It can’t be easy being Id Software. The creators of DOOM, Wolfenstein and Quake are basically responsible for the entire first-person shooter genre as we know it and that’s a hell of a legacy to live up to. The England football team are proof enough that just because you invented something, that doesn’t mean you’re the best in the world at it. I can do football jokes, who says I can’t? Anyway after what is rumoured to have been a severely troubled development cycle, including multiple restarts the team at Id have finally brought the DOOM series to the current generation of consoles with DOOM. Nope, not DOOM IV or DOOM 4, just DOOM because fuck your filing systems. Also that’s basically my biggest complaint about DOOM because everything else is damn near perfect.
The opening scene is a perfect introduction into Id’s new vision for DOOM. You wake up strapped to a freaky ritual table with possessed scientists shambling towards you. Your character, the infamous DOOM guy rips himself free of the steel chains restraining him, smashes a dude’s face off and picks up a handgun. There is about 10 seconds of preamble before you’re immediately given control of the DOOM marine and let loose on the demonic horde. No lengthy cutscenes or Half Life-esque section where everything is all fine and dandy at the UAC. DOOM guy wakes up, shit has hit the fan and it’s time to fight some demons. You’re thrown straight into the gameplay and oh my that gameplay is fantastic.
Rather than chase the latest trends and ‘modernise’ DOOM by adding a checklist of popular game mechanics, Id set about making a DOOM game first and foremost. It’s a high speed shooter where the action rarely lets up and hiding behind cover popping shots at demons is the fast track to an undignified end. There is no aim down sights (ADS), no sprint and no regenerating health. DOOM guy runs around at Mach speed, hip fires all of his weapons with deadly precision and gains health pickups by slaughtering the demonic horde. That’s not to say that modernisation has been eschewed completely; the double jump and clamber mechanics are welcome additions that enhance DOOM’s fast-paced, run-and-gun combat. Enemies can also be stunned after a certain amount of damage, allowing you to close in for a Glory Kill where the DOOM marine brutalises the unfortunate demon in a bloody show of disregard. These Glory Kills have the added bonus of causing more health to drop from enemies, making it a useful gameplay mechanic and not just a masochist’s wet dream.
When you’re not ripping demons’ heads in half or beating them to death with their own arm, you’ll be unloading on them with the game’s varied and incredibly satisfying array of weapons. The series staples are all here, with shotguns, super shotguns, assault rifles, plasma rifles and rocket launchers whilst the two most iconic weapons have been promoted to a special role. The chainsaw is a limited use special attack that instantly dismembers any demon providing you have enough fuel, causing them to spew out a fountain of ammunition for all of your other weapons. This creates a wonderful gameplay loop as you empty every gun at your disposal of its rounds before whipping out the chainsaw to decapitate an enemy and reload all of your guns before beginning the dance of death all over again. If you’re looking for something a little more apocalyptic then there is always the trusty BFG-9000 which will basically annihilate anything unfortunate enough to be stood in front of the barrel. It can easily wipe a room clean of the demonic horde, but ammunition is scare so use it wisely.
The multiplayer is the only real downside to DOOM. Its not terrible, but it’s really not worth your time either. But really, who the hell is playing DOOM for its multiplayer? Snapmap, DOOM’s bespoke map maker however, is fantastic and there are already some quality creations out there ranging from a Call of Duty-esque zombies mode to a walking simulator which follows the story of a demon leading his forces against DOOM guy. It’s easily the best single player shooter campaign of this generation and in fact, I’m struggling to think of a better shooter campaign full stop. Play it, play it now.