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Twenty-two years after the release of the originalDoom, we’re back at square one. Id Software’s 2004 reboot of the franchise with Doom 3 has been thrown out the window, and now Doomguy is back on Mars, ready to battle the demons of Hell like a circle strafing Sisyphus. Is this latest iteration of Doom worthy of your hard-earned cash?
DOOM (2016) (PS4, XBOX One, PC)
Your jaw will drop and stay dropped for the entirety of your playthrough. Just when you think you’ve seen everything Mars and Hell can offer, Id will drop a stunning new backdrop for you to marvel at between skirmishes. The music is thumping, creeping electronica and metal that fits in perfectly with your surroundings. Textures do seem to be reused, and in general, I think Hell could’ve looked more interesting, especially considering how much it impacted me as a young Doomguy in the ’90s, but those are nitpicks. This is a game you’ll show off to people who don’t even care about games, and they will be impressed.
Some will say, “What’s old is new again,” but realistically what’s old has been updated to about 2012 in gameplay standards. Nothing in Doom is new, or innovative, it’s just perfected. Maybe in a world full of early access titles and broken games at launch, Doom being a near-perfect shooter is innovative. If not innovative, then a complete breath of fresh air. Doom has the best single player campaign for a shooter in years.
Doom‘s visuals and smooth gameplay must be put under “innovation” because this is the most next-gen game of this generation. I played on the PS4 version and on PC, and can say that the optimization for each platform is probably the most mind-blowing and innovative part of the whole Doom experience. Booting the game on PS4 does get the fans going LOUD. Real loud. Like, I think my PS4 is about to die and I have to turn up the TV a little to drown out its cries for help loud. But hey — the game didn’t stutter once.
On the gameplay side, pretty much every shooter system known to man is implemented in Doom. You’ve seen it all — armor upgrades, weapon upgrades, etc etc. The tropes are here, and they are embraced. Along with the multiplayer, which is nothing but a typical arena shooter, you know what you’re getting in the first 30 minutes of the game. If you like what you’re getting, you’ll love it.
Now, this is where the devs kinda blew it. Instead of a tacked-on multiplayer that seems like an afterthought, the timed runs that made the original Doom games so great are absent, and could’ve been refined and perfected here to make a new competitive gaming scene, not a retread.
This is a love letter to the original Doom games, with a hint of Doom 3 sprinkled in (much less sneaking around, and no flashlight). The action is tight and you feel in total control of your Doomguy. It’s truly glorious, and the closest I’ve felt to the responsiveness of a mouse and keyboard with a controller in hand.
I was prepared to dread the platforming, but running and jumping all over Mars and Hell is like the shooting — responsive. It’s truly a treat. Few first-person shooters can deliver this well on platforming segments.
When you’re done with the somewhat-lengthy single player campaign (about 10-15 hours depending on how much you roam for secrets), you can play the competitive multiplayer, but it’s nothing to write home from Hell about. It’s very much worth skipping so you can head to SnapMap.
SnapMap is a user-friendly level creation system built within Doom, considered its third pillar after the campaign and multiplayer. Users are re-creating original Doom levels in addition to original maps. Be warned — these recreations of original Doom levels rarely work or even feature more than half the original level. A version of the original Episode 1 Mission 2 level is currently one of the most played maps on SnapMap, but I played the original and the remake back to back and while appreciated, the translation wasn’t great. It’s admirable, but only admirable. Still, it’s a novel way to get more Doom content, like the WADs of old, but with more variety.
In addition to the expected remakes and PVP arenas, the community has utilized SnapMap to make music. Yes, I spent a surprising amount of time fiddling with a Doom-made keyboard and drum sequencer, hitting the cowbell in rhythm to my music and in-between shotgun blasts. So far, the best PVE maps I’ve played are in a tower defense style, where up to four players can guard corridors as demons attempt to overwhelm you and your Doomguys in their final stand.
The Doom Season Pass is $39.99, which is entirely bullsh*t. The bundle includes “three new, premium DLC packs” with more multiplayer maps, weapons, playable demons, new armor sets, taunts, and other stuff that will help you have an advantage in the multiplayer section of the game. The fact that you could get Doom for that price with a coupon from Green Man Gaming tells you that this is overpriced. Especially with no single player content. Doom‘s multiplayer is not the tentpole part of this game, Bethesda. Embrace the insanity of your single player campaign!
At first, you want to reject Doom for its derivative nature. But then, the armor pickups and gameplay systems of yesteryear are juxtaposed with the most gorgeous graphics you’ll see sans Nathan Drake, and the whole package turns into a sum greater than its parts. Doom is just fun. Doomisn’t trying to be a TV show or an epic storytelling experience. Doom is unapologetically a videogame. It drapes everything that made the early FPS games work onto a blazing fast and gory good time. It’s formulaic by design, but it’s fun. There are a lot of things that you can be cynical about in 2016 gaming, and a lot of those things are in this 2016 Doom, but it’s hard to be cynical with a game this fun.
Final Verdict: Worth a chance.
This review was based on a digital copy of DOOM provided by Bethesda.