Game Review: Doom (2016) - Hell Yes
The original Doom, released in 1993, is considered by many to be the forefather of the entire first person shooter genre. The franchise’s newest title - also called Doom (well, DOOM) - comes 12 years after the somewhat polarising Doom 3, and has easily been worth the wait. Creating a new game in a storied franchise like Doom must be tough, but developer Bethesda has managed to create one of the all-time greatest single player first person shooter experiences I’ve ever played.
Similarly to Wolfenstein’s recent reboot, Doom is an update to the original formula, with a little more story and a lot more eye-candy. The main character is a silent, unnamed protagonist, who starts the game chained to an altar, with little other explanation. You’re subsequently thrown into the middle of a demonic invasion on Mars, and your only mission seems to be killing every last monster that crosses your path.
The situation sounds like it couldn’t get any worse, but it does; a morally blind megacorporation - Union Aerospace Corporation - seems to be behind the demonic invasion. While they’ll help you fend off the demons, their motives are mostly unclear.
Of course, Doom’s story is largely inconsequential. While there’s a few plot twists, it exists solely to provide some semblance of motivation for slaughtering countless demonic hordes. Not that you need it when Doom is as fun as it is.
Doom’s gameplay ticks the boxes that make a FPS great; the controls are tight, the guns feel powerful, and enemies are satisfying to kill. Weapons in Doom aren’t designed around balance, but fun. You’ll quickly find a preference, after which point you might find yourself abandoning other weapons; my most-used arsenal consisted of the super shotgun, chaingun, BFG and rocket launcher. Combat doesn’t change much throughout the game (with the exception of boss fights) but I never got tired of it. The arenas you fight in often have some verticality and hidden paths, giving you options during combat to get a higher vantage point or funnel enemies into a chokepoint. You won’t have to vary tactics much, but it doesn’t get boring.
Level design changes quite a bit across Doom’s two distinctive main areas; the UAC facility on Mars, and Hell. The multi-storied Mars facility areas often comprise open spaces, winding hallways, and a few light puzzles; you’ll come across rooms with goodies to find, but no obvious way to get in. Hell is another story; levels wrap over on themselves and can be a little more confusing to traverse. While Doom can be quite linear, it rewards exploration. There’s plenty of secrets hidden throughout the game, including Doom levels, collectible models, and early access to powerful weapons.
Doom may be built on its predecessor’s blueprint, but it becomes its own beast thanks to a few deviations from the formula. Melee attacks play a vital part in the combat, providing health upon performing a ‘glory kill’.
The chainsaw is another melee option you’ll get early on, and allows you to instantly kill any enemy in the game at the cost of differing amounts of fuel; small enemies only take one fuel, but stronger foes require more. After sawing an enemy in half, they will drop lots of ammunition for your other weaponry.
Both the chainsaw and glory kills will keep you stocked up even in large, protracted fights, and make the game even more action-heavy, since you’ll often be ducking into very close range to resupply.
While guns can’t be dual-wielded like in Wolfenstein, they pack enough power to remain useful throughout the game. All weapons (except the BFG and chainsaw) have their own upgrade trees, giving you a couple of ways to personalise your arsenal. Your armor itself can also be upgraded, allowing for options like faster traversal or more explosion resistance. Lastly, direct upgrades to health, armor and ammunition stocks are available from hidden chests in each level. These upgrades offer a slow but meaningful power creep through the game, allowing you to take out enemies more easily in the later stages of Doom’s story.
Eye-candy is great (and Doom looks stunning, in an evil kind of way), but what takes Doom to the next level is easily the soundtrack; fighting through hordes of murderous demons is made so much more awesome thanks to the addition of crushing guitar riffs. In the parlance of metal fans, the soundtrack could be described as “brutal as f**k”. As a metalhead, it’s a rare example of a soundtrack that I’d buy and listen to outside of the game. And even if metal isn’t really your cup of tea, it adds to the intensity and atmosphere.
Multiplayer is the low point of the game - it feels quite derivative of other multiplayer shooters. Upon completing matches, you’ll gain experience and unlock some extra equipment; it’s a system that should feel familiar to anyone playing multiplayer shooters these days. Thankfully, the multiplayer doesn’t take away at all from the incredible single player experience. Just don’t buy Doom if you’re looking for a multiplayer shooter (get Overwatch instead - here's our review).
Bethesda has managed to bring Doom back to the forefront of the shooter genre, with an awesome evolution of the franchise. It introduces new mechanics, but manages to stick to the formula that made the original game great. While the multiplayer isn’t quite up to scratch, Doom’s single player offers great gunplay, diverse levels, and a hell of a soundtrack; it’s fun from the first shot you fire to the last smoking shell that hits the ground.
Doom was reviewed on Windows. It is also available on Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Cybershack Score -
|Fun, fast paced gameplay||Multiplayer is lacking|
|Incredible soundtrack||Negligible storyline|
|Expansive, well designed levels|