Doom is back – but not quite as you knew it.
First released on the PC way back in 1993, id Software’s Doom was a true groundbreaker. While it wasn’t the first first-person shooter ever made, it did popularise the genre – so much so that for several years afterwards, FPS games were commonly known as “Doom clones”.
And now Doom is back for the fourth title in the series, once again developed by id – but rather than another sequel, this Doom is a reimagining of the first game. And while I confess that I expected it to be something of a sub-par exercise in nostalgia, I’m happy to say it succeeds in capturing the spirit of 1993 while offering the graphics and refinements you’d expect from a 2016 release.
From the very beginning of Doom’s single-player campaign, it feels like id was determined to exorcise the demons (no pun intended) brought on by the disappointing Doom 3. That game looked incredible for 2004 but favoured a slow-paced, almost survival horror-like approach over frenetic action.
This new Doom, however, wastes no time attempting to build up a creepy atmosphere; here, you’re firing a gun at shambling possessed enemies within seconds of starting.
And things don’t really let up from there - this game is about fast, brutal and relentless action. Movement is slick and swift, and your unnamed protagonist feels like he’s riding in a greased-up shopping trolley.
You don’t need to reload weapons, merely keep an eye on your ammo count, and fall damage doesn’t exist (unless you essentially fall off the map entirely).
The pace is aided by the level design, with id eschewing tight, winding corridors in favour of open, often multi-floor spaces littered by pick-ups. You’ll often have to fight off several waves of demons in one of these arena-type spaces, and the lack of strong cover means you’ll be constantly moving as you fight.
Standing still for too long is a surefire way to get killed, and the proliferation of health, armour and ammo pick-ups littered around the map encourage you to move around as you blast away.
The maps themselves are packed with secret areas which feature useful power-ups, as well as classic unlockable Doom levels that can be played outside of the main campaign.
These traits, along with the game being set on a UAC facility on Mars that’s been overrun by a host of demonic entities and undead, makes Doom (2016) sound a lot like Doom (1993). Even the majority of the weapons are updates of the originals (hello, Super Shotgun and BFG!).
But it’s far more than an ancient game given new levels and shinier, sharper graphics: id has implemented a bunch of changes that bring Doom into line with today’s shooters.
Weapons, armour and your character can be modified and upgraded to better deal with the increase in enemy difficulty, and completing a host of level-specific challenges (stuff along the lines of “find three secrets” or “kill five Imps with mid-air attacks”) help speed up this progression.
Occasionally, you’ll also come across timed challenge areas that set you a tricky weapon-specific task in a separate arena, rewarding you with runes should you manage to pull it off. These runes, while equipped, give you a permanent ability boost, such as increasing the amount of control you have over your mid-air movement.
Finally, the gameplay has been tweaked to add more involvement to combat. Take Glory Kills, for instance – gore-drenched executions that can be pulled off when close to stunned enemies.
A Glory Killed enemy will drop more health for you to collect, which incentivises you to use this ability when flagging. The chainsaw update works in a similar resource-boosting way – it’s an insta-kill melee weapon with a limited number of uses, but anything you kill with it will drop tons of ammo.