Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Doom (PC)

doom 2016 logo
Developer:id Software|Release Date:2016|Systems:Windows, Xbox One, PS4

This week on Super Adventures I'm spending an hour or so playing last year's Doom! I know it's a new game and there's already a million reviews out there to read, but I played the other three so it seemed cruel to leave this one out.

Plus this gives me a chance to go on a rant about them pulling a 'Tomb Raider' with the title, meaning that we have to call the first game 'the original Doom' from now on to avoid confusion. This problem generally wears off over time for movies (no one can even remember that they remade RoboCop or Total Recall) but the trouble with games is that the reboots are often good and you have to acknowledge they exist.

There was actually a Doom 4 in development, which was to take place during the demonic invasion of Earth, but it was cancelled on account of it being soulless, heavily scripted and more like the Call of Duty games than Doom. That was in development from 2007 to 2011, then this game sprang from its ashes in 2016. So henceforth it shall be known as Doom 2016.

I'm very familiar with the earlier Doom games, but all I've seen of this one so far is the demo. I've been deliberately avoiding reading too much about it just in case it had an actual plot to spoil. Hey if Wolfenstein: The New Order of all sequels can have an emotional thought-provoking story then there's hope for every game series!

(Click the pictures to view screenshots at a slightly less pitiful 1280x720 resolution).


doom 2016 menu
The game begins with your typical unskippable onslaught of company logos, then I got a loading screen, then I got a different loading screen, and then finally I got this menu. Though at first it was only showing me the top bit with "LOADING..." written underneath.

That's a lot of loading for a menu screen, but then this is a pretty busy menu. It's very modern; more concerned with showing me news and selling me DLC than it is with letting me change my video options or redefine my controls.

Uh, where are the options anyway? Hold on, I can figure this out, I just need a minute...

Ah there you go, I just had to select 'Campaign' first and choose a save slot. I only get the three slots, but it's better than only having the one and needing to wipe all you progress or create a second Steam account when you want to start a second playthrough.

I'll be leaving all these options for disabling notifications, objective markers and like set to defaults, but I'm sure someone's going to be happy they can turn them off. Me, I'm happy that it's actually letting me choose what monitor I want to use! I won’t be pushing my luck with the video quality though because my rig wasn’t great even when it was new and I'd like a reasonable number of frames per second. For some games I max everything out and suffer for my screenshots, but not this time.

The game's got five difficulty settings like the original Doom, but they've taken out 'Hey, not too rough' and replaced it with 'Ultra-Nightmare', which is so impossible that you have to finish the game before it even lets you attempt it. I've never been a fan of games locking away skill levels, though in this case it's just 'Nightmare' mode with permadeath so I'm not missing much.

I’ll be playing 'Hurt Me Plenty' because it’s the most average normal difficulty there is, and I'm a baby who hates having to replay boss fights.


E1M1: THE UAC - "RIP & TEAR".


I can see my feet!

The game began in darkness, with a red symbol forming on screen and a voice over telling me to "Rip and tear, until it is done," and then I found myself here, naked and chained to a stone sarcophagus with monsters closing in. It's not really want you want.

Fortunately Doomguy's strong enough to snap a metal chain without much effort and after freeing his arm he slams the zombie's head into the side of his bed to kill it instantly, no QTE bullshit required. Then he finds a pistol just lying there on the ground, which means that it's my turn now.

Aww, I can't look down and see my feet any more, though I can see three monsters shambling over in my direction.

I was a bit worried that headshots wouldn't work on these guys, due to them already having a hole straight though their brain, but nope a single bullet was enough to cause their necks to erupt into a fountain of demon blood, and I have infinite shots left with this thing. They haven't even given me a reload button to press. Or a quick save button for that matter.

The game looks pretty amazing in motion by the way, and that's with the settings on medium. Though more amazing is that I'm getting a steady 60 FPS on my humble 750Ti, though playing at 720p likely helps.

Well that's peculiar; I hit the door switch to get out and then it hijacked my controls to make me look at these holograms! Seems that some folks have been worshipping my stone coffin while I was resting within, so I guess that's what all the candles were about. Oh man, I hope there's a plot twist and it turns out that I'm Dracula.

