Doom Review

Doom Review

Doom is a modern reboot of the classic game series by id Software. How does it hold up? My Doom review follows.

Doom has one of the best intro sequences in modern gaming. Almost immediately, a monitor starts rattling off a typically boring sci-fi video game story line. I honestly couldn’t tell you what it’s about (something about harnessing the energy of Hell), and I don’t think Doomguy could tell you either. He has no time for this shit, and he violently punches the screen. Doomguy exists for one purpose, and for once I felt like the video game protagonist was looking out for my own best interests.

Doomguy is often hounded by this narrative as the game progresses. It is made obvious (at least to me) that he is disinterested in the political goings on of the Mars base. Both him and the player are constantly trying to get back to work; there are literally demon faces to be ripped off.

Doom is very clearly making a statement here, and it’s one that I welcome. During the CD-ROM era, all games required Hollywood reject story-lines and bad acting. Little has changed. What Bethesda did was actually more clever than just making an old-school first person shooter. By making a statement, they are illuminating what needs changing in the game industry. Doom could end up setting the tone for future FPS games.

If you’re going to take the game industry to task, you had better make sure that the interactivity you’re selling is up to snuff. It’s here that the designers may have misstepped a bit. The gun-play is more than solid; it’s downright beautiful. But, there’s a visible skeleton of game systems that reveal the “developers behind the curtain.”

Doom is inexplicably tied to whack-a-mole style events. Each level is centered around these, and they must be completed to advance. Interacting with gross pillars begins a “mini-game” where you must kill spawning demons. They would have been fine as a one-off, or maybe even a couple. Though not terrible, they do disrupt the flow of exploration. They feel artificially placed as a road block, and not like they exist in a fully realized fantasy world.

When not tackling these events, the rest of the game somewhat follows the original Doom formula. You proceed down moody hallways killing baddies along the way. In the original Doom, every room was crafted with the care of a fine wine. These 2016 hallways aren’t bad, but they lack that Romero finesse.

The brutal finishers are a neat touch, and at harder difficulties they are essential. I didn’t get as tired of seeing them as I expected. Bethesda was wise to make them efficient and quick. They disrupt game-play minimally.

I am pleased that the game lets you carry every weapon.  Reloading isn’t something that you’ll be doing. These seem like such simple decisions, but the effects are Mars shattering.  You can focus every bit of your attention to the task at hand with these distractions gone. This isn’t Halo where you break from the action to scrounge around for a weapon. The difficulty feels more authentic, and not like the game is jerking you around.

The graphics are quite good. They seem inspired by Quake III Arena. The color palette can be a overly grey or orange in places. My computer is squarely mid-grade, and the frame-rate is great. The only technical hiccup I have been struggling with is long load times. Loading after death can take upwards of five minutes sometimes. The loading icon stalls out at 95% with no hard-drive light activity. I’m not the only player with this issue, so it appears to be a bug of some kind.

The multiplayer is disappointing. Everything the single player campaign does correctly, the multiplayer does poorly. Load-outs and an inexplicable leveling system make the playing field unbalanced for casual players and newbs, so the multiplayer culture is very negative and difficult to get into. They should have gone back to their roots here and had weapons scattered around the levels. Ditch the leveling. It was never a good system in the first place.

In conclusion, Doom is a fun single-player game that respects its heritage. I heartily recommend picking it up. If you’re a multiplayer gamer first and foremost pick-up Overwatch instead.

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