DOOM Review [PS4]

If you have had a long day and want to comfortably  sit back and relax with an easygoing video game that is compelling yet challenging with simple puzzles and mildly stimulating enemies DOOM prescribes you a big dose of man the &%$* up. The game brings id Software back into the limelight with a game that proves as difficult as First Person Shooters come while retaining innovative map designs as well as intricate exploration challenges to give you something to do when you’re not in the middle of a one man massacre. DOOM does an excellent job of keeping the players interest throughout the story and while it does have some downsides the main campaign is not one of them. Mild spoilers will be shared here as we discuss the game and all its aspects but worry not the story will be spared. 

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GAMEPLAY

Being honest, I didn't really know what to expect with this game other than it was a shooter. I had played the others in the series sure but the third game was so different cinematically (a nice way of saying boring) that I was was completely unaware of what to expect gameplay wise. This game however, does not disappoint. The gameplay comes across as a big, beautiful, assertion of dominance that takes you down memory lane while reminding you who the king of FPS really is. From the opening moments the game throws you immediately into the action and pushes your reflexes to the brink as you progress through the arena like areas of each map. There is no sprinting in the game, however your base speed is considerably faster than what you find in other games and is more than enough to tactically  move your way through each map. You have a large assortment of weapons that you consistently rotate through and towards the end levels you start to see that some weapons and equipment work better against certain monsters than others. The variety of monsters that appear in one place is enough that you rarely have to use the same gun for too long unless you just have a personal preference (I for one now insist that all my assault riffles in games henceforth need a seeking mini-rocket attachment equipped on the side).

The tactics I found myself using were quite different from many shooters of today as the biggest thing I noticed is coincidentally enough, it fit my play-style, allowing me room for experimentation on a style I usually spend time trying to incorporate into the gameplay vs being encouraged to do it this way. Typically, I like to constantly be on the move, rarely staying in one spot for over a couple seconds no matter what kind of gun I'm using (including sniper rifles) and I almost always attempt to tactically use the various turns and changes in the map to lead and flank my enemies as fast as I possibly can (this is my main style really, I'm all about constantly moving and making decisions spontaneously as quickly as I can often improvising a plan one step at a time based off of where I'm moving next). I'm very in my opponents face, almost never hanging back and using melee as I rush while utilizing assault rifles for DPS to make the melee count when I got to the enemy. DOOM heavily encourages this type of style as there is no cover system and standing still can get you lit up fast if you don't know what you're doing. It remains different from shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty because of this simple fact; typically in the campaigns of these games it is not a good idea to bum rush every single enemy at once without hanging back for a moment and picking off the easy ones first. This type of play style, being a long range shooter and taking more time with your shots isn't anywhere near impossible, though, as I noticed that my friends were able to easily implement their own preferred pace during combat. However, I did notice that their decision process is still greatly different from what I see them do in other games. 

The enemies can have a large amount of health, which means that there is quite a bit of backing up as you're firing. This type of approach-retreat style reminds me quite a bit of PvP in games like Halo or, in my opinion a more accurate example, Destiny. However, the variety during each encounter is so different that your decision making process while mid-combat is vastly different from the choices you would make in these games. For example; Destiny had some weapons that would just be good against any type of enemy and each encounter could be easily read by seeing what popped up in front of you. DOOM on the other hand has weapons that may or may not work depending on your enemy and the game throws every kind of monster at you at once. Some hang back mixed with some mid ranges, flying attackers that hang back or rush, as well as tanks that rush you on the ground as fast as they can and all this is happening at once. Your screen is constantly busy as no area you go is safe and any tactical retreat you choose will be met with resistance along the way.

There is such a variety of enemies in every direction you can move it became a running joke between a friend and I to say "Do i want to die over here or do I want to die over there" when our health would be low. Speaking of low health, DOOM ingeniously implements its melee system with what it calls "Glory Kills", a type of melee that becomes available when an enemies health drops low enough for it to become staggered for a moment. Preforming a Glory kill guarantees that the enemy will drop health making a player rush into the fray head on where other games call for a tactical retreat. There is also a chainsaw melee kill, and this type of kill is two-fold. the chainsaw uses gasoline like ammo, counting it in units. It is capable of defeating very large enemies in one hit, however doing this will deplete almost if not all of the units of gas thus depleting the chainsaws "ammo". The other special thing about the chainsaw is that when used it causes the defeated enemy to drop a ridiculous amount of ammo making it an invaluable tactical tool in the middle of a firefight (because running out of ammo is all too real in this game). The player is left with a choice when using this gory attack; use it a few times on the smaller enemies to gain back ammo or use it once on a really big and hard to kill enemy for a fraction of the would be ammo.

