By NICK McCOY
Tiger Media Network
When it comes to the First Person Shooter genre and gaming as a whole, the “Doom” series still stands as one of the most influential and iconic franchises. The brainchild of John Romero and John Cormack, and the company id Software, the first “Doom”, released in 1993, completely revolutionized gaming and the FPS with its fully 3D graphics, explorable environments and multiplayer, coming just shortly after id’s equally revolutionary game, “Wolfenstein 3D”.
A franchise with a long and interesting history, “Doom” has had its high and low points. The high points came with the releases of “Doom II” in 1994 and “Doom 64” in 1997, which continued the series’ staple of slaying countless amounts of demons with a heavy arsenal. However, the series did stagnate with the release of 2004’s “Doom 3”. While it is far from a bad game, its slower pace and focus on horror did not sit well with the core fanbase. After that, aside from some DLC for “Doom 3” and a remaster of the game in 2012, the future didn’t exactly seem bright for the legendary series.
That is, until id Software, now working alongside Bethesda Softworks, decided to go back to the franchise’s roots with the fourth installment, simply titled “Doom,” in 2016. This new game proved to be exactly what fans were pining for; with the brutal, fast-paced, insanely fun demon-slaying gameplay, fantastic atmosphere and level design and an absolutely banging heavy metal soundtrack from composer Mick Gordon, “Doom” 2016 is one of the best first-person shooters in recent memory, and brought the legendary series back into the limelight.
- Released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PCs on May 13th, 2016.
- A Nintendo Switch port was released in November of 2017.
- Followed by “Doom Eternal”, released in 2020.
“Doom” 2016 takes place on Mars, where the United Aerospace Corporation (UAC) has built a research facility on the planet in the year 2149. In order to solve a severe energy crisis, the facility has been siphoning a powerful energy source called Argent Energy, from a portal leading to Hell itself. Unfortunately, the interference of scientist Olivia Pierce causes the portal to open, allowing demonic forces to run rampant in the facility. As a result, the scientists are wiped out and the facility is left in ruins. Players assume control of the series’ iconic protagonist, the space marine “Doomguy,” known in this game as the Doom Slayer, who is awakened by the cyborg head of the facility, Dr. Samuel Hayden. Assisted by Hayden and the AI VEGA, the Slayer makes it his mission to kill every single demon that has made it through the portal, defeat Pierce and prevent a full-scale demonic invasion of Earth.
While I, and I’m sure many others, didn’t play this game for the story, the narrative here does prove to be intriguing. The characters of Pierce and especially Hayden are far more interesting than they have any right to be, and manage to keep me entertained and listening. One thing that “Doom” 2016 excels at is the atmosphere. Just exploring the deserted and desolate facility, strewn with destruction and dead bodies, it’s great and sets the tone of the game and how desperate the situation has become. This becomes even better when you enter Hell itself; a nightmarish landscape of skeletons, warped vegetation, stone, blood and flesh, and fire, the Inferno provides a completely different experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The world-building is also well done, with video recordings in the UAC facility showing the effects of the Hell portal and Pierce’s descent into madness. There are also the scriptures you can find in Hell, which shows that even the forces of that dimension are absolutely terrified of the Doom Slayer. If that doesn’t tell you how iconic and amazing your protagonist is, I don’t know what will.
Then there is, of course, the gameplay. The gameplay loop of the original “Doom” is quite simple; you enter a room, kill every single demon in sight, and proceed to the next room and repeat. This entire process was made fun thanks to the massive arsenal of weapons players had at their disposal and the sheer satisfaction of blowing demons to pieces. All of this is perfectly captured in “Doom” 2016, and dare I say, it’s the best it’s ever been. This game is one of the smoothest, most fun, and most satisfying FPSs you will ever get your hands on. The arsenal of weapons is there and accounted for: shotguns, assault rifles, plasma weapons, rocket launchers, along with a chainsaw and the iconic BFG9000 that completely eliminates every enemy in the vicinity – it’s all there for you to use against any unlucky demon who stands in your way.
One thing you will instantly notice is how much the game emphasizes movement and mobility. “Doom” 2016 is not a game where you want to stand still and take things slow; You want to always be moving, staying one step and jumping ahead of your enemies, or else you’ll be the one getting torn to shreds. Well, it’s a good thing that the movement here is absolutely perfect. Running, jumping, and shooting feels amazing to pull off, and it never gets dull or boring. This heavy emphasis on movement is tailored into the gameplay itself; health and armor do not regenerate, so players need to either find health packs or armor pieces, or activate “Glory kills.”
One of the game’s most iconic features, glory kills are brutal executions that can be used against demons once they’ve taken enough damage. Not only are these kills extremely visceral and satisfying, but also drop health and sometimes ammo for the player. You can also execute demons using the chainsaw, which drops a surplus of ammo for all your weapons and can kill all enemies in one hit, assuming you have sufficient fuel. If you aren’t jumping and moving around, blasting away at enemies as they swarm you and executing these glory kills as much as possible, you’re not playing the game correctly.
I also got to give props to the game’s level design. While “Doom” is a linear level-based shooter, in a similar vein to “Wolfenstein”, its levels leave plenty of room to explore. This is great for finding extra ammo and health packs, but also allows players to find secret areas and explore different parts of the facility. You can find collectible figurines and codex entries, which gives information on the various people and demons you find, but you can also find upgrade points for your suit and weapons. You can also find Rune Trials, mini-challenges that unlock special perks. Exploring during combat arenas is also encouraged, as players can find power-ups for the Slayer to use, such as making him faster or increasing his weapon damage. My personal favorite will always be “Berserk,” where Doom Slayer just sheds his weapons and goes “Nah, these are my guns,” and destroys demons with his bare hands. Even with its relatively linear structure, the game still emphasizes exploration, which I think should be the gold standard for most games.
Finally, I have to talk about the game’s soundtrack. There’s a reason why “When the Doom music kicks in” became such a popular meme. Seriously, the ripping guitar riffs and brutal chugging are guaranteed to get your blood pumping, especially as the enemies swarm you. It is pretty much impossible not to get pumped when the music starts playing. This is all thanks to the phenomenal work of composer Mick Gordon, who has become somewhat of a legend in both the metal and video game communities. His music here, his talents also being showcased with “Wolfenstein: The New Order,” Arkane Studios’ “Prey” and the 2013 “Killer Instinct,” manage to make “Doom” that much more enjoyable to play through.
- Fantastic ambiance, especially in the Hell levels
- A pretty fun Arcade Mode
- Very tedious platforming
- Levels can be a bit labyrinthine sometimes
Overall, “Doom” is an absolutely phenomenal game that every self-proclaimed first-person shooter fan should play at least once. It’s the complete package for any “Doom” fan pining for the fast-paced gameplay of the previous entries, and for basically anybody who’s looking for a fun game to play. With its immensely fun and satisfying gameplay, superb level design and atmosphere, and intriguing story, “Doom” hits all the boxes for a near-perfect game in my opinion. Bottom line, this game is another must-play.
Nick McCoy is a senior at Fort Hays State University, studying digital media and journalism. An avid gamer and music listener, he reviews video games and songs, and hosts the radio show “The Understanding of Nick” for KFHS.