The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Doom

Date Posted: 17/05/20

 

Doom, or perhaps as it is more commonly known Doom 2016 is first person shooter released for X-Box One and PS4 in May 2016. Naturally the version I played was for the PS4. From what I have just read on Wikipedia apparently it more closely follows the fast paced action of Doom and Doom 2 than the more survival horror based Doom 3. A sequel to Doom 2016 (which I will just refer to as Doom from now on) named Doom Eternal was released in March 2020 which as of yet I have not played.

 

Doom Cover

 

In case you didn’t twig in my introduction this is the first time I have ever played a Doom game and whilst I have played first person shooter games before I think my experience may have started and ended with Resistance: Fall of Man and the occasional Call of Duty game on the PS3. I have started getting more into 1st person games being drawn to the survival horror genre and have enjoyed the likes of Resident Evil VII and Alien Isolation. However, as I was to discover the experience of playing Doom would quickly demand that I alter my entire 1st person game playing techniques...

 

The game begins in the year 2162 on Mars, your character the Doom Marine, awakens following a demon attack on the base run by the Union Aerospace Corporation. The UAC have found a way to extract energy from a dimension ruled by demonic creatures, which is generally considered to be Hell or is the actual Hell described as the fate of those who sin in the Christian Afterlife. Either way it is a bad place, full of fire, torment, demons and so on. The facility is being overrun and it is up to the Doom Marine to close the portals separating the two worlds before the entire planet can be overrun.

 

That is kind-of it really in terms of plot.

 

The rest of the game revolves around the Doom Marine travelling through the overrun facility as well as the Hell dimension combating demons that have killed the majority of the research staff and turned the rest into mindless monsters. The main antagonist of the game is a researcher named Olivia Pierce who opened the portal allowing the demons through for reasons unknown. Whilst the Doom Marine is trying to stop the demon threat he is not an ally of the UAC’s Head Researcher Dr Samuel Hayden.

 

As far as I am aware this story does continue on from the previous Doom games as there are references to the Doom Marine have rampaged through Hell in eons past. I know almost nothing about who the Doom Marine actually is, and I saw a video on YouTube in which it was hypothesised that Link from Legend of Zelda and the Doom Marine could be one and the same. In the video it was explained that both lie dormant until they are awakened to battle evil, in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. I’m not dwelling on the Link connection, but in the video I learned that the Doom Marine had existed for thousands of years. He had been battling the demons of Hell since the First Age (whenever that was and it is now canonically the Fifth I think) and was at some point imprisoned in Hell because the demons could not find a way to kill him.

 

...on a side note I am not sure why they cannot kill him as during the game my Doom Marine was killed by falling into molten metal, getting his legs ripped off my massive Hell-Beasts, was shot to death, and crushed. However my highest death rate was attributed with falling off high places, so I guess gravity is the Doom Marine’s biggest weakness...did the Lord of Hell or whoever not think to try any of these things before imprisoning him in a stone sarcophagus for all eternity???...

 

Anyway bits and pieces of the lore and the monsters are given in text logs that you can find scattered around the various maps. However, I think if you are the kind of person that is going to be interrupting the game to sit there and read all of the logs then you are probably not the kind of person that should be playing a Doom game.

 

Similarly to previous reviews that I have done I was noting down things that I wanted to talk about so I wouldn’t forget it when I came to do my review.

 

So let’s crack on...

 

First off, forget everything you think you know about 1st person games if you have only played survival horror like Resident Evil VII or war games like Resistance: Fall of Man or Call of Duty. In Doom if you stay still, or move slowly and cautiously then you are going to get killed. There is no hiding and sniping in this game. The key to survival in Doom is moving constantly, as you gather more weapons switch out weaker guns for stronger ones and upgrade your weapons to combat the constant flow of increasingly powerful enemies. Each weapon will have its pros and cons, some fire rapidly but do only small amounts of damage, others fire slowly but deal massive damage. You can switch between two weapons on the fly but need to open your weapon wheel to select something else. The game doesn’t pause when you access the wheel, the enemies go into slow motion but can, and will still hit you if you are fiddling about with weapons in this way for too long.