Speaking of controls, this is one of those games that lets you switch instantly between mouse and controller depending on which you're holding, and I've got no complaints about either control scheme. I'm using mouse though because, well, it's Doom. Though it's also a bit System Shock 2, with all these ghosts around. Doom 3 was also a bit System Shock 2 at times, though it took SS2's audio diaries instead.

Okay game you've had your cutscene fun, let me out of this room already!

Hey there's a Doomguy suit here, that's handy. Doomguy had a bit of a terrifying nightmarish vision as I went to put the suit on, with all kinds of images flashing on screen, but it didn’t bother him one bit. When normal service was resumed I found he'd already got his pants on and was wiping a bit of dirt off his crash helmet.

Also I gotta hand it to the UAC, they're some really dumb stubborn bastards. I don't know if this a remake or a reboot or what, but these guys clearly understand by now that opening a portal to Hell leads to bad things, every single time, and yet they just installed a 'Demonic Invasion' alarm and did it again anyway!

The cutscene continues with Doomguy accessing the computer to get a report on where the demons are coming from, but the thing won't be any use until he can get a satellite operational again. Then the bad news is interrupted with an incoming message from Dr. Samuel Hayden, facility director and Lance Henriksen impersonator, who offers to work with Doomguy to solve this situation. But Doomguy just shoves that screen away and ignores him (the poor guy's likely just embarrassed and doesn't want Hayden to know that he's a silent protagonist).

Hey I’ve been given a bunch of text to read, in an optional codex I never have to look at! But I probably will.
 
So this is an ancient combat suit huh? I dunno, it looks kind of futuristic to me. Also I’m calling bullshit on the ‘impervious’ part, unless it’s always the squishy human inside that'll be taking all the damage.

Alright I’m going to head out into the base and shoot monsters in dark hallways until my infinite ammo pistol runs out.

Actually screw the pistol, I've found something better!

Turns out that when an enemy's stunned they turn blue (or orange when I get close), which indicates that they're ready for one of my instant death 'glory kill' moves. All I do is tap the melee button and Doomguy goes to work ripping and tearing until it is done.

These zombies are nothing though, so what I'm doing here is stunning them with a smack from the pistol first and then immediately using a glory kill to finish them off. Then I get to harvest the health pick ups that spring from their corpses like sweets from a piƱata! So really I want to end every fight like this if I can help it.

A little further in I found this weird 'Gore Nest' surrounded by a zombies, with a locked door behind it. The base is freaking out a bit about all the demons in here, so it's not letting me out of this room until I deal with them all. Man I thought I was playing Doom, but it turns out this is Serious Sam! My first clue should've been the codex.


I took care of the zombies, then yanked the heart out of the demon device and destroyed it. The demons didn't much appreciate that though as now the room's starting to fill up with those fireball throwing imps!

So here's what the combat in Doom's like, I'm staying mobile to avoid being hit, running up to enemies to get the most bang from my boomstick and I'm leaping between platforms because it is cool. Doomguy can pull himself up onto ledges now, so I'm all about the parkour. Those imps are nimble little bastards too but I'm wearing bulky power armour so it's more impressive when I do it.

I was worried that the constant 'stun enemy, glory kill, stun enemy, glory kill' routine would get old fast, but it’s kind of not. It’s much better than a ‘shoot enemy, hide behind wall until the jam on the screen clears up’ routine as it doesn’t interrupt the flow, it enhances it. Getting health back by weaving through fireballs to deliver a punch to a deserving soulless minion is always fun, plus it helps that I get a different glory kill animation depending on what limb I'm pointing at when I hit the melee button.

After killing all the imps that'd teleported in, the door finally opened and I was free... to walk straight into another short ghost cutscene. But once that was done I got into the exit left, got the theme tune and the logo came on screen.

Also holy shit I've got a 3D AutoMap! I never thought to check. It's nice to see you back AutoMap, I missed you this last couple of decades. Well okay Wolfenstein: The New Order had a map too, and it was very nice, but this one I can spin around!

That down there on the right is the short base level I just fought my way through, and now I’m up at the top of the lift on the surface of Mars.

