Doom for PC Review

I’ve been a huge Doom fan since I played the original shareware episode of the first game back in the day. When I was a kid in the mid-90’s my dad would take me to his office and set me up on a PC with no sound and I would play Doom and Wolfenstein 3D all day long. Since then I’ve acquired each game in the series and Doom II has become my favorite first-person shooter of all time. Doom 3 is my least favorite entry. I never cared for the emphasis on horror and it lacked the same action packed intensity of prior games. Nevertheless, the developers at id Software are known for making quality shooters and I’m happy to report that the new Doom is a worthy entry in the Doom franchise. Not only that but it’s also one of the greatest first-person shooters I’ve played in recent years and it’s awesome to see the franchise make a comeback. I got my collector’s edition copy day one and I beat the entire campaign on Ultra-Violence that same day and completed it to one hundred percent the next day. I’ve replayed the game several times since then on the Nightmare difficulty and each time, it’s just as fun.

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Like the previous games before it, the story in Doom is not the focus. It’s there for those that want it and it doesn’t take itself seriously. You play as the Doom Slayer and at the start of the game he emerges from the sarcophagus where he was imprisoned. You’re immediately greeted by the demons from Hell who have invaded the UAC base and Mars itself and you’re assisted on your quest by UAC research chief Samuel Hayden who reveals that UAC researchers were studying Hell’s resources in order to solve humanity’s energy crisis. It turns out the head researcher, Olivia Pierce has gone insane, started a cult, and opened a portal to Hell. The demons came pouring in, killed everyone, and now it’s up to the Doom Slayer to close the portal. Doom was advertised as a reboot but as the story progresses you learn that the Doom Slayer is considered a legend and has thwarted previous demonic invasions so sometimes it feels like a true sequel. It’s basically hinted that the Doom Slayer is possibly the same Doom Marine from the original games. Most of the time the story unfolds through voice comms and holograms but every now and then you’re forced to stop blowing demons away to watch a cutscene or listen to dialogue. That’s the only really negative thing I can say about the story is that some story sequences pull you away from the action. You have a codex that you can reference at any time and killing demons, finding codex entries, data logs, activating lore stones or whatever they are, and uncovering locations will add information to your codex so you can read up on things if you wish. The codex entries actually provide you with additional information and lore for various characters, enemies, and about prior events leading up to the Doom Slayer’s awakening. The backstory is actually quite interesting if you take the time to do a little reading but you don’t have to, it’s all optional. The main story is of the typical Doom fashion, an excuse to blow away demons with an awesome arsenal. The Doom Slayer himself is silent and the voice acting that is here is done well enough. The entire game includes many nods and references to previous games and even some tongue-in-cheek humor here and there. It’s awesome.

The gameplay is where Doom truly shines. It’s all about brutal combat, speed, strafing, and feeling like a total badass. There is no reloading, aiming down sights, or taking cover. You can acquire power-ups, which remain active for a limited time, like Berserk which allows you to kill enemies instantly. The Quad Damage power-up increases your weapon damage, making it very easy to decimate enemies in seconds. Invulnerability is obvious and the Haste power-up enables you to move and shoot faster. Now Doom is a very fast-paced game. In fact, hanging back during combat will only get you killed so you’ll always need to keep moving. The developers actually call the style of play in Doom “push forward combat”. If you’re not running, strafing, and shooting, there’s a good chance you’ll get hit or even die. An update was eventually released that included the option to toggle on and off the Doom classic weapon pose. With it on, your guns will be centered, just like they were in the originals. If you think about it, this view is kind of like aiming down sights. There are ten weapons total in the campaign and these include the pistol, chainsaw, combat shotgun, double-barreled shotgun, plasma rifle, heavy assault rifle, chaingun, rocket launcher, gauss cannon, and the BFG 9000. Every weapon minus the BFG and chainsaw can be equipped with two weapon mods that can be upgraded, making the weapons even more deadly.  The chainsaw can kill enemies instantly but the downside is it requires fuel but each chainsaw kill rewards you with loads of ammo for other weapons. You’ll need to find combat support drones throughout the environments to unlock the weapon mods and you need to use combat points to purchase upgrades. You acquire combat points just by playing. Killing demons, finding secrets, and completing mission challenges will grant you combat points and it actually makes for a great feeling of progression as you slowly upgrade your arsenal. Now some weapon mods are extremely satisfying to use like the gauss cannon’s siege mode and the chaingun’s mobile turret. You’re also equipped with a hologram, siphon grenades, and frag grenades, to help aid you during combat. On your quest to stop evil you’ll encounter dead Elite Guards that contain tokens for upgrading your Praetor suit with things like environmental damage resistance, faster weapon switching, faster mantling, and more. There’s a specific amount of Argent Cells in most missions that can permanently increase your health, armor, and ammo. There are also several Rune Stones scattered around and they require you to complete Rune Trials. These trials consist of specific objectives and rules like killing a certain amount of enemies with a certain weapon within a time limit. Completing these will grant you runes of which you can equip a total of three and switch them out at any time. These provide benefits like more ammo drops from enemies, faster Glory Kills, and other abilities that can really change the way you play and these, too, can be upgraded. However, the rune trials, themselves, are very trial and error and some are just frustrating. If anything, these just slow down the game and while they’re optional, you’ll want to collect all of the runes because they can really make your life easier. The sense of progression in Doom is amazing and if the combat wasn’t fun enough, it’s finding that next secret or upgrade that will keep you coming back.