Finally, in large scale fights you may be lucky enough to find a "Powerup". These change the pace of the fight dramatically as some increase your speed by a large amount, some deal quadruple damage, and others allow you to one hit melee every enemy in you path. Utilizing these become a matter of timing, used too early and you'll waste it on the easy parts and too late you'll waste it as you watch it deplete with you stand there awkwardly post-battle. Fast paced and always on the move, the gameplay of DOOM is similar to its original precursor while still allowing quite a bit of freedom for the player to develop strategy during the ever changing combat.

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Weapons

As you progress through the game you receive a very large arsenal able to execute a wide array of attacks that allow the player many different angles and play styles during combat. While the game seemed to encourage a rush-retreat battle tactic other options are definitely available and the weapons modifications make implementing any method relatively simple (note the implementation is simple, the execution, of any play style, on the other hand is a very frustrating and rage filled trial and error especially on the harder difficulties). Each available weapon has 2 modifications available which you can swap out at any time using your directional pad. These modifications have different upgradable abilities that when combined unlock a challenge for the specific modification that when met unlock an even greater perk to the weapon in addition to the ones before, thus completing the "Mastery" of the weapon and its mod. Each of the abilities on each mode, except for the Mastery challenge on the last perk, are unlocked through weapon upgrade points earned primarily through combat.

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The player receives three grenades throughout the game each on a cooldown timer that makes spamming them impossible while forcing a tactical use of each depending on the situation. The grenades are a powerful fragmentation, a tactical hologram decoy and a weaker but still effective life-steal grenade. Each of these grenades serve their purpose well but I found myself using the frag the most as when enemies were already aggro'd and charging me they sometimes wouldn't fall for the decoy, and the life steal did so little actual damage for a relatively small amount of health back that I found myself just blowing enemies up the most simple solution. You also get the aforementioned chainsaw available to use as a melee attack that can be quickly swapped out  with any weapon using your buttons (on the PS4 the default is "square"). The other gun you get is the BFG, a one hit problem solver that can only hold three rounds at a time. It's a room clearing weapon that's shot turns into a wide spread electric chain that keeps going until it runs into something, and it blows up any enemy no matter how strong save for bosses with a visible health bar. When you do go up against these kinds of bosses, it serves as a devastating blow as well as a guaranteed stun.

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Praetor Suit/Runes

The Praetor suit is acquired almost immediately after beginning the game and also comes with it's own upgradable abilities. this includes a variety of perks that can affect movement speed, cooldown times and much more. The way you upgrade the Praetor suit is by finding other murdered allies wearing their own suits and taking a special SIM card like item off their corpse thus gaining you a point towards your own suits progress. Finding these things can prove to be quite difficult as while many do come from the beaten path the game lays out for you, the majority seems to be hidden in secret or hard to reach areas occasionally guarded by monsters who appear once you approach them. 

Runes are gained through finding special floating stone slabs which when interacted with activate a Rune trial. These are timed object based events that vary from killing a certain amount of enemies with a certain gun/method or racing through a small map. Once these challenges are successfully completed you gain the rune that challenge unlocks. The runes can then be equipped through the menu screen and give you special perks that help out quite a bit. The more rune challenges you complete the more runes you are able to equip at one time with the max set at three.