Well, this is one first person shooter that's not going to have a snowy cable car level. I've seen prettier planets, but it's definitely better looking than it was back in Doom 3. Plus I don't have an oxygen timer to worry about this time.

That down there seems to be the next sealed off combat arena that I'll have to cleanse before making progress. It looks empty in the screenshot due to all the enemies blending into the landscape, but it's much easier to spot the bastards when they're moving and charging up fireballs so that hasn't been an issue for me.

I can't spot a way to get down without jumping off the cliff, but I've already learned that's not a problem. Turns out that it takes a ridiculous fall to hurt Doomguy, so a drop like this will barely make him pause.

Yeah, it's another combat arena. I've been running laps and chasing the enemies around as they spawn in.

These particular folks seem to be the equivalent of the chaingunner in classic Doom, except I've got far more of a chance to dodge their rapid-fire plasma shots. Also they like to mix things up and fire off a single supercharged blast every now and again so I need to not be in front of that.  

There's no regenerating health by the way. You might have glanced down at my health bar on the left and thought 'hey this guy's always at 100 hp!' but you're only catching me between the moments that I have LOW HEALTH flashing up on screen. I can go from full health, to critical, to full again very quickly using glory kills to recover, so I keep clawing my way back from the brink.

Plus there's pick ups everywhere, so that helps. Though I miss the little medieval helmets with the glowing eyes, I wonder where they all went. I hope I open up a cupboard on the last level and 200 of them fall out.

I killed everything in arena #2, the door finally opened and... there's another locked door behind it. Hey it's a blue keycard door! How nostalgic.

Seems that I'm taking a right then, through the spooky cave.

Spooky cave took me around the corner to a Doomguy toy that played a bit of original Doom music when I picked him up! The codex tells me that there's two of these hidden in every map and that they unlock 3D models I can view, so stopping the hordes of hell just became my second priority.

Oh, plus the blue key was clipped onto a dead guy right next to him, so that was a really short detour.

I opened up the blue door and behind it I found a box of grenades! That's weird for a Doom game. Even weirder, I have infinite of them and but can only throw only throw a couple out every minute as they're on a cooldown timer. Behind the grenades was the rest of the level, so I carried on.

A little further on I found a dead guy in red power armour, and when I removed his chip I found that there's a suit upgrade screen here for me to spend it on. Doom's going a bit RPG on me.

I can't upgrade health, armour or ammo, they take separate upgrade points, but I can improve my environmental resistance, my equipment system, or my area-scanning technology! I'll only cost 1 point to get 'Item Awareness', which will mark more exploration items onto my AutoMap! Though the next one down in the chain won't be so cheap.

Fine, I’ll upgrade the map then. But only because it'll bring me one step closer to a thing that’ll make my compass pulse when I’m close to secrets. I need those Doomguy dolls man.


SOON.


Just when I thought that the level was getting a bit more like Doom I reached the end and found myself in another combat arena. It's a pretty big one this time though, with imps and machine gunners all over the place. No point in hanging back and trying to lure them out one at a time, I need to get into the heart of the group and shove my shotgun down their throats. Or I could shoot the explosive barrels they're standing next to and see how many I can glory kill while they're stunned.

I like how enemies actually react to being hit in this, even before they've been stunned. I know that enemy stagger seems like such a ubiquitous feature it's weird for me to even mention it, but as far as  I remember Doom 3 didn't have it.

And that's the end of level one.


E1M2: RESOURCE OPERATIONS - "KNOW YOUR ENEMY".


Whoa, Dr. Hayden’s a robot! Well that explains how he survived the incident, when 61,337 other employees died a gruesome tragic death. Heh, 1337.

He locked me out of the satellite controls just as I was about to find the source of the demons, so now I'm stuck here listening to him talk. It's just like those endless one-sided conversations in Rage, except shorter and more bearable. Turns out that another scientist called Olivia Pierce has been a bad bad woman and I need to stop her... right after I've stopped the nearby foundry from melting down.

Oh speaking of control panels, this doesn't have Doom 3's awesome GUI surface screens to interact with, and that's a damn shame.

That's the end of the level two by the way; I skipped writing about the shooting and the fighting arenas this time, because it honestly didn't play out that different from the last stage.

