Doom Review – A Blast From The Past
id Software’s iconic FPS has gripped fans for decades. Does the 2016 release of Doom stand the test of time, or is this a one way ticket to hell on Mars? Check out our Doom review for the full lowdown.
The roots of the Doom franchise can be traced back to the original release in 1993, an era where the Bond franchise could actually produce a decent game, the Power Rangers were cool and kids were getting beaten up on the playground for Pokemon cards. While we’re happy to see the back of Take That, The Titanic, and other travesties of the 90s, the potential for a return to a demon infested Mars has long been a nostalgic dream for many. With the games of today pushing technology to its very limits, is there still space for the linear run-and-gun action of the Doom franchise?
When attempting to revive a game from years past, it’s all too easy for developers to stray from what made the game so iconic in the first place. We see it time and time again, developers driven to innovate in areas that needed very little attention – the recent failed attempt to revive Star Fox is a perfect example. This was one of my primary concerns when diving into Doom. I craved the over-the-top brutality and the linear enter and clear of corridors and rooms that made the original so much fun to play.
It took only a few minutes of the first mission for me to realize that id Software had no intention of straying from these qualities and in an industry that seems to force feed innovation at every possible corner, a developer brave enough to remain true to its roots should be praised for doing so. Room to room, corridor to corridor, I was once again relishing in the insane brutality of ripping demons apart from head to toe with an assortment of ridiculous weaponry and Glory Kills.
At its base level Doom remains very much the same as it did over 20 years ago. You enter an area, clear out the demons and move on to the next, with each room offering progressively more difficult challenges and enemies than the last. Reaching a new area, knowing full well you’re about to be ambushed by everything hell can throw at you, is exciting in itself but as soon as the music kicks in you become an unstoppable machine hellbent on destroying everything in your path – in the most gory and glorifying ways you can imagine. After 6-7 hours of clearing rooms and struggling to find a single sole survivor that must be killed before you can proceed, it can become somewhat tiresome but then you remember you have a chainsaw and the dismembering of that hard-to-find SOB quickly replaces the frustration with sickening pleasure.
Doom’s reputation for being a difficult SOB is well deserved and on display for all to see. There’s no health regeneration here soldier; if you don’t have what it takes to stand toe to toe with Hell’s finest, you’re taking a dirt nap. Various power-ups and items are scattered around the more difficult encounters but that still requires you to stay alive long enough to pick them up. Just when you think you’ve cleared a room of anything that can throw strange colored blasts that dismember you on contact, another wave spawns and the adrenaline kicks in as you scramble around with practically 0 HP and the loud spinning of a chain gun lacking ammo.
The constant need to find health pick-ups and ammunition when near death would be exhausting, if it wasn’t for a number of features that complement the brutality and difficulty of the game perfectly. Taking demons down to low health opens Glory Kill opportunities that include everything from kicking a demonic head until it explodes to ripping out a beating heart and feeding it to the unsuspecting minion of hell that just tried to ruin your day – shortly before it explodes. I can’t explain why it explodes but who cares? It’s awesome.
Utilizing the Glory Kills and other unlockables, such as completing Rune Trials to unlock extra perks, creates additional ammunition, health and shield drops with each kill. Making every fight to the death satisfying and rewarding as you rip a demon limb from limb and collect enough pick-ups to do the same thing to the next ugly floating eyeball that gets in your way.
Although linear by design, Doom’s revival in 2016 is not entirely without features meant to modernize the experience. A keen eye and the willingness to stray from the taken path often rewards players with special weapons, collectibles, upgrades for your suit and other meaningful unlockables. A welcomed change following hours spent exploring the breathtaking environments of Uncharted 4 for little more than 3D models as a reward.
id Software completely nailed the core experience of the single player campaign and although I did find myself suffering from the occasional craving of more detail and immersion in the story, by the time the credits rolled I had to put my controller down and take a breather. Only for a second before upping the difficulty and diving in again. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment.