Doom (XB1) Review

Ken McKown

Hurt me plenty.

There are a few particular games that, when mentioned, light up that child-like spark inside of me. Doom just happens to be one of those titles. I grew up blasting the hordes of demons. Doom was the game that made me beg my parents for a decent computer. This first-person shooter was the granddaddy that got me into the genre, and since it has been 12 long years since the last proper game in the series, one can imagine how much anticipation I had coming into this entry.

Doom (which will get confusing as it now refers to both the new and original game) is the perfect example of a developer setting out to make something very specific, and nailing it. This new entry feels like the series I grew up with. Large, arena-style maps, loads of secrets to find, a swath of enemies, and visceral combat. From the completely ridiculous intro, to the overload of demonic reference, this Doom felt like home.

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MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Time to Beat: 10-25 hours

As I mentioned, Doom never tries to be something it is not. There is a story here, but it certainly takes a backseat to the action. The game starts with my character waking up in a room, chained to a slab; he wakes up, and immediately starts taking out his aggression. Even though he never speaks, the actions he takes define his character. He doesn’t want to listen, he doesn’t care about narrative, just give him the weapons, and he will take down the demons.

Doom is big, dumb fun. Thankfully, in order to pull that off the game play has to be there. Everything about id’s latest feels smooth. Doom is fast, really fast. Strafing left and right almost feels like a jump. The combat is all about constant movement. Standing still equals death. There is no reload button, ammo and health drop like candy, and there is a dedicated button for the chainsaw and BFG (Google that acronym if you are not old enough to remember.) Everything just feels great.

The combat here feels almost like a puzzle. There are very definitive areas where encounters take place. The music ramps up, and demons begin to spawn. They do a fantastic job of ramping up these encounters by slowly trickling in larger and harder enemies, until the end of the game where the entire kitchen sink is tossed at the player.

Combat is fast, but also a push and pull match of knowing when to use what. One of the new features of the game are the glory kills. These predetermined animations can be performed when an enemy is staggered. They are also designed to drop health when performed. Ammo can also be obtained on command by using the chainsaw. Whenever I was low on ammo, I simply pulled out the chainsaw and started mowing down enemies, as it is guaranteed to drop plenty. The catch is that the chainsaw now works on an ammo system, since it is an instant kill, it takes a specific number of charges to take down various enemies. The push/pull method makes combat super satisfying, especially on the higher difficulties.

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The campaign is a meaty one. I spent about 15 hours mowing through it, but I also spent a fair amount of time hunting down secrets. It can probably be blasted through in about 10, but to find every item, upgrade, and complete every challenge, I am guessing somewhere in the range of 20-25 hours. I loved how well everything is laid out, and the map is divine. Every game going forward should copy the design of Doom’s map.

In addition to capturing that classic Doom feel, the developers have also managed to bring enough new things to the mix to make it feel like more than just a new coat of paint. There are now several upgrade systems tied to both collectibles and challenges. Players can upgrade weapons with secondary attacks, as well as upgrading those for faster reloads, and more powerful blasts. Challenges unlock weapon tokens that upgrade the guns, while hidden items unlock tokens to upgrade Doom guy’s suit. There is also a Rune system that adds perks such as sucking in power-ups, or giving the player more control when jumping. These Runes are locked behind challenges that can be completed within a level, or from the main menu once discovered.

Each level also hosts a hidden lever that unlocks a classic Doom level that can be played from the main menu. There is a lot hidden throughout the campaign, and it is all designed well enough to make me want to go back to find it all. That, and of course the insanely fun combat encounters.

The campaign is only one piece of the pie though. Doom also comes packed with an online multiplayer mode. The online mode feels more in line with modern shooters with a classic FPS feel. This game reminds me a lot of Quake III Arena. It is fast, with brightly-colored pickups. Death comes quick and often, but it also has some modern amenities such as armor customization and loadout selection. Leveling up and unlocking new items is quick, and it kept me entertained getting new items after almost every match.

The modes are standard fare outside of the lack of a proper free-for-all deathmatch. I do like the inclusion of demon power-ups, which allow players to take on the role of the monsters from the campaign and mow down enemies without much effort. It is fun, but not likely something that will have super long legs. Still, I had a damn blast in the handful of matches, and I fully intend to come back for more over the next few weeks or months.

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Finally we have SnapMap, which when it was announced, I thought was simply a map editor for multiplayer. Instead this feels more like a creation tool separate from the rest of the game. This simple tool allows players to basically create competitive or cooperative missions, as well as solo affairs using the in-game assets. The setup is simple, and just about anyone can come to grips with it quickly. While not as robust as something like a LittleBigPlanet, there is room here for creativity. There are already takes on classic Doom maps, and of course little time wasters. If the community sticks with it, I would love to see some of the creations that spawn over time.

Doom is exactly what I wanted from a modern take on one of my favorite franchises. There is more than enough meat here to satisfy even the most jaded player. Add that to the fact that the combat is simply sublime, while also being a blast, and we have a package that brought a smile to my face the entire time I was playing it. This is how I wanted Doom to be envisioned for the new generation, and I cannot wait to see more shooters take this same approach. Now where is my reboot of Heretic? Nail that, and the 90s will have truly returned to the FPS genre.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Sublime combat
  • Loads of secrets to find
  • Variety of enemies
  • Multiplayer is fast and fun
  • SnapMap is inventive

Bad

  • Excessive combat arenas towards the end
9.5

Excellent

Ken McKown
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.
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