Here's the end of level summary screen, showing all the secrets and upgrades I've grabbed along the way, and what I'd need to look out for on a replay. It also shows how I'm doing with the Bulletstorm-style challenges I can complete to unlock upgrades at an accelerated pace. There's three different challenges on each level from now on, things like "Kill 2 of The Possessed with one trigger pull from the Shotgun," and "Perform 5 different Glory Kills on The Possessed." The game has a real hate on for those zombies right now.

Oh guess what else I found in that last level...

It's the original Doom's E1M1! I pulled a hidden lever and unlocked it a door letting me walk straight from new Doom to old Doom. Though I was disappointed when I found they'd basically only included two rooms.

My disappointment ended when I discovered that the full unabridged Doom level had been added to the campaign menu to be played at any time. Same old levels, brand new weapons and enemies. I have to admit, playing this is really driving home just how much of a bullet sponge some of these new enemies are, but that's more due to the pistol being terrible.

Doom (MS-DOS)
Here's the original Doom for comparison. Inferior in many ways, but until nuDoom is patched to add the option to stick Doomguy's face in the middle of the HUD, it'll always be the champion. Also I thought the new Doom was fast, but when you run in this you go fast.

Wolfenstein: The New Order included classic Wolfenstein 3D levels too, so it's cool that this is becoming a thing now. It works far better here though, just because classic Doom's a much better game than classic Wolfenstein. Plus this also includes levels from Doom II! No Doom 64 though. No Doom 3 either, which is a real shame I reckon; I want to revisit some of those old levels with the new gameplay style. And the lights turned on.

Oh, I did my medikit check to see what the forbidden Red Cross logo had been replaced with this time, and it's just a red dot.

Plus a few other things aren't quite right. Like they've got the proper music playing, but it doesn't loop properly. Also the bizarre medieval helmets are right where they should be, but the eyes aren't flashing.


E1M3: FOUNDRY - "MELTDOWN".


Okay some first person shooting happened and I've ended up down here, the diamond on my compass says I want to be up there, so now I have to make that happen. Preferably before the foundry melts down (there's no actual time limit).

The objective marker doesn't show me the route, just the destination, but fortunately some forward thinking architect has marked ledges all around the facility with green lights, indicating that I can throw myself at them with confidence that Doomguy's going to grab hold and pull himself up. So I just have to follow the path now around the room.

I actually came here looking for someone in particular: a man I saw in one of those ghost hologram flashbacks getting dragged away by a Hell knight. The hologram started up while I was next to a glowing hand scanner and a sealed door, so I'm thinking that all I really need here is his arm. Seems that straightforward enough. Even when the game's opening up and being a bit more puzzly, there's no danger of it turning into Hexen II.

It's turning into something though, as I don't remember the old Dooms giving me so many options for upgrading my weapons. Closest it got to toggleable weapon mods was a choice between whether I wanted to use up all my shells with the shotgun or the super shotgun.

But here I'm deciding whether I want to give my assault rifle's missile launcher more ammo efficiency, faster reload time or instant activation. First one's cheap, but the later upgrades cost more. Then the final upgrade has to be earned during combat by doing a challenge.

Plus there's friendly robots hovering around the maps and if Doomguy find one and punches it like the asshole he is, I get a mod to place onto one of my many guns. Most guns can have two of these mods and I can toggle them during combat to change what comes out when I press the secondary fire trigger (like missiles in this case). This is a game desperately trying to bolt on some complexity to its combat.

Speaking of complex, check out this level design! I was worried that the game was going to be all combat arenas lined up after each other, but this is a proper Doom map right here. In fact I think that's a chunk of E1M2 over there on the right. But unlike those classic Doom games this marks the coloured doors on the AutoMap! It's marking a lot of the secrets too, which is handy. Plus I don't have to press the action key against ordinary looking walls to get at them this time.

Things have gotten a bit less linear on this map as there's multiple Gore Nests scattered around for me to pick from, each spawning an arena's worth of enemies that need defeating. They've even been throwing in some Hell knights now, which are a bit taller than your average monster and take more hits to kill. They also like to charge at me, leap up and punch the floor, and climb up on stuff. Wherever I go they're always right behind me.

doom lava thumbs up terminator game over foundry
Well, not everywhere. I get that reference though!

