Doom lands on the next-generation consoles and after playing the multiplayer beta I was somewhat sceptical.
but how could I be so wrong, and so right about the same thing…..
When you fire up Doom, you’ll be greeted by a main menu which gives you three choices, Campaign, Multiplayer and Snapmap, later on I’ll explain how these are the good, the bad and far from ugly but first let’s start off with the first choice, Campaign.
You start off selecting your chosen difficulty with 3 available initially and the Nightmare and ultra-nightmare modes unlocking after completion, There’s a brief narration that does nothing to start the story and before you know it you awaken in a small room fastened down to a large bed with demons heading towards you. The short sequence plays out and you jump to your feet grabbing the strategically placed pistol by your feet, with just enough time to shoot a handful of other demons heading straight towards you.
There’s little explanation of why your there, but soon enough you find the token Doom armour and find out Dr Samuel Hayden sounds like a good person to be angry at. You start to progress clearing a room of demons before a door opens allowing you to progress it all sounds pretty simple, and while it is, it’s also incredibly addictive thanks to the new melee system where weak enemies get a glowing sillouhette allowing you to finish them off with a gory death, some feel like a half-finished combo while other carry some real weight, and when you find the chainsaw you’ll forget about the limit, and waste it on the first few enemies you meet purely because of how gory these finishes are.
While the early stages don’t do much more new to grab your attention, there’s one thing that will ease you through the first half an hour and that is how faithful to the original 1993 classic it all feels, take out the verticality and it would feel almost identical. From the speed, the way you turn and the weighty feel to the weapons, The Shotgun especially took my fancy, with enough fire-power to down the early enemies and enough ammo to get you by without feeling spoilt.
Soon enough there’s a little variation, collecting keycards, and even boss fights which feel a perfect fit for the action, sadly there is some repetitiveness and you’ll soon get a feel for the pattern when you enter a room only to be told by the PA system that demons are present, and guess what… that big red door isn’t going to open until you’ve cleared them out.
Thankfully there’s saving grace in the platforming and secrets. Between the demon infested rooms you’ll have plenty of chance to explore, and often your curiosity will be rewarded with a small passageway or a succession of platforms to jump across, These usually lead to a upgrade token or one of the little collectible Doom buddy’s which carry a ‘worth-the-wait’ animation to keep the mood light.
As you’d expect from a Doom title there’s no deep narration or masses of story, but there is reason to be there, and whether it’s narration, videos played out on in-game screens or blue holographic images Doom does a pretty good job of getting the story across while keeping it intentionally sparse.
As you progress further into the 8-9 hours campaign, you’ll find stronger and more plentiful enemies along with a range of weapons, many of which feel very nostalgic, but best of all remained my trusty shotgun especially after I’d upgraded to include a charged explosive blast, which was strong enough to rock even the largest demons.
With this being the first new weapon you collect, and one of the first upgrades you’ll access, there’s every reason to make sure you try out the full arsenal and upgrade whenever possible because your new favorite gun could be just around the corner.
Before moving on to the other modes, I will mention that both the sound and graphics do a fantastic job of portraying the game, the graphics aren’t jaw-dropping, and there’s a few occasions (such as when you first find the armour) when there somewhat underwhelming, but 99% of the time everything just looks like Doom should.
Whereas Doom 3 took a very atmospheric and slower approach to the Horror side of action, there’s not so many scares meaning sound isn’t quite as important, but you’ll still want to listen out for the tell-tale shrieks of the demons to help you clear out those arena styled rooms time and time again.
It’s also worth noting how smoothly everything ran, even with a room full of enemies I didn’t suffer any noticeable slowdown or glitches.
On the negative side some of the surroundings do join the gameplay in touching repetitive at times, but the first Doom was repetitive and look how that’s gone down.
Moving on to Multiplayer, this was the reason I was worried for the new Doom, and while I was pleased to admit I was wrong about the single player, the Multiplayer feels like somewhat of a let down, rather than sticking to true old-fashioned Doom style pla, it’s almost a completely different title, which when playing feels more like Unreal Tournament than Doom, due to the level-as-you-go system more experienced players will have the stronger weapons, and they’ll also know the maps better meaning newcomers wont stand much of a chance. Then there’s the demon runes, which turn you into an overpowered beast taking away any skill requirement and rewarding those who are lucky enough to stumble on a group of players. Take the experienced based weapons, fixed power-up placement rewarding those who know the maps, and overpowered demons to boot and it’s not a pretty sight the first time you walk into an online game.
This is a major setback for a game which most people would turn to for a quick few matches rather than the nightly continuation that the Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo titles command.
In trying to check all boxes and cater for all gamers the multiplayer feels more like it alienates the casual gamers. But there’s a saving grace and that is the Snapmap mode, this is the map creator that most games wish they had, it’s quite simple but incredibly effective. Something about it reminds me of the map creator in Timesplitters 2, and within minutes you can throw together a playable map.
Inside SnapMap there’s a social section which will showcase the best community creations, and already so close to release there’s some great additions such as classic Doom levels reimagined with eerie accuracy.
After laying down the foundations you can change the atmosphere colour, enemy spawn points and objective markers, meaning you can cover any of the multiplayer game-modes, I had great fun making a very dark arena full of twists and turns and dozens of AI spawn points making for an impressive survival mode.
SAdly it’s not all perfect, the controls do feel a little fiddly at times, especially trying to judge the depth and layers in what are often quite vertical levels, and unfortunately like with the standard Multiplayer mode, it’s best playing in a lobby of like-minded gamers or friends, something that matchmaking doesn’t seem to offer.