*This post originally appeared on the MoffBadgerPlays tumblr page*
So it’s a little late I know but I only recently got a PC capable of running this game on the last day of 2016. I haven’t even finished it yet and already I can see that is in my opinion the best game of 2016.
But why not Overwatch like Gamespot says? Sure it’s a good game (I really enjoy it) but, it really feels like a reaction to the success of other companies (Valve). The competitive scene appears to be overtaking companies like Blizzard who are gone full pelt into providing professional players with a new e-sport to stream on Twitch for cash.
But here is the problem, a regular player will see these games, play them and then get frustrated that they never get a similar experience because they cannot put as much time (or in some cases money) into the game. It leaves players becoming frustrated and their enjoyment of the game starts to diminish for multiple reasons like their allies griefing or letting them down or the other team just being better than them. The industry as a whole appears to be moving away from singleplayer or “half arsing” it so that people get through it to play the main part of the game, the multiplayer.
But then came along DOOM. A throwback from the 90s, the grandfather of modern day shooters. Usually when a game with so much history comes back, i.e. Duke Nuke’m, it’s really bad. However, Id Software managed to also make the return of Wolfenstein worthwhile and you know what? DOOM IS FUCKING AWESOME. It’s clear that they really care about their intellectual properties and the amount of love that went into the game is evident.
You don’t regenerate health and you have to pick up armour but, compared to everything else available on the market, even though it is a very old concept it actually feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s really nice to not have to deform my hand into some weird kind of claw on the keyboard to make my character sprint at full speed. DOOM is all about the flow of combat. You don’t want to stay in one place when you fight, if you do that you are a dead man. Every room is built into a multi-storey jungle gym when you can just concentrate of having fun. Rewarding the risk takers and punishing the cautious.
The fact the game encourages you to get more aggressive when your health bar is low just adds to the endorphin rush. The one complaint I would have about the Glory Kills is that sometimes the animation used repeats with each demon. I’d like to see more variation. I believe they are triggered contextually (point at the head and you kick it off) but a little randomness would be nice as well.
Watching the game you would be forgiven for thinking it is a blur simulator but when you actually sit there and play it, you are in complete control. The game does a good job of making you feel like a god slaying the legions of Hell. Delivering on what it promises at all times.
Rip and Tear. But why is the game so enjoyable? Well it turns out that no matter how complicated and sophisticated our brains are. The lizard part is always present. DOOM really manages to tap into your base urges to just cut loose. It’s a completely guilt and consequence free environment where you are given a collection of weapons, a suit of armour and a hatred for demons. The game just goes ahead and says “Go Nuts”. It’s an incredibly fun game with a very simple premise, apparently that’s all you need to enjoy the experience. It’s strange that in an era of gaming where the industry tells you that you need to innovate and over complicate to get anywhere, that the oldest FPS game ever made with a graphical update and a small number of gameplay mechanics (some old, some new) manages to blow it’s competition out of the water.
Quit Projecting on Me. The story is incredibly basic “we opened a portal to Hell and demons are coming out of it… go kill them”. Id Software knows its a bullshit story, you know it’s a bullshit story but you accept it because it doesn’t take itself that seriously. It’s self aware but doesn’t become horrifically grating like some attempts.
Let’s talk about Doomguy as well. He doesn’t say anything at all during the game yet, as you can see from the gif above, thought has been put into his characterisation. He’s an angry guy who hates demons when he needs to be but that isn’t his entire character. He isn’t just an angry slab of muscle like Marcus Fenix or Dom from Gears of War. He’s a dork, how many protagonists in FPS games do you see taking the time to rearrange the hand of a bobblehead to fist bump it. Most characters would break it open or jam it somewhere into their body as quickly as they could. Doomguy is also a really effective blank slate.
This is something that Cracked talked about concerning why Keanu Reeves is so effective in the Matrix. Because he shows little emotion it’s really easy to project yourself onto him. Doomguy on the other hand is literally faceless, you can project easily onto him. I see his characterisation as being that of the player’s. What would you do in that situation. Here are a couple of examples:
- Exhibit A – DEMONIC INVASION IN PROGRESS, you’re getting ready to jump through the door into an army of demons and this guy starts spouting exposition at you. You don’t care, you were probably barely even listening to him and what does Doomguy do? He throws the screen away. “Go away, I just want to kill demons, I don’t care what you have to say”
- Exhibit B – “It was worth it…”, you climb into an elevator and the evil Reinhardt is telling you how even though all his staff are dead it was all worth it for the Ardent Energy. To which Doomguy looks down at his feet to see a mutilated dead body. In your head you’re thinking “sure it is…”
Doomguy is a great blank slate because he already behaves like you would if you were in a videogame and you can just start projecting the other parts of your personality onto him. It’s the same reason that Gorden Freeman was such a good protagonist in the Half Life series. It’s really easy to lose yourself in a character that has very little of their own personality in a game because you are controlling them and this is what they would do in your universe. It’s why games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age are so popular. You create your own backstory and motivations for the characters, it effects a lot of who the character is to suit your needs as a player to enjoy the story and justify your actions.
Conclusions. Usually this would be where I’d be talking about where the game needs improvement. However, I seem to be finding that difficult with DOOM (yes that is the only way I can say it) because the only thing I have issue with is superficial. Id Software has really revived their greatest franchise with a true and worthy replacement. It is a great addition to the series which took everyone by surprise after the negative reaction that DOOM 3 received. If you haven’t played this game please do. It is the most fun murder play set I have ever experienced.