Year of Release:2016
As a thirty-year old unable to hold out against the original PlayStation hype, there were a bundle of three games I got with the console. The first was peerless RPG Final Fantasy VII, the second the rock-hard Resident Evil and the third was Doom. The PS version was a port of the original Doom and Doom II from the PC, and if FFVII was the game as a novel, as a source of beauty and emotion, then Doom was all about the thrill. From the sound of the shotgun to the superb level designs, ending in mad dashes for elevators before the timer ran out and the door slammed shut, it gripped us.
There was a previous reboot on the last gen consoles, but the current PS4 incarnation is seen as the inheritor of the original flame (of hell). So, thirty years on – how’s your FPS madelaine slipping down? I’m three levels in, and playing on the easiest setting – daughter is of course dismissive, as only the harder settings introduce the lack-of-save points jeopardy of the original. Spent 90 minutes fighting to the end of the level only to die at the very end…my memory may be tricking me but at the very least you had to finish the level before you turned the console off….I remember writing down the password you were given at the end of the each level, so there may not have even been proper saves on the mighty PS1 1mb memory card.
The new game for my mind strikes a sensible balance between the jeopardy of the original and the sensibilities of those brought up on continuous save. There are checkpoints, but if you die you go back to the last one. No saving just before the boss, no killing one/saving/killing the second in a bit you’re stuck on. And it works. The tension is completely different from COD.
I am also please to report there is zero story. Well, not quite true – but again unlike COD there’s no attempt to give your un-named Doom Marine any backstory, cut scenes or buddy interactions. You have no buddies. You’re straight into the killing in the first minute. Off the slab, pick up the pistol and suit and get stuck in. And it’s like that all the way. Round every corner lurks enemies, and in a neat touch you often have to trigger a pulping biomass called a ‘gorenest’ that instantly unleashes a posse of angry undead on you. Doom is not for the sniper and the lurker, it’s a get-stuck-in and keep going shooter. Back off into a corner and they will win.
The weaponry is all pleasingly there: shotgun, plasma rifle, assault rifle and – oh joy – the chainsaw. Heavy on the petrol but capable of major melee evisceration. And – daughter warned me – melee is an integral part of the game dynamic. Snap a spine, crack a skull or pull out a backbone and you’re rewarded with health. No shield recharge here, it’s push forward for the glory kill. There’s mods, power ups and all the kind of loadout stuff that modern games expect – but it’s very light touch.
From the levels ahead that daughter has reached the demons are all there: I’m mainly fighting undead soldiers and imps at this stage, but cacodemons and the like all look present and correct in the later stages.
In its look, feel and downright basicness it’s a complete throwback to games that only did one thing. No jumping in cars for driving sections, no on-rails section with the machine gun, it’s run and gun down those corridors full of flickering electrics, barrels of toxic goo and lava pits. Goddamn. Ms Moles took one look and wanted a go. There is no higher praise.
Might suit people who like:
Wolfenstein, the early CODs and others from when FPS was a slightly grubby part of gaming, rather than the mainstream.
Time Thief Rating:The lost weekend