Saturday, July 09, 2016

Tech: Doom (2016)

id Software's original Doom was full of visceral thrills: the sound of firing up the chainsaw, the lurid gore of a roomful of gibbed enemies, the pulsing heavy metal soundtrack. It was a little juvenile, sure, but also perfect fodder for a kid's imagination, and the game rightfully took its place as a legend of the FPS genre.

So, there was justified skepticism when Bethesda announced it was creating a modern Doom reboot. But could it be that the new game is actually good?

The first thing I noticed about 2016's Doom is how fast it is. Halo and Call of Duty, while fine games, have conditioned us to expect pauses in the action - to reload, to take cover, to let some scripted cinematic play in front of us. That's not the case in "Doom." The game forces constant movement, since you do not automatically regenerate health and you are constantly being chased across the map by hellish hordes of monsters.

Speaking of which, the level and enemy design in this reboot are fantastic. The large maps alleviate the claustrophobia of most modern FPSes, and skillfully recreate that feeling in the original of wandering around to look for secrets. The levels are populated with a menagerie of monsters, all of whom are dangerous in their own way. Even the common imp has a lot of tricks: it can climb and jump around the levels almost as well as you can, and it can charge up a "super fireball" that can one-shot you if you aren't paying attention.

I really only have two criticisms with Doom 2016.  First, the single-player campaign, while excellent, does get a bit repetitive in the last quarter - the canned arena fights all start feeling the same, with no new weapons or enemies introduced. Second, the multiplayer, as it stands, is subpar when compared with the competition. If you want white-knuckle action with a retro flair, though, I can't think of a better game this year to try.

Rating: 88/100


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