Game Review: DOOM

Nick Smit encourages you to ‘rip and tear’ into DOOM.

Undoubtedly, innovation and change are as important in the video game industry as any other. But on the other side of the spectrum sits games like 2016’s DOOM, which prove that skilled craftsmanship can be just as valuable. Indeed, nothing you’ll find in DOOM is completely ‘new’, but instead a series of tried and tested gameplay mechanics polished to a shine which lends both from the modern gaming sphere and from the greats of FPS past.

The primary target of revival and refinement for 2016’s DOOM is unsurprisingly the original DOOM, to which it achieves with explosive aplomb. Many ‘staple’ traits of modern games like regenerating health, reloading mechanics, slow movement, and seemingly obligatory overly-elaborate storylines are shed, and DOOM takes joy in showing these decisions as purposeful. The necessary contextual information is that there exists a portal between the planet Mars and biblical Hell, from which demons are invading. While the game does feature a rather intriguing story for those willing to dig through codex entries, the player is rarely forced to dwell on the details by virtue of the player-character’s complete disinterest in anything that is not killing demons. The “Doom Slayer” is halted early on by an exposition-spewing monitor, which is promptly and violently smacked out of the way by the character in what was such an accurate execution of my desires at the time that it felt like the game was reading my mind.

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Screenshot from DOOM, id Software.

The lack of regenerating health and the Doom Slayer’s fast movement combine to create an interesting dynamic, as the player foregoes cover-based shooting in favour of dodging much more in line with bullet-hell style shooters as well as the FPS of old. The player instead gains health and armour through pickups spread about the levels, as well by dispatching enemies up close in “glory kill” animations. There are several kills for each enemy type depending on what angle the player approaches from, and while they occur enough to not exactly maintain their lustre throughout the whole game, the animations are brief enough that they certainly don’t become irritating either. The variety exemplified in the enemy death animations carries on to the enemy design itself. Weapons, as well as the game’s environments, retain a vibrancy in colour and character that make the experience all the more satisfying.

DOOM’s enemies take the form of grotesque and very killable monsters, such as reanimated corpses, fire-flinging imps, floating cyclops’, and horned, hoofed horrors just to name a few. The weapons you’ll use to defeat these hordes are similarly varied, which all provide distinctive and visceral vectors through which to deliver pain to the minions of Hell. Particular attention should be given to the chain gun and the rocket launcher, which allow you to lay down a hail of bullets on demons from a relatively fixed position or blow them to smithereens while on the move respectively. The other offensive tool to mention is the chainsaw, which can be used for an instant kill if the player has enough fuel to perform the deed. Larger enemies require more fuel, which means that preserving fuel is often rewarded by allowing you to deal with a particularly difficult enemy quickly and brutally, as well as replenishing your ammunition to aid in your continued streak.

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Screenshot from DOOM, id Software.

In addition to a substantial and well-crafted single player campaign, DOOM features an engaging multiplayer section with a fitting focus on death matches and direct PvP. It also features a ‘snapmaps’ mode in which players have access to many of the creative tools the developers themselves use which has allowed users to build and play anything from survival-horror to RPGs and even tower defence maps and modes within DOOM’s engine. Ultimately, 2016’s DOOM is an entertainment package that does well to show just how visceral and inherently engaging the experience of gaming can be by removing unnecessary barriers.

Feature image: Screenshot from DOOM, id Software.

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