Game Over #3
A series which began by pioneering the first-person-shooting genre, it has since had a number of sequels with the latest iteration being released earlier this year.
When I was younger I used to watch my mother play both the original Doom and Doom II. I’d sit for hours watching her fight through the hordes of hell and marvel at the intensity and speed of it all. I remember the classic sound of a door sliding open, a fireball being hurled by an imp and the ominous sound of approaching demons. I can recall the Spiderdemon and the Icon of Sin and the crushing pressure that made it look like defeating those bosses were feats of amazement. Indeed Doom is probably one of the main reasons why I fell in love with videogames so its arrival this year was awaited by me with both excitement and apprehension.
FPSs usually aren’t my type of game. An over stagnation of them in the past had dulled my appetite for others and rarely have I found myself gravitating towards the genre. That was until Wolfenstein: The New Order, arguably one of the best FPS’s and games to come out over the past few years. Like Doom, I also watched and played Wolfenstein with my mother, so undoubtedly the nostalgia of it all rekindled a passion in me. Wolfenstein: The New Order, was a throwback to original FPSs where a reliance on item pick-ups and big guns were all you needed to survive. Surely that would have been enough, but The New Order’s fantastic and heart breaking story excelled it into levels of artistry unseen in a lot of the FPS genre.
DOOM wisely forgoes an in-depth story. Where the setup of an alternate history in Wolfenstein works towards a highly emotional tale, the objective in DOOM is to kill everything in sight. That’s what the game aims towards and within thirty seconds of starting it you’ll have already killed your first couple of possessed demons. DOOM does have a story and it’s not a bad one, though it isn’t its focus. The injection of lore is welcome and the data logs you find, as well as other items, give enough information for you to enjoy. In fact the collectibles and secrets are fantastic and I thoroughly explored the levels to try and find the majority of them.
What DOOM is about though, is killing things, and through its 14 hour campaign you’ll do plenty of it. I haven’t been so enthralled by a game’s campaign in a long time. It’s a testament to id Software that they’ve managed to make the entire game enjoyable on the core premise of shooting things. There are no fancy set pieces which take you out of control, just you and your guns. The level design is superb and it’s the combined aspect of the environments and the shooting that makes DOOM so fun. Because of the speed of the game you’re always on the move so it helps that areas are easily navigable, making the flow of combat consistent and smooth.
Like the original you’re constantly dodging enemy fire and running and gunning away from enemies. This year’s DOOM however also wants you to get in close. Deal enough damage to an enemy and they become staggered, allowing you to move in for a glory kill. On first appearance the glory kills seem like an easy way to gain health but you might think they would become tedious. It’s not the case, glory kills are a great way to turn the tide of combat and I relied on them often to gain back health, armour and ammo. It helps that there’s a wide variety of kills and the game even challenges you to perform certain glory kills on certain levels. As a side note I recommend playing with the glory kill highlights off. With it on staggered enemies flash blue which I think takes you out of the combat and makes the game easier than it should be. Another recommendation would be to up the difficulty as to Ultra-Violence. I found it to be the perfect challenge which kept me on my toes throughout the whole game.
DOOM is a surprise success of 2016. Its multiplayer beta was met with lukewarm reception and the E3 trailer shown last year was divisive. I haven’t explored much of SnapMap but I fully intend to see what creative levels the community can conjure up. The multiplayer might be a bit average but I don’t think it’s as bad as people make it out to be. When you get used to the loadouts and the flow of health and armour pick-ups it can actually be quite fun.
For anyone looking for a shooter that revels in its origins, whilst also displaying amazing core gameplay mechanics I urge them to play DOOM. Its campaign makes a mockery of modern FPS conventions by creating an experience solely revolved around shooting. The spark of modernity found in its levelling system is brief and non-intrusive; primarily there to let you kill things in quicker and more satisfying ways. DOOM has set the standard for the FPS genre this year and I don’t think it will be topped.