DOOM (PC) review
"Upholding a legacy"
Doom has a legacy to uphold, that much is clear. But beyond the shadow of the game itself, if we were to strip the weighty history of DOOM from this game, how would it still hold up?
Pretty damned well.
Let's take it from the top; the combat is great, harkening to the true Doom/Quake days and their successors, Serious Sam and Painkiller, fast paced, enemy-filled arenas that want nothing less than to kill you. The only advantage against them is your skill as a player. DOOM progresses pretty well, making the enemy you dreaded last level and thought was a mini boss become a common encounter a few levels on, and assuming you’ve improved enough as a player to then take them on. Although you can't boost your base stats enough to matter, HP/Armor wise, and while weapon upgrades are pretty powerful to the point of broken, somehow all of this combines pretty well.
The difficulty curve is skewed towards an easy late game, but whether that ends up because you're a better player or because you've unlocked the Siege mode on the Gauss Cannon is a bit of a wildcard. The jump from Hurt Me Plenty to Ultra-Violence can be significant sometimes, depending on the encounters.
Still, the game is fantastically designed, and nowhere more does that show as with the automap. I'm sure we've all played games whose maps are completely useless to get around, but DOOM does wonders with it. For starters, secrets/collectibles in a limited quantity show up on the automap in short range, upgradeable ingame. The map being full 3D and showing height and shape often tells more to you about where you can find cool stuff than your instincts do.
Speaking of design, a little thing like the ability to switch between pistol and chainsaw by pressing the same button shows the people play the game they make, as well as the ability to have a slow-down-time weapon-select wheel instead of chasing that 6 button on your keyboard to pull out whatever specific weapon you need.
It helps that the player can upgrade their weapons and battle-suit, as well as using Runes, which is a sort of perk system, can further enhance abilities. These are universal across a save game slot, so you can freely rank them up in previous missions if you want to get more upgrades or you missed some secrets that grant bonuses or even early good weapons. This does lead to some farming issues, but nothing horrible.
A weird player experience pacing does mar the flow of the game, though. The game starts with a short straight-forward tutorial/getting accustomed map, then throws some pretty cool free-form/open maps, reticent of old DOOM at you. The Foundry is a great example of that. But it doesn't take long before they turn more linear. That's okay; you still can backtrack to grab armor/ammo you left behind and any ferret out any secrets you might have missed. But I really feel the game could have used more of the opens maps, as well as less closed-in arena fights and more map-mode fights.
The story itself, while we weren't expecting much, is usable, but it has some great subversive elements that iD should have followed on. At the start you toss away the generic”'hello, this is a dude that will radio-help you the entire game” trope and ignore various prompts and loading screen messages, making the point that you're the driving force of the game. But not long in, you're suddenly lap-dogging and following orders like a champ. It’s a shame they couldn’t have kept up that subversive aspect going strong, especially given how the lore is pretty interesting in itself and follows the same themes.
All in all, I don't regret buying it; it's a solid game.
Community review by cosmo (October 23, 2016)
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