It's not hard to see what I did wrong here. I was doing all kinds of daring gymnastics around the latest wave of demons, running and jumping across the narrow walkways when I suddenly made a critical error: I stepped backwards. Doesn't matter what difficulty I'm on, a dip in lava's going to end badly (but quickly). Then I get to take a trip back to the last checkpoint to do it all again.

After taking out the four Gore Nests the demonic presence was reduced to the point where the facility computer allowed me to get into the room with the switch to turn the coolant on. But guess what I found in there? Demonic presence! So I was locked in another fighting arena, having to race around and leap between platforms to take on the incoming waves of demons, including two Hell knights! I was throwing grenades, using the shotgun's explosive secondary fire, firing off micro missiles; it was all fun and explosions until I accidentally got my poor Doomguy cornered behind a bit of scenery and gored to death.

It's all cool though. I'd rather waste time replaying a proper fight than mastering a boss battle or sitting through an unskippable cutscene.

Aww c'mon game, don't pull this Rage bullshit again. I can't even move here! I'm stuck watching the antagonist play around with her holographic UI behind a window while Hayden explains that she's... oh she's opening up a portal to Hell. Well no shit, what else is she going to be doing?

I've got no problem with Doom games having a story, as even the first one gave you some text to read between episodes, but this isn't the way to do it. You can't demand a player's attention like this if they don't want to give it freely, especially if there's nothing being said here I couldn't hear over the radio.

Wait, I am hearing Hayden over the radio! Seems to me that if the designer really had to stop the game to have a cutscene, then the sensible thing to do would've been to have interesting characters interacting in it.


E1M4: ARGENT FACILITY - "BEGINNING OF THE END".


Huh, now there's rune trials as well? All I wanted to do when I started playing this was show a couple dozen screenshots of shiny orange hallways, but nope! The game keeps giving me actual things to write about so I gotta show a picture to go with it.

Unlike the other challenges, rune trials teleport me off to a separate map where I have to do things like kill 15 imps in 10 seconds. If I pull it off I get a rune, if I don't it's not the end of the world as I can replay it right there, or from the menu later.

Runes are a little like the silver tarot cards in Painkiller, as I get to choose a few to place into my rune slots to take advantage of their abilities during gameplay. Equipping this vacuum rune for instance should get me all the pick ups that spray out from dead enemies. But that's not all, as runes can also be upgraded by using them a lot.

Alright that's it, if there's anything else that can be equipped or upgraded in this game I ain't talking about it, because it's getting ridiculous now.


E1M5: ARGENT ENERGY TOWER - "ARGENT TOWER".


Okay, I can't say that I expected this game to turn into Jedi Outcast, but here I am jumping from platform to platform and running along conduits inside an elaborate machine with no safety railings while equipment around the wall rotates and unfolds around me. This is a real old school approach to first person shooter level design and it's great. Well... kind of.

The thing is, I'm kind of high up now so if I screw up a jump even Doomguy's not going to survive it, and then I'm back at the last checkpoint again. I have to admit that I've been dying more because of clumsiness than combat so far, but the enemies had been starting to turn things around until I came here.

Damn, just look at this place! I started at the bottom of the cylindrical tower  and I've been working my way up to the top.

Thankfully I've been aided in my ascension with another one of those countless upgrades. I know I said I wouldn't talk about them any more but DOUBLE JUMP BOOTS deserve a mention. In fact they should be announced by a chorus and accompanied by a fanfare. Doom had no jumps, Doom 3 added a single jump, and now 23 years into the series we're finally up to two. Still no grappling hook though sadly.


E1M6 KADINGIR SANCTUM - "INTO THE FIRE".


Hey guess where I've ended up!

Hell's looking a lot brighter than it did back in Doom 3, but then that's true of everywhere in this game; no need for a flashlight this time. It's more orange as well, but that's not a huge shock either. There was always the possibility that they might have given it a different tint so that it'd contrast with the Mars levels, but nope.

Though I suppose the way that it looks like somewhere out of Dragon Age helps separate the two places visually. Can't say it's changed the gameplay much though as I'm still running around, leaping on the ledges, slaying enemies, occasionally getting a bit lost, then slaying more enemies.

