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Review: The Return of ‘DOOM’

See demon, kill demon – it’s as simple and spectacular as that.

Release Date: May 13th, 2016

Developer: id Software

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

NOTE: This was played on the PlayStation 4.

It’s getting a little hotter this summer with the return of the long running grandfather of the first-person shooter genre, DOOM. The previous DOOM game, DOOM 3, was released in 2004 and met with high critical and fan praise. Since that release, the scope and tone of the first-person shooter has become less arcade and more Michael Bay “realism.” DOOM returns to the gaming industry with scores of bodies in its wake to remind us of a simpler time, where games didn’t postulate their existence and where they fit on the political spectrum. “See Demon, Kill Demon” is the name of the game here and DOOM does so in spectacular fashion.

DOOM kicks off with the Doom Marine waking on a stone slab, punching his way to the iconic Doom suit. From there, you learn that Mars has become host to a portal of demons spawned from Hell and it’s your job to stop them - by any means necessary. And that’s the beauty of DOOM. It is no more complex than it was when it debuted in the 1990s. But the lore has gotten much more vast, with text logs and item descriptions that provide a window into what the state of the world is and was before the DOOM Marine awoke. The one unifying aspect of DOOM is the Doom Marine himself - with his mission of “Kill Every Demon in sight,” he will disobey other characters in an amazingly violent fashion.

In one such sequence, Samuel Hayden - a philanthropist that cheated death by transferring his consciousness into a robot - gives the Doom Marine a lecture about the importance of the fictional element on Mars, Argent Energy, and that the filters for the element need to be disassembled delicately. The Doom Marine, knowing the risks involved, instead violently smashes and destroys the filters with Hayden in the background scolding him for his ignorance. But the player and Doom Marine both know better, that the time for delicacy and patience has long since passed. At the final filter, Hayden pleads and begs the Doom Marine to think about what he’s doing. So the Doom Marine pauses for a brief moment, but still bends and breaks it like a soda can.  The Doom Marine does not care and in turn, becomes one of the most expressive silent protagonists in all first-person shooters.

The Doom Marine’s actions speak louder than words and this is no more apparent than in the gunplay. DOOM features a bevy of weapons that range from traditional shotguns to chain guns. More favorites return but there’s no point spoiling them here. Each of these weapons is upgradable based on how many demons you’ve killed in a level. How else did you expect to upgrade? You are also able to upgrade your suit by taking chips from the dead marines you find throughout the game. Argent Energy orbs can be used to boost your max health, ammo or armor. The level design doesn’t make it apparent that there are areas to explore but there are tons of secrets, Easter eggs and collectible Doom Marine dolls strewn throughout the levels. There are even hidden switches that open up segments from the older DOOM games. DOOM demands repeat playthroughs so you can go back, find these secrets and check out environments that look lifted directly a heavy metal album.

The Doom Marine will also face off against the scourge of Hell with classic demons and monsters making a comeback. The Imp is quick and shoots fireballs while the Cacodemon will pester you from above. There is a lack of enemy variety in DOOM towards the end of the game and it becomes predictable that every empty room will be soon filled with demons. But the gameplay is so frenetic and visceral, it doesn’t drag on like other games. Once you get a demon’s health low enough, it will stagger, allowing you to perform what are called glory kills. Like their namesake, The Doom Marine will eviscerate and destroy demons in an explosion of gore and meaty chunks. Doing a glory kill gives the player health and ammo and thus DOOM encourages the player to be constantly on the move.

Multiplayer has been added, in case you tire of singleplayer mode, and it is fun, albeit a little slower than the main game. There are six multiplayer modes across nine maps. The modes range from the standard team deathmatch to capture the zones with a freeze tag variant added as well. DOOM also gives players the option to rotate these modes in a playlist. The maps are well designed and are as striking and hellish as the singleplayer itself. DOOM also allows players to customize their Doom Marine’s armor and taunts. It gets so detailed that if you want, you can choose the paint to look more clean or filthy to reflect how you play. DOOM also allows players to collect what are called Demon Runes. At least twice in a game, a player can turn into a Demon from the game’s singleplayer. The speedy Revenant or the Barons of Hell are at your disposal and the balance of power shifts multiple times throughout a game’s round.

One of the more interesting modes, still in its infancy at the time of this review, is the Doom SnapMap. SnapMap allows players to create levels and modes using the provided set of developer tools. Certain levels, such as the opening level on the original DOOM, have already been created. However, there is no telling just what kind of creative maps can be created. Other players are able to rate and choose the cream of the DOOM map crop so there should be a consistent stream of content for everyone - even the non-creative types - because you can play other people’s maps as well with up to four players.

DOOM marks the return to first-person shooters of old and hopefully, becomes the template, not the exception. It’s the complete package with a fun and engaging singleplayer and addictive multiplayer. Go to Hell in DOOM – I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay.