Thoughts on: DOOM (2016)

After so many excited positive reviews I’ve heard about this game, I didn’t even know what to expect apart from the fact, that it should definitely be awesome and fun and make me feel great. Aaaaand it kinda didn’t. I did like it, though.

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Now, given how different DOOM is at its core from the predecessors, I don’t know if it’s important to note that I was never really an id software guy. I liked Duke 3D, I liked Blood, I liked to shooty shoot and explore and all of that. I did play original Doom games and Wolf 3D, but I’m even still yet to play the first two Quake games properly. But I did like the Doom originals. Even launching them today feels giddy – again, without them ever being “my thing”, – because they feel you with strange excitement. How fast paced the combat is, how fun it is to stumble upon secrets, how interesting it is to plan around the encounters, whom to kill and with what…

DOOM is different. Sure, it is one of the most fast-paced FPS games in recent years, it doesn’t always lock you in arena encounters, the levels are pretty big and not entirely linear with plenty to explore and some of them being very open with hub-like parts… But it FEELS different. And you might love it, but I just didn’t. The new CORE is good, it’s pretty interesting mechanically and it goes for a completely different balance in combat. But it’s God of War-ish ideas just didn’t work for me at all.

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To explain – in best classic FPS games the combat was built around several things. Most enemies were usually on the map already (though, some did teleport in mid fight), most or all of them had nice range of rock-paper-scissors mechanics of how to approach them and with which weapons, but while in combat you were planning things around which enemies are on screen, in general you were planning your gameplay across the ENTIRE level. Because of that, while some of the rooms were more memorable (due to how much time you spend in them fighting), fighting was stretched across the entire level. So you’d plan out the pickups, you’d plan out the routes based on what you see. Every encounter with a single enemy ended really fast.

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DOOM plans the game around each encounter with whatever happens between them being rather meaningless. It doesn’t matter much how much HP or ammo you have, because the main means to get more health and ammo is through God of War like finishers of enemies while already locked in the combat. Because of that, the combat is rebalanced to be slower – not in terms of speed, but in terms of how much punishment does a normal enemy take. And the amount of damage you receive is also changed drastically. In fact, some enemies are completely redesigned for high damage output – most notably Lost Souls (flying skulls), who instead of biting now do kamikaze explosions. And while the new core, new focus, new rhythm is nicely done, I personally just didn’t find it that as enjoyable. Then again, I never liked God of War as well…
Unfortunately, the game also has some rather pointless additions as well, such as the special unlocks for weapons and such system, that requires you to do very specific (and often unfun) things to get some arbitrary increase of the weapon effectiveness or such thing. I found that to be rather silly in some cases and completely pointless in others, where the game would ask you to do something very dumb to make some very useless weapon mode slightly less useless. Luckily, if you play the game on normal, it is unlikely that you’ll ever NEED to do this. But if you want to play on higher difficulties… Well, you’ll probably want this so you have a better chance of survival.

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Overall, DOOM (as a singleplayer FPS, I didn’t bother with MP) is a fun FPS that does freshen up the currently rather stale genre. Yet I cannot help but feel that all the excitement around it is more of a statement on how bad FPS situation currently is, rather than due to how great DOOM actually is.

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