Doom (2016) Single Player Campaign PS4 Review
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: id Software Genre: FPS
Players: 1-8 Age Rating: 18+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
Because of its success as an FPS, Doom was one of the early pioneers of the genre. It does make one wonder what the gaming world would be like if Doom hadn’t come along, but whatever the case, we should be thankful for id’s FPS for paving the way for the likes of GoldenEye and the Halo series, both of which came along and changed things up again.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the id of today was to make a new Doom and attempt to be a leader once again, creating a pioneering FPS that others would follow, but this hasn’t been the case at all with 2016’s Doom game. Indeed, they have followed the rules of their own series instead, which means that the game has once again been built on very fast paced FPS play and lots of bloody violence. That’s not to say that Doom doesn’t have some of its own ideas, but the core gameplay mechanics captures classic Doom superbly.
There’s some sort of story in there about a scientist intentionally opening up a portal to Hell, although it’s minimalistic and forgettable, and it’s the gameplay that has easily had the most attention placed on it. Throwaway story aside then, Doom is a fast paced and ultra responsive FPS, which is all well and good with the amount of demon’s that the game regularly throws your way. Arming you with enough guns to start and end World War 3 and 4 in an afternoon, you’ll come across machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, plasma guns, the insanely powerful BFG, and more in your violent journey, trudging across a visually splendid Mars and through the gateways of Hell.
Thanks to the Glory Kills, your own body is also a destructive weapon. Glory Kills are vicious melee finishing moves that you are able to perform on badly injured enemies. When they’re stunned and highlighted blue, you are then able to approach them, and when highlighted orange, this indicates that you are in range to deal out the finishing blow. When using Glory Kills, you aren’t able to take damage, so you can just sit back and watch your bloody handy work in all its glory; punching enemies in their mouths, obliterating heads, tearing arms off, puncturing eyes, and such other polite gestures. Other than the brutal visual, other pay-offs include enemies dropping health, ammo and armour for you, which means that a Glory Kill can actually save your life from time to time. Even though there’s health pick-ups in the game, the Glory Kills are actually as important to your survival as any recharging health system, although the difference is that you aren’t required to duck out of combat, which means that you can tackle enemies head on for the most part.
The onslaught of demons in the game makes for one very intense shooter, particularly on higher difficulty levels. The enemy AI isn’t anything startling, but the way that some of them move around the levels can still cause them to be tricky targets to hit, and the sheer number of them is also sure to cause problems for many. There’s a nice variety of demonic enemies in the game, of which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with some smaller demons being able to be done away with a shotgun blast or two, while bigger enemies take a lot more hits before they are toppled.
Returning to the weapons, each weapon in the game has its primary fire mode, although many also have unlockable secondary fire modes, such as an explosive shot from the shotgun or a rack of mini missiles and a scope for the machine gun. To unlock secondary fire for a weapon, you must first find a field drone, and then select your desired weapon mod. Some weapons have more than one mod, although they are easily switched between with a single button press if you do indeed find yourself with more than one. Weapon mods can also be further upgraded themselves using weapon upgrade points, which are awarded to you through combat, finding secrets and completing optional mission tasks such as killing a specific number of demons with a particular weapon, and so on. Finally, weapon mastery comes in the form of unlocking all the upgrades for a particular mod, and then completing a challenge to unlock the final upgrade for said mod. What’s important is that the weapons, for the most part, are a lot of fun to shoot, with the likes of a punchy shotgun, a flesh cutting chainsaw, and an explosive rocket launcher amongst the best.
Another thing that can be upgraded in the game is the protagonist’s Praetor Suit. As opposed to using weapon upgrade points, the suit is upgraded through tokens found around the levels, allowing for faster weapon switching, more information being revealed to you on each level map, power-ups releasing a damaging shockwave at the end of their use, and so on. The tokens are always found on the bodies of Elite Guards, so whenever you manage a breather, it’s always worth tearing yourself away from the action and then head off to explore areas off the linear track.
In fact, Doom was a game known for its secrets, and the 2016 version of the game is no exception. I’ve already mentioned the tokens that you are able to find, but there’s also various other secrets, which includes Argent Cells, classic Doom maps and Trial Stones. Upon finding them, Argent Cells allow you to instantly upgrade your health, ammo and armour capacities, which is always helpful. The classic maps, on the other hand, will be a source of nostalgia for some, particularly as the actual maps have been untouched, with only the weapons and enemies from the new game being present when playing these levels. As for the Trial Stones, these teleport you to another area and allow you to play challenges in order to unlock Runes, and these Runes can then be equipped to grant you various perks such as causing enemies to be stunned for longer, allowing you to perform glory kills faster, or giving you more control in the air, and so on. With all its weapons, challenges, and secrets, Doom is definitely a very rewarding game.
Even without finding everything hidden in its well designed levels, Doom’s single player campaign is a very generous length at 12-13 hours. With its intense and explosive action, fast paced and brutal gameplay, well implemented Glory Kills, and satisfying selection of guns, it’s a fantastic and memorable campaign as well, and certainly the highlight of a package that also features an excellent level editor in its SnapMap feature as well as a decent multiplayer mode.
The visuals are also some of the most remarkable that can be found in any game right now. Even though everything looks rather dark and grim, thanks to the amazing lighting, the smooth 60fps motion, as well as the beefy guns, the game looks beautiful. While retaining their themes, the levels are also varied, and Hell really has never looked so good.
This Doom 3 sequel has been a long time coming, although, as it turns out, it was certainly worth the lengthy wait. The game mixes classic Doom with a few new ideas, and the most important thing is that it all works, resulting in a brilliantly executed campaign and the grand return of a series that needs no introductions to fans of the genre.