I've been seeing a lot more enemy types by this point though, like cacodemons, mancubuses, revenants, lost souls... all the classics. I've even fought a few barons of Hell, which are like Hell knights, except they're even bigger bullet-sponges. Oh plus they also shoot at me while they're chasing me around relentlessly, which is nice.

You'd think with the map so packed full of monsters now that I'd actually manage to catch a few in the same screenshot, but I'm rarely that lucky. Though it does mean that they'll catch each other with shots sometimes and end up fighting amongst themselves, just like in the olden days!

I can't wait to see who wins this fight, the mancubus on the left or the revenant on the right! No really, I'm too impatient, I'm just going to snipe them from here with my railgun. Sniping in a Doom game should feel wrong, especially in one so keen for me to get up close with my kills, and yet I'm struggling to complain.


E1M9: LAZARUS LABS - "LAZARUS".


Alright some stuff happened and now I'm taking really bad screenshots of a boss that's kicking my ass. It's been kind of hectic. Well I suppose I could've activated the game's built in 'photo mode', but nah.

I was expecting this cyberdemon to follow the Doom tradition of bosses stomping around and shooting a lot, but no this guy's got different moves and patterns to learn! Here he's raining missiles down on me (with their destinations marked by the targeting runes), but he also likes charging up his instant-kill laser, or trapping me between two walls of rocks so that we can play a game of 'jump and duck under the energy blasts'. He's a proper actual video boss and personally I'd be able to appreciate that a lot more if I had quick saves. Because I'm a baby when it comes to bosses.

I'm tempted to whip out my chainsaw and give that a try, but it's a bit of a risk as it uses fuel now, with tougher enemies needing more units. If I've got enough in the tank it's an instant kill, if not Doomguy will just be standing there up in the monster's face like an idiot asking to be shot in the face. So I think I'll stick with firing off everything else I'm holding.


MUCH LATER.


Well that's done with now. I killed all the bosses, beat all the levels, and finished the whole game! Wait I was only supposed to play it for an hour, crap.

At least this means that I get to show this screenshot off. It's a fantastic recreation of the original game's box art, except without a second Doomguy in the background running up to help. This might be because the campaign doesn't have co-op!

It does have multiplayer though, which I'm not going to touch. Well okay I played a 5 minute deathmatch with bots and it seemed a bit Quake III Arena to me. Run around, grab weapons, shoot folks, mess up and respawn, repeat. Couldn't help notice a lot of locks on the customisation options though. I expect that some you open through gameplay, others you get through DLC. Like I said though, I only gave it 5 minutes so I dunno.

I also checked out Arcade Mode, which has you starting a level with all the upgrades and relics unlocked, with the aim of getting a higher score than your friends. Build the score multiplier by getting headshots and glory kills, lose it by getting hit or taking too long. It's another thing to add replay value and that's cool with me. Even though I didn't come first in the end.

But the game's big unique feature is the SnapMap level editor and... it's going to take a bit of figuring out. What you're looking at here seems to the logic required to replicate classic Doom's level complete stats screen. I found it inside a demo map, tucked away in a hidden room.

I can fly around inside the level changing the decor and adding nodes to be connected up with wires; it's all very clever and there's Snap Academy tutorials to walk you through the basics. My favourite bit though is that I can view the descriptions for classic Doom objects and finally learn what all the different computer screens decorating the maps are for.

It's also taught me the true purpose of the gray walls.

But the actual snapping of maps happens in this mode, which is letting me weld prefab room pieces together to construct a level out of them. There's plenty of pieces here to pick from but they're going to get familiar real fast... though I suppose I could construct my own rooms by placing empty warehouse blocks and putting up walls.

The editor's apparently so powerful that someone managed to make a Harvest Moon clone in it and call it Harvest Doom, but my creativity ran dry after assembling two dozen copies of E1M1's intro area and I turned it off.


CONCLUSION

All the challenges, runes, weapon mods, secrets, upgrades, and glory kills can't hide the fact that this new Doom is a pretty simple and repetitive game, and man does it love locking you in with a bunch of monsters and making you leap all over the scenery until they're dead. But on the plus side fighting monsters is great and jumping around platforms is fun, so when it comes to the core gameplay id Software really have nailed it here. This is return to the original Doom's fireball dodging and map exploring, where enemies are dumb as bricks and to stop moving is to welcome death.

