DOOM Review

By Dave Horobin, 6 months ago
Rebooting the Doom franchise was never going to be an easy task. If you change too much then you run the risk of making a game that feels barely recognisable to the releases from the 1990s, which are widely credited as shaping the first person genre. Change too little and you make a game that feels outdated to modern audiences. If that isn’t daunting enough, since the game's announcement in 2008, the then-titled Doom 4 has seen id Software go through a number of big changes – staff departures and the studios’ acquisition by Bethesda. It was no surprise when rumours began to circulate that the game was in “development hell” and work had to be completely restarted in 2011.

Fast forward to 2016. After a beta that was met with mixed opinions and news that review copies of the game wouldn’t be sent out until the game’s release day, expectations for DOOM weren’t especially high. How very wrong we were!

Doom Carousel

DOOM’s premise is basic. In an attempt to solve an ongoing energy crisis, someone thought it would be a good idea to tap into the resources of Hell. Things don’t go to plan and now there are demons everywhere - lots and lots of demons - and it’s your job to kill them all and, ultimately, close the portal that connects the two worlds. From this point onwards, how much attention you really want to pay to the story is up to you. For the curious amongst you, there is more depth to the plot that can be found through exploration. For the rest of you, the story and the very occasional cutscenes are there to break up the bloody killing. Even Doomguy himself seems annoyed that the developers chose to take you away from the action during moments of downtime, pushing monitors over that are trying to fill you in on plot details, and generally punching and smashing anything that takes a gun out of his hands.

The action is immediate once the game starts and very rarely slows the pace until the end of the game. Within seconds of taking control of Doomguy, you’ve got a pistol in your hand and you're shooting and smashing enemies. Unlike most modern day shooters, there’s no cowering behind cover to regenerate health or reload, no prolonged firefights with enemies who are just out of reach, and absolutely no stealth sections where you try to avoid conflict. It’s just you and a swarm of demons that need to be killed in blood-drenched battles. To survive in DOOM you will need to be constantly on the move to pick up the ammo, health and armour that is scattered around the level. When they are in short supply, you will need to be as up close and personal as possible to perform a brutally satisfying Glory Kill to provide a welcome boost.

Getting up close and personal with demons is brutally gratifyingGetting up close and personal with demons is brutally gratifying

Glory Kills are DOOM’s new mechanic, allowing you to perform devastating executions on Hell’s demons when they are weakened. If you damage an enemy enough then they’ll begin to glow blue and then orange to signal that things are about to get extremely messy. Press the melee button and you’ll be treated to scenes of faces being smashed, or limbs, teeth and horns being torn off and used as weapons to bludgeon, slash and gouge. It is instant and immense satisfaction to see the various different types of Glory Kills that you can perform on different demons; more than that, it is a way to survive when your health begins to drop. Fallen enemies will also drop health and ammo to help you to survive tough situations. However, if it’s ammo that you need more than anything then the trusty chainsaw is your friend. Similar to the Glory Kills, using the chainsaw will result in enemies dropping plenty of ammo for all of your different weapons. Fuel for the chainsaw is in short supply, though, so you’ll always have to be mindful of when it’s best used.

The enemies that you encounter become tougher and larger as you progress through the game but, thankfully, so does your arsenal of weapons, which all feel meaty and distinctive even before you start to upgrade them. It might all seem like mindless killing – and that’s what DOOM really is – but there is some depth in the way that different types of demons are introduced. At first, each new enemy will provide you with a bit of a headache, but as you experiment with different weapons then you’ll begin to realise that certain ones are more effective in different situations. The exception is the BFG, which is awesome in any situation.

Enemies get stronger and bigger, but so do your weaponsEnemies get stronger and bigger, but so do your weapons

The level design in DOOM is equally as refreshing as the changes to the shooting mechanics that we now accept as the standard in modern shooters. While some levels are still quite linear, others are almost maze-like with lots of verticality and locked off areas that will require you to hunt down keys before doubling back on yourself. Even when the path is obvious, it often pays to go off exploring as you’ll be rewarded with new upgrades to your suit and weapons. The only downside to this is the traversal sections that will have you jumping between platforms and climbing for long periods of time. For a game that shook off any notion of pacing from the very start to its obvious benefit, these sections drag on for what can seem like an age and do very little else than to remove you from the action and what makes the game great.

DOOM’s multiplayer seems quite the opposite to its campaign despite using very similar mechanics. The multiplayer is equally as fast-paced and requires the same attention to non-stop movement in order to keep ammo and health stocked up, but it all feels very vanilla, like it has been seen and done before. Glory Kills are equally - if not more - satisfying when performed on a real player and the introduction of being able to play as a tank-like demon for short periods of time is great fun, but there’s very little to keep you coming back once you’ve had your fill. Perhaps that may change in time thanks to DOOM’s SnapMap editing tool that allows players to design their own content for sharing. Users can create multiplayer, single-player and co-op levels using a wide range of customisable templates. After a few tutorials anyone will be able to build something basic, but there’s equally a great deal of depth there for people to use their heart’s content.

Non-stop movement is equally as important in multiplayerNon-stop movement is equally as important in multiplayer

DOOM’s achievements are spread between each of the three main game modes, with the multiplayer and SnapMap ones being obtainable quickly and easily. The majority of the achievements are saved for the game’s best part, the campaign. It’s a nice spread between completing milestones such as 50 chainsaw kills and 200 Glory Kills, finding collectibles, and finishing the game. All in all it’s a very solid list that will provide the odd challenge, but it should also be within reach for anyone who is willing to put in a little bit of time.

Summary

As one Bethesda employee put it: "If you're not into violent, bloody games… DOOM's probably not a game for you". For everyone else, it’s impossible not to recommend trying the title. The campaign is where DOOM really shines with its fast-paced, slick, brutally bloody and exhilarating action that mixes old-school gameplay with modern design. The multiplayer is solid if not spectacular, but that may change in time once the game’s community begins to experiment with the creation tools in SnapMap. DOOM is back and it’s hellishly good.
4.5 / 5
Positives
  • Single-player campaign is hellishly good fun
  • Fast-paced action that rarely stops for breath
  • Huge level design allows for exploration
  • SnapMap offers endless possibilities
Negatives
  • Multiplayer isn't especially interesting
  • Traversal sections can drag on
Ethics Statement
The review spent approximately 15 hours playing each of the game's modes, with the vast majority of time spent Glory Killing everything in view. 19 of the game's 33 achievements were unlocked in the process. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.
Dave Horobin
Written by Dave Horobin
Dave is the TrueAchievements Social Manager and has been a Newshound since 2010. When he's not chasing developers and publishers for early review copies, he can usually be found on the TrueAchievements social pages discussing all things TA related.