BY PATRICK TEDDER
In such turbulent times where society is divided, along comes a quaint video game that allows you to “feel the burn” as you make the universe great again by mowing down demons from hell. Playing as Man Dude Bro (not his actual name) — Space Marine “Doom Guy,” (actually a name for the protagonist) you’ll take it to demon bastards with: fists, shotguns, machine guns, futuristic space weapons and of course the fabled “BFG.” Any questions? Then Doom might not be for you.
It should be noted that I’ve never played the original Doom games back in the 90’s. I tried Doom 3, but it was too damn dark and seemed to fit into the horror genre of video games. It had interesting exposition, but could go long stretches without action, simply leaving me scared and fumbling to turn on every light in the house. This is important from a critical standpoint, as this new game, more or less a remake of the 90’s original original, taps into the nostalgia center of your brain with plenty of call backs, secret sprite levels and most notable of all, its old school game play.
At the time of this writing, sitting at a cushy 87.92% on Game Rankings, the saltiest reviews seem to be lambasting a 2016 game for containing 1993 gameplay. Having never experienced the root of the series, one might think I’d fit into the unimpressed camp, but oddly enough, this is one of the rare instances where a remake has gained a marine for the flock. I even have a Doom hat to prove it!
The game starts with your avatar using He-Man-like-strength to break free of shackles. Seconds later you’re given a futuristic pistol, made for ass-kicking. Those demon fucks better be ready for some DOOOOOOOM. Heavy rock music cuing up whenever large groups of monsters appear, you’ll pile up the body count in short order across the barren landscape of Mars, Hell and futuristic laboratories. Just when you think you’ve seen all of the demons the game has to offer, along comes another variation with extra glowing armor or MORE rockets. Subtly does not appear to be a setting you can enable at any point during the game.
While modern games will have you ducking behind cover to recharge your health, the most badass space marine in the universe doesn’t cower, he charges into battle. If you want additional health, you’re going to have to go fucking get it you pansy ass mother fucker! Running low on ammo? Perform brutal executions that reward your badassery with critical item drops and extra reloads. By #fight[ing]likehell, the clever marketing tagline for the game, even on the lightest difficulty, you’ll find plenty of exhilarating and trying moments, where, despite your powers of machismo, you’re escaping a brawl by the skin of your teeth.
As much Oo Rah that seems to be coded into Bethesda’s game, you’ll find yourself constantly compelled to search the open levels for every secret nook and cranny. A ledge you finally manage to reach may contain something as silly as a “Doom Guy” collectible figure, or a token that allows you to power up your high-tech space suit and guns. Not only are you given a sense of accomplishment for your cleverness, you’re rewarded with the achievement of making your protagonist even more awesome, if man could ever have thought possible. The looting center of your brain will be on overdrive from each level’s promise of extra accomplishment.
Of course, just when things border on tedium, you’ll come across awesome bosses. They’re so much fun and awe inspiring, you’ll wish there were more of them spread out evenly throughout the campaign. Still, the ones that do come into the arena, kicking the door down with as much grandiose as your roided broheim, leaving a strong impression, often with tricks no other demon in the game displays.
There’s also multiplayer! The exclamation point is less because it’s good and more because it’s kind of a shit show; a cherry on top of a grand experience. You’ll run around maps haphazardly blasting away opponents and even turning into a Demon where you can rail against the opposing team. It feels kind of slapdash and less precise than any other popular multiplayer game on the market, but it does its best by, once again, taking you back to a time where multiplayer games were simpler. There’s also the extra feature called “Snap Map,” a do it yourself level creation system. Already this is showing incredible promise from impassioned gamers pushing the limits of the creation tool that can be downloaded for extra hours of run and gun dicking around.
When the 90’s Doom was originally created, one of the reasons why the protagonist didn’t speak is because YOU are the hero. The same still holds true in 2016’s iteration. Plot convention and orthodox reality fade away, allowing for an arcade-like experience with few limitations. While I’m not sure whether females will experience the same level of false empowerment, becoming one of the O.G. male bad asses was somewhat of a trip for this male gamer.
By not playing like a glorified cut scene a la many a modern Call of Duty games (I still love you COD), Doom stays out of the player’s way. It may not be perfect, but you can kick back and pound some demons with awesome guns. It’s fun and it harkens back to a time when you can pick up a controller and have at it, all while avoiding pesky things like “plot.” Besides, even if the game really had one, I doubt I’d care or be able to concentrate over all the Doooooooom.