Press Start: ‘Doom’ shakes up the shooter formula
“Doom” is unlike any major first-person shooter I've played in the past several years.
There is no down-sights aiming.
Health doesn't regenerate but must instead be replenished with health packs.
There is no reload button.
Everything about “Doom” harks back to the shooters of old, where fast, frantic play was necessary to win and hanging back and shooting from cover spelled certain death.
And boy, is it a lot of fun.
It didn't take me long to get accustomed to the playstyle necessary to succeed in “Doom.” Everything about the game's design pushed me to constantly run, strafe, jump and dodge while shooting to take out enemies in arena-style combat. From the moment the heavy metal soundtrack kicked in and I learned how to perform a glory kill—an over-the-top-violent melee kill you can execute on stunned enemies—I knew I was in for a game full of chaotic, in-your-face encounters.
The insane and gory combat mirrors the ridiculous story, most of which I ignored. Basically, you play as a space marine on Mars trying to repel a demonic invasion and take a few trips to Hell itself to stop it. “Doom” doesn't take itself seriously, which makes what could have been a cringe-worthy, gritty tone into something far-fetched and hilarious. It works surprisingly well.
“Doom's” arsenal is fun to play with. While I primarily stuck with the double-barreled super shotgun that could literally blast enemies apart at close range, I had fun experimenting with rocket launchers, plasma rifles and machine guns. Unlockable upgrades and modifiers made trying new weapons even better. Whenever I ran out of ammo in a certain gun, I knew I had a worthy backup waiting for me.
The enemy types are just as varied as the guns. I faced everything from giant, bloated monstrosities to horned Minotaur types to floating, one-eyed creatures. Each one had unique attack patterns, which made facing several different types of demons at once a challenging and satisfying thrill.
“Doom” even makes grabbing collectibles fun, which is a rare accomplishment for any game. It can be annoying to constantly pause the game to check my map and make sure I didn't miss any goodies, but I had a blast scouring every corner of each level looking for hidden secrets, upgrades, Easter eggs and collectibles.
As great as I found single player, the competitive multiplayer mode left me unsatisfied. Unlike most arena shooters that start players out with the same weapons and gear, “Doom” allows players to customize their loadouts, leading to what feels like unbalanced matches. It felt more like “Call of Duty” and other modern first-person shooters in that regard. I wish id Software had kept the playstyle true to the single-player mode instead.
There's still plenty to do after beating the campaign if multiplayer isn't your jam, though. SnapMaps is an easy-to-use yet versatile mode that allows players to create their own maps, game modes and stories for others to play and enjoy. After some quick tutorials, I was building my own levels complete with enemies and simple scripts. I imagine budding game developers will get a kick out of creating some truly impressive SnapMaps.
“Doom” is a callback to the original first-person shooters the original “Doom” of 1993 helped shape and immortalize, and it's a treat. Fast, frantic gameplay pushes players to continuously move and get up close and personal with the demonic invaders instead of hang back and shoot from cover. While the violence is intense, it's all part of “Doom's” ridiculous and somehow endearing tone. The multiplayer didn't do much for me, but SnapMaps are a great way for players to share their creativity.
Final score: 8.5/10
“Doom” was reviewed on the Xbox One with a digital copy provided by the publisher's PR agency, fortyseven communications.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.