DOOM Review
DOOM Box Art
System: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Dev: id Software
Pub: Bethesda
Release: May 13, 2016
Players: 1 (2+ online multiplayer)
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i Blood and gore, Violence
DOOM in Full Bloom
by Matthew Hayes

DOOM is a deafening, dizzying roller-coaster ride through Hell; a ride you'll take with no safety bar and with the sounds of percussive double-kicks and distorted bass riffs shaking your guts. It's too fast to handle. It's punishing. It's empowering, shameless, and often disgusting. In short, it's what the kids call gnarly.

Everything about DOOM is over the top, and I was surprised by how much fun I had blasting my way through what turned out to be about an 11 hour campaign. For those of you who are coming into this expecting another DOOM 3 - an atmospheric horror game that takes place in the dark, with plenty of jump scares - you're going to be disappointed. It'd be like going into the theater expecting to see Insidious when you're really watching Mad Max. DOOM takes the punk / metal, devil-may-die attitude of the original game and gives it a gorgeous face-lift for the 21st century.

The one thing you'll notice, hardware permitting, is how incredible DOOM looks in motion. My PS4 sounded like a jet engine the entire time the game was running, and you'll find your console gets very hot trying to keep up with all that's happening on screen. The maps are huge, open, and absolutely packed with objects and enemies. Everywhere you turn there are balls of fire exploding into showers of sparks, demonic sigils glowing and spinning madly as dozens of demons spawn on platforms, and torrents of blood splattering the walls as you dismember your foes.

The game moves at blistering speed, and you can say goodbye to aim assist. Watching someone take control of the DOOM marine for the first time is like watching a child try to control a fire hose on full blast. It's mind-bending, and at times disorientating, how fast this game plays. The fact that my PS4 was able to maintain a solid 60 fps for almost the entire game is astounding.

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The campaign's story is great, but not incredible. There is a staggering amount of lore and backstory that you can discover through various items found in-game that add interesting layers to missions that otherwise play out over the usual "clear the room to find a key and progress" objectives. Without spoiling anything, the story puts a fun, heavy-metal twist on what would otherwise be a typical "chosen one" narrative. It's enough to justify the brutal slaying of hundreds of demons, from Mars to Hell and back again, and that's really all we could have asked for.

DOOM Screenshot

Once you get the hang of the twitchy controls the game does feel good, and it's expertly paced. You'll play through the first two missions wondering if you should have started on a higher difficulty, but before the credits roll you'll face off against multiple mobs and bosses that will force you to cycle through every weapon you own, pulling out all of the stops and exhausting all of your abilities and upgrades in order to survive. Those weapon upgrades come sporadically from drones that you have to find in each stage. Several of them are hidden, as are the keys that upgrade your armor and abilities, so be sure to explore every nook and cranny - you just might find a few Easter eggs along the way, too.

DOOM Screenshot

There were a few frustrating segments where I felt stranded looking for a random panel to push, ledge to climb, or item to trigger so that I could find the key I needed to progress. Early on before you learn to recognize the visual cues that lead you to hidden areas, you'll find the pace is abruptly halted from time to time so that you can search a huge area for a small conduit that will take you where you need to go. It's in those moments that some of you will quit to the main menu and think, "I should have rented this first." Thankfully, this only happens a couple of times.

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