DOOM is a game that is well aware of what it wants to be. Unfortunately, for us, it wanted to be a fast paced shooter with bland environments, uninspired music, and bad mission design.
With the flood of first person shooters in today’s market, id and Bethesda went against conventional design with DOOM. The gameplay is fast, constantly being on the move and being able to just point and shoot is a refreshing change of pace to what has become the norm for FPS games. It baffles me that with such a focus on action, that the game bored me out of my skull.
There were a handful of times playing where I thought “Oh yeah. This is like classic DOOM. Just going around, shooting demons with a shotgun at close range. That feels good man.” Just when you start having fun, the game finds a way to suck the fun out of the action. After you’ve done enough damage to an enemy, it will glow. This means you can perform a glory kill; a special kill animation that has health flying out of the demon you just slaughtered. It’s a really cool thing, the first ten times you see it. The problem is, almost every fight in the beginning of the game has that loop. Shoot a demon with a pistol or a shotgun, they glow, glory kill plays one of six animations, repeat. Ad infinitum. There is a sort of risk/reward going on with glory kills where you’ll be low on health, and a demon will start to glow just as you think you’re on your last leg. You’ll get that glory kill and almost all of your health springs back to full. But just like the animations, it becomes repetitive as you do it in every battle.
Speaking of battles, the game is filled to the brim combat arenas. You’ll enter an area, and a voice will say “Demonic possession too high to pass through the door.” As you kill demons, more will spawn, with battles going on for upwards of ten minutes, enemies felt like bullet sponges, especially in early game. When you get more weapons you can more effectively deal with the amount of demons if you constantly swap weapons, but they still eat up a ton of ammo. The designs on the demons are fantastic, with the cacodemon being a huge standout.
There’s also bosses later in the game, and they suffer from the same issues the battle arenas do. The fights take forever to get through, and when you do there’s a second phase, where the boss uses mostly the same attacks just in different orders.
In between fighting waves of demons, you’ll have a chance to explore the level, find hidden secrets, including areas that open classic DOOM levels that you can go back and play from the main menu. Exploration allows you to find power-ups to make you stronger, such as energy that permanently increases your health, armor, or ammo count, drones that can add mods to your weapons, or rune trials, more on those in a second. The exploration would be fun, if the environments weren’t so dull and lifeless. There are some cooler areas later in the game, but you have to endure almost four hours of the game before you’ll see it. The graphics are serviceable (on the PS4 anyway), and the gore really stands out against the chromatic steel of the space station.
Slippery when wet.
Rune trials are timed events where you’ll be tasked with killing demons a certain way. Upon completion you’ll be given a rune that gives you different buffs when they’re equipped. There’s one that increases your pickup radius of health and ammo, or completing a glory kill faster.
After each level, you’re taken to a loading screen. These loading screens are long, upwards of thirty seconds to a minute for me. If you die, you’ll spend another thirty seconds loading. When accessing a rune trial, or leaving one for that matter, the game loads. In a game that’s all about moving fast, there sure is a lot of waiting around between moving fast and shooting.
There is a story in DOOM, and it’s not very good. I don’t know who’s playing DOOM for story, but it involves scientists harvesting the power of Hell to solve the energy crisis, and I quote a character from the game “Because no one else would.”
Finally, we come to my biggest gripe with the game; the music. I thought this would be a pretty easy thing to nail, being it’s a DOOM reboot and all. Have the nostalgic songs there, E1M1 from the original DOOM for instance, and metal guitars that come screeching in when the action kicks off. Instead, what we got, was techno metal/dubstep metal. To add insult to injury, at the end of every level they play a dubstep remix of E1M1.
Snapmap seems okay, as of launch there was a couple remade maps from DOOM 1 and 2, and some original ideas. The tutorials do a good job of teaching you how to create your own. I was unable to test out the multiplayer.
Overall, the game doesn’t play badly, and at times I was genuinely having fun. However, when I’m bored as hell while reducing demons to guts with a super shotgun, that’s an issue bigger than demons traveling to our world via a portal from hell.
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