Developer: id Software

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

Back in 2004, I picked up Doom 3 and couldn’t have been more excited. I’d grown up playing Doom and Doom 2 on my old Windows 95 computer, and couldn’t wait to see what the game looked like with glorious 2004-era graphics. However, I came away feeling underwhelmed. It just didn’t have that same sense of balls-out ostentatiousness that the original games had; if anything, it felt more like an atmospheric survival horror than a first-person shooter. So when I saw the gameplay trailers for 2016’s reboot, my curiosity was piqued once more. It looked like the game Doom 3 should have been; it looked brutal and bloody and so much fun.

So with a little trepidation, I popped the disc in and started to play…and any worries I had were immediately quashed. You – the anonymous marine we all know and love – wake up, chained to a stone slab, surrounded by a mob of demons. Breaking free from your shackles, you grab the nearest creature by its head, and crush it. With your bare hands.

And that opening sets the tone for the whole game. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill first person shooter; you know the type – awash with sepia, filled with conveniently placed waist-high cover. Instead, id have dialled everything up to eleven and left you to deal with the result, and it’s all the better for it.

The plot is ultimately as thin as it needs to be; Mars, portal to hell, stop it. But that is more than fine; the plot takes a back seat – hell, if anything, the plot is somewhere far behind being dragged along by a chain – to the action. But this is not a game you play for the story. This is a game you play because you want to kill things with big guns.

And Doom has this in spades; both ‘things’ and ‘big guns’. The realisation of the old demon sprites in Stunning High Definition is astounding; similar enough to be instantly recognisable by fans yet different enough to avoid being a simple rehash, and re-discovering all the familiar weaponry from the original games – BFG9000, anyone? – is a joy unto itself.

id clearly knew what game they wanted to create when they set out to make Doom; everything, from the level design, to the weapons, to various gameplay elements id have implemented all work together harmoniously to help the player have as much of a blast playing the game as they can. You can’t help but feel like a total badass playing Doom; leaping and dodging around the game’s various locations – from narrow industrial corridors to vast bloodspattered hellscapes – as steadily increasing numbers of demons swarm around you. This gameplay style is bolstered by the abundance of health and ammo littering the environment; it’s clear that this is a game designed for the pure unadulterated fun of Killing Things with Big Guns. Even if you find yourself low on health, the new Glory Kill system – whereby a sufficiently weakened enemy is briefly vulnerable, opening them up to a contextual (not to mention very bloody) death, and as a result showering you with health bonuses – ensures you stay alive and literally kicking for as long as possible. A similar mechanism exists for ammo; the chainsaw – a classic staple of the original games – now takes on a whole role of its own – by killing an enemy with it, you find yourself showered with ammunition. The kicker here, however, is that while the chainsaw provides a guaranteed instant kill, it requires fuel to use. The more powerful the enemy, the more fuel needed to down it. So it’s quite the tightrope to walk; on one hand, some of the peskier enemies are best dispatched as soon as possible, but on the other, you don’t want to waste the limited supply of fuel you have when it could be better served a few corridors on, for example. Fortunately, checkpoints are frequent and there’s no punishment for dying, so you’re free to experiment to your heart’s content.

Changing weaponry is nice and simple, even mid-battle; a touch of a shoulder button, time slows to a crawl and a wheel appears in your HUD displaying all of your weapons, allowing you to switch up your playstyle on the fly to suit the encounter in question; and you can even mod your weaponry using stations scattered around the game…all of which gives the game a surprising amount of depth.

All in all, Doom is an utter joy to play. Whilst it doesn’t tread any new ground, it’s a solid game and a breath of fresh air in a sea of copycat FPSs; the fights are exciting and dynamic, and the scenery and art design are morbidly beautiful. It’s bloody, chaotic, loud and completely unashamedly so. And I love it.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

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