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You’ll blow away more and more demons as you progress and each encounter becomes more intense but the difficulty is balanced out nicely thanks to the game’s upgradable weapons and Praetor suit. You’re always going from point A to B to activate something, destroy something, or retrieve something. Much of the game has you going from area to area and most areas feel like small battle arena’s requiring you to eliminate all of the demons to progress to the next area. In fact, you’ll come across these things called “gore nests” that require you to rip out its heart, or whatever it is, causing demons to spawn in all around you, requiring you to kill them all in order to proceed. Now I want to point out that the combat in Doom is not just mindless shooting. You’ll always need to think quick, switching back and forth between weapons, deciding what enemies to kill first, all while quickly strafing around the environments avoiding an onslaught of projectiles. Even when I died over and over again, I never got annoyed or frustrated and felt eager to jump right back in and try again with a slightly different strategy. Each mission contains ammo, health, and armor scattered throughout the environments and fallen enemies will also drop these items which really helps to balance out the battles so you always have a chance to make a comeback if you’re not doing so well. The demons can overwhelm you and take you down quickly if you’re not careful so you always need to be aware of your surroundings. To make navigation easier and more fluid are various things in the environments like jump pads and even portals that will teleport you to different parts of the area. One of the things I don’t like is that enemies can still attack you when you briefly lose control to watch Doom Slayer perform an action like grabbing keycards for example. At one point, I was was grabbing a keycard while getting attacked repeatedly, dropping my health down to fifteen. An enemy ambush and checkpoint activated right after I grabbed the key. Needless to say, I died repeatedly trying to survive the ambush because I had very little health and no armor. Yes, I admit this was my own fault but it’s also cheap that you get injured when you have no control of the character.

New to the series are Glory Kills, brutal executions that can be performed on staggered enemies. Before Doom released, this mechanic seemed to be very controversial but I’m happy to say it fits in nicely and doesn’t really slow down the pacing. Glory Kills usually involve execution moves like ripping off a demon’s limb and beating him with it or even slitting a Pinky demon’s throat with its own horn. They look awesome and they feel great. Glory Kills reward you with health and even ammo and that’s where the issue with them lies. Yes, they’re fun and I don’t really mind them but they become a focus of the combat, forcing you to execute enemies to obtain more health and even some ammo. It’s actually impressive that they really don’t slow down the pacing but the series has always been about blasting through battles and now you’re encouraged to perform executions just to obtain the resources to keep going. I think making the glory kills optional, meaning enemies would drop the same items regardless, would have been the way to go. They are optional in the sense you don’t have to do them, but you’ll want to because they reward you with resources. Each mission contains a set of mission challenges like killing a specific number of enemies in a certain way or with a certain weapon and many of these challenges require Glory Kills only further emphasizing the mechanic. Like I said, the Glory Kills are awesome and they don’t really slow down the pacing which is great but sometimes I just feel like shooting my way through rather than getting up close and personal. They don’t take away from the game and their usefulness actually helps balance out the battles so it really depends on how much you like them and if you feel they belong in a Doom game.

