With the video game market flooded with remakes, reboots and sequels attempting to recapture the magic of a franchise’s past, developers have to work hard to make a truly stand-out title. “Doom” (2016) has broken the standard for dull titles that bring only stale content to the table. The game brings the pulse-pounding 90s shooter classic to the modern era with beautifully rendered 3-D graphics and a heavy rock soundtrack.
Players are dropped into the game as a nameless space marine strapped to a table in the blood-soaked ruins of a science research facility on Mars overrun by demons. While the core gaming mechanics that made the original “Doom” famous remain intact (i.e., point then shoot), the plot doesn’t explore any new territory. The developers (ID Software) focused more on gameplay rather than the story. What makes the game appealing is the focus on speed and sheer destructive power of the protagonist (affectionately named Doomguy). Players are tasked with getting through waves and waves of demons to achieve some objective such as gathering a keycard or destroying an enemy structure.
The game is surprisingly gory, especially with the implementation of the new “glory kill,” a function of the game where the player causes a demon to stagger (usually by shooting at the legs) and then proceeds to pummel it into nothingness. These sections of the game are quite graphic but also serve to keep the destruction of the demon hordes both interesting and fast-paced.
“Doom” also keeps gameplay interesting by giving players a myriad of weapons to dispatch the in-game enemies. Each weapon comes with the option of special upgrades that can be earned through the progression of the game. These upgrades provide the player with special tactical advantages that then must be strategically used to maximize the punishment they can dole out.
The game’s storyline is rather bland despite the well-crafted gameplay. The plot seems to get lost due to the fast-paced run and gun shooter style of the game. The story boils down to one of the facility’s researchers being corrupted by demons and proceeding to open up a portal to hell and it is the player’s job to destroy all the demons and close off the portal by any means necessary. Many ideas in the plot seem unclear and unconnected, leaving the player a bit confused. The game does provide the player with a codex of Doom universe lore that feels more like reading a textbook and really detracts from the action. The plot culminates in some interesting boss fights from a gameplay standpoint but the player is left with a feeling of confronting a complete stranger rather than a thrilling antagonist built up by the game’s plot. Even the big “twist ending” seems predictable after several hours of gameplay.
Storyline issues aside, the gameplay actually keeps the time spent on the game interesting and quite enjoyable. Doom’s emphasis on action will keep any thrill-seeking player happy despite the lack of story substance.