While this review has been a little while coming, I have spent a great deal of time with this game and wanted to get the most out of it before sharing my thoughts with everyone. Suffice to say, the time I have spent on Doom has most definitely not been wasted! Word from E3 this year tells us that we have a much greater multiplayer aspect to look forward to in the near future (which ID software has taken into their own hands after having handed it to another company with the games release). Given that the multiplayer part of Doom is nothing to sniff at, this is definitely exciting news if ID’s previous shots at multiplayer (a little game called Quake comes to mind!) are anything to go by!
Speaking of said multiplayer, I shall divulge into how it currently works and my thoughts on it before going headlong into the incredible single-player campaign that Doom has to offer. Comparatively, Doom’s multiplayer, while perfectly functional, does suffer slightly by trying to hard to blend retro multiplayer arena shooters like Quake or Unreal Tournament with mechanics with more modern shooters like Call of Duty. With loadouts, level systems and ‘hack modules’ (which are very similar to the cards seen in Titanfall), there are elements of Doom that feel unnecessary, causing it to not quite match the chaotic splendor of its’ peers. Bearing in mind that the multiplayer for Doom is looking to be overhauled somewhat, I look forward to what it will have to offer in the future, as while it currently does offer some fun with 6 modes (none of which are simple Deathmatch, which upsets me slightly), it is ultimately forgettable.
The same most gleefully cannot be said of Doom’s 16 hour long campaign, which is far more than just an homage to the 1993 original. One of the most surprising features of the campaign is Dooms’ story, which is actually perfectly enjoyable for a game that honestly would never be expected to have even a semblance of plot, let alone a cohesive one. The Doom marine is a delightfully silent character who is bizarrely emotive for a character who’s head you’re looking out of. The plot never intervenes with the gameplay either, seamlessly allowing you to enjoy the game while having some of the world around you seep in.
Of course, story is not the primary reason a person would purchase Doom so much as a pleasant surprise. Doom sells itself on adrenaline-rush, chaotic demon hunting that has pulled in so many players for over 20 years. And it does so with aplomb. There are so many awesome moments in this game that it would be difficult to list them all, and I wouldn’t do so for fear that it would detract from other people’s experiences with Doom, but it’s hard to top that first time you fire a newly acquired weapon to rip a poor old Imp asunder. The Super Shotgun gets a special mention here, as it has a pedigree to live up to from the 1993 Doom, and it’s exhilarating to use in this game too. There’s no aiming down your sights in this game like almost every shooter for the past decade, which might sound alien to FPS fans, but trust me, it serves this game well by not being there. The main focus in Doom is to keep moving while shooting at the armies of Hell, rather than taking cover and being as safe as possible. You are expected to be as gun-ho as possible, which is an extremely refreshing change of pace from what we’ve had for so long. You won’t be recovering just by standing still in this game! Glory kills play a part in this as well, where once an enemy is on it’s last legs it will lurch over and glow red, beckoning the player to perform a melee-ranged execution attack, which is done differently depending on where on their body you are aiming before pressing the button, making the enemy explode with gore, ammo and health pickups. These attacks are gloriously violent, and due to there being so many different ones, they seldom get boring. In fact, Doom is deliciously violent in all aspects of it’s gameplay, which, given the nature of shooting games, should please almost anyone who plays it.
The visuals for Doom are simply stunning. The attention to detail across the Space Stations, Mars’ exterior and Hell itself is a beauty to behold. If you have a PC able to take the pain, you owe it to yourself to play this game on its’ highest settings. On PS4 I found myself consistently just looking at the world around me. If I had any criticism of the games visuals at all, it’s that the colour palette is a bit limited in the first half of the game, being comprised of a lot of reds and browns, as would be expected on Mars, but as you travel through Hell and the core of the UAC stations, that problem becomes alleviated in the latter half of the game.
The sound design in Doom is also fantastic, with the soundtrack being a quiet industrial backdrop while exploring the various locales that transitions brilliantly into a much heavier, appropriate metal track when demons begin to appear. The demons make sounds that very much fit their design, and the guns are (almost unanimously) extremely satisfying to fire. I’ll mention the Super Shotgun again here as it really is that fun to use! (The Rocket Launcher could have just a touch more ‘oomph’ to it though)
Not only is there a lot of adrenaline-based shooting present in Doom, but also a largely compelling exploration element that actually reminds me an awful lot of the Metroid Prime series. Between fights you’ll notice on your map (another feature that’s extremely well made) that there are a ton of icons showing collectibles, almost all of which do something to augment your character, whether by upgrading your guns, your primary stats or otherwise. These add a lot of longevity to Doom, once you find your first mini-Doomguy collectable, you will want to find them all just so you can see the little animation that comes with them! I would also very highly suggest keeping an eye out for levers hidden within every level, as they hide an awesome secret that I won’t go into detail here. Easter eggs and references in this game are absolutely everywhere as well, which I won’t spoil for you, as they’re all amazing. One thing I will say though, is just once, jump into a pool of lava when you get a chance. You’ll die, but you won’t care, I can promise you that!
There is also another feature that adds longevity to Doom, which is the Snapmap feature, a user-made content tool that seems to have a lot of content already made for it which ranges from Survival modes, Co-operative missions, strange multiplayer modes like Racing, and even comedic content like demonic fashion shows. I’m not particularly well versed in level editors or user-created content in any game, but the tools are very easy to use and allow for a wide variety of different things that you may not have expected to see in Doom.
In closing, Doom, despite its’ perfectly adequate but forgettable multiplayer (which may be looking to be improved in the coming months), is a masterpiece in old-school, frantic shooting. A perfect blend of the old and the new. It’s gorgeous to look at, listen to, and an absolute pleasure to play. It was so good that even posting a review a month after the games’ release, I can still sing its’ praises. Comedic in places, dark in others, Bethesda and ID have not only shown that they understand what the fans of Doom and vintage shooters want, they’ve proven that they love the source material itself with the plethora of references, easter eggs and general attention to detail. I could not recommend this game more to someone looking for something old made new once again.