Hurt me plenty.
After a tumultuous journey to its final release date, Doom graced our consoles and PCs on May 13th as a reboot of the classic shooter. Not knowing what to expect and not expecting much, I hesitantly cancelled my collector’s edition pre-order; after all, I’m getting married at the beginning of June, and the collector’s edition ran $129.99. Instead, Gamefly timed up perfectly and sent me Doom a few days after release. Once Peter wrote his in depth and heartfelt review of Doom, I knew that I couldn’t wait to play it.
Before Doom, I found myself tiring at a fearsome speed of first person shooters. I remember the glory days of Halo 3, Bad Company, and Killzone 2 – my heyday of multiplayer shooters. Each shooter of the past five years has come in hard, and I even boarded the hype train on quite a few. Each one lasted a few weeks – the last of the great pretenders falling with Battlefield 3’s hardcore mode. But more importantly, my fascination with the genre, something that peaked so long ago when games began to utilize improved technology, has faded with its innovation. Don’t get me wrong, however; I still enjoy titles like F.E.A.R. and Borderlands, and Battleborn and Overwatch are strategically changing the FPS formula in order to boost the genre (at least, that’s how I see it). But Doom? Well, that stands on its own.
From the first second of playability in Doom, you’re knee deep in action – action that never sees a cessation until the credits roll. New enemy types populate the game at well-paced intervals, increasing the difficulty as the player proceeds through each stage. But what truly makes Doom shine in its own right is its ability to make the player feel like a badass. I can’t remember a single game, especially of the FPS genre, that allows me to feel more empowered than the limb-tearing action of Doom. Nothing – I firmly repeat, nothing – in the world of Doom is safe; not even the Doom marine.
Let’s focus on one aspect of Doom that certainly stands out from the rest [of shooters]: the campaign. Clocking in at about 10-12 hours, Doom provides one of the best (and longest) campaign modes in a shooter that I’ve experienced in a long time. Its plot is reasonable (especially for a first person shooter). Doom follows you, the Doom marine, through the planet of Mars (and sometimes in Hell) after the human consumption of Hell energy was distorted and openly exposed into the Mars research facility. The remainder of the game is spent in an attempt to close the portals to Hell and stop the demon army from taking control of the Mars base. Again, the plot is reasonable, and its execution was well scripted.
And this is a huge victory for Doom. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many FPS games I’ve abandoned halfway through the campaign because it’s just horrendous. The last Call of Duty I actually played fully through – hell, the only Call of Duty I ever played through – was Black Ops II. The last Battlefield I played through? Bad Company 2. Why? Because they’re all the same; they all depend on their prized multiplayer to succeed. For their part, I suppose it’s a working formula, as the two juggernaut franchises always seem to pass the metaphorical success buck every other year. And as long as there is a market for competitive FPS multiplayer, I don’t see why Activision or EA won’t continue.
Yet it’s the games like Doom or F.E.A.R. that I will remember the most. Why? Because they’re not your run-of-the-mill shooter, down to the core mechanics. With F.E.A.R.’s horror setting and slo-mo inclusion and Doom’s fast paced, badass gorefest, the games set themselves apart from the FPS wolf pack. Where I believe Call of Duty is heading, by the way, is a very negative spiral downward because the developers under Activision seem to believe that sci-fi settings, epic explosions and set pieces, and superhuman body suits is “innovation.” Unfortunately, after the fairly refreshing gameplay found in Titanfall, and Activision’s apparent apprehension that former members of Infinity Ward may create a better game, they fled straight into creating games that included the wall running, double jumping, jet packing action that Titanfall incorporated. Then, in typical Call of Duty fashion, they continued to murder that horse until only glue remained.
Now, a few days out from completing the campaign in Doom and trying out the multiplayer (it’s not bad, but it’s average), I still feel confident in my appreciation of what iD and Bethesda put on the market. It’s certainly not a flawless creation, as nothing is perfect, but what a game like Doom offers to jaded gamers like me is a puff of fresh air and a power up that the FPS genre so desperately needed.