As the harbinger of the first person shooter, Doom’s influence is everywhere. Without Doom, we wouldn’t have the likes of Goldeneye 007, Call of Duty, Halo, and many more besides. Having lain dormant since the slower paced Doom 3 arrived over a decade ago, there’s been a long and slow build up to Doom, and it seemed the writing was on the wall after an uninspiring beta last month. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Doom is built on id Tech 6, which turns out to be a very nice looking engine capable of some truly remarkable design. Each of the multi-layered levels in Doom feel alive and menacing, while the enemies are more than intimidating. It runs very well indeed, with a solid 60FPS on the Xbox one and no noticeable frame drops. What’s more remarkable is that you can customise the vast majority of settings, including field-of-view and motion blur; a rarity on console versions.
Couple all of this technical excellence with fist-pumping metal music during high-action scenes and hauntingly beautiful choral pieces in Hell’s moments of calm, and it makes for a game that’s truly confident in itself. Even the sound effects pack a surprising amount of punch befitting for this fast-paced shooter.
id Software’s co-founder John Carmack once said, “Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.” In much the same spirit, Doom’s campaign is an unashamedly brash seven or so hours on “Hurt Me Plenty” that knows you play Doom for the gameplay, not the story. As such, the story constantly alludes to how you just want to get on with it and kill some scrubs, which is honestly quite admirable.
Doom also knows that you want an arsenal of destruction and boy does it deliver on that one. While you get weapons on a fairly regular basis throughout the game, you can further retool your weapons with upgrades found by doing various things throughout the campaign, as well as upgrade your own abilities, such as your maximum health, armour, and ammunition thresholds.
With two mods for each weapon that can be switched on the fly, the potential for carnage is staggering. What looks like a sub-standard machine gun at first can be kitted with a scope for zoomed kills or mini-rockets that stick onto enemies before detonating.
Doom’s ultraviolent content gets even more ridiculous when the Glory Kill system comes into play. As you damage foes, they begin to flash and stagger around to signify that this is your opportunity to go in and quickly dispatch them. Not only do the glory kills vary based on the enemy and your position, the time it takes to perform isn’t all that long and the health pickups they drop might be just what you need to keep fighting. Kills with the chainsaw, while a limited use weapon now, are now guaranteed to refill your ammunition for all weapons.
Each of the levels has not only a bunch of challenges and hidden collectable items to upgrade the Doom Guy, but also Rune Challenges to unlock equipable perks and “Classic Doom Maps” that allow you to play a version of that level from the campaign menu. Even if you just want to blast through, the enemies are certainly a challenge, with AI that is capable of surrounding you if you’re not careful. There are plenty more reasons why I can’t recommend the campaign enough.
Doom’s other roaring success is Snapmap. It’s essentially a very robust level editor that comes alongside a fantastic tutorial that gets you up to speed. I’ve had a bit of a play around with it, but I’ve been more enthralled with the things that others have been making. From recreations of classic Doom maps, to parkour challenges, memory games; the possibilities are almost endless. This is just on the Xbox One, so imagine what PC users could potentially do!
While the campaign is a phenomenal return to form for id Software, and Snapmap is a robust in-engine level editor that’s comparable to Halo’s Forge mode and LittleBigPlanet’s joyous flexibility and freedom, the same praise can’t be bestowed upon Doom’s multiplayer. As many saw through the game’s beta tests, Doom attempts to bring back the glory days of Quake III Arena with fast-paced arena multiplayer. Things have changed dramatically since then though, with the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield dominating the multiplayer landscape, as Team Fortress II and the upcoming Overwatch lead in an entirely different direction.
Doom offers six gameplay modes, all taking influences from popular titles. Team Deathmatch and Domination are present and accounted for, while Soul Harvest is essentially Kill Confirm from the Call of Duty franchise and Clan Arena gives each player one life to play with before each round ends. Warpath is another variant on Domination with a constantly shifting control point, while Freeze Tag is a form of Clan Arena that lets you thaw the frozen corpses of your fallen teammates to get them back in the game.
Gameplay here is not too dissimilar to games of the arena shooter genre, with fast paced movement, health/ammo/armour pickups, and power ups scattered throughout the various maps. Upon death you can also activate a perk to give you an advantage for a certain amount of time, which depending on the situation may give you information valuable to winning the game for your team.
Runes that allow players to turn into their chosen demon form are probably what sets this apart from other shooters and the four demon forms are all very fun to use while you have them activated. It’s just as much of a pain to deal with facing enemy demons but, with a little luck, you can take them down, grab the rune for your own team and exact a little revenge.
Those dedicated to playing the multiplayer will find a lot of unlockables such as new armour pieces, weapons, demon forms, and even new taunts. It’s a robust offering, but it doesn’t quite feel as well rounded as the campaign or Snapmap. Sadly it feels like a throwaway mode to round off the package.
Doom is a truly spectacular bit of ultraviolence, but it’s deceptively smart in how it goes about it. It knows that all you want to do is blow stuff up in increasingly more brutal ways, leading to a single player that is probably the best FPS campaign since Wolfenstein: The New Order. While multiplayer is almost a damp squib, Snapmap allows for those with creative minds to unleash their creativity with an easy-to-learn map editor. To describe Doom in two words: Bloody brilliant!
Version Tested: Xbox One