Doom Review (Xbox One)
After finishing Wolfenstein: The New Order back in 2014 I put down the controller and thought to myself, “That was great, but when’s Doom’s turn?” The answer it turns out was “almost exactly two years later” as a new Doom has been unleashed from the team at id Software. Previous attempts to bring the classic shooter to the 3D space were not great, so I went into this new game with a slight sense of dread. Thankfully those previous games can’t hold a flashlight to this new Doom, as this is the return to glory that the franchise deserved.
Basic combat is utterly insane, fast-paced and blood-soaked at every turn. Doom cares not for the newfangled approach of modern shooters with cover mechanics and strategic approaches to a fight, instead taking the original Doom approach of “keeping moving or you’re dead.” The game even tells me that during loading screens: to paraphrase, “Hell punishes the indolent, keep moving or face certain death.” This means two things: an itchy trigger finger is my friend, but more importantly, enemies could be coming after me since I'm mowing through them faster than normal. If I was worried about a lack of action in Doom, the game takes very little time to assuage it.
My Doom Marine’s arsenal includes all of the classic weapons I would expect, from the high-powered shotgun and its sawed-off Super alternative to the iconic BFG 9000. There are a few new toys to play with, my favorite being the basic pistol the game starts me off with and its infinite ammo even on "Hurt Me Plenty" difficulty. It’s not that I need infinite ammo to succeed, but I do appreciate having the option in my back pocket if need be.
This new Doom also places an inordinate amount of emphasis on melee attacks, giving health boosts for gruesome “Glory Kills” and rewarding me for chainsawing enemies in half by turning their corpses into ammo dumps. I like the melee system and I like how it indicates when enemies are ready to be Glory Killed, but the way the game pushes me to use it feels weird right from the start. Doom never cared about melee attacks before, treating them as a last resort outside of the Berserk power-up, so I don’t feel inclined to use them here despite their apparent importance. Maybe that’s why I’ve died so many times.
The three main modes Doom offers are all great, starting with the single-player campaign. The story is damn good, following a single marine (aptly referred to as Doom Marine) as he tries to thwart a demonic invasion on Mars. Stages play out a la classic Doom, although they cover much more ground than the predecessor. The environments all fill me with dread for what might be around the corner, even the parts of the game that are out in the harsh Martian wastes. Better still these areas are ripe for exploration, as id Software packed more secrets into the nooks and crannies of the game that I ever expected. The homages to classic Doom are my favorite of course, but picking up little Doomguy dolls throughout the game are cool too.
Multiplayer is a little more textbook but still a ton of fun, with the innovation lying less in game types and more in how matches play out. Each match plays as quickly as the single player, meaning that most Team Deathmatch first-to-75 rounds take anywhere between six to eight minutes. That's pretty quick, but every second is tense because of the increased speed. If I'm not ready (which sadly is normally the case) I'm going to get my face blown off. As for the match formats Team Deathmatch, Domination, King of the Hill (called Warpath) and Soul Harvest (Team Deathmatch where souls need to be collected in order to score a la Call of Duty's Kill Confirmed) are all here, accompanied by a Freeze Tag mode that is so silly yet so fun. It’s playground Freeze Tag in Doom, the winning team being the first one to completely freeze the other team, and it’s nuts.
The ability to change into a demon during a match is what gives Doom its edge, finally giving me the ability to control the enemies that have tormented me for years. Morphing into the Revenant for the first time is exhilarating, watching enemies retreat from his rockets hilarious. Better still the game lets me earn more powerful demons as I level up, starting with the Baron of Hell and his bright pink body then moving to the rotund machine gun toting Mancubus and the brand new and lighting quick Prowler. The words "Demon Rune Appeared" are the most important words in a Doom multiplayer match, as it makes things so much better for whoever is lucky enough to pick it up.
The SnapMap mode is where this new Doom will have the most legs, as it is only limited by the imagination of the player base. SnapMap allows me to create my own Doom map, load it with as many enemies, power-ups, and obstacles as I wish, and then either play it or upload it and share it with the world. Creating a map is easy and accessible, as I had no issue bringing a small vision to life in a matter of minutes. In my SnapMap community creation dabblings I of course played plenty of homages to the classic Doom stages, but there’s also a music stage with a fully working piano, a drum sequencer, and a cowbell that me and a buddy can play around on for a while. I never thought I’d see a LittleBigPlanet approach to a game like Doom but I’m really intrigued by what I’ve seen, and I can only imagine the insanity that will be dreamed up for it in the future.
This new Doom is what I’ve been waiting for, a perfect mixture of old concepts and new technology brought together for the current generation. The fast-paced action of yesteryear is coupled with giant stages, customizable and shareable maps, and a robust if slightly generic multiplayer offering, the final result being a super fun way to blast through a few hours. There’s no Doom and gloom here; this new game is a hell of a good time.
This review was completed using a downloadable voucher code for a digital copy of Doom on Xbox One provided by the publisher.