 

The enemies that you face are fast, dangerous and have a variety of different attack styles so you need to adapt your tactics when dealing with them. The chainsaw causes demons to explode into ammo so use that to resupply any weapons that your ammo is running low in, which, in some of the hairier moments, is probably going to be all of them. The chainsaw has limited fuel and whilst it can kill everything (except bosses) if it is fuelled up enough, you have to weigh up the pros and cons of slaying a bigger monster which will use most of your fuel or smaller ones which will use less, but leave you the big bastards to deal with.

 

Thankfully the game is not stingy with ammo scattered around the levels, this isn’t survival horror, you need your weapons to battle the demons that are coming for you. This is not Resident Evil 2 Remake in which you use your pistol 90% of the time, only breaking out your shotgun or larger weapons for bosses. In this game use your guns, use ALL of your guns, and switch between them mid-battle in order to slay the onslaught of Hell-demons that are trying to kill you where you stand. There are no useless weapons either, even the starting pistol that has unlimited ammunition, can be useful against lesser demons and as all weapons can be upgraded it too can be made more powerful.

 

Now, relating back to the comments about the lore of the monsters it seems that the demons have a hierarchy or cast system with lesser demons at the bottom and higher demons at the top. I observed numerous instances when the demons were engaged in skirmishes with one another and only turned on my Doom Marine if I got too close. I always like mechanics like this because it means that enemies aren’t just sitting around waiting for the player character to get there so they can spring into action. Doing things like this in games always makes the enemies seem more alive, like they don’t give a crap about you, the player, because they are engaging in their own personal battles. Perhaps within the game context the demons are honing their skills against each other but that is just speculation on my part. What I also liked about this mechanic in Doom was that the monsters can and will damage one another if they are not careful about where they are firing. Which they are not concerned about. So energy weapons fired at you that hit them will hurt demons in close proximity to you which can be beneficial if you are in danger of getting over whelmed. 

 

From what I have heard, in a move that harks back to the original Doom games there are no reloads for your weapons. If you don’t know what I mean then let me explain. In most games weapons will have clips that contain a certain amount of bullets and when that clip is empty you have to reload which takes a few seconds. In Doom there is no reloading. You have a set amount of ammunition and can literally keep firing until you have no ammo left, in addition, weapons will have alternate firing modes that are unlocked which don’t take different ammo so you can just keep shooting till your gun is empty.

 

For a fast paced shooting game the levels are not just relentless running and gunning, the levels are quite expansive with multiple different secret areas to find. Enemies don’t infinitely respawn so once you have cleared out areas you are free to explore as much as you want. In later missions secrets can be missed if you go racing into the levels without checking the areas you are moving through. The collectables include miniature Doom Marines with different armours, as well as tokens to unlock better armour and weapon upgrades. On every level there is also the chance to find a new gun as well as a secret level with the look and texture style of the original Doom game. The levers to open these secrets are quite difficult to see even when you do know where they are which is a tad annoying. The game will put all the weapons in your path at some point so you don’t miss them per se, but you can get a sworn-off shotgun a couple of missions before you would find it canonically in-game if you go secret finding.

 

There are also Rune challenges that you find as you progress. These involve doing various challenges like killing a spercific amount of enemies with a particular weapon, certain movement tasks and things of that vein. Successfully completing these challenges unlocks a Rune that you can equip. Once equipped there will be a mini-challenge that must be completed to unlock that Rune’s full potential. For example you can unlock a Rune which enables you to vacuum up collectables like Health and Ammo drops from further away if you first collect a certain number of Health and Ammo drops. What I liked about these Rune Challenges is that they can generally be done with no more than a half a dozen attempts. There are pretty quick to restart as well so if you fail, you can be having another go within seconds which keeps them from getting too irritating. I have spent hours in games trying to get through mini-challenges because I want to squeeze every possible bonus from a game, and also because I refuse to let games beat me. However, if there are any Runes challenges that you are really struggling with then you can drop the difficulty down a la Saints Row IV which makes doing them much easier, just don’t forget to put your difficulty back up again once you resume the game.

 

It is worth unlocking all of these Runes’ potential as they can be extremely useful when dealing with bosses, or large groups of enemies. Plus they can be switched out in the pause menu so you can swap them on the fly without your Marine standing still in the middle of a demon onslaught whilst he fiddles about with his Runes.

