DOOM Review

By
Review of: DOOM Review
gaming:
Chad Goodmurphy

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On May 18, 2016
Last modified:May 18, 2016

Summary:

DOOM is a fast-paced and balls-to-the-wall symphony of carnage. It's gory, action-packed and holds no punches, and is successful because it puts fun first.

Decades ago, video games were more about gameplay and less about storytelling or motion picture-inspired plotlines. Things were simpler and often more action-packed, with less worry paid to reasoning. Those were the days when DOOM was born, and when a specific id Software employee stated that stories in video games were akin to the unnecessary plots found in porn movies. Though I don’t necessarily agree with that as a whole, it’s hard to argue with his results, as the original DOOM will forever be a personal favourite.

DOOM is, of course, the classic first-person shooter that has a human marine blowing demons to bits on Mars and in Hell itself. The story is basic, but the action is not, and it’s gruesome in its pixelated details. It’s a game that many of us grew up on and spent hours immersed within, as we slaughtered flame-throwing demons and Hellishly ugly floating eyes. That, and looking for coloured key cards that would allow us to progress through coded doors.

Fast forward to the present, and we’re once again talking about DOOM, but not in a retrospective about the original game and its sequels. No, we now have a brand new game to play, and its adherence to what made the originals so much fun is its main selling point.

DOOM 2016 — if you will — marks the return of Doomguy and shows his love of speed and gore, along with his disdain for long cutscenes and taking the gentle approach to just about anything. It’s fast, it’s fluid and it’s frenetic, eschewing realism for the arcade-y fun that many of us fell in love with years ago. Unsurprisingly, it pulls no punches and makes no apologies for what it is, because it’s both confident and arrogant.

DOOM Review

What’s surprising is how good this game actually is. I say this because when it was first revealed, Bethesda’s take on the classic IP left me wanting. It didn’t look like something I’d enjoy all that much, and I wasn’t very excited about it as a result. As its release date came closer, though, my feelings began to change and I started to look forward to getting my hands on a copy. And, even though a lot of people worried about quality when it was revealed that the publisher would be withholding review codes until launch, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad that I did, too, because they didn’t disappoint.

Simply put, DOOM is the game we all hoped for. It’s not DOOM 3, and isn’t another campaign wherein we must slowly stalk hallways and deal with things that jump out at us for fearful effect. Instead, it’s a badass shooting gallery, which is best described as a symphony of blood, guts, bullets and chainsaws. Yes, you read that right, chainsaws.

Throughout the game’s 12 mission campaign — which is playable on multiple difficulties, some of which are originally locked — you’ll venture through a UAC military outpost and energy reactor on Mars, then into Hell itself. There’ll be little downtime, too, as id will throw everything but the kitchen sink at you, thanks to an array of hideous looking and challenging to defeat demons. This includes your run of the mill zombies, grunts who can toss flames (or whatever the Hell those balls of shit are), hulking behemoths who tower over their peers, and, of course, those bastard floating eyes, which are a pain in the ass to kill. On top of that, there’s the teleporting witch (whom I hate), the jetpack and rocket-equipped skinny demon and a rhino-like class that loves to ram Doomguy.

DOOM Review

The levels are large and spacious, and have enough twists, turns and secret areas to make even the most sleuthing gamer happy. That said, their main draw is and will always be their arenas. I don’t mean to infer that this is a game where you’re dropped into arenas like you’d find in an action movie — with large drums getting beaten and cheering spectators watching — but the term does a great job of describing what the combat encounters are like in this game. It’s you against an onslaught of enemies, who come in groups and get tougher as things progress. And, most of the combat encounters lock you into a large area.

Whenever you’re in an arena-esque part of a level you can expect to have your hands full, especially later on in the game. Things are never easy, but you’ll always have a lot of tools at your disposal, including health and armour pick-ups, as well as badass power-ups. The latter group is especially fun, because these boosts give you awesome abilities, like 4x damage and fists that can pummel anything into pulp. There’s also haste, which speeds you up and almost eliminates the need to reload, in addition to an invulnerability power-up.

The power-ups aren’t incredibly plentiful, but you’ll be happy when you find one. Most of the time, though, you’ll find yourself strafing and darting throughout large open ‘arenas,’ while either avoiding incoming fire or looking for something to shoot. There will never be a shortage of guns, either, as DOOM gives you a great roster to choose from. There’s a neat but underpowered energy pistol, different shotguns (which will likely become your go-to allies), a heavy assault rifle, a plasma rifle, a rocket launcher and a minigun, among others.

As you progress throughout the campaign, you’ll more than likely come across quite a few different sentry bots, which can be destroyed for weapon augmentations. Things like lock-on rockets for your assault rifle, explosive rounds for your shotgun, or a stunning ray for your plasma rifle. Make good use of these assets, because they can help turn the tide in battle, even if they are limited and take a bit to recharge.

DOOM Review

Weapon augmentations aren’t the only types of upgrades found within this game, though, as your suit and your Doomguy can also be upgraded. You’ll need to find these upgrades, however, as like little Funko-type Doomguy figures, they’re hidden within secret rooms in the campaign’s levels. Picking up weird looking keycards from the occasional fallen compadre’s suit will let you upgrade yours in a perk-like way. Conversely, encountering a ball of energy on top of a worktable (for lack of a better description) will allow you to boost Doomguy’s stats. There are three in total to choose from, with my favourites being health and armor.

