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PC Game Review: DOOM (2016)

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It's DOOM time. Truth to be told it's been DOOM time since 2016, but for some reason, despite having finished the campaign and played the multiplayer a fair bit (not really looked at Snapmap cause... meh) I've only just now gotten around to writing a review. I blame my lack of writing inspiration the last few years. But since I've just gotten back into my review groove, let's take a look at the 2016 reimagining of the FPS that started it all; DOOM.



I've played enough Half-Life 2 to know that a giant portal in the background is a bad thing.


DOOM is a franchise with a lot of cred in the gaming sphere, as the original DOOM was one of the most seminal game releases of the 90's. Surrounded by controversy, giving birth to online deathmatches, launching probably one of the biggest modding communities for a game in existence and helping popularize the first person shooter genre, it is very difficult to imagine the gaming industry as a whole without this game. In 1994 it was quickly followed by DOOM 2: Hell On Earth, which largely felt like a retail standalone expansion to the original game, since it was largely the same game with new levels, enemies and a super shotgun. And through 1995 and 1996 it received numerous console ports as well as a few officially released level packs (Master Levels for DOOM II and Final Doom). Then id Software decided to make Quake and things changed drastically. John Romero left the company in 1996 following the release of Quake (Tom Hall had already left earlier during development of DOOM feeling a lack of creative input on the game), and id spent the following years releasing Quake 2 (which had nothing to do with Quake, except sharing its predecessor's name) and Quake 3: Arena (which again had little to do with either Quake or Quake 2) which was a multiplayer only arena shooter similar to Unreal Tournament (albeit with less game modes).


id would return to the DOOM franchise in 2004, with the suitably titled DOOM 3, although it was itself more of a remake than a direct sequel to DOOM 2. DOOM 3 is probably the game in the franchise that strays the furthest away from what most people consider the makeup of DOOM. While it wasn't really a bad game, in fact it was rather enjoyable, it focused a lot more on the horror aspect of DOOM and made it the focus of the game, at times not very successfully. You can read more in my review of DOOM 3 BFG Edition.


And after DOOM 3 that was pretty much it from id Software. The engine would go on to power Quake 4 (notably the first Quake game to actually continue a storyline from the previous games, Quake 2), and Wolfenstein 2009, both developed by Raven Software. id would start working on their next game, RAGE, intended to become the first new IP for the developer since Quake. Stuck in development hell for a solid decade, RAGE wouldn't see its release until 2011 and proved to be an enjoyable albeit not very satisfying game experience. More on RAGE here.


The best thing to come out of RAGE so far has been the technology. With its impressive megatexture id Tech 5 engine, it went on to power Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Evil Within. Then id Tech 666 came along, and with it... came DOOM.



Punching demons in the face becomes second nature in DOOM.


DOOM can best be described as pretty much the original DOOM, but with a modernized fresh take on it. The most astonishing feat of the remake though is how it manages to feel modern without at all sacrificing what made the original DOOM so much fun. Like the original DOOM and, very much unlike DOOM 3, instead of taking itself too seriously it instead focuses on making a fast-paced shooter about fighting the hordes of hell and not really giving a crap about much else. And the most amazing thing about it is how self-aware it is throughout the entire experience. Whenever the story comes into play, the Doomguy will notably be pissed off about it, not really caring about the reasons why the demons are here. He just wants to kill demons. In a rather badass scene in the beginning of the game, he is given a bit of briefing via a console and then promptly smashes the console into the wall before going on his merry way to slaughter himself some demons, perfectly not only mirroring the player's eagerness to get into the game proper, but also showing character without uttering a single word of dialogue. The game also foregoes any sort of lengthy intro sequence, rather starting you off by waking you up on an altar, bound by chains which you promptly break before smashing a possessed human's skull into said altar, grabbing your pistol, shooting some more possessed freaks and you're off. It's all the introduction you need for a game that's all about one thing: ripping and tearing some demon flesh.


That being said, the story isn't bad and simple enough for the game. There's a ton of lore to be found as well throughout the game, all written with that same self-aware and somewhat ironic snarky tone, very reminiscent of reading the original DOOM manual in some regards. The basic story is that a UAC scientists have harnessed energy from hell, so-called argent energy, a seemingly incredibly powerful and limitless source of energy. Of course, harnessing hell energy has brought along some complications as some deals have been made that have started an invasion of demons from hell, and it is up to the Doom Slayer (which sounds like a name for an epic metal band) to stop them.



He gave me a hand.


