DOOM Review for PC: The Real Tenacious D

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Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: May 13, 2016
Price: $59.99

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Disclaimer: The following review was critiqued on PC via Steam. The game was purchased for $37.99 via cdkeys for review purposes. 

The first time I saw DOOM in action was at E3 2015. As I stared at the screen from my theater chair in the Dolby Theater, all I could think was, “Wow, DOOM has come a long way. It has to be running on some pretty demanding settings to look this good.” Having only dabbled in prior entries in the series, I was admittedly excited–but with restraint.

The current landscape of first-person shooters has become somewhat of a homogeneous feat, as many have borrowed this from Call of Duty, that from Crysis, and anything else has been marginally impressive. As I started to think about the content of most games out there, I began to anticipate what DOOM could do, in terms of gameplay, to serve up something that not only paid homage to its inception but more importantly, its creation of the genre. So, when it came to the most recent release of DOOM, my excitement had evolved along with the promotion of the game. I became more and more intrigued at its roots and what it could possibly apply to showcase its departure from its not so modest beginnings. And, fortunately for DOOM, it doesn’t deviate from that core gameplay–and it shouldn’t ever even try to.

At its core, DOOM is some of the most frantic, hyper-intense gameplay I have played in a long time. Even as you take your first steps in the game you’ll notice the smooth speed at which you start to accelerate. This is, of course, different than the overwhelming number of war shooters on the market that offer up crashes and explosions to muster up the intensity. Instead, DOOM introduces the speed and tenacity of the game right off the bat. And, in most cases, before you can even gather your thoughts, your guns start to become reflexive in how you use them, which enemies you use them on, often milling through multiple guns in a single battle. This is of course in comparison with most games steering the focus towards an assault rifle, sidearm and some sort of heavy weapon. In DOOM, there is an emphasis on your kill mobile, where your body is the chassis, and your guns–your guns are the Clydesdale horses you are going to be strutting in on.

He's not that big, right?

He’s not that big, right?

In order to attest to the variations in gunplay that I’ve indicated, there something different about the way in which guns start to materialize in the game. For the most part, all guns become accessible in the early stages of the game. Your arsenal of weapons can be upgraded with two different attachments designated for each. For instance, your shotgun is one of the first pieces of equipment you receive. It can be altered to have a charged burst and explosive shot. These can then be upgraded for things like a faster priming of the three-round charged burst, or a bigger splash with the explosive shot. The customization doesn’t stop at the weapons as the Praetor Suit which you now inhabit also has its own quirks.

Your Praetor Suit has abilities that you’d expect from a mechanized suit. However, these do not necessarily run parallel to the upgrades that you will see in health, armor, or the amount of ammo you can carry. Aside from these upgrades, you can also carry various runes that you discover through Rune Trials. These are challenges to do things like “Kill 15 Enemies with Explosions”. These will offer additional perks for pulling in health and ammo when near, to things like having armor and health drop when you Glory Kill an enemy. These kills are slowed-down action sequences that happen when an enemy flashes in a highlighted white and gold silhouette. The movement away from the melee kill seemed only fitting, particularly as the type of kill and how the ability has started to play a role in modern games has started to become watered down in how it’s executed.rune

If you really think about it, smashing someone with the butt of a gun shouldn’t dismember or leave them flailing about. DOOM instead creates a snippet of a quick-time event and delivers satisfying kills that transition you right back into combat once completed. I thought at first that they would become really old, fast. However, I found myself enjoying them when combining the way in which you kill enemies. The kills aren’t capped off as having a melee just to have it, no. They start to become essential for survival as you become a scavenger hardened demon killing machine. You will need things like health and ammo from these enemies after all. And, if you don’t have any more ammo, you can always unsheathe your chainsaw and start ripping skins for the right reasons.

Delicately cutting down big lugs one Gatling gun at a time.

Delicately cutting down big lugs one Gatling gun at a time.

After playing through the entirety of the campaign, I found myself thirsty to come back for more and more. To be honest, this has started to become challenging for me at this time in my gaming career. Games start to look like one another, and the interest that is needed to plow through an entire story mode of a game is hard to come by.

The last real feeling I had urged me to continue on like this was found in Far Cry 3. And, for all intents and purposes, the Far Cry series shines like that of the DOOM series because of what each respective title continues to contribute to not only the genre but also for the elements implemented that continue to drive a sense of challenge.

Can you make your way out of this herd of Hell Knights? Sure, once you realize that the Super Shotgun takes two blasts up close or you need to charged blast them, melee, shoot and then deliver a final sequence of shots. The same can be said about the charging Pinky creatures. The soft spot on the backs of them is much like the orange skin found on Hunters in the Halo series. And much like the hunters, a few purposely placed blasts can down them much quicker than taking them head-on.

One thing that can be said about DOOM is that the story isn’t all that enthralling. Of course, there has to be some tie into Hell, demons, and what that means for the humans that are digging around on Mars to harness the powers from within. But, at the end of the day, it’s really what you might expect. It’s lightly followed, but the main focus is driven towards to arsenal of guns, modifications to those, and what you will do within your surroundings when encountering each smothering onslaught of enemies. Where the lapse in story occurs, the sheer amount of visual fortitude the game to offer has is tech light particles

I was worried that when I picked up DOOM that I wasn’t going to be able to run it on High, let alone any option for Ultra settings. Of course, I couldn’t take advantage of the Nightmare mode of shadowing, I was able to enjoy many of the options available to create an unforgettable experience. I would have to attribute most of this to the id Tech 6 engine. There are fast and fluid lighting effects, particularly in how sparks and explosions disperse light particles. While I may not have the most prestigious of gaming rigs, I found that the game was optimized well to deliver some impressive feats given my hardware. Scenes, where scope is important as you enter through massive gates, feel just that, massive. While other corridors and spaceship-like environments feel futuristic down to the detail in the floor and wall paneling textures.

The Bottom Line

DOOM was not the game that I expected it to be. It was faster and more tenacious than I thought it would be, challenged me, and seemed to deliver on the hype that was riding behind it. While there isn’t much for story within the game, the folklore of its characters, customization of weapons and abilities deliver a deeper sense of content. There are also a ton of secret areas to find, having throwback levels hidden for those who will take the time to explore.

Though DOOM doesn’t deviate from traditional first-person game design, it makes up for additives to the genre that are impactful, such as the drilled down customization to weaponry. There is a certain stylized, fluid sense about the game which is apparent from beginning to end. The storyline rounded out for me at about 10.5 hours, which is a bit lengthier than most others out there. Having tons of challenges to overcome and items to discover, its well worth the trip to the Martian landscape, knowing that a trip to Hell might be in your future plans. And, this is a definite trip you should take.

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Greg Bargas
A console gamer gone rogue. Collector of retro games, lover of hardware. Find me every Tuesday at 6PM CST on Destructoid's SpotDodge live podcast! Rocket League, anyone?