DOOM (all caps for 2016; conventional style for the franchise) is a game that needs no introduction. Therefore, I will not bother with one.
Readers who have found themselves on this page somehow not knowing what Doom is should turn back now before getting an exploding head in the face.
In terms of violence, DOOM earns every part of its “M” rating, as the game is a gore-fest. Enemies such as the cacodemon explode into a torrent of gibs like fragments from a popped balloon after taking on a barrage of rockets to the mouth. Other foes “rip and tear” as severely, but it is the “glory kill” animations which demonstrate maximum macabre. Upon activation, Doomguy savagely executes his adversaries in swift, furious animation before resuming his rampage.
Spiritually, Doom has always involved the demons of hell invading Mars and Earth, though later in the series, the setting has remained in the former. In this reboot, demonic sightings accompany gratuitous displays of pentagrams, indecipherable scripts simulating incantations, and mimicry of Baphomet. For those curious about the connections overlap of these pagan, Wicca, and Satanist symbols are, please grab a choice beverage and snack before reading Backloggery Beatdown: The Binding of Isaac.
Alcohol, drug use, and sexuality, are non-existent in DOOM. According to the ESRB, there are swears, but I cannot recall what they are since the Doomguy does not speak, and the characters he encounters are intellectual rather than uncouth. Perhaps the board played an earlier build of the game?
Startled from a torpor by a torrent of hellish imagery, Doomguy finds himself bound to a table in chains. Looking to his right, a zombified scientist (known as a Possessed) approaches. Like the man who dwelled in the tombs in Mark 5:3, Doomguy cannot be bound. He breaks free of his chains and grabs the cursed soul by its…face…and smashes it to goo on the side of the table in a single motion. Stumbling down, Doomguy picks up a conveniently-placed pistol and dispatches all remaining hostiles. Before exiting, a holographic flashback looms in the center of the room, showing minions on their knees worshiping at tomb—the same table from which Doomguy came, but with the lid still on. He proceeds to the next room where his armor awaits him. After donning the Praetor suit, Dr. Samuel Hayden appears on a nearby display, urging Doomguy to listen so that they can collaborate and thwart the forces of Hell together. Just as he finishes, Doomguy violently tosses the monitor aside before proceeding down the next hallway.
In this fashion, DOOM gives players permission players to care about the story as much as Doomguy does. After all, it is comprised of the perfunctory and someone-was-messing-with-powers-that-they-had-no-business cliché. Those who are genuinely curious about how DOOM constructs its world(s) may refer to the CODEX, whose content is impressively thorough to the point where even power ups such as quad damage and my all-time favorite, berserk, have entries explaining how they affect those under the influence of their power. The lore of DOOM far outshines the story, and it is non-invasive so that it will not ruin the game’s blistering pace. In between hordes, players can decide to pause and read up on that new demon that they just slayed…or not.
There are only so many ways that a developer can render a research station in (Dead) (S)pace, and I am incredulous in regards to anyone ever rendering (the nine circles of) hell in such a fascinating and terrifying way as the appropriately-named developer, Visceral Games, did with Dante’s Inferno. In regards to settings, monsters, weapons, and everything else, DOOM does nothing new. Rather than innovate, DOOM sharpens, combining the best of what makes gamers return to the FPS forever and ever, Amen. The serviceable environments provide an adequate playground for monster mashing while maintaining 60 frames per second at all times (finding and playing the secret classic maximizes the sensation). Of course, this could be attributed to the fact that DOOM never overwhelms the player with more than perhaps two hell knights at a time with a mix of lesser foes. The fact that every major monster encounter results in Doomguy being locked in a large room resembling an arena until he clears the contaminating elements is certainly a flaw; running laps in a circle because the Revenants are rocket spamming becomes tedious. Still, the DOOM runs at breakneck pace even struggle-rigs as testament to the genius of John Carmack in laying the groundwork for the game’s engine before his departure from Id.
