what makes Doom Doom, while also bringing it into the modern day. Turns out they were only partially interested in the latter, but they certainly did nail the former.
Doom doesn’t spend a lot of time on story or characters, though what they do have is surprisingly well written and always has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. Here the character of Doom Guy is a mythical figure and they have more character beats for him and the few supporting characters than you would expect. I would also recommend reading the various codex entries that you pick up throughout the game as there is some terrific flavour text in there. It’s the kind of game where occasionally a computer voice tells you that an area has reached an unacceptable level of demonic activity, as though there was a level of demonic activity that is perfectly ok. Doom is always self aware without being silly.
Unlike the just reviewed Uncharted 4 where the story and presentation makes up for occasionally lackluster combat, in Doom every second away from combat I spent wishing I was back in combat. Everything about the combat (just trying to see how many times I can use the word in this paragraph at this point) in Doom feels absolutely incredible. It’s tough to describe the feel of a game in text obviously, but let’s give it an honest go here!
First off, this game is fast. I don’t just mean the pace, though it is also relentless, I mean it moves real god damn fast. I don’t recall ever encountering any slow down or significant frame drops, which is absolutely vital for an experience like this. Often the areas where the major encounters take place are very open and your character is able to easily move around the environment. You can double jump up to higher ledges with ease, allowing you to come at these battles from a variety of angles. The demons are relentless so you are never able to catch your breath. From its opening moments, Doom grabs you and yells “Let’s move motherfucker!” and doesn’t stop charging forward until the credits roll.
Much of what makes Doom’s combat is so fun is that it stays true to the original, as a result it tosses away a lot of the tropes that you’ve naturally come to expect in just about every first person shooter out there now. There is no regenerating health. You want more health? Then you best get your ass back out there amongst the demons and either find some or kill some demons and get it. The weapons don’t need to be reloaded either. You shoot, shoot, shoot until you can’t shoot anymore, at which point you switch weapons and recommence shooting. Think of how much time you spend in most shooters either waiting behind cover for your health to regenerate, or taking cover to make you can safely reload. Here there is none of that and the experience is all the better for it.
In many shooters, I tend to find one gun that I like and largely stick to it throughout the length of the campaign. In Doom that is not an option as switching up weapons is essential to surviving. But what’s great is that I wanted to use each and every weapon. They are all incredibly fun to use, from the early shotgun to the plasma rifle to the eventual acquisition of the BFG, each and every gun feels great and serves its own purpose. They even made the chainsaw more interesting by having it require fuel. It’s able to decimate any enemy with ease, and doing so drops a whole bunch of ammo and health. You usually are only able to use it once or twice in a single encounter though, which brings in an element of strategy as you plan when it makes the most sense to get in there and saw a motherfucker in half. Side note – one of my absolute favourite things in this game is seeing an enemy hold up his arms to block the chainsaw only to then discover oops guess what, now I’m just sawing through your god damn arms. There are also weapon upgrades to make each and every one of these things even more powerful and incredible. You earn weapon upgrade points throughout the game that you can use to increase their stats, and you can also master each weapon by killing enemies in different ways using each one. There’s a lot of systems in play here, and they all add up to create an experience that is hard to walk away from.
The Doom campaign is quite lengthy, clocking in at roughly 10 hours. As soon as I saw the credits roll, I started loading up the previous chapters so I could get all the collectables in each of them, and there are plenty. It turns out that exploring the environments is still a lot of fun even when there aren’t hordes of demons to slaughter. The levels are quite expansive and it’s fun to roam around and see where you can get to, especially once you unlock the double jump ability.
So the campaign is brilliant, easily one of the best FPS campaign’s I’ve played in…ever? There are also two other modes here, the multiplayer and Snapmap. Snapmap seems pretty cool though I haven’t messed around with it a whole lot yet. It provides the tools to make your own Doom levels and although I’ve only run through a few of the tutorial videos, it seems quite intuitive. You can also play levels created by others. There looks to be quite a bit going on here and I look forward to diving in further in the coming while.
The multiplayer though I am largely done with. It’s completely fine, but it just doesn’t deliver near the same level of thrill that the campaign does. It plays fine, with no connection lag or anything, and I’ve had no issues connecting into a match. There’s the usual unlocks and such that comes with gaining a level, so there’s enough hooks there to keep you going if you are into this mode. For me though, this certainly isn’t what should bring you to this game.
Doom is incredible. This team deserves all the credit in the world for what they have pulled off here. It’s fun to see a game that people wanted so badly to be good come out and blow those expectations completely out of the water. Now that you’re done reading this review, get out there and buy a copy of Doom because this thing needs to succeed. Go! GO!