Brilliant, gory fun, DOOM sets a new standard for fast-paced first-person shooters
Available formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One
It’s been over ten years since we’ve seen a new DOOM game blast its way onto our PCs, but id Software’s classic shooter is finally back in all its monstrous glory, ditching the expected number four suffix for the plain and simple moniker of just DOOM.
This isn’t simply a remake of the original DOOM, though, even if the rust-coloured husk of the UAC’s Mars space station forms a familiar-looking backdrop. Instead, this loose reboot is all about rediscovering what DOOM does best, and that’s delivering fistfuls of super shotgun shells into the warped faces of hell’s finest demons.
With its fleet-footed combat and lively set of adversaries, DOOM is about as far removed from its predecessor’s slow, survival horror tendencies as it can get. Gone are the cheap jump scares and dark, spooky corridors, and in are wall-bouncing imps, lumbering pinkys, and rampaging, screen-hogging hell barons.
It all makes for a game that’s as fast and furious as its hallowed originals, with each onslaught lasting just a little too long and escalating a little too quickly to let you get complacent. That’s no bad thing, though, as each enemy’s newfound athleticism brings a welcome sense of dynamism to proceedings that its cover-based rivals would do well to learn from.
Your enemies aren’t the only ones with a spring in their step, either, as DOOM’s brand-new glory kills lets everyone’s favourite Doomguy get up close and personal with his quarry as he bashes their skull in with his fist. Signalled by an orange flash as they near the brink of death, a quick tap of F on the keyboard will send you rushing in to perform a gory one-hit kill that’s as stomach-turning as it is satisfying, and you’ll often find yourself revelling in all its bloody detail as you find new and inventive ways to take them down.
In fact, glory kills are arguably just as important as your extensive range of guns when it comes to crowd control, as ignoring those orange flashes will eventually give them enough time to recover and come at you again. As such, it’s important to get in there quick and put them out of their misery, even if you need to take a few hits along the way, as it not only means there’ll be one less enemy on the field, but you’ll also get a bigger pay-out of health and ammo at the end of it.
That glory kills form such a crucial part of DOOM’s combat speaks volumes about the strength and balance found in the rest of your arsenal. Old favourites like the shotgun, rocket launcher and plasma rifle are all present and correct, but none of them are so monstrously overpowered that you ever feel like you’re totally in control. For as soon as you start bulking out the number of arms you carry, the number of demons increases accordingly, making each skirmish just as challenging and intense as the last. It’s a fine line, but one that DOOM treads incredibly well throughout.
Couple those demanding dogfights with a swathe of extensive, open-ended levels that are full to the brim with secrets, upgrade keys, devilishly difficult challenge runes and story-enhancing data logs, and even DOOM’s quieter moments excel. The map can admittedly be a little fiddly to wrangle into place at times, particularly when you’re trying to work out just where its adorable little Doomguy figurines are hidden, but otherwise it will be your constant companion for rooting out every last bit of treasure.
Of course, a new DOOM game wouldn’t be complete without an accompanying multiplayer component, and this year’s entry has plenty of different modes to get stuck in with. Along with classic Deathmatch and Clan Arena modes, there’s also Soul Harvest, where killing enemies and harvesting their souls is the key to victory, Domination, where you’ll need to control certain zones on the map, Warpath, which involves controlling moving zones, and finally Freeze Tag, where keeping your team thawed and moving is vital for survival.
Player avatars and your respective loadouts are completely customisable, too, letting you personalise your look right down to the number of scratches on your suit and the amount of filth and dirt plastered over you. However, it’s a pretty inhospitable place for newcomers, as the matching system pays no heed to your individual level, so a level one player could easily be set against someone who’s level 34.
As a result, levelling up can be quite the chore for more casual players, so those looking for something a bit different from the main campaign will probably be better off diving into DOOM’s rather brilliant SnapMaps. These player-made maps come in all shapes in sizes, from single-player retro-remakes of old DOOM levels to co-operative boss battles and more. With over 120 individual modules at your disposal, they’re incredibly easy to make as well, utilising easy, well-known keyboard shortcuts and simple, intuitive controls to let you fine-tune your creations all the way down to the very last radiation barrel.
Together, it all makes for a brilliantly fun, yet challenging game that always keeps players on their toes. While the multiplayer elements won’t be everyone’s cup of claret, the stonking main campaign more than makes up for any shortfalls elsewhere, as it not only shows DOOM at its very best, but its extensive range of secrets and collectibles will also keep completionists coming back for more long after they’ve finished the main story. It’s a Best Buy.
|PC, PS4, Xbox One
|Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions)
|Intel Core i5-2400 / AMD FX-8320
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB
|Hard disk space