Back in 1995, my friends and I were introduced to the wonderful world of LAN gaming at the local PC shop. With eight gorgeous Pentium PCs lined up, CRT monitors glowing endlessly, and cooling fans humming harmoniously in synchronicity, we knew then that our gaming worlds were about to be changed - and the game that ushered me into this world was id Software’s DOOM. Suffice it to say, the series holds a place near and dear to my heart, and the reboot of DOOM by id Software and Bethesda had me genuinely excited.
While it honours its predecessors in gameplay from the 1993 original and the 1994 sequel, DOOM also incorporates the horror stylings of DOOM 3. The single player campaign marries fast-paced action with a tense atmosphere, creating a fantastic shooter that is wholly different from other shooters on the market today.
Unfortunately, what they succeeded in recreating in the single player, the developers must have forgotten to carry over into the multiplayer mode. While it tries to juggle and combine the DNA of old-school FPS and the current crop of multi-player shooters available, it fails to deliver on both.
A reboot of the original DOOM, you play as the muted space Marine also known as Doomguy. The gates of Hell have opened - literally - on a science facility in Mars, and it is up to you to save mankind. Demons have invaded and littered the place, possessing the scientists, soldiers and other staff previously occupying it, posing a threat to planet Earth. Your job is to investigate the reason behind this invasion and plonk a big ol’ plug in said gates of Hell. Not exactly a Pulitzer-prize winning premise, but no one is really playing for the plot.
What everyone will be playing it for, is the gameplay. The non-stop action, with none of the safety net of regenerating health, harkens back to the original series that popularized the first-person shooter genre. The speed at which you are engaging enemies and traversing levels outpaces modern shooters, and you’ll need it to run circles around the demons and collect those precious health pick-ups. DOOM encourages you to not stop moving, and the absurd speed at which you are shooting and executing these demons makes for a fast-paced campaign that will take you 9 to 10 hours to complete. But no campaign is complete without packing some heat for the ride.
The Super Shotgun. The Plasma Rifle. The Rocket Launcher, and even the BFG9000: The staples for demon-hunting are all back. Each weapon feels distinct from one another, and watching a demon’s head pop off once you empty your clip is immensely satisfying.
On top of that, every secret you find and challenge you complete will award you with weapon tokens, which you can use to upgrade various aspects of them, from explosive shells in the combat shotgun, to micro missiles in the heavy assault rifle. These upgrades change the way you use each weapon, and they add a dimension of weapon-play not seen in the originals, allowing you access to multiple functions within each weapon.
The weapon upgrade system, as interesting as it is in a DOOM game, eventually becomes antithetical to its eight weapon arsenal. Take the combat shotgun as an example; you receive this weapon early on in the game, and therefore it gets wielded for longer. Naturally, if you were to receive upgrade points, you would be more inclined to spend it on the weapon that you use the most. This scenario actually discouraged me to make the most of my full arsenal, because picking up new weapons feels like a hollow victory due to its underwhelming nature compared to a weapon that I had upgraded extensively. Comparatively, in the original DOOM series, any new weapon you pick up felt different, yet it doesn’t feel overpowered or underpowered to the previous weapons you had been using.
Added to the reboot is the mechanic of glory kills: Once you’ve stunned the demons enough, a glowing outline appears around them, indicating that they are ready to be finished off. What results when you melee them one final time is the highlight of the game: An array of brutal finishing moves that range from smashing their jaws out of their skull to snapping their necks, glory kills encourage you to melee them as the final blow. They are necessities too, since demons drop health and ammo when they are executed, incentivising you to perform these manoeuvres in order to refill your health and/or ammo. In short, glory kills are glorious.
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