By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on May 17, 2016
May 2016 marks the return of one of my favorite first person shooter series of all time: Doom. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the time has finally come for us to, once again, don the guise of the Doom Marine (or Doom guy, as he was called years back) and kick some demon butt and break some demon faces. Although, if it weren't for the teeth, the difference between a demons butt and its face would be a hard one to spot. I mean, DAMN, are those things ugly! And while I don't think shooting demons in the face with a shotgun at close range really helps to improve their looks, it sure is a HELL of a lot of fun!
As you start the game, you are freed from the sarcophagus in which you were imprisoned many, many years ago and find yourself at a UAC research facility on Mars. Just like before you were imprisoned, mars seems to have been overrun by the forces of hell and it's your job to persuade them to return to the black hole from whence they came. And by persuade, I mean reduce them to bloody piles of demon goo. To this end, you have a wide variety of weapons at your disposal; a pistol, a shotgun, a rocket launcher, even the BFG 9000 can be used to annihilate your enemies. If you're more into the ‘up-close-and-personal' approach, there's even a chainsaw for you to swing around. A really cool feature is the use of melee finishing attacks; if you deal enough damage to an enemy, they will be highlighted, signaling the opportunity to finish them with a brutal and bloody melee attack: the Glory Kill. My favorite of these awesome melee attacks has to be the one where you rip a demon's arm off and beat him to death with it.
As you may have guessed by now, Doom is not for the faint of heart. Blood and guts are literally flying everywhere as you make your way through the UAC research facility. And that's the way (uh-huh uh-huh) I LIKE IT! I mean, come on; Doom has never been a game to do things subtle and neat. No, Doom has always been a fast-paced feast of gore and bloody dismemberment. Sure, 2004's Doom 3 took things in a somewhat different direction and added a horror element to the proceedings. Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing; very much on the contrary actually! I genuinely liked Doom 3, but it never quite felt like a game that belonged in the series that I played since I was just a teenager (which, sadly, is a time that is quite a few years behind me at this point).
So, after almost 12 years since the last release in the series, Doom is back in all its blood-splattered glory. No hiding in cover, waiting for your health to return. No conveniently places chest-high walls to take cover behind; nothing of the sort. Just pure FPS fun, running around and constantly dodging incoming attacks. As is usually the case, if you get hit, you lose health. This health can only be replenished by picking up blue health-packs that are strewn across the levels or by collecting blue health ‘orbs' that are dropped by enemies after you've successfully dismembered them or by visiting a health station that you come across as you make your way through the levels. The same goes for armor; no reloading shields here, no sir! Green armor shards and the occasional green body armor can also be found throughout the levels, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled.
By defeating enemies, completing levels and completing secondary challenges, you earn upgrade points. Weapon upgrade points can be used, as one would suspect, to upgrade your weapons. The upgrade menu lets you add certain properties to one of the secondary firing modes of a weapon. These secondary attacks can be collected from little hovering robots that are placed at certain points in the level. Some of these robots are easy to spot, while others may prove to be a little more difficult to find. Try to find as many as you can, because you will need all the firepower you can get! For instance, when upgrading the shotgun, you can choose to add a high-speed, three-shot blast as your secondary attack. Or, if you are so inclined, add a cartridge of small rockets to the end of your trusty double-barrel. Keep in mind that these secondary attacks need time to reload, so use them wisely. When you have made your choice, gathering upgrade points will grant you the opportunity to, say, expand the blast radius of the rockets or decrease the reloading time of the secondary attack in question.
Apart from the weapon upgrade points, you can also collect suit upgrade points which, as the name implies, let you upgrade your Praetor Suit. The Praetor suit upgrades are divided into no less than five categories. First up is Environmental resistance; this category makes you take less or no damage from the environment, like exploding barrels, fire or your own weapon-blasts. The second category is the Area-Scanning technology. These upgrades enhance your scanning system and let you discover secrets or other items with more ease. Thirdly, there’s the Equipment System category, which greatly enhances the effectiveness of your other items, like grenades and such. The fourth category is the powerup effectiveness, which does exactly what the title suggests; improve the effectiveness of powerups you might find. And lastly, there’s the Dexterity category, which, among other things, lets you increase your battle speed or decrease reloading time.
