In Doom, I see a world brimming with demons, explosions, and hellfire. I see familiar faces screaming, with bloodthirsty eyes and unwavering stares. Playing it delivers the same cathartic craze the original Doom and Doom II did in the early ’90s: overwhelmed by the horrors around every turn, but empowered with an impressive collection of weapons at the ready.
But the new Doom is louder and faster than the old model. Its battles ask more of you, and its heavy-metal soundtrack causes your body to quiver from turbulent surges of adrenaline. From the outset two things are made immediately clear: you were born to kill demons, and you’ll do anything it takes. You will wrench countless jaws from their joints and eviscerate the swollen flesh of your enemies between bouts of furious gunfire. These powerful moments carry what, at its core, is a simple game. The cadence of Doom’s campaign is unwavering to the point of predictability as you make multiple round-trips between Mars and the depths of hell. Each location bears its own distinct but static identity, and your return trips inspire more deja vu than surprise as you tread familiar ground on either side of the dimensional portal you’re charged with dismantling.
increasingly tiresome as your pulse drops to a murmur, and your patience for anything other than combat wears thin. The advent of Rune Challenges mixes this up a bit, offering self-contained tasks that momentarily take you out of missions and into tiny arenas where you need to defeat enemies under strict conditions. As enjoyable as these can be, they don’t hold a candle to mission combat and eventually become an afterthought as you seek your next battle.
When Doom funnels you from one location to the next, it introduces brief moments that tell your story, and the story of the energy-obsessed Union Aerospace Corporation. It’s the UAC’s ill-conceived decision to tap into Hell’s energy resources that created the portal between dimensions in the first place, and though you are an agent of the UAC in a way, yours is a reluctant enlistment. The tale of your involvement carries a certain gravitas in the way it speaks of legends and dark messiahs, but it ultimately amounts to little more than window dressing to justify your actions.
When your journey comes to a close, you will have spent close to a dozen hours in the thick of it, the last of which are punctuated with riveting boss fights and seemingly impossible odds. With a flush arsenal and enhanced physical abilities, you may opt to return to previous missions and find items you may have missed, or lay waste at higher difficulty levels, but multiplayer awaits those who seek something new. Apart from a few multiplayer-exclusive weapons and the ability to play as demons during portions of a match, there’s actually very little new about Doom’s multiplayer. Its modes are few, delivering the expected assortment of match types, including team deathmatch and domination challenges, and a couple fun diversions like freeze tag. By and large, you won’t find much in multiplayer that hasn’t been done before, but what’s there is enjoyable in small doses thanks to the fast pace of combat and the explosive nature of Doom’s weaponry.
More impressive than multiplayer is Snap Map, a mode that allows you to create and share both multi- and single-player maps online. Tutorials walk you through the steps involved in creating a map, which is intuitive to begin with. Beyond ease-of-use, Snap Map will live or die through the creativeness of the community, which has already made a strong showing, delivering a range of maps that range from brutal to absurdly entertaining. More than multiplayer, Snap Map is the cherry on top of the new Doom.
But without a doubt, the loud and chaotic campaign is Doom’s strongest component. It’s straightforward and simple, but it serves its purpose: to thrust you into increasingly dire scenarios fueled by rage and the spirit of heavy metal. Many shooters chase the thrill Doom delivers, but few are as potent in their execution. It captures the essence of what made the classic Doom games touchstones of their day, and translates it to suit modern palates with impressively rendered hellscapes and a steady influx of tantalizing upgrades. Doom is the product of a tradition as old as shooters, and while it’s not the model to follow in every case, modern shooters could learn a thing or two from Doom’s honed and unadulterated identity.