The gameplay in DOOM has a bit of a set rhythm to it, kinda reminding me of games like Serious Sam in some regards. You essentially move from battle to battle, often some of them start with you finding a gore nest and tearing it open, spawning in a horde of demons. These battles are interspersed with exploration, finding secrets and easter eggs, as well as taking in parts of the story. The battles are really the pounding heart of the DOOM experience and they feel entirely unique to the game. Describing the battles in DOOM would be like... well, imagine a 300 pound ballerina with a chaingun and you have roughly how it works. Because while you carry around an arsenal of oversized weapons and probably weight more than a freight truck, you move with the grace and agility of a rabbit on speed after having had 15 cups of coffee. Movement is fluid as all hell and it's a bit of a strange paradox how the game makes you feel large and heavy yet completely agile and in control at the same time. The guns all feel incredibly satisfying, and all of the DOOM mainstays are here and act roughly like their original DOOM counterparts, with my favourites being the super shotgun and the assault rifle. All the weapons can be upgraded with attachments, such as rapid-firing rockets for the assault rifle, explosive chargers for the combat shotgun and turning your chaingun into a freakin' turret just to name a few. It's all kind of insanely deep with upgrade paths, challenges to complete and this not only counts for guns but also your character where your skills can all be upgraded throughout the game using upgrade tokens and points you earn through finding secrets, doing challenges and just all around playing the game. And in addition to taking out enemies the old-fashioned way with a shotgun blast to the face, once you have done so they will begin to flash, and you can run up to them for a brutal melee finisher, which will be different depending on where you approach the enemy from, ranging from punching them in the face, crushing their skull and sending them flying with a kick to the groin. Okay the latter may not be an actual finisher (although it would be amazing if it was). The finishers are just short enough to not really pause the game for too long and there is a strange fluidity to them, making it obvious the game was playtested a lot to really perfect the length and timing of these finishing blows. It also feels somewhat influenced by Brutal DOOM, an awesome modification for the original DOOM which added the ability to brutalize demons with violent melee kills. Of course, when all fails, a BFG blast will easily clear out a room of baddies.


The enemies from DOOM all make a return and have been awesomely reimagined as well, feeling familiar yet different at the same time. Most notably the feared Arch-Vile has been rebranded as the Summoner, a floating and faster variation that easily takes priority whenever faced in battle. Otherwise all of the enemies feel familiar and you instantly know what sort of threat they pose.



Don't you look familiar...


Graphically the game looks absolutely gorgeous. Running on the much improved id Tech 666 engine, the game has a bunch of cool visual upgrades. That being said, there isn't really much of a noticeable difference between the graphics levels and I was hard pressed to really see any difference between Low and Ultra settings, so if you have a PC that struggles with the game on higher settings, I wouldn't feel too bad about lowering your settings, as the game's art direction is so strong it helps the game still look very good on low settings. Texture popin is a much smaller problem and overall the game has a colourful look to it, but still retaining a somewhat dark sci-fi horror atmosphere.


I also have no complaints about the game's sound. The weapons have beefy and punchy sound effects, the voice acting is top notch and the soundtrack is a glitched out cacophony of industrial noise and while it never goes into the same thrash metal inspired territory as the original DOOM, it pays homage to the original soundtrack in several places. A cool and impressive bonus is that the composer of the soundtrack went as far as to include pentagrams and other satanic imagery into the music itself, visible if you view the songs in a spectrum analyzer. Definitely a whole new level of detail that just adds more to the game's atmosphere.



The game features several throwback levels to the original DOOM. Finding them can be a challenge though.


So what else is there to do in DOOM? Well, in all honesty the campaign is the only worthwhile part of the game. But let's discuss the other game modes briefly.


The multiplayer mode consists of several game modes, ranging from the classic Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes to stuff like Freeze Tag and Domination. None of it is really that groundbreaking and in all honesty the multiplayer isn't that fun. Most of the time I end up getting killed by other players with either far more time on their hands or better loadouts. It's not terrible though and it's not difficult finding players to play with, and the lobbies all feature randomized game modes which breaks up the tedium unlike Call of Duty where you're usually stuck in a single mode until you decide to change it. There's a ton of visual upgrades to unlock, challenges to do and you unlock stuff as you level up. I mean, it's completely adequate but doesn't really fit in with the game in my opinion.


Then there's the Snapmap mode where you can make your own maps, game modes and other fun stuff using a basic game code system. I haven't really touched it to be honest and doubt I ever will but if you are feeling creative, it's very easy to snap together your own maps in the game. It does feel very limited in some regards though, as you can't really make big outdoor levels, being restricted to making essentially hallway levels. But for what it's worth, it's nice to have a creative mode like this in a game. It's just a shame it's not really a fully fledged editor.



Scott Cawthon approves of this.


So all in all, DOOM is definitely an amazing remake of the original DOOM and does just enough new stuff to make it feel fresh. It's just a shame the multiplayer mode ends up feeling not that fun and a bit superfluous, and the Snapmap mode is just kind of... there. But this one definitely gets a recommendation from me as a lifelong fan of id Software and DOOM. Of course, I'm still waiting for a true sequel to the original Quake...


STORY: 8/10



SOUND: 9/10




Source: http://alyxxgameroom.blogspot.no/2018/03/pc-game-review-doom-2016.html

Game developments at http://nukedprotons.blogspot.com

Check out my music at http://technomancer.bandcamp.com

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