Speaking of slaying demons and my pining of being overrun by hell knights as I discuss DOOM‘s gesture toward perfecting an old art rather than reinventing the wheel, one feature from D00M3 that I thoroughly enjoyed were the new monster introductory cutscenes. To my dismay, have been thoroughly reduced to a rarity in DOOM. However, I also feel that they would have been incongruent here, as this game does away with the “survival horror” tone of its predecessor and instead strives for a maddening pace, throwing enemies at Doomguy that may not necessarily be of the sharpest AI, yet are still threatening. My first death in the game was due to me chasing a retreating imp as he performed a 360 while hurling an energy ball backwards and into my face. I was simultaneously enraged and amazed at that caliber of animation and enemy design. The Possessed Soldiers have a tendency to shoot a large energy shot to goad players from camping. Hell Knights also ensure that players not only stay mobile, but also elusive as they can run Doomguy down and smash him. Mancubi now sport flamethrowers for circle-strafers who wonder too closely. And taking on Pinky Demons from any range except that of a sniper’s may as well be the same as wearing a Kool-Aid Man costume during Running of the Bulls.
Monsters in DOOM are relentless, as they will actively hunt Doomguy down by running, climbing, leaping, or flying in his direction. This is the part where I mention that running away from them is doing it wrong. DOOM flicks a giant middle-finger in the direction of games like Halo and Call of Duty by not only returning to healthpacks and armor as pickups rather than “sit-n-heal,” but also and especially adding a “push forward” mechanic that encourages players to get up-close-and-personal. Glory Kills, the rapid, FPS-equivalent of Mortal Kombat Fatalities can at first only be performed from melee range, and each gruesome finisher drops health. Thus, it behooves Doomguy to jump right in the middle of the chaos and spamming that “F” key (not only convenient in terms of the w,a,s,d layout, but also an effective euphemism—I C what U did there, Id!) to enjoy a viscous animation and a few health drops.
Putting down a worthy advisory requires a worthy weapon, and I cannot think of a prior FPS that I have played that made me struggle to find a favorite because the entire arsenal in DOOM feels sublime. From charging the pistol to 1-shot the Possessed to sniping with the heavy assault rifle to take out imps from afar to winding up the chain gun to plow through a Hell Knight charging down a narrow corridor, I constantly found myself weapon swapping not because one weapon is necessarily more effective than the other*, but simply for the change of pace. Along with the two modifications that can be found for each weapon, no armament ever becomes completely obsolete. My only complaint is that the chainsaw now requires ammunition because it is considered a special weapon used for OHKOs. On one hand, the thrill of disemboweling a Mancubus is worth the cost of fuel; on the other, I oftentimes found myself short of the required fuel to eliminate a charging Pinky Demon or cutting down a Hell Knight to my level.
*I say “can at first only be performed” because along with upgrades to his
Spartan Praetor suit and weapons, Doomguy can also upgrade his abilities via runes acquired through the equivalent of “bonus missions.” Objectives include, but are not limited to, that seen in the screenshot under Content Warning, or kill 20-30 enemies without getting hit. Upon success, players are granted a rune that provides bonuses that eventually break the game such as increased ammunition drops, or being able to initiate a Glory Kill from across the room. They, too, can be upgraded, meaning that DOOM is RPG-like in the number of secrets and upgrades that can be discovered in a single run.
During the multiplayer beta, DOOM found itself on the wrong end of negative press. Place any reservations aside, this game is outstanding. The multiplayer aspect of the game is primarily traditional and certainly underwhelming compared to the recently-released Overwatch or even other FPS before it, including Quake Live, but it is not bad. I will be playing just for the level 5 achievement. SnapMap on the other hand, will ensure that even after players have 100% the main campaign on ULTRA NIGHTMARE mode, DOOM will still approach near-infinite replay value. I have already played several remakes of old Doom maps, and I am certain that there will be map remakes of the entire series before all is said and done. Without question, id Software has regained the attention of the gaming industry for what it has accomplished here, and I would recommend DOOM for anyone who is not apprehensive about its violence and hellish imagery.
The Bottom Line
DOOM offers nothing innovated, but instead, executes everything that we have already come to know and love about FPS games to perfection. RIP AND TEAR!