We may all be DOOMed.
There is something almost poetic about the action in id Software’s latest re-imagining of the classic DOOM shooter. The unrelenting demonic destruction and brutality feels like it could at any point be slowed down and set to a classical music soundtrack. That is the magic of 2016’s DOOM, the way it flows from one bloody demon death to the next, barely coming up for breath from finish to end. All hail the return of DOOM!
It has been some 23 years since id Software shook up the gaming world with the launch of the original DOOM, a game that basically established the first-person shooter genre which gamers are so in love with today. Over the years since the original DOOM turned gamers into demon-slaughtering marines, there have been sequels, some of which came close to hitting the mark of the original. However, it is not until now that a DOOM game has been released which seems to stick most faithfully to what made the original game so compelling, while also managing to drop in some new, modern ideas without messing with that formula.
In keeping with tradition, DOOM avoids tying the action down with a deep story. The lengthy campaign drops the player into a UAC outpost on Mars which has pretty much been overrun by demons, both the human inhabitants that have been changed by the incursion of Hell, and those creatures from Hell themselves. What happened? Well, it seems that someone thought it was a good idea to try and harness Hell’s energy. The campaign will take players through the installation and even into Hell itself as they obliterate every demonic presence that stands in their way. There are occasional points where supporting characters try to instill a little more detail into the story, but even our hero seems like he can’t be bothered with all of the chit chat and just wants to get back to the action.
And what action it is! From the moment that the player wakes up and smashes in the head of the nearest demon, the onslaught is almost non-stop. The player will quickly find their armour suit and an energy pistol, and then set out to obliterate all manner of grotesque creatures from the depths of Hell. The gameplay here is simple to understand – there is no cover mechanic and no regenerating of health. The demons, from the lowliest slow moving Zombie-type thing, through fireball flinging monsters and hulking rams, to the most imposing of Hell’s denizens, care only about tearing the player to pieces. The only thing stopping them is the player unleashing a hail bullets and explosions, interspersed with some occasional up close dismembering and gutting. Can’t really argue with that, can you?
Progression through the campaign unlocks new weapons at a steady pace. Soon after suffering with the energy pistol, the player gets their hands on a shotgun. Before long, more weapons become available, offering yet more wholesale slaughter. Assault rifle, rocket launcher, chain gun, the player is never short of ways to defeat the demons. Perhaps the most interesting weapon in the game is the chainsaw. Basically, the chainsaw offers a one hit kill on pretty much anything you may face, providing the player has enough fuel, which happens to be hard to come by.
As health doesn’t regenerate, topping up as you explore is essential. One great way of getting more health, and ammo for that matter, is by performing glory kills. Damage the enemy until they glow orange and then get in close and rip them apart with your bare hands for a nice reward of health and ammo drops. On higher difficulty levels, performing this action becomes much more difficult, but on normal for the more regular players, doing this as often as possible is a great way of keeping everything topped up.
Not that ammo and health is too difficult to find in the levels. Sometimes it is well hidden or seemingly difficult to get to. If you spot an armour pick up on a high ledge, for example, there will be a way to get it, but it may require a little more exploring. There are secret areas in each level, making exploration quite enjoyable.
There are also things to find, such as some truly epic power-ups which turn our hero into even more of a demon-killing badass. Then there are weapon augmentations which give weapons additional features, such as homing rockets for the rocket launcher. Upgrades can also be found for the hero himself, allowing the character to become much more capable as the game progresses.
The frantic combat of the campaign follows through to the well populated multiplayer options. Offering up an Unreal Tournament style experience, the quick moving multiplayer matches come in a variety of different flavours, from team deathmatches to soul harvesting, and provide a refreshingly easygoing arcade shooter experience, and by easygoing I mean that there is nothing to complicated to think about. When it comes to the combat, there is nothing easygoing here. It is not especially deep, but is incredibly enjoyable.
Then there is SnapMap, a suite of tools that allow the players to tinker with their own levels and game modes. Create challenges, script events, build your own levels, and then share them with the DOOM community. Or other players’ levels are available to try out, extending the longevity of the game almost infinitely.
There is plenty to like in DOOM. Shoot everything that moves, a simple concept that doesn’t try to be more than it is. The large campaign, multiplayer options and SnapMap levels mean that there is always plenty to do, and the variety of different difficulty levels mean that every type of player is catered for here. And above everything else, it is limb-wrenching fun. Everyone who enjoys shooters should be playing DOOM.