While I wasn’t really into PC gaming when Doom first came out, it definitely played a huge part of my high school experience. One of my strongest memories from high school was installing and playing Doom on the computer lab machines, telling the teacher we made the game, and were testing it. I can’t believe that worked…
So when Doom 3 came out, I was definitely interested, but ultimately disappointed by the lack of run and gun gameplay. The arsenal was there, but the hyper-violent atmosphere and badassery were exchanged for creepy lighting and a struggle for survival. It wasn’t Doom, to me.
Since then, I’ve been hanging onto hope for a new Doom game that recaptured the essence of the originals. And after a lot of waiting, we finally have it.
While the story is fairly throwaway, there’s still a lot more here than the original games. But, for me at least, Doom has to have a few key elements down- it’s on/near Mars, the UAC was tampering with things they shouldn’t have, and now the legions of Hell are pouring out into our dimension. Oh, and you’re a massive badass who the demons of Hell are afraid of.
While this is bordering on the gameplay section of this review, the fact that the game doesn’t just tell you you’re a badass, it gives you the tools to actually become it is really, really awesome. It’s very hard not to just start frothing at the mouth about how powerful the game makes you feel. The in-game lore supports your actions, instead of dictating them. Rip and Tear, indeed.
And how does the game make you feel powerful? Well, you’re carrying close to a metric ton of guns (probably). You kill a demon, you get some health back, which helps you keep the momentum of slaughtering and clearing an entire room. Running low on ammo? Tear somebody in half with a chainsaw, get some ammo. It’s giving you options to figure out a strategy from, where the solution to any problem is “kill more”.
But where-as the original games built up your arsenal over the course of the campaign, this Doom goes one step further, and lets you upgrade your weapons too. And more options await you there, with each weapon having two different upgrades to swap between. It adds a bit of weight to actually wanting to find secrets to upgrade, as well as adding to the feeling of becoming more and more powerful.
And then there’s the suit, which you can slowly power up with more health, armour and ammo reserves. Every little upgrade you make builds upon the idea of making you the bane of Hell.
The level design is also very, very similar to the original, with lots of secrets to find, including backtracking through cleared areas. The idea is expanded upon a bit, with killboxing being a strong component in some areas. Normally I’d hate this, but with Doom, you’re given some very fun areas to run around, with tons of ammo and armour to encourage you to do so.
The last mechanic I wanted to touch upon is the verticality of this new Doom. The original Doom was very, very restricted when it came to the vertical axis, understandably. But to make the environments much more open, and I suppose precarious, you can now jump and double jump around the place, using it to find vantage points, explore areas, and even just add some spice to your glory kills. I think it’s incorporated very well, where the feeling of speed is not lost at all. Even if you slightly miss a jump, chances are Doomguy will just pull himself up the ledge and keep walking at full sprint speed (how does he do that?)
This game is gorgeous. Also, very graphic. Which is to be expected, when it’s a game about Hell. But the point here is more how defined the two different settings are- the UAC facility on Mars, and Hell itself. The interesting thing to note, is that while Mars is a red planet, and Hell is a red red place, they still feel like different areas. One is more barren, with human made structures very clearly hanging about, and the other is ancient, imposing and, well, hellish.
I’ve always been a huge fan of video game music, but this new Doom soundtrack pays so much respect to the original, while moving forward and establishing its own presense. The fight music is heavy, violent, and just carries so much momentum while you *ahem* Rip and Tear. The composer, Mick Gordon, posted some videos on his YouTube channel explaining his process, and it’s fascinating. Go watch!
I knew I was going to like this game, but I had no idea I would love it. If you were a fan of the original games, you will probably love this. Everything about it screams Doom in it’s most primitive forms, and I can only be hopeful this sets a trend for paying attention to the roots of where our beloved video game roots are.