2004’s DOOM 3 was a major disappointment to many gamers, and actually considered the death of the then popular franchise. However id Software is back, this time with a new publisher (Bethesda) to try to breath some life back into the game. But after so long, can the franchise really be saved?
It is fair to say that story is not the top priority for DOOM. There is an interesting enough of a story, to help give the gamers a reason to go from point a to point b. You play as an unnamed character who works for the Union Aerospace Corporation. UAC has been using a portal to hell in order to solve an energy crisis on Earth. A scientist goes a bit mad, releases a lot of demons on the UAC killing most of the people there. At first you are chasing her down as she attempts to open a major portal, you fail however. From there you bounce back and forth between Mars and Hell trying to close the portal.
DOOM goes away from DOOM 3’s more slow paced survival horror, and back to being a very fast paced first person shooter. Bethesda and id Software made no secret of the fact that they wanted this game to be a throw back to DOOM and DOOM 2. The game throws a lot of enemies at the player, demanding them to move quickly, and fight wave after wave of enemies. You are given a variety of weapons to handle this, almost entirely based on weapons from the original games. There are a wide range of different weapons, and each one can be upgrade. This allows players to truly find their own way to fight and handle the enemies. Experimentation is the key when it comes to tight spots.
It’s twitch shooter to the extreme, and frankly enjoyable at that. It’s unfortunate then, that it shoots itself in the foot. If you aren’t involved in fast paced fights with many enemies you are then slowly platforming around. I have ranted in the past about my dislike for platforming and jumping areas in first person shooters, and DOOM is no exception. Unless the game is specifically designed with this type of gameplay in mind (Mirror’s Edge) these areas just don’t belong in the first person perspective. Aside from it being difficult, it is equally disappointing because it stops action. I do understand that the entirety of DOOM can not be super fast paced with wave after wave of enemies. However there is a bit of a disconnect from going from a lot of action to absolutely no action while doing some tricky jumping bit. It doesn’t flow correctly and throws off the pacing a bit.
However the game does manage to honor the originals and take a lot from them. There are a lot of extra areas, and upgrades to be found in the world of DOOM. Some have complained because DOOM and DOOM 2 were more straight forward, I argue those people must have not played the original games in awhile. For it’s time DOOM and DOOM 2 were actually fairly large maps, with a number of hidden areas to find. This version of DOOM manages to bring that general idea to the new generation, and does so well. You can get through the game doing the bare minimum, but you will miss a lot in doing so.
As above I mentioned weapons being inspired by the original game, the same goes for enemies. There is a new coat of paint on everything, but it’s easy enough to tie them back to the enemies from the older game. AI could be polished, while AI is not horrible they can get stuck on their paths which can mean that certain enemies never fully feel like they are involved in the fight. However in areas with more enemies coming at you than you feel like you can properly react to this can be considered a good thing almost.
The sound track is loud and in your face, much like the fights. It fits perfectly and adds to the heart rate increasing experience. Some enemies sound very unique, but others seem a bit copy and pasted from each other. A little more polish on sound would not have gone amiss.
Multiplayer is probably my biggest disappointment with this game. It’s not bad, and will offer some form of entertainment. Warpath and Freeze Tag are also two pretty unique game types. However this game cries out for a more simplistic approach to multiplayer. Like all modern shooters it now has a ranking system with unlocks, and it’s disappointing. Going back to a Halo 3 style where ranks only helped balance matches, but weapons, upgrades, etc were part of the maps is exactly what this game needed. I am extremely let down that it seems that no development team understands the value of that format, and it would have worked so perfectly with a game that is attempting to reboot an older series. That’s not to say there is no fun to be had with multiplayer, but it’s not winning the game any major points.
DOOM is not great. It needs tweaks to pacing, and multiplayer is too much of an after thought/let down. However DOOM is entertaining, solid, and frankly fun. The game is very close to being something more, but ends up just being good. I feel like it could really breath some life back into the franchise, and it does set up a sequel. With some more attention paid to certain aspects, the sequel could actually be a great game, for now I will enjoy my good one.