Wednesday, December 5

Doom (2016) Review

The version played for review: PS4A
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
The price I paid: £6
Other Notes: If you’re interested in the music of Doom I’d recommend watching Raycevick’s video on it which I’ve linked here.

The year is 1993. The first person shooter genre is still in its infancy with games like Wolfenstein 3D and Ultima Underworld. The original Doom is released and blows gamers away with its jaw-dropping graphics, soundtrack and heavy metal theme. Doom 2016 aims to recapture the magic of id’s first entry into hell and it does a damned fine job of it!

Similar to the original classic the music of Doom 2016 is amazing. Now I’ve not heard the soundtrack to every game ever made so I can’t say that it’s the best one but I can say it’s my favourite. Mick Gordon really blows you away with the classic thrash metal sound to every track. I’m not a musician so I really do fail to understand or explain the pure brilliance to Doom’s music but I’ve linked a really well made YouTube video essay about it in the notes. What I can say, however, is that this soundtrack knowingly pays tribute to its routes while still feeling bigger, louder and bolder. I regularly listen to this soundtrack on its own. There is not another score in the world I do this for and it’s because of just how great this music is. To put it simply this is the audio equivalent of a mosh pit filled with demons, which mirrors the mayhem of the gameplay perfectly.

While intense and challenging at points the non-stop carnage you reap upon the population of Hell is some of the most satisfying shooting in the last decade! This is all thanks to the wonderful balance of the gameplay loop. You have ammo for many different guns as well as fuel for your chainsaw. On top of these, you also have your health and armour to manage. Finishing off a weakened foe with a glory kill will gain you extra health while taking a chainsaw to them will net you ammo instead. This means on top of the fast pace and constant momentum you’re trying to balance how you kill your prey. Later in the game, you gain the BFG 9000 which is a powerful weapon with very rare ammunition. This becomes another tool to balance as it’s best saved for powerful demons at the end of a long fight. All of these separate systems keep every battle focused and brutal. At any point, you can be downed, almost in seconds, so it’s not like you’re overpowered when taking on the hoards of hell. You have to pay attention to your enemies, balance resources and strike when you see an opening. Never stop moving, never stop shooting and never lose sight of your prey. This is how you get good at Doom.

Then you have the one-on-one boss battles that see you trapped in an arena with a powerful demon. While these fights tend to be less chaotic as it’s just you and your opponent they often prove difficult for just this reason. During a normal battle, you can unload a round of buckshot into the face of a weaker demon and then perform a glory kill to earn back lost health. Well, when it’s just you and one very angry hell-spawn that’s not an option. This is great because it provides an honest challenge that really tests all of your abilities. The other thing I love about these bosses is how old-school they are. Similar to shooters of the 90’s bosses tend to telegraph their more powerful attacks. Learning these tells and patterns is very often the key to besting your foe. These are some of the best parts of an already amazing game.

Although the trailers and videos around Doom 2016 paint the story of a non-stop massacre you do have moments of quiet. This is where the game takes the time to build up its world and lore. Most of this is never made explicit and more often than not hides in the background. I think this is why I tend to hear a lot of people say that Doom is purposely light on its plot. It’s more that the Doom slayer already knows the general notion of what’s happening and doesn’t care for the details. Because this is who you play as a lot of the focus is taken away from the lore and story and placed instead on ripping apart the hoards of demons in your path. If you dig just a little bit into the codex and optional voice clips hidden around the levels then you learn of a very absorbing story. Honestly, I commend id for being brave enough to have a main character that actively pushes away this well-written lore. It really shows how committed they were to fully build the character of the Doom Marine. In a really odd way, the Doom slayer’s indifference to this lore just adds an extra layer to the world building and immersion. If you’re the type of person that enjoys plenty of deep lore then I’d read through the codex in-game or maybe just watch a few YouTube videos on it. The best example I can give without spoiling too much is that the final boss of Doom 2 can be seen defeated during one of the levels in 2016 Doom. That little detail is enough to tell anyone interested that this is a sequel and not a reboot. Not that the Doom Slayer even cares.

I’m not a massive first-person shooter fan any more. I used to be and still often find myself playing a lot of old-school 90’s shooters on my laptop. My love of Doom has always been part of these classic games and the 2016 Doom captures that perfectly. It’s not just a better looking and sounding version of the original. In a lot of ways it’s a very different game but what it does is capture the feel of the original and brings it back in a very modern way. This creates a wonderful hybrid of classic and modern shooters. Without a doubt, this gets a 10 out of 10. If you like shooting things in video games then you really need to play this one!

Recommendation Rating: 10 out of 10.


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