At the announcement of a new Doom, there were a fair few people out there who perhaps let out a slow yet weary sigh, their heads perhaps making a soft thud as they hit the nearest hard surface. It was easy to see how the end result could have manifested itself as a mere cash in, one that could rake in the money without putting any heart or soul into the actual finished product. With hope in their hearts, fans turned to the unexpected success of Wolfenstein: The New Order a couple years prior, and prayed for the best. And their prayers were answered. Because this is really damn good.
The reason for this, you see, is simple; strip away the impressive looking graphics and electronic rock soundtrack that forms the outer layer of the game, and the heart of classic Doom and what made it so good can still be seen to be vividly beating away. The trappings of the modern FPS are non-existent here; regenerating health is replaced with health and armour pickups, the normal slow drip feed of better weapons replaced with obtaining a rocket launcher in about the third level. Heck, even the whole concept of reloading simply doesn’t exist in this world. It’s also incredibly fast – standing still merely offers an open invitation for the hordes of hell to poke a few extra holes in your face. Movement is life, so you’ll be gleefully zipping around the screen, laying waste to anything that moves. It’s refreshingly good fun.
It’s also brutally violent, in an oh-so-satisfying way. There’s a ‘glory kill’ system in place here, where getting up close and personal to finish your enemies is rewarded with extra health and ammo. Each of the many glory kills on offer are brutal to watch, often involving the forceful removal of limbs to aid in the application of even more pain, but they’re all so quick to execute they never get boring or impede the flow of things in any real way. If that’s not enough for you, there’s also the option to chainsaw your foes clean in two, or later on just blow them up into a thousand pieces using the series most infamous weapon… Yes, you know the one. Oh, and there’s also a pickup that lets you rip opponents clean in half. Vertically.
The game’s over-the-top nature is reflected in the character of the Doom Marine, who literally does not give a damn about anything. Things in his way get smashed without care and reason, and even other characters drily note he only seems to care about killing everything in his way. This attitude even extends to the plot – there’s actually a story of some depth and detail hidden away here, but when the Doom Marine casually throws away the first monitor that dares to try and explain any of it to you, you immediately know the score. It’s gleeful self-parody, and it works so well.
Put everything together, and it’s a glorious exercise in pure chaos simply existing for the sake of pure fun, every component slotting together in a way that just goads you into blowing more stuff up. The main campaign is a satisfying length, and coupling this with the task of uncovering the game’s many secrets and challenges (the completion of each giving you the ability to upgrade your weapons to more brutal levels) means there’s a perfect excuse to keep feasting on the carnage.
When it comes to problems, there’s a bunch of minor irritations that did catch my attention, even if most only dulled my enjoyment by a minute amount. For one, while I understand that working your way through a labyrinthine structure seeking the exit has always been part of what makes Doom what it is, it doesn’t stop getting lost here being a somewhat frustrating affair. Each time it occurs it brings the pace to a sudden and jarring halt, and even though there’s a map screen, it’s so confusing to try and navigate I found myself desperately trying not to use it.
Weapon strength seems a bit odd as well; I found an upgraded shotgun more beneficial in most situations that an upgraded super shotgun, despite the latter having the word “super” in its name. To add to this, once you get a rocket launcher with homing missiles, it’s only a lack of ammo that stops it being the solution to practically every problem. Snapmaps – user created levels – also seem like a good idea in theory, but all the ones highlighted as the best the community still lack the soul of what makes the campaign so great. The feature, while ambitious, becomes a brief side attraction at the very best.
On a final side note, if you’re here for multiplayer action, don’t bother – the servers are so sparsely populated it’s honestly difficult to actually get into a match. That’s not really a fault of the developer’s own doing, however, and shouldn’t be taken as any real indication of how fun the multiplayer might actually be to play; it’s just the natural passage of time seeing the community moving on to the next big thing.
None of these problems hardly matter, however. Doom is the perfect blast to the past, one that perfectly pokes at that primal urge just to let loose and smash stuff. It’s an FPS game that breaks all the rules that most FPS games of today follow, and it does so in such an over-the-top way that it’s simply all the better for it. Rip and tear!