INSOMNIA

Doom (2016, PC)

By CtrlAltDestroy / January 1, 2017


It's an arena shooter.
   I'm not kidding. You basically get locked inside of rooms filled with ammo, health, and usually a power-up or two. Demons spawn in order of ascending difficulty as grungy metal music kicks in, and you have to kill them to unlock the doors so you can walk down some corridors and head to the next arena. The game consists of doing this about 40 times. You very rarely get to navigate hostile terrain and pick off enemies from a distance like in OG Doom, and when you do, it's mostly just zombies.
   But hell, this game is fun. It takes what worked from Doom 3, and replaces everything else with solid homages to the original. The crazy colorful environments with cliffs and steep drops are back. The frantic fights with a dozen enemies at once are back.
   Interestingly, for the first time in Doom history, none of the enemies are given weapons with bullets (the chaingunners even fire energy spheres), meaning that you never have to hide behind cover and you can stay alive just by your dodging skills alone.

   Also, there is no reload button. All your weapons automatically reload themselves and most don’t even have a cooldown, meaning you can just keep firing until you’re out of ammo. That’s about as awesome as it sounds.
   Amazingly, someone must have realized that Hell was the best part of Doom 3, and this game sends you there not once, but three times. I especially loved the Necropolis level which was almost pure fan-service to classic Doom in ways I don't dare spoil.
   But probably best of all, this game has some serious attitude and a sense of humor. Doomguy is a destroyer of worlds, and you can feel his aggression in all of his actions even though you only see him through his own eyes, thanks in no small part to glory kills.
   I found that the notorious “glory kills” while odd at first, worked to the game’s advantage. For those who don’t know, when an enemy is almost dead, they can be finished off with a single flamboyant melee attack which will also spew a fountain of health pickups into the air. Not only do they humorously show off Doomguy’s rage, but they aren’t really all that new (since they were ripped straight from Brutal Doom). In OG Doom, you’d have to run over dead bodies to collect the ammo drops, and it wasn’t unusual to give the enemies a punch or a grind with the chainsaw to conserve a little ammo. Glory kills are basically that, but just happen to make it look a bit cooler. They become a bit less important in the second half of the game, as the game starts throwing you into some ridiculous situations and you’ll probably just want to blast enemies to smithereens without worrying about carefully whittling down their health.
   I give the reboot a 4/5. If you were hoping for the true return of classic Doom, I’ve got news for you: nothing is going to be like classic Doom. If you want classic Doom, go play that. ZDoom.org is on your right, Doomworld.com is on your left. Truth is that classic Doom never left; source ports exist which can add dynamic lighting and make the game look ridiculously modern, and the community is still alive and pumping out dozens of new maps and mods every week. But after the strange horror/corridor shooter that was Doom 3, the reboot returns the series to its roots in the best way possible: it will transport you to a colorful world of sprawling Martian compounds and hellscapes, a place where you never need to stop running at full speed, a place where it just feels good to pull the trigger and watch hundreds of imps and mancubi crumble before you.

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