STAFF REVIEW of Doom (Xbox One)

Friday, May 20, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Doom Box art From the days of the 3.5" floppy disks (some of you may not even know what these are), id Software has done a tremendous job captivating our souls as we send them straight to the depths of Hell. The original DOOM was released on PC in 1993 and it's pixelated look and scared millions of gamers around the planet while attracting droves more to play, and now a reboot of the original is upon us and Hell has never looked so gory or menacing. Psychotic, bloody, and over the top, are all words and phrases that can describe DOOM, but in this reboot your biggest weapon of destruction isn't only your BFG 9000, but your bare hands too. Come, let's trudge through the broken bones, blood stained smears, and horrific screams of the satanic demons as we see just how twisted the minds of id Software truly are.

DOOM, for those of you living on a different planet for over the last quarter century, is a FPS traditional survival horror story about your character awakening on an outpost on Mars only to find that some form of experimentation has gone horribly wrong as it has opened the gates to Hell itself and now all that stands between the destruction or salvation of mankind is you. The story isn't complex or convoluted in its delivery, but it still offers a few "OMG" moments. The real strength of the campaign however is the action within the campaign, which I'm thankful to report is extensive and plentiful. While the levels leave very little to exploration due to their linear nature, there are a couple nooks, crannies and secrets scattered throughout every level in DOOM's campaign which helps keep the whole discovery feeling fresh in your mind.

Within each level you will find a secret passage that takes you to a section where you can actually play an original Doom level from decades ago, but now with the more modernized monsters. It's incredible because when you go through these bonus sections you expect to find pixelated monsters from hell attacking you, but when you see highly detailed ferocious creatures lunging towards your skull, you realize quickly that this DOOM reboot is far more than what you were expecting. You'll also discover in some levels a series of scattered challenges called Rune challenges. These require you to complete a certain task within the allotted time limit and upon completion you are rewarded with a Rune stone which will grant you certain enhanced abilities or powers that can be equipped to really change the tide of war, but that's not the only item that allows for upgrades.

Doom has always prided itself on having a devastating arsenal of weaponry, and here your guns can be upgraded through modifications that give them different properties. For example, the combat shotgun is a DOOM favorite for many players, but now this weapon has two modifications that you can unlock, the first allows it to fire either a three round burst while the second allows it to fire one explosive round. I personally chose to unlock the explosive round because I know that DOOM games love to pack some heavy hitting enemies. This explosive round modification can be upgraded through collectible weapon mods or by the completion of certain instances that grant you weapon upgrades.

There are a total of four levels of upgrades which cost an increased amount for each one, but once you unlock the final upgrade for the explosive shotgun round you need to complete the individual challenge to gain "mastery" of the modification. In this case you need to do 20 direct explosive shots on imps (the ones that hurl fireballs at you, run fast, can be elusive at times, and yes I know that I just described a bunch of enemies in Doom). Once you complete this task every charged shot from your shotgun that is a direct hit will explode in a napalm like fashion that spawns other explosive shells that also go boom. Modifying your weaponry becomes paramount to successfully completing DOOM and escaping with your very soul, but we're not done yet.

On top of the Rune challenges I talked about earlier, your suit can also be modified in a similar fashion to your weaponry. Through items called Argent Cells, you can upgrade your Health, Armor, and Ammo Capacity, but snag yourself some Praetor Suit upgrades from fallen soldiers and you can withstand more damage from explosive barrels, move at full speed while aiming down sights, unlock every hidden item in the level and so much more. This upgrading ability goes a long way to converting your basic generic armor suit into its own weapon of mass destruction. This is why I mentioned earlier that your bare hands become one of your best weapons. Sure you have your BFG 9000, Rocket Launcher, or Plasma Cannon, but your fists bring forth so much death that the reaper himself would be proud. This is all thanks to the combat of DOOM which ultimately is the reason you have to play it. Let me explain.

Instead of just shooting until you see organs fly through the air, enemies will glow either blue or red when you deal enough damage before death. This is the moment of opportunity for you to charge into point blank range and use your hands to brutally execute your enemy in a variety of different ways. Things like tossing your enemy against a wall then using your boot to crush their head into a bloody smear, or jumping down from above and curb stomping their cranium into a goo like paste are just some of the various ways your suit becomes such a lethal weapon in the game. There's also a benefit that comes along with destroying your enemies with your bare hands, not only is it satisfying beyond description, but every enemy you kill this way will drop a health pickup which can be advantageous if you are running low. This almost forces you to get up close and personal with the demons of Hell and I personally wouldn't have it any other way.

Given the extensive amount of detail to the single player campaign I'd like to say that the same for the multiplayer, but this is not the case, and instead of this being a negative it actually is a positive. How is that possible? Well keeping things streamlined and simplified turns out to be the best possible option for the multiplayer. With a more "Quake" type feel, multiplayer allows you to go through a small variety of gametypes with one goal in mind, kill everything. Definitely entertaining, but sadly not on the same type replay level as other FPS games.

The real innovation though comes through a new addition to DOOM called SnapMap. SnapMap is essentially a level creator where you get to design your own multiplayer games. It's far from the scope of other map editors in games such as FarCry and Halo, but it's also much less detailed oriented. Although you have a scarce amount of options at your disposal, I still recommend using the tutorial to help you familiarize yourself with how SnapMap works. With such limited tools at your fingertips, I hope that this feature gets more updated content to allow users' imaginations to run wild. While not as exciting or entertaining as the campaign, it's far from a disappointment and adds to the game's feel and dare I say, depth and some innovation for the series.

From its early days until now, DOOM has undergone a metamorphosis unlike we've seen in the gaming world. Not many icons have transitioned so well into the current generation of gaming, but one thing is certain, and it is that id Software has done a fantastic job bringing the demonic and the satanic to life in a way that only DOOM could. While I do wish there was a bit more horror and terror (I wasn't really terrified throughout my experience), I'm glad that id Software decided to focus on what made DOOM so great from the beginning and that's killing everything without remorse or hesitation. If you're looking for a new beginning for an icon of FPS gaming, then DOOM is for you. As for fans of the franchise, you'll be happy too. In fact, I'm on my way now to go slaughter some more demons in Hell. See you down there!

In the upcoming sequels (because let's face it, we know that they're already in development), please bring back a strong element of horror. I believe Guillermo Del Toro would be a fantastic asset for horror consultation. If you decide to go that route, I'd love to see the path this takes.

Overall: 8.8 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.4 / 10



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