The third possible character upgrade stream happens to be ammo, which is pretty self-explanatory. It’s not a waste of upgrade tokens, because there will be times where you’ll run out of ammo and will be scrounging for more, but it just doesn’t take precedence over health or armor. DOOM isn’t an easy game, and it’s nice to be able to soup your health bar up to 200 or do something similar with your armour capabilities.

The aforementioned chainsaw is separate from your weapons and ammunition, though, because it’s a limited use tool that is equipped by pressing an alternate face button. It’s pretty badass, too, as it can take down a large enemy with just one meat-grinding swipe. This is why it’s so limited though, and why its refuelling jerry cans are so sparse.

DOOM Review

Melee is, of course, also an option. You can always hit your foes, and though it’s harmful against the really basic zombies, it won’t do much against the real threats. What can be really awesome, though, is the game’s glory kill system, which lets you perform a random visceral execution against stunned foes. On normal, this option presents itself quite often, as enemies you shoot start to flash blue, then orange when you’re able to pull them apart with your bare hands. When you opt to play on harder difficulties, glory kills’ availabilities are lessened.

DOOM always does a good job of teaching you the ropes, despite being a shoot first and ask later kind of game. It starts with a bang and doesn’t let up, but it doesn’t just throw you to the wolves. On top of that, there are always rune challenges to find, which throw you into a timed arena and give you challenges (like killing X number of foes with explosive barrels, defeating X number of enemies within a given time limit while using a certain weapon, or doing three height-based glory kills on Hell knights). When completed, these challenges unlock runes that give you perks and can be upgraded through regular gameplay. Only a few can be equipped at any time though, making you think about which one(s) to choose for your specific play style.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t said a lot about the story. There’s a reason for this, and it’s that it’s not a major part of the game unlike in other shooters. It’s there, serves a purpose and isn’t poor, but it’s not going to win any awards or be remembered. That’s the point, though, because the gameplay is supposed to be the selling point and what you become invested in. And it is, although it does have a tendency to become a tad repetitive after a while.

For those who are interested, however, the 10-15 hour-long campaign’s plot begins with you awakening on a weird-looking table inside a seemingly abandoned UAC military base on Mars. It’s there where you discover that you’re not alone, as many of the crew members have turned into demons thanks to an energy source that was harvested from Hell. Well, that and a cybernetic woman who’s hellbent on opening a portal between Mars and the demonic underworld.

DOOM Review

The campaign isn’t the only mode to be found in DOOM, however, as the game also features a full multiplayer suite and a SnapMap feature.

The former is a Quake/Unreal Tournament-inspired affair, which emphasizes speed and pick-ups over realism. You’ll jump through portals, get to have a rocket launcher as your main weapon (if you so choose) and be able to pick up tokens that turn you into badass demons. It’s arcade-y, fun and a bit simple, but not in a particularly bad way. It is, however, not perfect, and won’t be for everyone, especially given how fast and unrealistic it is. It’s a lot like the campaign, though, because speed plays a big role in how this iteration of DOOM is built.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the multiplayer, but don’t think it’s something that I’ll play religiously. It’s fun and all, but I feel like it won’t keep me hooked longterm. Still, it’s far from a tacked on mode, and has quite a bit to offer, including Halo-looking soldier armor, customizable loadouts, challenging gameplay and quite a few different gameplay modes. Said list includes traditional team deathmatches, freeze tag, soul harvesting (which is like Kill Confirmed in Call of Duty and has you trying to pick up downed enemies’ dropped souls in order to score points) and more.

SnapMap, on the other hand, is a more creative offering, because it allows for users to create their own content. Think of it as a level editor, or even a game mode creation suite, because it allows you to design your own maps and make your own challenges within them. Then, once you’re finished and happy with what you’ve created, you can share it with the community.

The featured map list includes a wealth of different options, including super hard arenas, levels made with the old DOOM games as inspiration, puzzle challenges and even shooting galleries. Surely more creative offerings will trickle down as people get used to how SnapMap works, which will allow for the game to have a steady stream of new content and continual replay value.

When it comes to how DOOM performs, it’s tough to really complain. We reviewed the game on the Xbox One, and found it to be a very fast, fluid and fun experience. It ran well and was visceral to boot, with mostly stable performance outside of the odd framerate hiccup. The only real glitches we encountered involved the sound cutting out for just a second during a handful of segments, as well as a time where trying to access a floating weapon upgrade bot led to me getting trapped inside of it. The thing was on a set path and it dragged me to the end of its route, part-way across the map area. All I could see at that time was part of the bot, as if I was inside it in some way.

The soundtrack, meanwhile is what you’d expect: explosive, bullet-driven sound effects mixed with heavy metal and gore-based noises. Things really amp up near the end of the game, and the music does a good job of keeping your heart and adrenaline pumping.

At the end of the day, DOOM isn’t a perfect affair, but it’s a Hell of a lot of fun and a very nice surprise given some of the pre-release concerns that were vocalized. If you’re looking for a gory, fast-paced and unapologetic adventure, you definitely can’t go wrong with picking this one up.

This review is based on the Xbox One version, which we were provided with at launch.

DOOM Review
Great

DOOM is a fast-paced and balls-to-the-wall symphony of carnage. It's gory, action-packed and holds no punches, and is successful because it puts fun first.