Awwww DOOM! What fond memories I have of the 1993 original—from chainsawing mutilated grotesque monsters to exploring the depths of hell—oh what grand times. I was skeptical upon hearing id Software were going to release a new DOOM— I had such reverence and nostalgia for the first game. I wasn’t sure if they could capture what made it so great—that slick, fast paced movement and the pure and simple joy of just shooting shit. DOOM was always going to be tough to reinvent for modern audiences but I have to say, id Software have nailed it.
DOOM is everything I could’ve hoped for and then some, from its non-stop action to the gory mutilations, this new entry pays great homage to the original while still managing to feel fresh and innovative. Right from the opening moments, DOOM steps on the gas and doesn’t lay off of it until the credits are rolling. From its fast paced gameplay with heavy metal blaring in the background, there’s no such thing as a moment of ‘calm’ or ‘tranquility’—it’s just mayhem, with gory kill after gory kill.
"DOOM never runs out of disgustingly fun ways to kill something"
The fact that DOOM never takes itself seriously is a big part of the fun. There’s no pretension or boring stoicism to be found here. How can there be, when your single goal is to go to hell and slaughter demons in hilariously grotesque ways? And when I say grotesque, I really mean it. DOOM encourages you to find the goriest way to kill demons—from ripping of legs off with your bare hands and using it as a mace, to performing creative chainsaw surgery. DOOM never runs out of disgustingly fun ways to kill something, and thankfully, it controls like liquid mercury—running at a fluid 60fps, never really dropping below that even with hoards of onscreen monsters in its later stages.
The story, meanwhile, isn’t anything particularly remarkable. Outside of the terrific introduction, which throws up some interesting narrative threads, it took a while to grab my interest. The game starts with you waking up on a sacrificial altar. You’re strapped down, with possessed creatures looming over you as some sort of demonic ritual is taking place. After breaking free and slaughtering anything that moves, you’ll find your iconic Space Marine Armor and start to get an idea about what was going on before you woke up. After these opening moments, there aren’t many story beats until much later, and besides a handful of cutscenes, the ongoing plot is relayed to the player via NPC radio chatter or from the various collectibles you can find. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—story has never been a hallmark of the series, but rather the manic moment to moment gunplay. I actually couldn’t have cared less about the story until near the end of the game, where it managed to peak my interest again.
"Each level usually consists of the same thing—find a yellow, red, or blue key. Kill all the demons in each room. Rinse and repeat. "
And while yes, DOOM game has a overall great pace, I did find that the middle portion of its eight hour campaign was getting a tiny bit repetitive. Each level usually consists of the same thing—find a yellow, red, or blue key. Kill all the demons in each room. Rinse and repeat. Luckily the level design in each of those rooms is very well handled, with frantic tight corridors juxtaposed with sprawling, multi-tiered arenas. Initially at least, id Software does a great job of spacing out the different enemy types, so just when you’re about ready to fight something else, they introduce a new demon. But this only lasts for the first four hours or so. By the aforementioned middle portion of the game, I’d seen all the enemy types, owned all the guns and was starting to get a little tired of killing the same demons in aesthetically samey environments. This unexpected malaise was really starting to take its toll, but then DOOM pulled the rug from under me. Something happens during it back half—which I won’t spoil here— that was the defibrillator the game needed to bring it back to life.
Of course, even after the campaign is complete, there’s still tons of secrets and collectibles to hunt for, with multiplayer and SnapMap modes waiting in the wings.
SnapMap mode is a robust level creation tool that allows players to design their own DOOM maps—with control over layouts, lighting, enemy positions, objectives and much more. While I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with this mode, it certainly left me excited to see what the community comes up with. For would-be game designers out there, SnapMap will add hours and hours of tinkering. For everyone else, this is potentially an endless stream of free DOOM content, both on and offline—even co-op. I can easily see myself getting lost in other people’s creations (you can hear Jordan Leendertsen talk at great length about his SnapMap experiences on a recent PunchCast episode here)
Now on to multiplayer—which was surprisingly way more fun then I had initially anticipated. There’s echoes of Call of Duty with its loadouts and progression system, but DOOM throws in some fun twists. Take Demon Runes for example, which give you the ability to romp around as a demon, or pleasingly old-school features like powerful weapon pickups that are sprinkled around the maps. The fast paced movement, great level design and varied gunplay makes multiplayer something you shouldn’t pass up.
Ultimately, DOOM took me by surprise. I simply wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did—especially considering its fabled development hell, not to mention the lukewarm response to 2004’s DOOM 3. But after the finishing the game, and once my heart finally started to slow down, I came to realize that I had simply missed DOOM. I missed the silly story. I missed the tongue in cheek ultra violence. I missed the frenetic gunplay. Even with the slight dip into repetition , I can’t help but want to go back and tear a demon in half.