DOOM is the type of title where people still talk about how great the very first iteration was and how it helped open up the world of gaming to brand new avenues. As such it was questionable whether or not that same type of brutal magic could be found once again in a modern day DOOM. Even with id Software managing to create an extremely satisfying Wolfenstein, many were skeptical if DOOM 2016 could meet expectations. Well thankfully I can say that after tearing my way through the single player campaign and seeing what else the game had to offer that it actually exceeds these expectations.
The story for DOOM begins with the main character, simply called the Doom Marine, waking up chained to a table where he apparently has been imprisoned for an unknown length of time, though a quick hologram shows that he was being kept in a stone sarcophagus of some kind and was being worshiped before hell broke loose. I say that because almost instantly a deformed creature begins to attack and is quickly and brutally taken care of.
It becomes apparent that the UAC research facility on Mars has fallen to demonic invasion and that its time for the Doom Marine to do what he does best. After obtaining the Praetor Suit, the story kicks into gear by literally having the main character throw the plot to the side. It is quite evident that id Software knew that they should embrace the ultra-violence aspect of the series and while there are moments where the game’s narrative does slow things down a bit and lock the player into a cut-scene, most of the time the Doom Marine simply rips and tears his way through everything in his path.
There is indeed a story here and some elements of lore to be explored through collectibles that unlock bonus text but for the most part the game provides just enough of a storyline to set up the situation where the demonic forces of hell coming up against the Doom Marine and that it is up to players to put them down by any means necessary and thankfully this comes in the form of extremely fast paced visceral combat.
After spending plenty of years with your standard first person shooters, it may come as a bit of a surprise at how fast everything is in DOOM. Players are given an initial pistol with an unlimited ammo capacity and the ability to charge a single fire shot and then thrown into the gory flames of arena combat. Demons often fill the rooms and the only way for players to progress past them is to slay everything in sight and with the enemies being just as quick as the player is, meaning that movement and constant action is key to survival.
Nearly every weapon in DOOM that players come across will have two weapon mods that can be swapped between allowing for various types of alternate fire modes and players will find that they will have more than enough variety when it comes to firepower. In fact, as players progress through the game they will discover various points and tokens that can be used to upgrade your weaponry, provide your Praetor Suit with new abilities, and even upgrade your health, armor, or ammo capacity. All of these mechanics are introduced fairly quickly and are then left to the side for players to pick and choose at will. This means that these mechanics have been designed in such a manner that they do not draw attention away too much from the actual action.
There are even little elements such as runes that players can equip to provide various boosts to the player and challenges for certain levels that you can undertake but these types of mechanics are all optional and serve as a fun little way to see just how brutal you can be, especially since many of these challenges are designed to give players an incentive to approach fights a certain way rather than simply running and gunning.
As mentioned, there are numerous weapons in DOOM and every one of them, perhaps minus the initial starter pistol, is designed in a manner that makes it extremely satisfying to use in combat. Thanks to the fast paced movement speed, the incredibly impressive enemy AI that will take advantage of multi-level terrain and side paths to attempt to flank you or attack from above, and a new “Glory Kill” system, every fight is an adrenaline fueled blood bath.
These Glory Kills are violent executions that are performed by pressing the melee button near an opponent that is near death. When shooting your foes they will begin to glow orange and turn blue when you approach, meaning that they are ready to be finished off in bloody fashion. These Glory Kills result in a burst of healing items and occasionally ammunition which is essential since players will always need to be on the move and running through a wounded force, ripping off arms, stomping skulls, and performing other acts of violence while gaining much needed health is essential.
As you can likely tell, DOOM features a standard health system where players will need to rely on either killing enemies to gain health or finding med packs scattered throughout a stage while also picking up pieces of armor at the same time. The thing is, this is a game that isn’t ready to hand anything over on a silver platter unless you are playing on the easiest difficulty, there will likely be times that you will suffer quite a large amount of damage from an unseen enemy as damage notifications are kept at a minimum and it is possible to be killed outright if you aren’t paying attention on higher difficulty levels.
In true DOOM fashion, the levels that players will be traveling through are filled with little nooks and crannies that can be explored. Players can have their standard objectives pointed out to them but finding secrets is where the true challenge lies. These secrets harken back to the time where players would deliberately have to go out of their way in order to find something special and sometimes these rewards might be a simple upgrade, collectible, rune, or even a fun little easter egg while other times it might even be a special weapon that doesn’t show up until much later in the title.
While DOOM’s single player runs as a thirteen to fifteen hour example of how great a first person shooter’s campaign mode can be by delivering players satisfying gameplay mechanics, the multiplayer mode is a bit of a different story. Players will find that the game features your standard modes such as Team Deathmatch, Warpath, and Domination though a few new options such as Freeze Tag, where players must thaw out team mates that are frozen by the other team and Soul Harvest requires the gathering of souls from defeated enemies to boost your team score, help change things up. That being said, with a loadout system, various “Hack Modules” serving as perks, and fairly basic maps the multiplayer mode might be worth sampling but is something that you will likely be passing up rather quickly.
The other side feature to the game’s single player mode is SnapMap and this is a feature that actually comes out quite well. Creative minds will find quite a lot of options at their fingertips as they can create their very own levels by snapping together rooms, setting up monsters, adjusting their abilities, and even more. There are quite a few creative creations already available such as flat out recreations of levels from the original game to arcade style levels, jumping challenges, and more. This community driven aspect of the game is simple to learn for those who want to try their hands at it and is something that I can imagine will result in some really spectacular creations in the future.
Visuals & Audio
I must say that id Software has managed to really capture the heart of the DOOM aesthetic. The company has paid close attention to detail to creating a truly industrial/hellish looking environment for players to venture through, filled with atmospheric lighting that really helps set the mood for the violence, as they slay their way through highly varied and detailed demons. This type of aesthetic is all the more impressive when you realize that not only does this game look absolutely gorgeous, but that it also never suffers from any type of slowdown no matter how fast or how much action ends up occurring at once on the screen.
This title features an extremely fitting soundtrack that slowly evolves over the course of the game as players travel through the game. This means that players will be experience plenty of variety here that always seems to fit the atmosphere of the current situation and the level of intensity that players will be fighting with. Combine this satisfying choice of soundtrack with the impressive sound effects from the game and you have a winning combination.
There was some trepidation when DOOM was growing close to release but thankfully almost all of those concerns can be put to rest. Sure the game’s multiplayer mode is fairly standard and feels like a tacked on effort that could have been forgone entirely but the creative SnapMap opens up plenty of possibilities on the side while the single player campaign delivers in every way imaginable by giving players addictive gameplay mechanics that will keep players tearing through the demonic forces of hell in what is one of the best single player first person shooters in years.
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