So unlike Doom 3 there's no zombie marines forcing you to take cover with their hitscan weapons, no flashlight, no spiders crawling out of vents and no computer screens to play with. It doesn't even pull that trick where you collect an innocent looking pick up, then the lights turn off and suddenly monsters. There's no build up of tension either, just a ramping up of carnage. Though the UAC base does look like a HD remake of my rose-tinted memories. It's a really beautifully rendered game, maybe the most graphically advanced I've ever played, but the art design feels absolutely faithful to me.

Those monsters and weapons are pretty damn familiar too, and it's nice that it still lets you haul your whole ridiculous arsenal around at once. Plus the post-level stats screen makes a return here, showing you all the things you failed to grab and challenges you didn't complete, only this time you can jump back in from the level select to try again any time you like, with all the upgrades you've got since then. These maps have been built to be replayed.

There's a few things holding the game back for me though, like the music. Though everyone else loves the soundtrack so my opinion is entirely irrelevant. Please ignore the fact that I put it on mute after a while and stuck Sonic Mayhem's Quake II soundtrack on instead.

I was more annoyed by the way the game kept trying to make me care about the story. It got my hopes up at the start when Doomguy repeatedly wrecked any computer screen that started talking to him, but I was soon forced to attend briefings and watch helplessly as the antagonist did her evil things behind glass windows, and it all seemed like a total waste of time. Wolfenstein: The New Order did a fantastic job of telling an unexpected thoughtful and moving story about a guy who fires two machine guns down hallways for a living, but this game's plot is so shallow and empty that whenever it interrupted me it was just annoying. Someone’s opening a gate to hell, we don’t want them to do that, pressing certain switches in a linear sequence of levels will resolve this situation... so let's just go shoot things and press the switches already! That said, the cutscenes were infrequent and bearable. Plus I appreciate that it's accumulating lore in the codex as you go so the option's there to pause and read up on what's going on when you feel like it.

But my biggest problem with the game is that it doesn't rise above being really really good. It's all kinds of slick and pretty, and blissfully low on the typical 'holy shit I hate this part' moments like turret sequences, escort missions, stealth levels or other bullshit, but it never got me saying 'holy shit that part was amazing' either. It never surprised me, never did anything that I thought was clever or imaginative or different; it didn't even give me a memorable character or two. What the game really needed... was a bit more Duke Nukem Forever in the mix. No wait, I mean Bulletstorm! Or even Half-Life. Basically what I'm saying is that Doom's main crime, aside from stealing the name of a beloved classic, is that it didn't shrink me down to action figure size and have me jumping across burgers in a giant kitchen while remote-controlling a robot dinosaur called Waggleton P. Tallylicker and sneaking past a blind tentacle creature. Or something.

But I gave Rage my highest accolade due to an extreme lapse of sanity, so there's no way this isn't getting a 'wins the prize' badge too.

    


I'm done now, I've stopped writing, you can go do something else. Actually, wait! Before you disappear, why not leave me a comment in the box below? It doesn't cost you anything after all.

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8 comments:

  1. I haven't played this, so when I guessed last time that the next game was Doom it really was just a guess.

    I also have no idea what this next game is, but it does look a bit like Ken from the Street Fighter series, but as he might appear in an Amiga cutscene, so I'm going to say the next game is Street Fighter II on the Amiga.

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    1. Well you nailed it anyway, it was a chubby chibi Doomguy from Doom 2016.

      This time not so much, though you did get the right system. Also he really does look like Ken doesn't he? I bet there's all kinds of jokes I could make about that in the next post. Shame I can't think of any.

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    2. Ah well, at least I can still recognise Amiga cutscene graphics. What a skill.

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  2. Ray it's me Rob K, anyway great review, I hope your making money writing this stuff (via ads) and all your reviews should be backed up and in the Library of Congress.

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    1. You're seeing ads? I don't have any ads!

      Though I agree about the Library of Congress thing. Always good to have backups.

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