Some games offer high quality pathos, drama and complex character dynamics. Others offer you the chance to beat hellspawn to death with their own arms. Guess which one this is.
Doom really is Doom here, offering nothing but non-stop brutal violence. It doesn't just dodge the trappings of a complex story, it openly thumbs its nose at the very idea of it, going out of its way to mock such ideas. Not only do you leap right in - skipping any opening cut-scene - and gun down three nearby mooks, but the protagonist actively avoids the serious story going on in the background; going so far as to cut off the mandatory radio support team and smash supposedly vital items.
Oddly enough such a sheer brazen refusal to take anything seriously makes it all the more refreshing, sharply contrasting with the efforts of modern shooters to justify their conflicts. You have a gun and you want to use it, that's that. Better yet, the gunplay is some of the best seen in the last fifteen years. A big part of its success is Doom's sheer willingness to embrace audacity whilst shooting reality twice in the head and shoving its body into the gutter. Many of the guns are downright broken, insanely so, with enough demented upgrades to make Resistance: Fall of Man's arsenal look comparatively tame.
While most weapons fall into the usual pistol, shogun, assault rifle, sci-fi killy-thing categories, each can be given bonuses no sane man would ever conceive. So, you can give the assault rifle micro-missiles for bonus firepower, but completing just a couple of challenge upgrades means you can effectively replace your standard ammo with these. Combine that with some rather loose physics, and you can sprint/leap about at a pace which would put Olympic athletes to tears whilst churning out enough missiles to level an entire apartment complex. In fact, the game encourages you to do just that. Combined with the constant scoring system, those rewards mean you're pushed to reach new heights of violence. The entire game really is tailored to encourage players to get into the absolute thick of things, with everything from lifting Space Marine's health-restoring melee kills to secret equipment hidden behind enemy spawn points; and it really seems as if id Software pulled out all the stops to turn this into a massive rollercoaster ride of gore, gibs and bullets.
Unfortunately, much like a rollercoaster, once you’re done there’s sadly little reason to go back. Across the campaign you’ll have seen damn never everything across its vast sprawling levels, and as fun as they are, there’s little in the way of staying power. As bright and fun as the campaign is, it burns out a little too quickly, and even a few of is gory gimmicks start to feel tedious before the end. A big part of this is as much due to the predictability of certain objectives (such as stealing dead men’s arms to fool palm-print locks) and the sheer lack of variety when it comes to Mars’ aesthetics. It’s hardly badly designed, and the sprawling level variety does help to initially disguise its limitations, but before long its one look overstays its welcome. You see a lot of red, a lot of burning lava, and a lot of drab gunmetal, and by the seventh hour your eyes will be crying for some blue or green to contrast with that all orange.
In addition, outside of the campaign there’s sadly not much to write home about. If you’ve played Quake III you’ll quickly start to get that creeping feeling of mechanical déjà vu as you wade into battle. You know the one, where a game lifts so many ideas of a popular title without quite nailing them, resulting in an oddly off-kilter experience. While it might be competently produced, the surprising sluggish rockets, odd placement of power-ups and odd choices to mash in Halo inspired ideas results in a mode with identity crisis, not knowing whether to fully embrace classic frag-happy combat or more modern trends. At best, you might get a couple of hours fun before just going back to your usual FPS of choice.
Doom is fun but short-lived. If you want a solid fifteen hours to excitement and love hacking through mobs, you couldn’t ask for anything better. Really, it’s some of the most fun you’ll have this year, but those leaning towards a solid multiplayer experience or replay value may want to look elsewhere.
DOOM / DEVELOPER: ID SOFTWARE / PUBLISHER: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW