The return of the nonstop action shooter has been heralded by the Doom Marine, who’s returning to smash some more demon skulls. Running, jumping, a huge array of weaponry, and shooting ALL of the bullets in the direction of demonic faces; and that’s pretty much everything you will be doing in this new DOOM iteration. There are many aspects about this game that I enjoy, and many that I dislike, which may take some time and explanation. This genre of game requires 3 things: responsive movement mechanics, tight shooting mechanics, and pulse-driving gameplay and sound.
I played DOOM on PC, and experienced a fairly uncommon (and as of yet, unfixable) audio issue. This issue removed the majority of bass from the game audio, so all of my gunshots sounded like peashooters, and the battle music sounded like someone was whispering heavy metal into my headphones. Unfortunately, this seriously detracted me from an immersive experience, but enabled me to examine the minutiae of game mechanics in greater detail.
Firstly, DOOM’s graphics are excellent. The textures of every surface, weapon, and monster are incredibly well made. The game is visually stunning. However, some of the demonic creature designs seem very uninspired. For example, the game’s headline creature, the revenant, is just a skeleton with a jetpack. The revenant, like many other creatures in this game, don’t look particularly threatening or terrifying. It was clear that DOOM was trying to distance itself from the horror aspect of Doom 3, but that also removed some of the game’s mystique.
Movement in DOOM is quick, and whenever you’re not moving, you’re doing something wrong. If you stop moving, you will feel the hot sting of imp fireballs across the entirety of your body. Unpleasant on so many levels. Mechanically, movement is quick, snappy and responsive, and the double-jump, while I question its necessity, is enjoyable.
Gunplay in DOOM is strong, though it is hindered by some enemy damage animations (or the lack thereof,) which we’ll get to in a bit. Foremost, the weaponry visuals are stunning. The guns look gorgeous, and their firing animations and effects are well polished. One bone to pick with DOOM is that their low level monsters do not react to getting shot. At all. They either get shot and explode, or they get shot and show no signs of taking damage. There is no recoil to taking a shotgun blast to the face (unless they explode.) This bothered me to a surprising degree, as one would expect some form of reaction, like the higher level monsters do, but the weaker ones just act as if nothing happened. As stated, stronger monsters do react, and I greatly appreciate that attention to detail.
Audio was a serious issue for me, as my guns and heavy metal suffered from a serious case of “all treble, no bass.” I was able to experience the console version of DOOM, and loved the heavy, rich sounds it produced.
Beyond the core factors, my secondary issue with the game was over the grindy, MMO-style achievement and upgrade systems, which dramatically slow down one of the three pillars of fast-paced shooters: pacing . Upgrading weapons requires Weapon Upgrade Points (WUP, evocative name, no?) and to use those, you require a weapon upgrade module. To get one of those you need to find, and punch, a miniature helper robot right in the mouth. Once you have an upgrade attached to a weapon, you can pay one WUP to gain one of three enhancements. To get the other enhancements, you have to pay 3, then 5 WUPs. Seem arbitrary to you? I have a theory about that, which I’ll get to in a bit. After you fully upgrade a weapon, they must “master” it to gain a final ability. Mastering a weapon upgrade means killing X demons in Y fashion Z many times. My most frustrating experience was with the Super Shotgun. The gun is awesome. It explodes enemies at a surprising rate. When you get the weapon, most enemies take two or more blasts to die. Sadly, the mastery challenge is to kill 2+ monsters with 1 shot, 30 times. In order to accomplish this, I had to wait and find low level monsters that were slow (re: the possessed) and stop my combat pacing completely so I could approach a group, crouch, line up my shot, and fire. If this tactic worked, I had to do it 29 more times. It was a maddeningly slow process, and stunted the “fast-paced action” the game is supposed to be about.
Armor and rune upgrades follow these same mechanics, are dreadfully grindy to upgrade, and actively detract from the fun of the game.
My theory as to why these mechanics are designed this way is due to limited replayability of the game. Once you finish the story of the campaign, why go back and play it again? To find the WUPs, armor points, and runes you might have missed. Why get them? So you can “100%” the game’s achievements.
After the 10ish hour campaign, I have no desire to play through DOOM again to mop up these achievement hunts, unless the sound gets fixed for PC of course!
DOOM: Hales of Bay rating
Jonathan - 6 out of 10
Shaun - 4 out of 10
Danny - 8.09999 out of 10
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