Most gamers know that when a game is held back from reviewers until the day of release, it is usually because the game isn't up to snuff and the publisher is trying to keep them all important pre-orders intact before the truth is out. It's strange while many gamers I know try to get informed there is a large portion of people out there that just don't read reviews. Hey, who am I to tell people how to spend their money. However, if by reading a few good reviews before giving over your hard earned cash you save yourself forty quid, then surely it must be worth the wait?
Doom is one such game that media outlets did not get a review copy for, that combined with a very poor multiplayer beta and my hopes were low for this reboot from Bethesda. When I first started this site if I'm honest I started out reviewing games I knew I loved, call it practice if you will. However, I am now starting to take on games that I know little about in order to inform my readers whether a game is worthy of their attention and wallet. I am very happy to report that to spite my worries the single player campaign for Doom is actually very good indeed.
The original Doom (and it's sequel) are gaming legend and at the time, there really was nothing like it. It was the first game I played that allowed you to hurtle through a 3D world at blistering speeds and it also seemed to be installed in every PC showroom in the world. Every time I started out on a new game I felt the excitement of the challenge ahead, the hordes of hell were waiting around every corner to eviscerate me and so they would many times.
The premise for Doom has always been a simple one and in this new game that doesn't change. You wake up, grab your all powerful armour (which hilariously is being stored in the next room) and start pumping hot lead and plasma into demon kind. As with all the classic Doom titles the surface of Mars is where you start and then as you progress through the game a journey to hell itself is always on the cards.
Fight or flight
We love nostalgia don't we, it keeps all them old games than now look like digital road kill in a safe room in our heads, where they look forever pretty. Most games don't age well but Doom seems to still hold a certain charm all these years on. One thing you will notice if you do decide to go back and try the first games again: they are fast. This is one of the key elements that made them so fun and frantic. The new Doom is obviously now sporting vastly superior visuals and comes with the weight of a real world context (the legions of hell aside). That said the combat is still very fast and fluid allowing you to thunder around the levels like Usain Bolt on his best day.
Right from the first few fights I love how the enemies negotiate the levels, imps climb and vault around with startling fluidity. Demons leap up and attempt to crush you under foot, Revenants use their jetpacks to gain a height advantage and so on. What I'm saying this that Bethesda has taken each demon from the old games and infused the essence of what made them dangerous into a brand new game engine. Fights are always explosive, furious and will leave you exhausted: exactly like a Doom game should.
It's great when we see on old classic remade in stunning fashion and once you see the imps and possessed marines you start to wonder how the other bigger demons will look in this gorgeous new engine. This anticipation is actually one of the best parts: when will I get the double shotgun? how big will Hell Knights be? How many ways will a Cacodemon explode (because you know they will)? It's a game world I know all so very well and so this journey is all the more exciting.
As you play the game you will also start to unlock a whole manner of upgrades for your basic stats, armour and weapons. All your weapons can now have extra secondary functions bolted on and once both are unlocked they can be swapped between on the fly. This is great for changing tactics mid fight and while there is never a situation that specifically demands a lock-on ability with your rocket launcher it is nice to have the option. Your suit also upgrades in various ways, this is nothing too sexy but having more grenades or the ability to find secrets better will be great for my second play through. You also find rune challenges along the way which actually remind me of the challenges in the Farcry games. Kill fifteen Imps within a certain time and such, these runes then occupy a slot and give a certain effect: like performing glory kills faster for example. As is the tradition every level comes with secrets to uncover, while not too taxing they do add an extra element to consider in between turning demons hordes into dog food.
The pacing of Doom is also to be commended because as you progress through each area there are just enough new things to coo at without getting stale. Some games give you everything right from the off and by the time your done you wished the game had ended five hours ago. The campaign was also longer than I had originally thought it would be and at least twice I assumed it was coming to the end: only to find another fold in the story.
One new addition to the Doom formula is glory kills which are essentially very quick executions that you can perform once an enemy is in a stunned state. These kills obviously wow the crowds at game events and stage demos but do they add anything to the game? Well yes and no. You stun a demon by basically damaging it enough without killing it, you then simply walk close and press your melee button. Depending on which body part you are looking at depends on what pre-scripted kill you perform, you can even do them from behind or as you fall from above. There is no denying they look awesome but my big complaint is that they happen way too much, to the point where you are doing more glory kills than gun kills. After a few levels, it starts to get a little old and I really wish they had toned down their frequency. That said, I am glad they are in the game and finishing a ten-minute bout with Hells worst demons and finishing by ramming a Cacodemons own eye down its gaping maw is all kinds of awesome. The animation also hands control back over to you very fast, so this does make them feel more part of the fight and not disconnected like they could have been.
Is it PC?
Bethesda has done an a fantastic job with the PC version of Doom and the result is a very polished experience. The sound design is especially good and excellent audio occlusion actually helps you recognise danger when it's close. If you have a decent sound system just make sure you tell the neighbours or they may think demons really are coming through the walls.
Just touching on the graphics, this game is stunning. The new Id Tech 6 Engine that makes it's debut with Doom is able to push all these high fidelity assets around and a very impressive framerate. The options for settings are mostly excellent but why we would want film grain added is beyond me. If you search on YouTube there are already a whole manner of gamers showing off the performance stats, even some running around in all its 4K glory. For now, I am very happy to be playing the game in a nice resolution with all the settings on maximum and getting plus 60 frames per second most of the time. As for controls you know me by now, yes you can play this game on a controller but if you want to be the very best you will need to play with mouse and keyboard. Having the ability to spin around on a dime and navigate platforms at speed is made possible with M&K but the options for both are well catered for.
I came into Doom with very low expectations but within minutes of booting the game up it was clear my concerns had been proven wrong: something I am very happy about. The new Doom brings everything I could have ever wanted from the old games and has then be crafted into a modern day exterior with a few new tricks to boot. Yes, the story that drives the campaign forward is so weak and throw away it almost seems like a parody: but who plays Doom for the plot?
It might be the case that those Doom purists out there long for something closer the experience of the old classic and I totally get this but unfortunately, I don't think that will happen anytime soon. Have I played the multiplayer? No, I don't intend to. If you want my advice, avoid the multiplayer in Doom because it's poor in comparison to the main game and may sully your experience. After all, we have Overwatch for awesome multiplayer action right? So if you like high paced action shooters there really isn't any reason why I can't wholeheartedly recommend you pick this game up right away. Yes, the story that drives the campaign forward is so cliché and throw away it almost seems like a parody: but who plays Doom for the plot?
Thanks for reading my review for Doom, I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any feedback or known of another game I should review please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me @riggedforepic and find my YouTube channel under the same name.
Take care for now,