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The enemies in Doom should look familiar if you’ve played previous games. There’s different types of Zombies that are easy enough to kill but some do pose a threat like the ones that charge up their shots or carry shields. The Hell Knight maintains its appearance from Doom 3 but he’s much deadlier here. Hell Knights chase you around, jump, and try to stomp you to death. Revenants will use their jetpack to fly around and fire missiles and they retain their classic skeleton appearance. It’s satisfying to shoot a Revenant only to see them propel upwards and explode. Imps throw fireballs and can even charge them up for a more devastating attack. They’re fast and can climb all over the place. They become more dangerous when encountered in large numbers. Pinky Demons are now armored and pose much more of a threat. If you can get behind one, you’ll have an easier time taking it down. Spectre’s return and resemble invisible Pinky’s. Lost Souls are also back, resembling demonic skeleton heads, and they will screech and fly into you if they detect you. Mancubus returns, now fully armored, and will fire flames from its cannons, and new to the roster is the Cyber-Mancubus and they launch corrosive bile instead of flames. If you happen to walk in a puddle of their bile, you will lose health. Cyber-Mancubus also deals more damage than the standard Mancubus. The Baron of Hell is the most deadly enemy in the game and can rip you to pieces if you’re not careful as well as hurl green plasma balls at you. You may want to make sure you have enough chainsaw fuel or BFG 9000 ammo to take them down quickly. There are a couple of new enemies like the Summoner that teleports around the area firing argent energy and the Hell Razer which fires laser beams. I found the enemy designs to be excellent, although some may come off a bit “cartoony”, but the classic demons still resemble their former selves in some fashion. Thankfully, the demons aren’t pushovers. They’ll run around, chase you, smack you around if you get near, and relentlessly fire projectiles at you until you’re dead, especially on higher difficulties. You’ll always find yourself surrounded and if you’re not careful you’ll get swarmed. Even infighting returns and it’s fun to watch enemies attack each other. The omission of some classic enemies like Arch-Vile and Arachnotron is disappointing but, even without them, the game is still a blast. Doom is always throwing something new at you, whether it be a new weapon or enemy and you’ll encounter new enemies every few missions so the battles always feel fresh, requiring a bit more effort and different strategies each time to achieve victory. There are three boss battles in Doom and they’re pretty awesome, overall. Cyberdemon is the first boss and his actual design here doesn’t resemble his menacing appearance in prior games. He just doesn’t look as threatening here and I found the battle to be a bit on the easy side, even on the Nightmare difficulty. Regardless, the entire battle is better than the Cyberdemon battle in Doom 3. You shoot it until it dies and that’s how it should be. The second boss is actually multiple Hell Guards and they can be a bitch to defeat. The final boss is the Spider Mastermind and it’s good to see him return and it’s actually quite a climactic and challenging battle. All of the bosses have attack patterns that need to be memorized to survive.

The classic Doom difficulty modes return with Ultra-Violence being the hardest of the standard difficulties. I say that because the two hardest difficulties, Nightmare and Ultra-Nightmare, are in their own category. These two difficulties do not fuck around and you will die a lot. Ultra-Nightmare adds permadeath so if you die you’ll need to restart the entire game over. Every time you die a marker will be placed on that spot which will be visible the next time you make an attempt. You’ll also see the spots where other players died as well. I beat the game on Ultra-Violence when I first got the it and have been playing on Nightmare ever since. Normally, I wouldn’t touch a difficulty mode like Ultra-Nightmare but I love this game so much, every now and then I give it a shot to see how far I can get. Because even when I die, this game is just so much fun to replay. Although, I think if I got to the end, died, and had to restart the entire game over, I’d definitely be upset. Now you can replay any completed mission which is great if you want to find all of the secrets and collectibles. You can also change the difficulty at any time as well, however in order to play on Nightmare or Ultra-Nightmare you’ll need to start a new game in a new game slot. What I don’t like about this is if you want to replay on Nightmare, you’ll have to re-collect and find everything again. I understand that for Ultra-Nightmare since you only have one shot anyway. Nightmare is actually quite tough, especially early on. Things get easier as you progress and upgrade your shit but until then, it can be brutal.

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You’ll traverse through UAC facilities, the surface of Mars, and, of course, Hell itself. The game has a typical sci-fi look with a lot of tech base areas, lights everywhere, and holograms. The UAC environments have sort of a sheen look accompanied by blood on the ground, walls, and ceilings, and the feeling of death. Unlike Doom 3 there’s no real focus on scaring the player but, instead, Doom gives off a creepy atmosphere with plenty of demons to obliterate. Hell looks amazing with rock structures, blood, guts, and skulls scattered everywhere. Stone-carved demon heads make for awesome looking entryways into areas with satanic imagery and blood dripping from the ceilings. There are even some battle arenas that resemble areas from the classic Doom games. I saw a video of an interview with the developers talking about Doom and I remember them saying they were inspired by metal, specifically thrash metal, and they showed an image of a Slayer album, specifically South of Heaven. I guess they were inspired by the artwork because, unfortunately, there’s no Slayer songs in this game which would have been perfect. Regardless, the soundtrack is still awesome and was composed by Mick Gordon, the same guy who composed the music for the latest Killer Instinct. It’s primarily metal, I think with some electronic mixed in there, and it kicks in during battles which really emphasizes the intensity of the action. The music really sounds great and fits in with whole theme of the game. As for sound effects, most of the guns really pack a punch and are satisfying to shoot, although a few weapons could sound more powerful like the chaingun for example. However, there’s nothing more satisfying than the sound of a shotgun blast followed by the sound of a demon being ripped apart. The demons growl, roar, and hiss, as they try to destroy you. Like the original games, each map is open with plenty of paths and secrets areas to uncover. There was only one mission I could say I didn’t really care for and that’s the Argent Energy Tower. The environment is very vertical with a lot of jumping and platforming. It’s not really a bad mission, per se, since movement is extremely fluid in this game but compared to the other missions, it’s just not as good. I actually got lost a few times when I first played this but luckily there are objective markers at the top of the HUD and even an in-game map of the area you can reference. Skull and key cards return and you’ll need to obtain them to gain access to new areas. Due to the semi-open nature of each mission, you’re free to explore without the game holding your hand or placing obnoxious markers all over the HUD. For the most part, the missions are fairly linear but you’ll want to deviate from the obvious path to be rewarded with goodies, like ammo, health, armor, and collectibles. Collectibles include things like little Doomguy figures scattered around. Each figure enables you to view different enemy and weapon models from the main menu. Many missions contain a lever that needs to be pulled which will unlock an area resembling a map from either the original Doom or Doom II. You can play through any of the classic maps you find from the main menu.

