To say Doom was a life changing moment - when it released back in 1993 - was an understatement for me, because without this game I probably wouldn't be sitting here writing this review now! I remember it clearly, as at the time I was friends with a bunch of chaps who worked at a local computer shop and one of them showed me this game called Doom. I was not sure what it was about, as it seemed to come from nowhere, but when I witnessed those 3D graphics - which at the time were breath-taking - I was literally blown away!
I then purchased a 486SX 25 PC for college, but deep down inside the real reason for the purchase was so I could play the game and when I mean play it, I did so without a sound card!
However even with the PC's tiny speaker it was still atmospheric and I must have played the game for a month solid; rushing back from college each and every day!
Later I managed to source a SoundBlaster Pro Sound card and once more I was in awe of the quality of this title, which was revolutionary back then.
So when people say it was a game that defined a generation you are not wrong and being part of this epic time period was awesome!
Now we move into 2016 and DOOM has been re-launched - from developer’s id Software and Publisher Bethesda Softworks - for the new-generation of consoles and of course the trusty PC!
However for review purposes I had the Xbox One Version this time around and while I’m not sure what the PS4 and PC version looks like the Xbox One looks great!
In fact the single player is graphically lush with brilliant use of lighting effects which adds to the atmosphere tenfold and from my initial impressions it has a pretty solid frame rate to boot. In a nutshell it’s probably one of the best looking games released on the platform so far! Albeit it’s a little on the dark side for the opening sections, so you may need to adjust the brightness to compensate – ed.
Focus on the Single Player
For this review my first port of call was the single player experience as this is what gave me the most nostalgic feeling.
You start off by seeing your character held on sarcophagus - in a dark room - with loads of spooky candles surrounding him. However somehow you break free of the bonds tying your wrists down and subsequently you grab a nearby gun and then it’s into the game proper; fighting for your life as you are jumped upon by hordes of demons!
I must admit It’s a stressful opening sequence which made me think, uh-oh is this going to be like Doom 3 all over again, which I have to be honest I could only play during the day as it stressed me out too much!
However the Doom reboot is not like this, in fact its back to the old roots of fun arcade action (which it has in spades), with tons of demons, your favourite weapons and power-ups all brought over from the original title. Everything is just ramped up to another scale! There is literally no stopping or let-up at all!
I have to say what makes the game more intense is the accompanying heavy metal style sound track, which seems to kick in every time you are going to be facing off against the ultimate hordes of hell! While this can be classed as predictable, it does help prepare you and I can’t help enjoy these moments.
Especially as a few days after playing the game I was sent a Thrustmaster Y-350X Doom Edition headset which has 7.1 virtual surround sound (plus lots of base!). In some ways the experience reminded me of the story I told above, where I got the sound card for my PC after I had the original game and having the virtual surround - coupled with the added base - really honed in on the audio delights that the game offers! The heavy metal soundtrack certainly gets the heart pounding faster!
I’ve got a separate review of the Thrustmaster Doom Edition headset here.
Weapons & Clear Goals
The game provides a basic plot of sorts i.e. stopping 'Olivia Pierce' from opening a portal to hell (bringing all the demons with it) and while I won’t spoil the surprises any further you just need to know one thing.... Kicking ass is a full-time occupation in this game and to do this you have a range of weapons; which like the graphics are all ramped up and brought up-to-date for the new generation.
Classics, such as the Double barrel shotgun and chainsaw make an appearance, yet the latter is now more of a specialist weapon so you need to locate fuel in order to power it. However each chainsaw kill will usually bring with it a host of goodies dropped from the body, such as ammo and health.
Plus, while you won’t come across this for a while in the single player, in multiplayer you can experience the BFG quicker; though ammo is sparse and if I’m honest this does not have the same mental appeal as it did before.
What I like about the weapons you find is that each one has an upgrade path, so like your own marine character you can improve the effectiveness of each one. For example you can add a grenade launcher to the super shotgun. Additionally you can have multiple attachments for each weapon and switch between them on the fly via the dpad.
Mind you ammo can sometimes be scarce to find, but you always have your trusty pistol - with unlimited ammo - to fall back on and the new melee kill system which is pretty awesome!
At times when you stun an enemy (I talk about these in a moment) they can glow orange/blue and at this point you can melee attack them to produce a Glory Kill. Depending on where you perform the melee attack i.e. from above or a flying leap, this will result in different death animation. It also provides you with more health, which is vital in a game that puts the emphasis on non-stop action!
A few old friends
What I also loved about this reboot is that several of the original game's enemy types, audio effects (opening doors for example) and power-ups were brought back. Enemy types include the Revenant, Pinky, Mancubus, and the Cyberdemon; though they have all had a graphical make-over!
Even the Cacodemon has a similar appearance and while the latter was always a personal fave of mine, don’t stand around reminiscing for too long as you will get your ass kicked!
You will also find hidden or in plain sight some old school power ups, such as Invincibility and Quad damage, but they do not last forever.
Levelling up your character, so to speak, will allow you to hold more health or armour. So you can collect the armour shards to make you last in battle a little longer for arguments sake.
Likewise each mission allows you to compete in separate side challenges, such as killing a certain type of enemy with a Glory kill. You can then earn new points to upgrade your weapons or abilities further.
At the end of each mission it will also score you on how well you have done; thus there is always feedback given to the player.
I nearly I forgot to mention that exploring the levels also allows you to stumble upon Rune Trials.
These take the form of several challenges. These challenges could include killing a certain number of enemies (with a chosen weapon) by exploding barrels next to them. All of this is done in a set time.
Completing the latter will earn you a rune that can help you in combat.
Personally I found the trials offered a nice break from the main campaign.