There’s a rough metric you can use to instantly tell how good a Doom game will be. It’s called Time To First Encounter (TTFE), and measures how soon after hitting start you’re pumping an enemy with bullets. In Doom, TTFE is five seconds. Doom 3 made you wait an antagonising 15 minutes before its first enemy decided to show up. The 2016 Doom achieves a TTFE of zero seconds, dropping you into a room of demons from the off, and never letting up.
Doom is an unapologetic nod to the past glories of the franchise, with a few concessions made for the modern player. It ditches the diversion into survival horror that Doom 3 took, and reverts back to full on action. No more jump scares, just hordes of angry demons, all looking for a bite of space marine. You’ll recognise plenty here – all the classic enemies are present, given a fresh lick of polygons but still instantly familiar. Ditto the power-ups, weapons, and locales.
New to the game are upgrades. Almost everything is upgradeable, including your armour and weapons. An inescapable element of the modern shooter, it’s not surprising to see it here. The action gets frantically fast later in the game, and you’ll want to make sure that your marine is as powerful as possible.
There’s also a jump button this time around. Doom makes great use of its labyrinthian, non-linear levels (you will get lost, especially if you turn off the waypoint markers), expanding them by building upwards. Death-defying leaps have to be made to reach all important secrets, and give you an edge in the fast-paced combat against the relentlessly aggressive enemies.
John Carmack, whose original tech was responsible for Doom’s epochal rise, once said: "Story in games is like story in porn. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not really important". Doom abides by this rhetoric, and although there’s a narrative, it never interferes with the most important aspect of the game – pointing your gun at things and making them die.
In the run-up to the game's release, the multiplayer component was pushed heavily, almost to the point where it appeared to be the main feature of the game. It’s competent and enjoyable, if slightly by-the-numbers. Filled with all the modern tropes of an online shooter, like levelling up, perks, skins, animations, it’ll fill a couple of slow evenings, but it’s hard to imagine anyone returning to it on a regular basis. It’s a shame then that the season pass is dedicated to it, offering up yet more maps, weapons and equipment. An addition to the single-player campaign, which is the real star here, would have been much more welcome.
More successful is SnapMap, a user creation tool for making and publishing new levels. It’s essentially a shooter Mario Maker. A rich and expansive tool, sure to appeal to budding game designers, it potentially means a never ending supply of new Doom levels – a tantalising prospect.
Doom joins the ranks of the classic first-person shooters that have been successfully resurrected this generation, joining Wolfenstein and Shadow Warrior. It will mainly appeal to existing fans, but does such an effortless job of creating a fast, fun, bloody shooter, it’s bound to attract a new generation of Doom enthusiasts too.
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