First-person shooters have come a long way since the original “Doom” took the genre to new heights in the early 1990s. Fortunately, the franchise’s reboot is not a stagnant game stuck in the past, but one that pays homage to its origins while mostly remaining relevant to the current crop of gamers.
The new entry, simply called “Doom” — just like the original — is hyper-fast. There’s nowhere to hide, so the arena-style encounters force head-on confrontations with all varieties of demons. The result is some of the most blood-pumping single-player shooting action in a long time.
Without spoiling the sparse but sufficient story, the player controls the Doom Marine as all hell literally breaks loose at an energy research facility on Mars. There are Easter eggs aplenty for series veterans, but the game works well enough for newbies.
A number of factors create diverse action opportunities. The seven main guns each have two upgradeable secondary functions, and later in the game the fabled BFG 9000 will get players out of tight spots. Even the Doom Marine’s suit and health bar are upgradeable in a deceptively deep system.
Guns are fun, but the over-the-top bloody melee attacks are vital to survival. In “Doom”, these so-called glory kills are the main way to regain lost health. Simply weaken a demon until it blinks blue and orange, then tear or stomp it to pieces. Chainsaw kills replenish ammo, but it also has fuel of its own to manage.
When arena battles start to become a little stale near the end of the 13-hour campaign, a few boss battles peppered in offer a change of pace. If anything, “Doom” could have benefited from one or two fewer missions, as encounters ramp up steadily before peaking around the 75% mark in the story. After that, they feel about the same.
From a visual standpoint, “Doom” is beautifully ugly. The varied demons all are detailed and unique, with the skeletal Revenant a standout in grotesquerie.
Unfortunately, competitive multiplayer is a step behind the solo mode. There is little innovation here, and even its rune system that allows players to transform into demons temporarily can’t save it from being a run-of-the-mill online experience.
A third mode, called SnapMap, lets creative gamers make their own battle scenarios for both single-player and multiplayer adventures, or they can play those made by other gamers. This community-driven mode should have more legs than the traditional multiplayer and already offers a wide berth of game types. “Doom” is definitely worth checking out.