This is the 2016 version of Doom, sometimes referred to as “Doom 4“, because it is essentially the fourth iteration of the classic id Software first-person shooter.
And: it really is quite something…
Set on Mars, Doom opens with an extremely violent intro, but that’s okay because the violence is being carried out against satanic demons, and no one likes them so it’s okay to mash them up, right? And then you get into your suit and are introduced to your opponents…
Bottom rung of the Doom ladder are the The Possessed. Shambling husks of former people who will attack with their hands if close by. Next up are the classic Doom Imps, who jump around and throw fireballs and can also climb the walls now! As usual in Doom they are a pain in the butt to deal with… And then you get into more terrifying territory with a variety of Possessed professionals – usually ones who are armed… ex-soldiers, engineers, security and scientists. There are the hissing Lost Souls, which are almost identical to the those seen in the original; the scary, skeletal Revenants with the infamous rocket launchers on their shoulders; and the familiar floating eye-type things called Cacodemons.
New to this game are Hell Guards, Hell Knights, Pinkies, Hell Razers, Summoners (which are fast and scary as hell!), and Prowlers. All the new monsters tend to lean towards the tougher end of the spectrum.
Boss-wise, there’s the return of The Baron of Hell, and Mancubuses, and more besides, and you’ll know you’ve reached them when you realise that you’ve soiled your underpants in sheer terror…
One last thing about the monsters: there’s also a multiplayer only monster, called a Harvester. The Harvester is unlockable through progression in the game (level 21 if I’m correct), and is also playable as a demon when you touch a Demon Rune in a multiplayer game.
The basic idea behind Doom is to blast everything in sight and make your way to the next objective, but rather than just blasting through the entire level quickly you are encouraged to explore for secrets, collectables and upgrades. Each level has at least two weapons upgrades that must be found to give you the edge in the Martian/Satanic arms race. Miss those and you’ll probably find the going tougher.
And – rather than just endlessly blast stuff – there’s a new mechanic called ‘Glory Kills‘, which are fatalities that can be triggered when an enemy is staggering (indicated by either a white or yellow glow). Press ‘E’ next to a staggering enemy and a random kill scene will play. Often with you pulling the arms off a demon and wrapping it around their head. Some of the scenes are very funny and they of course differ on different monsters. Glory Killing a tough monster is a real buzz, though, and the game even keeps a tally of your Glory Kills in the Codex (the in-game database that lists everything from monsters to tutorials).
This new version of Doom also introduces another new mechanic, called ‘Gore Nests‘. These are basically ‘capture-the-flag’ type monster outposts that must be defeated when encountered. They occur more frequently as you progress. Finding one will usually trigger waves of monsters, and sometimes a boss fight. When you find one, you know you’re in for challenge to destroy it, so it’s not a bad idea to prepare before walking up to one and tearing the heart out of it.
As you’d expect: Doom is incredibly violent, and a gun fetishist’s wet dream. When you find a new weapon the game proudly displays it in your face for a few seconds, as was first demonstrated in the excellent Rage (I don’t care what anyone else thinks: I loved Rage). Also: all the key moments in the story are punctuated with excellent animations of your hands doing things, like taking keycards from dead bodies or prising a jammed door open. Getting the chainsaw is a thrill too; cutting up demons with it is first rate survival horror fun. Headshots are very satisfying as well. Doom staples like exploding barrels are also liberally peppered throughout the environment, which adds to the mayhem. Jump scares are also in abundance. Doom really isn’t for the faint of heart…
The Martian environment is beautifully constructed and atmospherically lit, whether indoors or outdoors, thanks to the id Tech 6 engine. I was pleased that the game let you go outdoors rather than keeping you in tunnels the whole time… The interface, map, and menu system are all first rate too. I also really liked the fact that jumping and climbing played a much bigger part of the game, making the Doom marine feel very athletic in his super-agile Praetor Suit. And the suit can be upgraded as you progress, increasing the effectiveness of environmental resistance, area-scanning technology, equipment, power-ups and dexterity. Weapons can also be upgraded too, each with multiple alternate fire modes that can even be swapped-out on the fly to cause different types of damage.
Other cool features worth a mention: the individual level challenges; the rune trials; the weapon mastery challenges; the collectable dolls; the classic Doom maps that can be unlocked… There’s just so much detail lavished on this game that it gives it some serious re-play value, and makes it stand out above most of the competition.
This is Doom as we know it; there’s no doubt about that, but with serious bells and whistles… A pumped-up first-person shooter with modern re-imaginings of the Doom monsters we all know and love. In fact: Doom 4 is phenomenal. The only thing I didn’t like about the campaign was the auto save system, which is crap, but otherwise this game is brilliant.
Multiplayer Doom is great too, or rather: it would be if there were more players around. Waiting for other players to join online matches can take time, depending on when you’re playing. You can, however, set up private matches, local matches, and practise matches against bots. There’s also a lively online community (called SnapMap) creating and sharing their own maps – of all types. You do have to have a Doom ID account to participate with SnapMap, though.