Hits & Misses: DOOM
My best memories of the DOOM franchise go way back to 1993 or so and playing the original on PC with my oldest son (2-3 years old at the time) in my lap repeatedly saying “Daddy, play DOOM kill ’em in the face!” (I know what you’re thinking… “Father of the Year”) while sitting at my desk. To this day, my son, who graduated from UC Davis in four years and is now working in Manhattan (proving that video games are indeed good for you… LOL), remains a HUGE DOOM fan.
I bring this particular memory to the surface because I had been very skeptical of id’s reboot of the franchise. I was not the biggest fan of DOOM 3 and the reboot was going through what seemed to be a stealth launch and it coming to market the same week as Uncharted 4 couldn’t be a good sign that Bethesda was expecting great things of a game that had been in development hell for quite a few years. Funny thing happened, however. After playing through the game this past weekend, I sent a text to my son – telling him that he shouldn’t hesitate to buy the game, as it was the perfect combination of old school and the new, and a memorable homage to the original.
While I won’t vouch for the multiplayer, the single player campaign is non-stop action that is surprisingly smart, incredibly visceral and deceptively deep – with a good deal of exploration made possible and a bunch of those trademark DOOM secret areas, as well as Codex to find, Rune Trials to play, classic DOOM maps, etc. While the game doesn’t have the great story and drama found in Bethesda’s “other” id FPS, “Wolfenstein: The New Order” (developed by MachineGames on id’s engine), it does offer a cool take on the well-worn “demons let loose on Mars” paper-thin plot that has been at the core of the DOOM experience. But, nobody is playing DOOM for the story – we are in it for the gory action that is the hallmark of the franchise, and the reboot delivers it in spades. Although there are all of the familiar weapons (shotgun, machine guns, chainsaw, rocket launcher, etc.), the reboot makes one excellent addition in the form of “Glory Kills.” These moments occur when you soften up an enemy to the point where they start glowing in a gold-ish color, then move in for the finish via the R3 button. These finishing moves are absolutely brutal, with the added value of providing extra health drops when you pull them off. Another surprise in gameplay is how vertical the fight is. The game environments are built so that you have to keep on the move, and a big part of that movement is jumping from one level of the area and grabbing a platform to pull yourself up to the next – while being aggressively pursued from behind. This subtle addition really makes a big difference in the intensity of gameplay and the associated anxiety it causes. There are very few quiet moments in DOOM and if you are standing still, you are well on your way to a painful death at the hands of the demon horde.
Graphically, as you would expect, this is, by orders of magnitude, the best looking DOOM game. You spend your time split between the interior corridors that are so familiar and the outside world of Mars’ arid atmosphere. The game maintains 60 FPS on all three platforms (even if you are a PC gamer with a less-than-stellar rig), the lighting and effects are excellent and the environments are very detailed and believable, with the surprising vertical nature of these environments a welcome addition.
- Publisher: Bethesda
- Developer: id
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
- Release Date: 5/13/16
- Price: $59.99
ICG Verdict: Hit
DOOM fans didn’t dare hope for the game that they have received. This franchise reboot is everything DOOM should be in 2016. It is modern enough to feel like it belongs in this hardware generation, yet is close enough to the classic, simple, straightforward spirit of the original to effectively present the best of both worlds to the player. While the multiplayer aspects of the game are pretty standard fare, the single player campaign is fast, good looking and great fun – featuring quite a bit of exploration, secrets and replay value.
Brutally Fun – DOOM Combines the Past with the Present to Create the Penultimate Iteration of the Game