 

The game also features Glory Kills, which involve getting an enemy down in health at which point they flash blue, then orange when you are in range. You can then run in and perform a Glory Kill which net you an increased amount of Health (an armour if you have the corresponding Rune) dropping. These are fast paced which don’t slow the action down and are very useful, as well as essential, for keeping on top of the brutal onslaught of monsters that the game will often throw at you. These are fun and creative to watch but have their irritations which I will get to a bit later on in my critique

 

In every level you are given Combat Objectives which are things like kill a certain number of enemies with a single exploding barrel or chainsaw five enemies. Stuff like that. The majority of these are pretty easy and more importantly fun to do without really having to interrupt game play to complete them.  However, there are some which are quite tricky or one which is bugged. I had to do a Leg Sweep on a certain enemy which proved to be very difficult because if I attacked from the side, my Marine did one move, from the front did another, the back did another and finally if I was in just the right spot the correct animation would play out. But it was down to more luck than skill, plus in the middle of a bloody battle with the legions of Hell, I didn’t really have the time to be faffing about trying to get my Marine in just the right spot to do the correct move. Plus I don’t think the game necessarily tells you how to do a lot of these moves and I only learned how to do the Death From Above because Rune Challenge told me how to do it. The Combat Objectives are a bit of a mixed bag as they can help to keep the pace up and grant you additional bonuses for creative kills, but can slow things right down when you are awkwardly trying to get into just the right spot so the kill can be performed correctly.

 

One additional thing about the Combat objectives which ties in with the Runes is that I am pretty sure they are glitched in one particular level. As I played through the game, found all the Runes, and unlocked their full potential. I did not always do the Rune Challenges and Combat Objectives on my first level playthrough. Some of them I accessed from the Main Menu under the Rune Challenges option, and often replayed missions in the Replay Mission Menu. However, in one level you must touch two Runes Challenges to complete one of the level’s objectives. When I enter this particular level it states that I have touched two Rune challenges so the Objective had been completed, but in the Mission Select Menu it says I need to touch a second Rune to complete the objective. I can replay the whole mission from the Replay Mission Menu but even doing that has not completed this objective. As a result unless I replay the whole game to get back to that particular level so I am doing it for the first time I will never get the trophy for completing all the level objectives. Considering it is now 2020, the game came out in 2016 and a massive update was downloaded before I could play, I would have thought this bug would have been fixed.

 

A final point to mention about the Replay Mission option is that as it sounds you get to redo any completed levels but with everything you have unlocked in your playthrough. You are therefore able to work through the Rune Unlocks because you may need 20 Headshots or something, so you can go to a certain level, headshot as many enemies as possible, restart the checkpoint, the enemies will return but your counter doesn’t reset. The opening section of the Advanced Research Facility level proved to be one of the best places to go because you are confronted but a bunch of Possessed (zombie like enemies that are slow, stupid and easy to kill) so you can easily grind up the Rune unlocks. Once you have unlocked them, you don’t need to finish the level, just quit to the Main Menu and job done.

 

Now we come to the other side of the coin, the yin to the yang, the dark to the light, as we take a look at the things that did not work so well. Now bear in mind that this game came out in 2016 and has been sitting on the shelf for a long time, how long I am not sure, but when I installed it, the game required a 32GB update download before I could begin playing it. I have no idea how much of that update was for the game itself and how much was for multiplayer stuff.

 

But, one of the things that it desperately needs to be fixed are the ledge grabbing mechanics.

 

