This review was conducted using the PC version and covers only the single-player aspect of the game.
It took Id Software almost a decade to release DOOM 3, revitalizing the original classic by opting for a more linear approach and creating a haunting atmosphere to constantly remind the player that some oddity responsible for the evil happenings is constantly watching from the shadows.
One would think that with swift technological progress of the video games industry, the developer would have released another installment in the franchise sooner.
However, Id Software needed to make sure that the process of modernizing the most influential shooter of all time did not drag the game further away from its roots. The developer’s focus on this mere fact deserves our praise.
DOOM (2016) is a gruesomely beautiful game that looks to improve on its predecessors by bringing more of everything. The reboot has more of hell for us to shut down, there’s more fast-paced action, more violence, more gore, more demons, more masculinity, more heavy-metal soundtracks, more replay value and more waves of nostalgia.
DOOM wastes no time with opening cinematic sequences and/or gruff narrators. The player awakens from a deep sleep to find himself chained inside a demonic sarcophagus, surrounded by possessed humans. Within seconds of the game’s initiation, you’re going to be breaking out of your chained imprisonment, arming yourself and pummeling demonic beings into the ground.
It goes without saying that DOOM has one of the most bad-ass introductory chapters ever, immediately drawing you to its nonsensical mayhem-induced world. Smashing a communications panel and then cocking a shotgun to the rhythm of the heavy-metal soundtrack makes two elements abundantly clear, the protagonist does not care for the game’s narrative and he’s only there to make hell his new home.
That doesn’t mean Id Software has skipped out on storytelling. There is indeed a narrative present, but one that is easily lost behind an aggressive design that puts more focus on meaningless slaughter and brutal executions.
The origin story of the reboot sees Dr. Olivia Pierce, a high-ranking UAC scientist, side with hell due to its promise of power. Her corrupt experiments have not only produced unholy results, but has also ultimately allowed the forces of hell to invade our world.
The plot is pretty much there for the sake of it and you’ll hardly find yourself keeping track as you rampage across the planet – and hell – to unleash furious gunplay.
However, for those interested in knowing more about the lore, DOOM has plentiful of scattered codex that reveals the history behind the location, enemies, characters, and more.
Among the core theme of constantly running and gunning, DOOM attempts to revive exploration and which proves to be a mighty positive element of the reboot.
In contrast to the previous installments where each stage was designed to let players explore scripted action on a lonesome floor, the new game spawns corridors after corridors to the tune of multi-level stages, set in different environments across both the industrial facilities of Mars as well as the molten plains of hell.
Bundled with hidden secrets and Easter eggs in every stage, you may very well be enticed to hone in on that vintage calling of exploring every nook and cranny before venturing further. While length of the campaign is decent, exploring your surroundings and blasting through hordes of enemies undoubtedly stretches the total game time.
Id Software has made sure that players always have multiple options to clean up a room. There are over a dozen weapons featured in the game, including the return of many classics that despite decades have not lost their appeal.
You’re not limited to the amount of weapons you can carry and with no-reloading mechanics, you’ll be constantly accessing the weapons wheel on-the-fly, rummaging through your arsenal to dispose of whatever lies in front.
Remember the satisfaction you attained with each shotgun blast with the original DOOM? Id Software has successfully incorporated that sense of content with every weapon of the reboot.
Glory Kills is a new feature that allows you to go melee for gratifying executions. Each comes with a unique killer animation that lasts for two seconds on average. They are seamless and do not interfere with your gameplay actions; thus, bringing a flawless and smooth combat sequence.
Combined with the weapons wheel, you’ll often find yourself multi-tasking through battles. At its core, DOOM capitalizes on a simple formula; giving the player an abundance of targets to lay waste in numerous ways.
It’s mindless – satisfying – killing in its simplest form. That also works from the get-go; DOOM begins on a high note, spawning constant encounters with a variety of enemies and ultimately escalating these said encounters as the game progresses.
The game keeps throwing enemy-types at you as fodder, ultimately mixing each one with others as you become more accustomed to the creatures. That being said, DOOM is still plagued with decay. Much like DOOM 3 which felt more like a chore mid-way, DOOM’s ending chapters overwhelm you with monotony.
It’s understandable that the developer had to fully focus on a gameplay design that promotes endless slaughter, but the level editor could always have taken a break from that to diversify mission objectives. Towards the end, you’ll find the gameplay quite repetitious, as you become quite accustomed to the chaotic battle sequences and forgetful boss fights.
In terms of visual and sound fidelity, DOOM is a work of art. The graphics are divine, with every scene set as one of breathtaking beauty. While you might be too busy seeing through fast-paced blood and gore action, the game will eventually draw your attention towards the refined environment and textures.
Even before release, we were teased about the epic musical aspect of DOOM. Id Software didn’t just want us to slay demons in hell, it wanted us to do so while head-banging to the tune of thrash-metal bouncing off the molten crags of the underworld.
Australian composer Mick Gordon has done a fantastic job in this regard, overhauling the game’s classic soundtracks as well as adding new brutal tunes that capture the game’s essence in its truest form. Palm-muted scale-runs and djent riffs only help in hyping you up before each fight.
The classic DOOM still remains fresh in our minds and carries immense nostalgic value. It was always going to be a challenge for Id Software to try better that precious experience.
However, the developer has seemingly found a sweet-spot where it managed to retain that nostalgia along with modernized aspects as a big budget resurrection of one of the most iconic franchises around.