Sam Raimi’s quintessential films “Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead 2,” and “The Army of Darkness” are a trio of madness. They’re fast-paced, very silly, ultra-violent, ultra-gory, and — most of all — unique.
These are films that know what they’re about. They fully embrace their silliness.
Such is the case of the new “DOOM” game that just came out for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
It’s an incredibly fast, gruesome, ridiculous game. It’s a game about killing demons on Mars, and then in Hell, and then back on Mars once again. It’s a game about shooting missiles at floating demon heads and laughing as the demon heads explode into thousands of bloody pieces.
It’s a game where the premise is that humanity has turned to Hell for an endless source of energy. Really.
“DOOM” knows what it is. And what is it? It’s totally awesome.
What “DOOM” is:
In the first scene of “DOOM,” you wake up chained to an operating table. You quickly break free, but an enemy is rushing toward you. When it gets close enough, you grab his skull and crush it against the table you’re still laying on. That scene is perfectly representative of the next 10 hours of game.
In “DOOM,” you move fast — seemingly too fast at first — and you’re a stone-cold murderer. You carry a mess of weapons (from a pistol to a chainsaw), jump high and far, and don’t care about making a mess.
There is nothing logical about “DOOM” — it’s entirely focused on empowering players in a demonic power fantasy.
Who are you? Doesn’t matter. What do you look like? Not important. You have one job: eliminate the thousands of demons of varying types standing between this first lab table and wherever the game ends. “DOOM” is such a video game, and it relishes it.
You’ll run around Mars, both indoors and outside, killing demons. Occasionally you’ll have a moment of respite where you can explore for secrets (of which there are many). Maybe there’s a section that requires you to leap from platform to platform precariously. All of that is secondary to killing demons.
Like the incredible “Halo” franchise, “DOOM” is laser-focused on providing fun in bursts. It does this by providing interesting environments that are soon filled with hordes of demons. Your job, as always, is to eliminate all those demons. It starts off simply enough with zombie-like demons that are easy to kill.
And then, soon enough, you’re facing down guys like this:
As the game gets more and more challenging, you’re forced to prioritise which enemies to kill first and which weapons to use in the process. Better yet, if you hurt an enemy enough, they will glow to indicate you can pull off a “glory move” — say, ripping off their arm and beating them to death with it. There are several different types of these moves to pull off, each more gruesome than the last. I had to actively stop myself from cheering along as my character gleefully punched through the skull of enemy after enemy.
After 10 hours spent in this intoxicating gorefest, all I want to do is kill more demons.
What “DOOM” isn’t:
“DOOM” isn’t a re-creation of the game you played in the mid-’90s. “DOOM” isn’t a paradigm-shifting master work in the same way that the original game was. The entire world of video games isn’t going to change as a a result of this game.
Frankly put, there are a lot of unreasonably high expectations floating around “DOOM.” Try, if you can, to shelve them. “DOOM” is fantastic, and I’d argue it’s well worth your time. If you’re looking to fulfil your nostalgia-laced expectations, look elsewhere.
All that said: If you’re looking for something that’s evocative of the original “DOOM” games, look no further. Explosive red barrels are littered throughout each level; Levels are filled with an overwhelming number of enemies which must be carefully prioritised if you want to survive; and the game is fast as Hell (pun intended).
I haven’t played the multiplayer bits almost at all, and I haven’t spent any time with the “SnapMap” level creation feature. Even if they were terrible (or didn’t exist at all!), I’d strongly suggest playing the new “DOOM.” It’s a gorgeous, thrilling, outright fun game that doesn’t let up.