Multiplayer/SnapMap

DOOM's Multiplayer leaves something to be desired, something I never thought I'd be thinking given that the original game was one of the first multiplayer FPS. DOOM's multiplayer is not bad, but it's not anything new which seems to be the biggest complaint. It brings almost nothing innovative to the table but it does have the classic modes like team deathmath and domination and there is something i'm not used to called freeze tag which is precisely what it sounds like but with guns. It feels as if I was playing any other FPS multiplayer but with DOOM's skins. The only real thing that switches things up in battles is the Demon Rune, a powerup that turns the user into a large demon who can annihilate anyone he runs into. There's really just not to much to say about the multiplayer because of how similar it is to everything else, the real praise I have for it is in the maps, they are cleverly built arenas but again, nothing stands out. There are some guns that work differently or are only available in the online rounds, and winning in multiplayer allows you different aesthetics in-game so there does remain a small incentive for using this mode. If you enjoy online FPS gameplay, you'll like DOOM multiplayer.

SnapMap on the other hand is it's own monster. It's something everyone loved in the original games as players are allowed the freedom to create and share their own maps and challenges. If you're someone who enjoys world-building, adding your own ideas to a game, or just downright like making impossible challenges you can easily lose yourself for hours in this mode. I had to be careful as someone who has to have everything just right in everything I create in a game as I found myself spending too much time using this mode rather than actually playing the game itself. It's easy enough to use and a couple hours in and you'll be building like a pro in no time or challenging yourself to be better than what the game's vast playerbase has to offer.

Codex/Collectibles

The codex is easy enough to explain. In your pause menu this is your in game resource on all the monsters you've encountered, places you have been and lore you have discovered. The game introduced a new concept of lorebuilding with the main protagonist (known as "Doomguy" or "Doom Marine") and giving him a backstory along with a reason to be as angry as he is throughout the game. Basically, when Hell tries to come to earth, Doomguy wakes up and puts them in their place and when it's all said and done usually gets put back into hibernation by shenanigans until Hell rises up once more. This makes him known among the ranks of Hell and they are aware of who he is as well as terrified by him.

Collectibles can be found throughout the game in secret areas. Basically this means that if you're like me and need a 100% completion in everything then your going to have to pour hours back into the game to find everything it has to offer. Once you complete the game you can boot up your save file and choose from a mission select with part of the game you'd like to go back to and work through making it relatively simple to comb through every location on every map. There is incentive for finding secrets though as not only a collectibles found there but a good number of Praetor upgrades and Runes are hidden as well.

Is DOOM worth the money?

So whenever I buy a new game I only really judge how good it is based off of one question: Was it worth the cash? In DOOM's case, I found it worth every penny. The single player campaign is something to be praised as I've never found FPS campaigns to be compelling or offer too much more than what I can find in the multiplayer (looking at you CoD) but DOOM delivered in a big way. The game is as aesthetically pleasing as it is gory, and you'll find yourself having tons of fun ripping through enemies and pushing your reflexes to the limits as you attempt to beat the game in it's harder modes. That's something I appreciate too, the game is genuinely challenging. the AI is smart, not being the terrible idiot easy to shoot enemies that some games seem to have. They retreat when they see you power up, they take advantage when your health is low, and they constantly reposition for a much more tactical approach at taking you down. The game is challenging enough in it's normal "Hurt me Plenty" mode, it proves a real contest in its hard "Ultra-violence" mode, but then it offers two more modes after this. Nightmare and Ultra-Nightmare. Nightmare is a true test of skill as the game throws everything it possibly can at you and only the best can complete it. Ultra nightmare does this but if you die you restart the mission from the very beginning. no checkpoints. I can't imagine how frustrating that must be but I will find out soon as I'm currently working on my Nightmare run. The non-nightmare campaign will take you around 13 hours to complete if you know what you're doing and don't get too involved with secrets until after you complete the story, that's about one hour for each mission. Nightmare, however is a different story because of all the dying you'll be doing. So you definitely put in the time to get your moneys worth out of the game, but the content? The content is outstanding. The fights remain dynamic and inventive forcing the player to make rash decisions mixed with legitimate strategy in a matter of seconds. Constantly on the move the combat is fast paced and throws everything it possibly can at you with all sorts of enemies that attack from the air and ground, while sniping and rushing in with shields, guns or just they're hellish demon claws. Through all fire and bullets DOOM delivers an amazingly fluid First Person Shooter experience that consistently surprises and appeals to the player while not sacrificing the gory details of an any means necessary battle between Hell and Earth and once the smoke finally clears the player is left satisfied and begging for more punishment. Worry not, there's plenty more to go around in Nightmare mode.

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