Saturday, May 14, 2016

DOOM - First Impressions


   Doom means a lot to me as I'm sure it does to millions and millions of people. I love the games, even Doom 3, and I've poured countless hours into them. I love Doom so much that a year or more ago, I tried getting a fan film off the ground, based on a feature length Doom movie screenplay I was writing. Point is, I'm passionate about Doom. It's my thing. Rip and tear, man! Rip and tear! Suffice it to say, I had high hopes and major expectations for ID software's return to their most famous property.  From what I've played so far I can safely say it's a blast. It's the game fans wanted Doom 3 to be, which is saying a lot.

   It's still a corridor shoot 'em up, but the game also explodes into these massive areas with ledges, catwalks, tunnels, and all kinds of things. The game feels big and it feels content-rich, but it's also not above feeling claustrophobic when it needs to be. There's definitely shades of the originals in there, but it's given the entire concept a from-the-ground-up renovation. It doesn't add a ton of unnecessary features like Doom 3 did, it keeps things simple within the familiar realms of your average FPS. Weapon upgrades, armor upgrades, maps, etc etc.

    That's fine with me, but I can see why it wouldn't be for some purists. Personally, I think the weapons feel meaty, and I was very pleased with everything I've acquired so far. The weapons also have mods you can apply and swap out to fit your needs at the moment. You really have to get creative with your approach to different enemies. You can't just mindlessly blast away with whatever gun you happen to have equipped, like the tried-and-true standard, you have to figure out which weapons and mods are effective against different enemies. This is basic stuff, but Doom does it well, and you feel  like each weapon you find is legitimately useful and gives you a new edge.

  I had to actually stop and think about how I was going to proceed a few times. Should I chuck a grenade in there, and go in guns blazing? Or should I lure them out, one at a time, and take my chances picking them off. In some games, you can coast by on just one gun which has the perfect combo of damage and fire rate- rendering all your other weapons useless. Or, you get a new weapon which is just entirely impractical and you never use it at all. Usually, for me, its Rocket Launchers. I rarely use em in shooters, but in this game it came in handy- and frequently. As does the shotgun, the heavy assault rifle, the plasma rifle, and the chainsaw.

   Looting is useful, but it's not overdone. You eye a room for ammo, backtrack a bit for secrets or upgrade chips, and that's about it. I know there's secrets and collectibles in each level, and eventually I'll go back and grab em. The mission/level select feature is handy for that. The power-ups are a blast to use and make you feel pretty damn superhuman, jumping around the room, smashing heads and cracking skulls open with your bare hands. Which, again, this isn't the first game to do this, or even the hundredth, but Doom excels at nailing the basics. It's slick, and well polished. The core gameplay is immersive, wild, and a lot of fun. The environments are varies and creative. Much more than just room > corridor > room > corridor. There's tons of variety and surprises in store here.

   Nevertheless, I'm feeling like people's expectations, including mine, were unreal. The game is a total blast so far and I freakin' love all the different environments, and tweaks to the core concept, but it's still at the end of the day, just a good FPS. I think people, myself included, wanted a game that would set a new bold standard for FPS games. That's just unrealistic. We're never going to have another game-changing Doom title. All the innovations that the original was famous for, became the norm. Expecting that same level of innovation is just absurd, because by definition it's still just a Doom game.

   It can only be as good as a Doom game can be. It's a damn solid game so far and it's a lot of fun to handle and I think it's also very immersive. I'm seeing a stronger narrative in this one than in any of the others, but still- it's just Doom. You shoot demons until your hands hurt or you get hungry and walk away. If this game does anything exceptional, it's that it manages to make everything feel fresh. The game has an irresistible energy to it. When you're leaping through the air, ambushing some weaker demons, or ripping the arms off some bigger chap that you've been shooting at, the game is practically narcotic.

   I personally love everything about it so far, but I have a bad feeling that people are going to bitch about it anyways. They're going to complain. They're going to find crap to complain about, and when they can't find any legitimate things to whine about, they're going to pull crap like "it's too different from the originals" or even the polar opposite "it's too similar to the originals". Screw those guys. Doom is fun, and I can't wait to get back into it. I guess you could say it's a... hell of a good time. Huehuehue.

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