The majority of the time it works well enough, but my Marine was generally very picky about which ledges he chose to grab hold of. This was less annoying when there was a ledge or something just below me to catch me if I fell, however, it became very annoying when there was nothing below me but an instant death fall. In my whole playthrough I died more to falls than through all of the demons kills combined. I mentioned the secrets previously and often you have to transverse narrow ledges or various platforms to find the secret you are after. The problem is that if you haven’t hit a checkpoint recently you get dumped back that far every time you die. The other day I died over and over and over again whilst trying to drop onto a platform from an overhanging ledge because my Marine refused to grab hold of it. I tried jumping from a nearby rocky outcrop and I watched as my face brushed the ledge, my Doom Guy chose not to grab it resulting in me plunging to my death yet again. Each time I died I reappeared half the map away and had to trek all the way back before I could have another go. It became maddening to the point where I restarted the level convinced I had missed something, and then looked up a walkthrough on how to get to the secret because I was sure I was doing something wrong. It was at that point I discovered that my technique had been sound, I just needed to trigger a different checkpoint which would spawn me on the rocks above the ledge if I died so I could have another go immediately. Once I managed to land on the ledge my problems didn’t end because as I jumped to the nearest rocky outcrop my Marine once again decided not to grab it meaning that the +200 boost to Life and Armour disappeared into the ether. I reappeared on the ledge without those bonuses, leapt for the outcrop again, this time my Marine landed without difficulty and I could carry on having lost one of the main bonuses I had been trying to reach by getting to the ledge in the first place.

 

The second thing that killed me a whole bunch was getting caught on terrain.

 

The environments of the game look really cool and I genuinely felt like I was on a facility on Mars. I assume the atmosphere had been terra-formed to make it breathable, but as my Marine never removes his helmet I guess he could have onboard oxygen. But let’s not wander from the point. The point is that fast paced action and environmental clutter do not go together. I have always had this problem with 1st person games as your protagonist doesn’t have a 180 degree field of vision; they have 45 degrees at best. It is like controlling someone with a canoe tapped to each side of their head. This is fine when playing a slower game like Alien Isolation or even Call of Duty when you are safe behind cover. In Doom though, when I am being attacked my multiple demons of all varieties, some fast, some strong, some ranged, some close up, the last thing I need is to get stuck on a plant or something that I cannot see because I’m focussing on keeping my Marine moving to keep the most immediate threat in view whilst dodging everything else. In the later game these big buggers called Pinkie/s appear which ram into you like a charging bull. If you move to the side they continue charging just changing their direction to smash into you, so you need to be aware of your surroundings. Something you cannot really do if you are watching them racing towards you, whilst trying to kill them, and not get caught on a post or some environmental hazard. Getting trapped like this and killed resulted in the majority of my other deaths. Come to think of it, I only died as a direct result of the demons overwhelming me a handful of times. The rest were due to falls, camera angles and getting stuck on things so the demons were able to kill me before I could untangle myself.  There were also flying demons that look like giant testicles that shoot energy balls at you, I kept losing health to them because they are often above my field of view so I was getting hit without seeing what was hitting me or where it is. They are also good at approaching silently from outside your field of vision so the first I knew of their presence was when a bunch of my healthy suddenly disappeared.

 

For a game in which I think you are expected to die quite frequently the game’s checkpoints are pretty badly spaced. As I said above when I was trying to get to a secret I kept respawning half the map away because that was the last checkpoint I’d reached. Typically I cleared out the majority of the areas so I could go secret hunting. Generally a reasonable tactic but not when secrets lie on the far side of platforms you may not grab, or falls which send you back to the last checkpoint. The reloading also took longer than it should for a game like this, so when you do die, you are waiting several flow breaking seconds before you can resume the game or plunge back into action.

 

Remember a paragraph or so ago when I mentioned that I restarted a level because I was convinced I had missed the key to a secret?? Well, when I was playing the level I discovered that I had lost several of the weapon upgrades that I had unlocked prior to that.

 

Let me explain, so once you unlock three upgrades to a weapons secondary option, like explosive shots for the shotgun, you are given a challenge which unlocks the final upgrade. In the case of the explosive shots, a direct hit resulted in a cluster bomb effect which was very useful for taking down enemies built like brick shithouses.

 

Like I said above, Doom gives you the option of replaying previous missions again to search for collectables and complete Combat Objectives, or just for the fun of it I suppose. It was whilst repeating previous missions to find secrets that I unlocked the cluster bomb upgrade for my shotgun. I happily ran around using it to blast hell demons into mush. But for some strange reason when I restarted the mission I was struggling with, I lost the cluster bomb upgrade. The challenge was reset so I needed to do it again. All of my weapon challenges were also resent, and I have absolutely no idea why. I hadn’t unlocked those upgrades on the mission I restarted so why the chuffing hell did they resent when I restart??? It made no sense then and it still doesn’t. I cannot think of an in-game reason why I lost them, and now having gotten used to the cluster bomb effect with my shotgun, it was rather jarring to be facing various monsters with naught but my winning smile and regular explosive shots.

