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Doom (2016) Review


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On 07/26/2016 at 01:48 PM by Julian Titus

Rip and tear, until it is done!
RECOMMENDATION:

For fans of intense action games and lovers of all things metal, provided you aren't too squeamish.

It is only thirty-eight seconds from the time you begin a new game of Doom before you have a weapon in hand and are blasting demons away. In a world where multi hour tutorials and constant hand holding is the norm, the way that the modern iteration of the classic first person shooter begins is a breath of fresh air. It makes for a stellar first impression, which gives way to one of the most entertaining, fast-paced, and satisfying action game I have played in years.

Speed and pacing are the key words of the 2016 Doom, and I have trouble recalling a game that handled both so expertly. The Doom Marine (yes, that’s his official title now) moves at a speedy clip, easily sprinting past Master Chief and any Call of Duty soldier on his best day. Being so fleet of foot is almost jarring at the outset, as I have become accustomed to a very methodical, and sometimes plodding, pace in first person shooters over the past decade. After a few minutes, however, controlling the Marine becomes a such a joy that I am hesitant to go back to other FPS titles.

The Doom Marine needs all of the speed he can get, as the demons spewing out of Hell are not the pixelated critters you may remember from 1993. Enemies are swift, tenacious, and will dog your every step. The classic fireball tossing imps, for example, now scurry up walls and play hide and seek, jumping just out of reach before lobbing a retaliatory projectile. This Doom is all about lightning quick reflexes and constant assessing and reassessing how best to manage the hordes of enemies that descend upon you in a typical encounter. There is a delicate balance of aggression and tact needed to be successful in Doom, and it proved to be a thrilling experience from start to finish.

This is in large part due to the way the health and ammo recovery work in Doom. Firstly, health doesn’t regenerate as in most modern shooters, so you’ll be relying on health packs to save your skin. While it’s true that health and ammo pick-ups are plentiful in the environments, it can become a challenge to grab these in the heat of battle. However, by doing enough damage to stun an enemy you can get in close and do a “glory kill”—a super gory melee attack that not only finishes your foe off, but gives you a bit of health back. This is where the combat in Doom evolves into something special. You need to play this game like a great white shark: always moving, always hunting. Since the best way to survive is to jump headlong into the fray you will find yourself constantly hovering between life and death, and there is something inherently exhilarating about having 5 health and jumping back up to 65 after a couple well-timed kills. Oh, and did I mention that you don’t have to stop to reload your weapons? Because you don’t, and it totally works.

This on-the-fly health recovery is augmented by the use of the iconic Doom chainsaw. No longer relegated to the weapon you use when all guns are out of ammo, it is now a limited use, one hit kill item. Using this handy item results in a shower of ammo for the arsenal of weapons you eventually carry, which brings a subtle element of resource management to the proceedings. Couple this with a selection of weapons that have multiple situational uses, and you have a game that is tuned to perfection for each enemy encounter.

As balls to the wall as the action gets in Doom, the developers know when to pull back on the throttle, and this gives you time to soak in the excellent level design and scour the massive environments for upgrades, secrets, and data logs that do a great job of filling in the surprisingly deep lore and backstory of the game. I found myself really appreciating the quiet moments of Doom, but these moments were never too long or awkwardly placed. The next onslaught of demons would be ready for me right as I was beginning to think that things were too quiet. The way Doom could leave me alone with my thoughts only to render me panting and gripping my controller like a vice from one moment to the next is expertly done.

Adding a further layer of complexity is a robust upgrade system. Killing enemies, finding secrets, and performing level-specific challenges earns you weapon upgrade points, which are used to augment each weapon and its individual mods, which give even more situational strategy. Picking up chips from the suits of fallen elite UAC guards allows you to buff up the Doom Marine’s armor, which has useful abilities like an indicator when a secret is getting close. On top of all of that are Rune Trials which, if completed, give you swappable extra perks that need to be leveled up by performing specific tasks that encourage you to vary your killing style. It’s a deep and rewarding system that will have the completionist in you nodding happily.

All of this action is presented in a glorious-looking package. From the sleek, sci-fi UAC facility to the depths of Hell, this is a game that is as fun to behold as it is to play. There are some truly stunning vistas here, and I was impressed with the variety on display. While things never get as crazy as I would have liked them to (you’re not going to find human skin stretched over the walls for example), I couldn’t help but marvel at the graphical showcase of Doom. It really stands out as one of the best looking games I’ve seen this year, and the only gripe I can level towards it is that some of the demon designs aren’t as stylish as others. It’s a small gripe that gives way once the cacodemons and barons of Hell show up.

I can’t recommend Doom enough. It is top to bottom one of the best overall packages I have seen in a video game since the start of this console generation. Id has somehow done what many would have believed impossible: take the formula of classic Doom and bring it into 2016, adding modern design sensibilities while doing some things that put it ahead of the competition. Strap in, crank the volume, hit the lights, and prepare to engage in some wholesale demon slaughter.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

mothman

07/30/2016 at 05:15 PM

Great review. I purchased it on PS4 but haven't tried it yet. Hopefujlly soon.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

07/30/2016 at 11:40 PM

i almost bought this like three times during various sales. But I never did and now I feel like an idiot.  Looks so fun.  

Good review man!  Would love to play this really loud on the surround sound and scare the neighbors!

Julian Titus Senior Editor

07/30/2016 at 11:56 PM

It was a total impulse buy for me when it came out, and I thought it was worth every penny. If you catch it on sale, grab it, because it's a steal.

Casey Curran Staff Writer

07/31/2016 at 11:06 AM

It's definitely up there on my top FPS games. Suggesting it to anyone who loves metal is spot on, if the game was any more metal then Nathan Explosion would be the main character.

Our Take

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

08/29/2016 at 11:21 AM

This is the most fun I've had playing an FPS since I was in college. No exaggeration. It beats out Halo for me and that means quite a bit.

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