Alright mother-hubbards, my apologies about the tardiness of this review, I got a puppy and it’s all been a bit fraught. Yeah, I know that ranks as one of the worst excuses since the England football team blamed their poor Euros performance on a ‘gypsy curse’, but that’s the best I’ve got. At any rate, I shall now prattle on for a maybe bit too long and try to convince anyone who hasn’t bought it already that Doom is bloody brilliant.
Doom 4/ Doom 2016 has taken a while to get here with developers id taking a good 12 years to follow up the critically divisive Doom 3 and with a number of notable delays over the last few years. Since 2004, FPS gaming, online in particular has evolved substantially so there was a huge potential to fail. Thankfully id avoided the traps which sank the terminally shit Duke Nukem Forever and Doom 4 is a game that was (mostly) worth waiting for.
Doom captures everything that is memorable and fun about the original games
As for story, Doom is treading familiar ground; demon invasion – check, brutish protagonist with lots of big guns – check, more blood than a whaling ship run by Charles Manson – check. Not that you should confuse a lack of originality with poor execution, as Doom is a simple story well told with relatively interesting supporting characters and a refreshingly laconic lead. I’m still not entirely sure if Doom 4 is a reboot or a sequel, that isn’t really that clear but it really doesn’t matter, as its not mired in lore and the game easily works without any foreknowledge of the series.
Not that you should confuse a lack of originality with poor execution, as Doom is a simple story well told.
Though Doom would seem to have all the trappings of a modern shooter and all the rote cliche which that entails, the most surprising thing about it is how fresh it feels. The market is saturated with either follow the man corridor shooters, or sandbox shooters with about as much purpose as a drunken read through of a dictionary. Doom stands out from these by being neither particularly linear or open but a bit of both, played at the speed of a toddler who has drunk all of his dads Red Bull. In this way Doom captures everything that is memorable and fun about the original games.
Whist Call of Duty often feels like being shot out of a cannon through a soft play area packed with firework touting kids, the pace is interrupted by constant stopping to look at the leaders buttocks, whilst the set pieces usually wrest a great deal of the control from your hands somewhat dampening the fun. Doom on the other hand is fast because you have to play it that way. You sit behind a box and try and pick off enemies in Doom and you are deader than cargo pants; you absolutely have to take the fight to the bad guys, keep moving and there’s no hush-voiced cretin shouting at you to keep up with him.
Doom captures everything that is memorable and fun about the original games.
This call back to the old school isn’t some lazy attempt at capitalising on 90’s nostalgia though; much like the excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order, it intelligently brings a lot of modern gaming’s best tricks to the table too. So there’s a wheel of guns and you aren’t limited to two like well… everything else, but the fluidity of modern FPS controls is present and correct. The level structure is pure old school (keys/ skulls open doors) but there’s modern style weapon upgrades and Easter egg collectibles which are done with real quality. The Doom Marine protagonist can even upgrade your armour and skills now too; standard stuff like increased health.
The roster of meaty weapons is terrific, and with upgrades even the first few you pick up are still usable and fun all the way to the bitter end. I loved the heavy assault rifle with mini-rocket upgrade and the shotguns (both of them), the chainsaw is cracking fun and the BFG is an absolute blast.
The addition of glory-kills is likely to be more divisive, as this methods of brutally taking out taking injured bad-guys is perhaps a mite over-used but it never became a grind for me.
This call back to the old school isn’t some lazy attempt at capitalising on 90’s nostalgia though…. it intelligently brings a lot of modern gaming’s best tricks to the table too.
The production design has updated many of the weapons, enemy types and environments from the 90’s but kept the spirit of the originals intact. Doom isn’t the best looking game in the world but it its no ‘butterface’ and it all moves so fast you likely won’t care or notice.
In terms of the campaign, the length is about spot on too. It’s not the run through the burning building to collect your porn stash that the modern military shooter is, nor is it padding out it’s content like a teenage boy sticking his socks down his trunks during swimming practice like Far Cry is. Doom takes about 12-15 hours to finish and to it’s credit, never feels padded and or rushed. Kudos to id, we need more games which are not afraid to edit their content accordingly, rather than spreading it thinner than the last knob of butter over 4 slices of toast.
….the campaign length is about spot on too, it’s not the run through the burning building to collect your porn stash that the modern military shooter is, nor is it padding out it’s content like a teenage boy sticking his socks down his trunks during swimming practice like Far Cry is.
The difficulty is about right too and bar a few difficulty spikes, its challenging enough to be satisfying, yet not cripplingly unfair or cheap. You are likely to die… a lot, but you’ll be reloading and learning from your mistakes each time. However, I personally found the small number of the boss fights a little underwhelming, despite the fact there visual style was a nice nod to the original games.
Doom also has multi-player…natch and this is where to me, the game didn’t really engage. Although I will freely admit that I am more an SP man than a MP, I do like to dabble in a good death match. In this respect Doom is competent but unremarkable with a collection of standard game modes, but despite the competency it’s not really worth buying the game just for this mode and there are better games on the market if you want to blow imaginary holes in your fellow gamers.
Want more info on the MP, well that’s tough as I am not sure what to say, sorry readers.
Doom 4 is a quality game; it’s just the right length, has fun, fast-paced gameplay and pitches it’s difficulty perfectly. In fact, one of the best shooter campaigns in the last few years is only let down by an uninspiring multiplayer mode. A must buy for fans of single player shooters.
What do you think of Doom? Did it live up to your expectations and or do you think it doesn’t do the classic original any justice? Let us know in the comments below (no registration necessary).