 

I can’t work out if it was a glitch or if there is some mechanic that resets your progress if you restart a mission. Either way it was a pain in the arse and means going back to previous missions to unlock these upgrades again, and potentially losing them again when I resume the main game. Alternatively did consider just keeping going and rely on what I had already got to get me through the rest of the game. Ultimately I did go back and redo all these weapon unlocks plus all the others I subsequently accessed, as the final upgrades are vey useful and there isn’t a single one that proves to be useless.

 

It is in my list of niggles but the next point isn’t really a bad thing. I am referring to the amount of logs and back ground information that you can find throughout the levels. The lore is richly detailed with information relating to different environments, demon classes, other characters and the Doom Marine himself. However, pausing the game to sit there and read them all doesn’t really fit in with the fast paced nature that the rest of the game is going for. It’s an odd mix which is not as bad as the times in Spider-Man when you were forced to do stealth sections as other characters which brought that game to a screeching halt, however, it doesn’t gel with the rest of the game play when one minute you are using a chainsaw to slice legions of Hell into luncheon meat then pulling up a chair to sit down and read through various logs.

 

Sadly the game can’t really think of any way to ramp up the challenge than simply locking you in rooms with, what’s known as a fuck-tonne of, demons spawning and you need to kill them all to proceed. They sometimes throw in Spawners that will endlessly spawn more enemies so you are wise to take them out first. Usually though there is a power-up in the room to help you. Personally I got into the habit of using the power-up as late in the fight as possible to help me take down the toughest enemies at the end, more often than not though, the demons were all dead before I needed to use it. In the last level this pattern of relentless demon spawning arena got a little bit dull because there wasn’t much exploration to be done, you are just running from one seemingly endless demon cluster-fuck to another. As I said above the checkpoints are shit and if you die you must begin the fight all over again which was more irritating than anything else.

 

None of these niggles were enough to stop me playing though, however I came close to rage quitting once and that was during the Cyberdemon boss fight.

 

There are no mid-boss check points so if you die, you start again. You fight the Cyberdemon twice, the first time I absolutely nailed him, barely taking a scratch. Sadly you are then immediately transported to Hell and the demon revives. In this second stage, he has a bunch of new and devastating attacks that wreck your health and are very difficult to dodge or get away from. You are not given anymore armour or health so if the first fight got you down to minimum health then you are fucked for Round Two. I died over and over to this pissing guy. It was so annoying and reminded me of the end of Metal Gear Rising Revengence when a game that I had been enjoying pulled this massively difficult boss fight out of its arse, effectively ruining the rest of the game. Thankfully I was able to figure out the Cyberdemon’s attacks and defeat him, but it was a bit of a slog to do it. The next bosses were defeated on my second tries, but it was annoying, especially with the final boss to get them down to the wire only for a cheap shot to hit me, take off the last of my life, forcing me to start the whole fight again.

 

Ultimately all of my complaints were mild and I played the game to complete Combat Objectives, unlock all weapon upgrades and Rune abilities. I started writing this review before finishing the game but did not want to post it just in-case the final boss fight did a Metal Gear Rising or a Shadow of War and became shit at the end. Thankfully it didn’t and whilst I was starting to get a bit tired of the multi-demon spawning areans by the end that may have just been because once I twigged I could restart checkpoints (which I did quite late in my playthrough) I was often restarting check points to complete the levels Combat Objectives which didn’t help with the feeling of repetition.

 

Doom gets a solid Thumbs Up and is a great fun game to play especially during this period of Lockdown. It is fast, fun and the levels are designed to be replayed over and over again. I am sure I will play the sequel Doom Eternal at some point, however, as I have overplayed this game a tad, and am getting a little bored of shooting demons I might wait until I want another fast paced shooter to play before I pick it up.

 

 

8/10 – All in all Doom is a good fun game with plenty of secrets to find, demons to kill and weapons to upgrade and unlock. There are niggles but none of them are deal breakers, or even close to being deal breakers. I was completely new to the Doom franchise and this game has turned me into a fan. I enjoyed it, plus there is a new game out so if you are hungry for more you can jump straight into that.

 

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