I’ve been depressed lately. I don’t mean that I’m sad because of one or another reason, it’s just clinical, constant depression acting up again.
The string of games I’ve been playing recently hasn’t helped much. While Darkest Dungeon and XCOM 2 are brilliant, there’s no denying that they are stressful experiences. Hell, my review for the former was titled Darkest Dungeon is the most depressing game I’ve ever played, and I love it.
Enter DOOM a game that handed me a gun and a suit of power armour, and then told me to just have a really good time mindlessly murdering the spawn of hell. DOOM was exactly what I needed to kick me out of my funk, or at least happily forget about it for a dozen or so hours.
Even though DOOM shares the name of the original game in this franchise, which was released in 1993, it’s a kind-of sequel to the ill-received DOOM 3 from 2004. (Ill-received? Really? – ed)
DOOM review: Single Player Campaign
After tearing a warpath through the bleak landscapes of Hell, some tricky demons managed to subdue the protagonist and store him away in a stone coffin.
The protagonist doesn’t have any official moniker – fans have been calling him “Doomguy” and “Doom Marine” for years – and the demons simply call him “Doom Slayer”.
As players stomp, blast and smash their way through the opening stage, they find out that generic evil futuristic company UAC opened a portal to Hell on Mars, everything has gone sideways and Doomguy needs to sort out the situation.
Naughty naughty UAC have been mining Hell to solve humanity’s energy crisis, scooping up a mysterious substance called Argent Energy. In their defence, who would’ve thought that this was a lousy idea?
There’s not even a proper intro scene or tutorial; to Hell with that, literally. You’re given a gun, a suit of armour and pointed in the direction of the nearest demon that needs slaying. You then shoot, punch, tear, rip and rend until all the demons are dead, or you are.
That’s pretty much how the campaign proceeds for a good 12 hours or so. While that may sound repetitive, DOOM does an amazing job of making every confrontation seem fresh and exciting.
There’s a beauty in the game’s simplicity; Doomguy is fast, brutal, armed to the teeth and he has hordes of enemies to kill and the visceral thrill of controlling him is a pure and unbridled joy.
The gameplay is key here. It manages to capture the essence of those original FPS games from my childhood and update them. While it does bow to modern sensibilities like weapon and armour upgrades, they never detract from the core fun of running and gunning.
While the points for weapon upgrades are handed out almost too often, the alternate firing modes and armour upgrades can only be gained by exploring the levels. These levels are just as you’ll remember them from those early games; winding, complex environments that require keycards (keycards, in 2016!) to advance through.
I didn’t think hunting for these upgrades and secrets would gel with the combat and I was right. What they do, though, is to provide much-needed breaks in the action. If DOOM was just a wall-to-wall slaughter-fest, it would feel like a gruelling marathon instead of a collection of short (and highly enjoyable) sprints.
Aside from the upgrades, you can find codexes containing lore (that you’ll have to read in the menus) as well as unlocks such as viewable 3D models and classic maps from past games.
You’ll continue this cycle of close-quarters fighting and open-ended exploration while you zoom through the story on offer.
Let’s be honest: DOOM doesn’t need a complex or layered narrative, and it doesn’ have one. The dialogue you need to sit through is over quickly. Doomguy himself gets frustrated with this, even, as he often ends a conversation over an intercom by breaking something around him.
The rest of the exposition and story is relegated to the menus and loading screens. If you take the time to read them, however, you’ll find they’re well written and give you an interesting look into the world of the game.
DOOM review: Multiplayer and SnapMap
While the campaign is worth the price of entry alone , there are two other facets of the game (or, two separate games, as they’re their own executables) in the form of a competitive multiplayer and a creation mode.
Multiplayer mode could fit into any generic futuristic FPS . The only aspects of this mode that make it “DOOM” happen to be the presence of iconic guns and power-ups.
This shouldn’t be surprising, however, as id Software didn’t actually make this portion of the game. Instead, it was outsourced to developer Certain Affinity. I only need to tell you that they are also responsible for the multiplayer in Call of Duty: Ghosts and Halo: The Master Chief Collection for you to get the idea of what’s on offer here.
It’s not unenjoyable; you’ll have a solid hour, maybe two of this mode before it dawns on you that you have experienced all there is on offer. The bait for this mode is the selection of unlockable content, offering slight aesthetic changes. Luckily, id will be taking charge of this mode, so expect changes soon.
SnapMap bears many similarities to Halo’s Forge. This meaning that it’s an extremely limited creation tool in which players can use pre-made assets to make new content.
This is the biggest slap in the face id included in this mostly faithful package. What kept the DOOM fans active and passionate all those stagnant years was the modding community. You only need to look at the success of the overhaul mod Brutal DOOM to see that people want to create content for this universe.
Instead we’re given limited tools that have been kneecapped to make them easier to use on consoles. To make it even worse; there will not be mod support outside of SnapMap.
The only silver lining is the fact that I’ve personally seen the amazing creativity with the similarly limited Forge mode. Hopefully id does a 180 with their stance on mods.
DOOM review – Conclusion
That having been said I have no reservations recommending DOOM. The campaign alone is worth full price and you can rest easy ignoring the other two modes entirely. On a more personal level, it helped me through a rough patch and I’m grateful for that. I’ll be replaying this game, a rarity for me, to find all the secrets and try out the more sadistic difficulty settings.
In the most friendly way possible and with the best intentions in mind, I’ll see you all in Hell.
Platform reviewed on: PC | Game code was purchased by the reviewer