The return of DOOM arrived a little over a week ago with the release of the latest installment in the hit first-person shooter series, a reboot of the franchise from original developer id Software.
I’m in an interesting position reviewing this one, as I’ve never actually played any of the DOOM games before. No, I can’t believe it either! My first-person shooter experience in the ’90s was with another id Software title (and another series now published by Bethesda), Wolfenstein 3D. But after seeing trailers and gameplay, I was excited to dive into the madness.
The game begins on Mars at a Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) research facility, where you awaken to discover yourself captive and restrained and surrounded by some nasty zombie-like beings. You then promptly break free, dispatch of these creatures, and re-unite with your nearby armor. The game is on! That’s pretty much all the set-up there is, and all that’s necessary. Demons are invading, and it’s time to kick some ass.
Not a whole lot needs to be said about this one, really. DOOM is a fast and furious shooter, with extremely satisfying combat and all of the ooey gooey gore and carnage cranked up to eleven. It looks and plays great, with plenty to do and see, all set to some fittingly heavy music to really get you in the demon blasting mood.
As fun as demon killing is, it, like anything else, could get stale after time. Especially with how much of a badass you are—if this were Alien: Isolation it would last about 20 minutes and be as scary as a baby chipmunk doing the “Macarena” (heh, some kids won’t know what that is). Not to compare it to Isolation—they’re obviously two completely different games—and not to say it’s an easy game. I played on normal difficulty (Hurt Me Plenty) and died a few times. Sometimes you’re so into the fight that you don’t even realize your health is low. But if you like more of a challenge and the game is too easy for you on normal, there’s harder difficulties and you can always try your luck on Ultra-Nightmare, where dying just once is game over. I’d recommend not getting all the way to the end and then letting that happen. But I’m straying…
The game combats any chance of things becoming repetitive by not only introducing plenty of new enemies to deal with using an arsenal of powerful weaponry, but also including challenges to complete and secrets and collectibles to find in each level. One of these secrets is actually rooms that will whisk you back to the style of the original ’90s game. It doesn’t exactly make sense within the game, but it’s a fun little treat that’s sure to be a nice nostalgia kick for longtime fans.
The party doesn’t end with the single player campaign, either; there are lots of multiplayer modes to check out (I know, a video game with both a single player campaign AND multiplayer? What is this madness?!). I’m not personally a huge multiplayer gamer, because my skill varies from match to match. Sometimes I can hang with the other players and compete, while other times I’m that sad bastard at the very bottom with no kills and multiple deaths who has to back out of the group at the end of a match, digital and physical head hung in shame.
Opposing players can be a little too hard to kill—even point-blank with a Super Shotgun doesn’t always put them down, which often results in an awkward dance between combatants, each tossing grenades and bullets and melee slaps at the other until one finally drops (or friends show up to help). But I’ve still been having fun playing, especially as I unlock more weapons and armor and funny taunts like the Spaceballs salute for when I do help my team win.
Another feature is the SnapMap, a creation tool that allows players to build their own unique DOOM experiences. There’s a lengthy two-part tutorial to show you how to do everything, which is basically a mini-game in itself (complete with an achievement for finishing it). I don’t really have the patience for stuff like this (demons to slaughter and such), but it is fun to mess around with it a bit and play some of the many unique creations other players who do have the patience to build such things come up with.
DOOM is back with a vengeance, a relentless mosh pit of an experience that will take you straight to Hell as you battle your way through an army of pure evil. But unlike other games where you might be terrified of such enemies, it’s the demons that should be scared. They’re not the monsters. YOU are the monster. They don’t stand a chance.