It’s Been 5 Years Since The Brutal Revival Of The Doom Series
The Doom franchise appeared to be in trouble, until 2016 when it came back with plenty of gore.
The original Doom games were iconic, so much so that first-person shooters were called Doom-shooters for a time. However, as games progressed, the series struggled to maintain its standing with players. Fears grew when the follow up to Doom 3 was stuck in a production mire.
While the Doom franchise wasn’t known for pumping out games annually, there were signs a new Doom game was experiencing development problems. The first insight into the new game came in 2008 under the title of Doom 4, but news about its development then stopped. The game was then wiped clean in 2011, and the creation process seemingly started again. Fortunately, blood-pumping action and a clear vision for a reboot arrived in a trailer in 2014.
As someone who had the Doom port for the Game Boy Advance, I was very excited for this new version. Partly because the series represented the nostalgic gory video games that your parents told you not to play and equally because I like my games to do what they say on the tin. Safe to say, killing demons in space with a range of brutal attacks had me sold from the get-go.
In fact, Doom was the first game I played on my PlayStation 4. To my surprise, the game was gifted to me by my Nain (my Welsh grandmother) who must have remembered how I enjoyed killing demons on the Game Boy Advance as a child. I immediately began playing it – well, after a night of waiting for the game to update on my awful internet – and it was everything I wanted it to be.
When the new Doom was announced, I had been worried that it would get bogged down with intrusive mechanics like so many games before it. At the time of release, it felt that every game had shoe-horned a stealth element in somewhere. Thankfully, Doom sticks to what it does best in its roughly 13-hour playtime.
From the moment the Doom Slayer wakes up butt naked on that hell-inspired surgery table, and crushes a skull, the game begins an endless adrenaline ride. This only increases as the work of composer Mick Gordon comes into play, with industrial-influenced down-tuned guitars adding to the crunching nature of the shooting.
The action keeps coming as you move from decapitating the possessed to unleashing your arsenal against the challenging Cyberdemon. All of these enemies require a happy trigger finger and plenty of movement, rather than cover and shoot tactics employed by most first-person shooters. Fortunately, the games’ fluid controls keep the fights engaging while you rip and tear through enemies at lightning speed.
This pacing leads to a high-intensity experience. So much so, it made me sweat through my T-shirt on a couple of instances as I smashed my trigger trying to avoid death against increasingly insurmountable odds.
Doom manages to avoid the pitfall of an overly complicated or sentimental story. Really, you just wake up in a dystopian Mars, realise that the power of hell is being channelled into the planet and come to the conclusion it’s probably best to kill everything in sight. There is just enough story to prompt you to fight demons because, when it’s as fun as it is in Doom, you’re just looking for an excuse to destroy everything in your path.
In terms of online gameplay, the game did a solid job of bringing the destruction to a player vs. player experience, with variations and classic modes like Team Deathmatch, Freeze Tag and Domination. While this didn’t revolutionize online gameplay like Doom II: Hell On Earth, the internet wasn’t an emerging technology like it was in 1994, so that wasn’t expected. In short, the revival of Doom showed that it could work online at a level that was just as fun as the best first-person shooters because of its frantic ferocity.
The intensity of Doom makes a lot of the fun anecdotal. When I think of the game, I remember facing the final boss, Spider Mastermind, on my first play-through and wasting all my good ammo so I took it down with a pistol in a frenzy. Despite making fights feel personal, the game managed to appeal to a lot of people.
The game was well-received, too, winning a fair share of trophies at the Game Awards. It also went on to clean up at the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers awards with praise being directed at its soundtrack and gameplay. On top of these awards, Doom sold so well that it wasn’t long before we had a sequel.
Doom showed first-person shooters that really understand their purpose and market can still succeed without any needless additions. The game piles on gore, action, and equips you with the bare essentials to shoot through your enemies.
It seems like a game that focuses on the basics and taps into nostalgia would fall into cliché tropes. Nonetheless, Doom illustrated the basics were what people were missing. On top of that, it made it clear that not enough games throw realism out the window and put you in a scenario that connects hell and Mars.
By doing all this, Doom revitalised a franchise that looked like it could fade away. Not only is Doom a great game five years on, but it’s why players are now getting a steady stream of content through Doom Eternal and why my Nain continues to nail my birthday gifts.
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