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Review: New F@#king DOOM!

The original Doom would be in my top 5 favourite games of all time. It's one of the first games I remember as being a truly immersive experience. Specifically, I remember being on holiday with another family at their beach house and sneaking downstairs at night with my friend to play it on their computer. I've owned that original game on so many platforms over the years, from that old 386 PC through to the latest iPhone. From IDDQD'ing my way through the hard parts when I was younger to clocking it legitimately plenty of times on Nightmare as I got older, it's a game that I can always come back to and have a lot of fun with. This is especially true if I can convince someone to come along for the ride. Doom 2 was more of the same awesome formula, with an outrageously overpowered new weapon to play around with. And of course the less said about Doom 3 the better. The slower pace and cheap jump-scares forced by shitty game mechanics (seriously, I can't hold a gun and a flashlight at the same time?!) just killed the series for me. My PC was also not up to the technical task of even running the game at launch, and I can tell you from experience that jump scares at 10FPS don't really work. I was really hoping id (and Zenimax by extension as their new corporate overlords) had learned from that experience. The good news - the new title makes me love Doom again.

A caveat at this point - I haven't yet experimented with the multiplayer or snap-map pieces of the game. I've had my hands full playing through the singleplayer campaign on Hurt Me Plenty, so I may update this when I've experimented with the other features. The campaign itself is impressively old-school. Newer FPS mechanics are great for twitchy, hyperactive teens, but I prefer my shooters cast from the traditional mold. You'll get no recharging health bar here, with pickups a-plenty scattered throughout the mostly well-designed levels. The levels themselves are really a series of loosely connected kill chambers that force you to keep moving if you want to survive. You'll throw a switch which locks down an area and queues up the rock music signalling an incoming wave of enemies. These encounters are a blast and you get a real sense of badass-ery from clearing them out. I was skeptical of the new execution mechanic, but it actually heightens the sense of urgency in perpetual motion. Basically when you do enough damage to a demon you have the option of closing to melee distance where a quick click of the right stick will perform a grisly execution maneuver. As the gibs fly, so too do extra ammo, armor and health pickups. It's a great incentive to keep the forward momentum going rather than hang back and let the demons come to you.

He didn't need that eyeball anyway

The plot is suitably ludicrous, but sets the tone really well. It's definitely a cut above the terrible movie from a few years ago. Humans have harnessed the forces of Hell in order to fix the energy crisis on Earth. What could possibly go wrong?! I rarely knew which fairly bland objective I was trying to achieve as I coasted from checkpoint to checkpoint, but the action in between more than made up for this lack of investment in the story. I actually really appreciated some of the lighter, comedic moments that came through in the recorded messages supposedly left for UAC staff on Mars. I don't want to spoil anything, suffice to say they made me lol hard when they played over the company intercoms.

Weaponizing demons for a brighter tomorrow

There's a new spin on all the old weapons, from the lowly pistol to the BFG, with a few new additions thrown in for good measure. The super-shotgun is still my favourite, but the new upgrade system makes some of the less useful weapons much more feasible. For example, the triple rocket plus the lock-on upgrade makes the rocket launcher far more viable as an instrument of death, despite it being drastically underpowered in this outing. The chainsaw is really a last resort option now, with fuel scattered scarcely around the levels. When you get a chainsaw kill however, ammo rains out of the sliced demon's corpse, encouraging you to get up close and personal when you need an ammo top-up. Even the lowly pistol gets an overhaul. Ammo is now unlimited, and you can charge up a kill shot. It also has an upgrade tree available, however I didn't spend any tokens on it. The only weapon that felt fairly useless was the rifle. The emphasis it places on long-range combat seemed starkly at odds with the play style you are encouraged to adopt, especially given the execution mechanics which work so well.

Most of the old enemies are here, so there's plenty of opportunity to test the new toys. The only enemies that haven't been excellently re-imagined for this outing are the spider demons from Doom 2. Otherwise, look for clever twists on old favorites. Imps are early game cannon fodder, with Barons, Cacodemons, Pinkys and Mancubus' (Mancubi?) making quicker-than-expected appearances. Executions on the larger demons are particularly satisfying - your marine will grapple and climb, tearing off horns, limbs, eyeballs and other demonic protrusions. It's a lot of gory, gruesome, old-school fun.

I've thoroughly enjoyed this remake so far, and am looking forward to finishing up the campaign when I get some spare time. I've heard the multiplayer is utter garbage, so i don't anticipate dabbling there, but snap-map intrigues me. There's also a bunch of DLC that has been released since I started my campaign which I hope to try out once I'm done. Totally recommend this re-imagining of a classic, for anyone who liked the originals or who has grown tired of the CoD clones which dominate the FPS market right now.

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