In addition to the campaign is multiplayer, SnapMap, and the Arcade Mode. There’s several weapons exclusive to multiplayer and SnapMap, my favorite being the Burst Rifle just because it feels satisfying to use. It’s a shame that it’s not in the campaign. Now I’m normally not into multiplayer but I did play a few modes when I first got the game and haven’t touched it since. I remember it being okay, nothing special. From what I hear, it’s actually not that great. Now, as cool as SnapMap is, it’s not a real alternative to actual mods. Yeah, it’s user-friendly and very robust but the Doom series is well known for it’s modding community and I really hope the developers open this up at some point down the line. However, SnapMap is pretty cool and I can see it keeping players coming back for years to come. SnapMap is a mode where you can create your own maps and even game modes for single player, co-op, and multiplayer. You build the map, place items, enemies, adjust AI behavior, and set all kinds of different parameters. I’ve played through several single player maps and some of the maps players have made are just downright incredible. Really creative stuff. Unfortunately, I haven’t created anything even close to good, but I also haven’t spent much time building maps either. You can even download maps and modify them to your liking. Maps can be shared across all platforms which is really cool but the downside is that each map has a memory limit so you are restricted in your creations to an extent and I believe this is due to the console limitations. When Doom first released I remember you could only create indoor environments but several updates improved SnapMap significantly, adding new features including new environments like Hell, among other stuff. By playing through maps you gain Snap Points which can be used to customize your character but the customization options really aren’t that spectacular. There are different armor categories, colors, and patterns. You can even customize your weapons. It’s just all cosmetic. The lack of true mod support is probably my biggest issue with game since all prior Doom games are kept alive because of mods. I think SnapMap will keep Doom alive longer than many modern games, but without real mods, I question how long the SnapMap community will stick around.

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The Arcade Mode was included for free with an update and is one of the greatest additions to the game. In Arcade Mode, all missions and weapons are unlocked. The ultimate goal is to achieve a high score in each mission, earning yourself either a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Before starting a mission you can choose the difficulty and equip what weapon mods you want to start with. Killing enemies rewards you with points. You get more points for more stylish kills like head shots, Glory Kills, mid-air kills, barrel kills, and things like that. Chaining kills together increases your multiplier which will decrease over time when not actively slaughtering enemies. Acquiring items also extends your multiplier. You can acquire extra lives scattered throughout the environments, but lose all of your lives and you’ll need to restart. You can find Mines floating around and destroying them launches a relic that provides you with bonus points when acquired. Basically, everything you do rewards you with points. Arcade Mode is a lot of fun because it encourages you to keep moving and try new things. You obviously want to keep your multiplier going for the highest score possible so knowing what weapons to use and when, what enemies to kill first, and how to kill your foes is the key to achieving a high score. There’s also a bit of strategy involved if you’re trying to go for the best score possible and it can be addictive replaying missions to try different approaches to see if you can beat your personal best score. It’s all about knowing the map, where to go, what enemies you’re up against, and utilizing the environment to your advantage. I’ve never been big on high scores but the mode is fun and adds a ton of replay value to the single player.

Ultimately, Doom is an exciting, intense, fast-paced shooter, and it’s awesome to see the series return to form with this release. Every secret you uncover and battle you survive feels rewarding. Do I think it’s as good or better than the classic Doom games? No. But it’s definitely the second runner up. With all of the various upgrades, there’s a great sense of progression and I always wanted to keep going just to unlock or try something else. The combat is brutal and while the Glory Kills may not be for everyone, they are implemented in a way that works well and doesn’t really hinder the gameplay. Doom is always throwing something new at you so it never gets tedious. The Arcade Mode is one of the greatest additions, adding immense replay value to the single player, as does SnapMap with fan-made content, but it’s not a substitute for real modding. The numerous updates to Doom since it released have only improved it further. A photo mode was included in one of the many updates and allows you to set up different camera angles and parameters. I guess its purpose is for fancy screen shots. As of this review, this is my favorite first-person shooter of the generation and I would highly recommend it to everybody.

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