Doom is synonymous with FPS. Early games in the genre were dubbed “Doom Clones” and often carried the stigma of never being quite as good as the id-developed shareware hit. Doom II landed in 1994, just one year after the original, but things would be pretty quiet for the franchise for about a decade after, with Ultimate Doom and Final Doom being the endcaps on the original Doom saga. Doom 3 brought some new life to the franchise in 2004, focusing more on jump scares and horror elements than just mowing down endless hordes of hellspawn, serving as a reboot to the franchise, but, again, things would go quiet. There was one expansion, Resurrection of Evil, and several promises of a sequel, but that would never see the light of day.
Fast forward another decade, and enter Doom – no numbers, no subtitles, just DOOM. Yet another reboot of the franchise, Doom the new brings things back to a more traditional styled action-oriented shooter experience.
The game begins with absolutely no exposition – not unlike starting up the original DOS classic. You play the voiceless DOOM MARINE and awaken bound to a table and surrounded by grotesque minions of hell. Evil things need killing and you have the means to do so. That’s your motivation, and that’s all the exposition you get as the game thrusts you head first into a nonstop killing spree. There is plenty of story in Doom, though, and you’ll encounter it by way of data logs, infrequent cutscenes, and bits of text on loading screens. It gives you enough motivation to continue killing (because just shooting ugly bastards may not be enough for modern audiences), but never actually gets in the way of said killing. It’s a story that does its job to keep you interested for the ten to fifteen hours it’ll probably take you to beat (it took me around 20 on Hurt Me Plenty) but it, thankfully, never takes itself too seriously.
The impressively large single player campaign is composed of 13 huge levels – all of which feature a smattering of secret areas and collectible items. Progression through the game feels similar to a hybrid of classic Doom and Metroid Prime, with sprawling levels and moderate backtracking to get to the next area after picking up a colored keycard or new ability. There’s plenty to go back for if you’re a completionist with dozens of well-hidden secrets to test your exploration skills, gameplay challenges for meeting certain requirements in any given level, not to mention just how damned fun the game is. It’s incredibly replayable.
Gunplay in the new Doom feels absolutely fantastic. Guns have weight, shots have impact, and, just like the game that spawned the series, there’s no reloading. You’ve got a number of rounds in your inventory, sure, but you never have to actively reload your guns which have seemingly endless clips. Ammo is always in abundant supply, as well. The game never leaves you out to dry and, if you do begin to run low on rounds, you can whip out the powerful chainsaw for a quick, on-demand ammo drop when you rip through a nearby enemy. To keep things balanced with the chainsaw, which can take down any non-boss enemy with one hit, the weapon runs on fuel and harder enemies will consume more fuel – so a possessed will take one bar of fuel, a revenant will take three, and a mancubus will take five. As powerful as you feel never having to pause to reload, the game makes sure you never feel too powerful at any given time. There’s plenty of death to be had in Doom and, depending on your difficulty, you’ll probably get more than your fair share.
Outside the campaign, the game offers a variety of multiplayer modes in addition to a scenario editor called Snap Map. While the multiplayer modes have received little love from fans and press alike, Snap Map opens up endless possibilities for new gaming experiences. It’s basically Super Mario Maker with guns. And demons. And gobs of goo. Snap Map is impressive in how much you can do with it – everything from the map layout, enemy placement, items, spawns, and sound effects are up to you. You can place interactive switches that trigger events in the level, program paths and behaviors for your enemies, set conditions and objectives to win your scenario. It’s a great, simple to use tool that basically makes you an FPS dungeon master in charge of mini campaign. The community offerings are hit and miss, to be sure, but there is so much potential with what is possible the Snap Map tools that you can spend countless hours in this game – whether you’re constructing your own scenarios, or playing maps posted by the community.
The resurgence of id’s iconic properties like Wolfenstein and Doom is exciting to me as someone who grew up with those properties for the nostalgic value, but also to see how well the franchises can hold up in these new iterations. Much like Wolfenstein: The New Order that came before it, Doom is absolutely worth a playthrough. The multiplayer may leave you wanting, but the campaign and snapmap community should keep you satisfied for, potentially, endless hours.
Good – 3 / 3