And if you’re still not satisfied with the sheer amount of possibilities the weapon or Praetor Suit upgrades provide you with, there’s a third variety of upgrades, which come in the form of so-called Argent orbs, small glass balls that contain one of the most powerful energies known to man: pure Argent energy. This Argent energy will help you become stronger, tougher and way more dangerous than you already are. The Argent upgrade menu is divided into three categories: health, armor and ammo. These categories are pretty self explanatory; they increase your maximum health, armor or ammo-carrying capacity. As with the upgrade robots that provide you with weapon upgrades, I would advise you to try to find as many of these Argent orbs as you possibly can, for you will need them before everything is said and done.
Another cool feature comes in the forms of Rune Trials. These trials are hidden throughout the game and present you with a challenge when found. You might have to kill a certain number of enemies, or destroy a number of crates before time runs out. When completed successfully, these trials reward you with the matching rune that, in turn, grants you special powers. The more Rune Trials you complete, the more special powers you can make use of. You can also unlock more rune slots, so you'll be able to carry more active runes at the same time. A reward may be everything from: prolonging the time a demon stays in ‘stagger' mode, making it easier for you to perform a Glory Kill, to the increase of item effectiveness or the increase of the value of ammo, received from demons or items. Apart from being rewarding, these trials are also quite challenging at times and a lot of fun to play!
The single best thing about these new game mechanics is that they don't get in the way of the gameplay. The main focus is still on decimating enemies left and right while making your way to the exit of the level. To this end, the developers have added a very cool and very handy 3D map. The map gradually builds up as you make your way through a level. However, you can come across a map-terminal along your way and download the map for the entire level. This lets you see the areas of the level you haven't yet visited, as well as some of the items that can be found there. The unvisited areas are marked in grey, whereas the areas you have already visited are marked in blue. This map makes it quite a bit easier to find your way around and discover the various secret areas that are hidden throughout the campaign. And, all the functionality aside, this map just looks really, really cool!
Now, on to a feature every first person shooter worth its salt can't do without: enemies! Luckily, Doom is packed to the rafters with all kinds of menacing-looking Hellspawn, so don't worry about getting bored. Your enemies are literally popping out of the ground, ready to attack. And not just two or three demon's at a time; no sir, they seem to be attacking in packs this time. And look, next to the new characters, some of our old friends have even joined the party! Revenant, Mancubis; it's so good to see you guys, my shotgun will be right with you! Cacodemon, you old rascal! Nice face, let me fix that for you! But seriously, the demons featured in Doom look amazing; the character models are very detailed and are positively dripping with evil! Apart from the armies of demons you'll encounter throughout your travels, this fun little tour into hell wouldn't be complete without boss-fights. And let me assure you that when you play through Doom's campaign, you'll get your fair share of these huge demons that seem to want nothing more than to grind your skull and tear your flesh from your bones.
And, for all the people out there who can't seem to enjoy themselves on their own, Doom comes complete with not one, not four, but no less than SIX multiplayer modes, ranging from the well-known team deathmatch to the all new Soul Harvest, a team-based mode, in which you try to gather as much souls of your fallen enemies and friends as you possibly can. The team that is first to reach a predetermined number of souls, or the team with the most souls when time runs out, wins. Anothernew and extremely COOL multiplayer mode is the Freeze Tag mode, in which two teams battle it out by freezing each other. When hit, a player is frozen solid and can be pushed into hazards by enemy players, effectively killing him in the process. If a player on your team is frozen, you can try to thaw him or her, by standing near them for a certain amount of time. The more active players gather round a frozen player, the faster that player thaws. The first team to freeze the entire enemy team wins the match. The remaining three multiplayer modes are: Warpath (King of the Hill), Domination (tower defense) and Clan Arena (last team standing). These multiplayer modes are spiced up even more by the addition of a Demon Rune, a floating red pentagram that turns the player who collects it into a demon, making him or her much stronger than your average marine.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen; Doom has returned... and how! Faster, cooler, more violent and looking more beautiful than ever, it's pure FPS heaven. Doom takes everything I have ever loved about the series and distills it into one awesome, blood and gore covered package. I can only come to the conclusion that this is a really, really excellent game and that ID and Bethesda did an awesome job. Way to go guys, you nailed it! Doom provides you with hours and hours of fun, both online as well as offline. Big guns, giant demons, huge explosions… what's not to like?! So, if you need to find me over the course of the next few days, look me up on Mars or in Hell, cause that's where I will be, blasting my way through waves of enemies.