published: (updated: )
by Harshvardhan J. Pandit
Doom's legacy is a huge journey that defined the gaming genre. The original Doom was an iconic game that set the scene for first-person-shooter (FPs) games. It's amazing new graphics at the time were unparalleled, the work of John Carmack, hailed as a graphics genius. The intense gameplay and level design evoked emotive responses that still hold true to this day. The level design was spearheaded by John Romero, who till this date, is a ferocious Doom player. I had the chance of playing a match against him at Dublin Comic Con last year. The sequel Doom II took the game a level up with more intense graphics, gameplay, and monsters. Doom III in comparison was a huge deviation, changing gears to become a horror-survival game instead. Though it was a great game in itself, many people complained that it was not the doom they knew. So what exactly constituted this iconic elements that people wanted?
It's a little more than the gore and violence the game is known for. Shoot an enemy and they spill blood, intestines, body parts are dismembered, demons die a bloody death. The list is long, and the graphics and timing of everything fit together extremely well to create an atmosphere that remains memorable today. The way each gun feels and reacts differently is testament to how much effort the developers put to get things right. The monsters are the central attraction of Doom. They blew everyone's minds away because of how they reacted - walk in to a crowded room, and some of the monsters would be fighting among themselves. They had behaviors and this added to the richness of the game. The level design was phenomenal. Dark places could have monsters hidden and waiting for you. That wall you walked past was actually a hidden door through which a monsters now attacks you from behind. Secret levels. Showing glimpses of amazing loot with no apparent way to get to them. Doom was full of decisions that made every game a delight. To follow up this act and create a modern Doom is a monumental task.
The new Doom, released in 2016, stands true to its ancestor and expectations, delivering a game that looks beautiful and a gameplay that stands true to its lineage of being doom like. Set on Mars, the game follows players as they move through UAC facility, and then through Hell. The single player campaign lasts from 15 to 25 hours, though it felt quite short simply because I was having immense fun. The game is violent, especially the gory kills system which is the backbone of the gameplay. Though I did not mind any bit of it, and actually thought it looked really cool, and well executed. The monsters are still reminiscent of the original Doom, in that they have their own behaviors. There are a few new ones that keep things interesting, with behavior that is different or reminiscent of the original.
One of the best things about the game is its soundtrack - an amazing mix of metal and adrenaline pounding rhythm. With every fight, the soundtrack sets the tempo for the fast paced action, making the game feel very coherent and clear about things happening on screen. The gameplay together with this feels rock solid - the areas are big enough to run around, but just small enough to never be out of the fight. Id have managed to blend in the just the right mix so well, that when it was quiet, I was wondering where everyone was and why there was no action happening. ACTION is DOOM.
As with the new games, where health heals automatically after a while of not taking damage, Doom goes old school (which IMHO, is a better way to play). There are health drops everywhere and monsters drop health and ammo on glory kills. The game rewards risk taking and damage is just a side-effect as long as it does not kill you. Whenever in game I was constrained by my health, I finished off the lesser demons and glory killed them to get some instant health and it felt pretty well balanced. The difficulty is classic Doom. The monsters are tough, and I loved the challenge. The monsters have no health bars, so one has to remember how many shotgun shots it takes to take them down.
The multiplayer is as expected of the series - quick paced Quake-like. That being said, I found it to be a bit unpolished compared to the main game. All of the DLCs released are multiplayer map packs, something that disappointed me. I wanted more campaign stuff. As does a lot of the community. I wish Id listens to us and does release something soon. The upcoming Doom VFR looks interesting too.
All in all, Doom is a good game, one that would stick for a long time in my library for that occasional play through.