Format: PC, PS4, XboxOne
Developer: Id Software
Release date: May 13th 2016
This article contains spoilers.
‘Carefully remove the canisters’, Hayden tells our silent protagonist, as he lifts his leg up and forcibly stomps and removes the canisters by the soul of his boots. It’s the kind of finger flip DOOM’s developer demonstrated to early beta test critiques who criticised the game for going back to its roots, and withholding review copies until consumer release dates only added disparagement and scepticism.
Id Software’s reboot was a surprise hit, and while the multi-player and SnapMap level editing had a small following, it was the solo campaign that shone through. Concentrating on its core mechanics and keeping a basic narrative did DOOM a lot of favours, and with the introduction of an Arcade Mode that got implemented in October last year, for free within an update, it further enhanced DOOM’s experience.Arcade mode is exactly what the name implies. Any level from the main campaign can be selected, on any difficulty of your choosing and with all the weapons and equipment that is accumulated throughout the main story campaign available from the offset, meaning you can tailor your buffs to whatever strategy you desire. Arcade mode slices the fat off the levels by abandoning whatever little narrative there was and throwing you directly into the heart of the action. The objective is simple, get from the start to the end of the level whilst scoring as many points as possible. Consecutive kills grant a score multiplier of up to a maximum x32. During inactivity however, and the multiplier starts to decline, forcing you to keep on the move. Picking up items such as health, ammo and armour prevents the score multiplier from falling, advocating to keep the momentum. Earning medals such as headshots, barrel kills and glory kills further increases the overall score which earns for you either bronze, silver, or gold medals which are then posted onto an online leader board against other people and friends.
Initially it doesn’t sound like a significant game changer, but in reality, it has almost entirely transformed the game into something new, and best of all it was completely free of charge. DOOM demonstrated exactly what DLC should be, and that’s not to say all DLC should be free, but the DLC doesn’t feel like it was attached on, it feels like it belongs in the game and it’s accomplished exactly what the intention of DLC’s have always been; to enhance and prolong a game’s life span. Few games in recent memory have succeeded this trait, and it was only fitting that a surprise hit had a surprise upgrade.
The quality of the level design becomes more apparent in arcade mode too, as you attempt to race through the sprawling levels you discover that the stages have numerous amounts of routes that can be taken and with access to all the rune buffs and weapons from the start this encourages to take a strategic approach and to try and find the fastest yet most score effective route. The fast-paced nature is even encouraged in its continue system. Where the core game allows unlimited retries (unless you’re brave enough to take on the Ultra-Nightmare mode) Arcade mode restricts to a limited life system. Initially you’ll start off with a single life to spare, but more lives can be obtained within the map.DOOM’s campaign was set out to accomplish one thing, and it achieved just that. DOOM’s purpose from the start was to create as much carnage as possible, and without any solid narrative, it needed to be entertaining at its core mechanic; killing demons. While it’s structure was based on game that came out over two decades ago, its combat is certainly up to today’s standards.
Deal enough damage to demons eventually staggers them, which allowed the protagonist to lunge forward for a glory kill, tearing apart the enemy or simply punching them in the kisser. Kills of this manner are rewarded with extra health drops and the bigger they are, the more they drop. Obliterating an enemy with a chainsaw outright kills them, with a bonus of a confetti of ammo splashing out. DOOM contains all the tropes of a nineties shooter and its certainly not shy about it. It even contains jump pads and power buffs such as quad damage, haste and berserk, which I’m sure anyone who’s played early Quake and DOOM games will recognise.
These features stay relatively fresh and enjoyable for most of the portions of the game, however, even the combat struggles to save the game’s final segments from becoming stale as the environments and generic tasks start to feel all too familiar. The story was never its focus point, and while its concept was relatively interesting, entertaining enough to give reason to all the glory kills and chainsaw wielding at least, the games conclusion was too predictable, as Hayden, your tour guide throughout the duration of the game turns against you in the decisive moments, taking the item you tirelessly waded through hordes of demons for and sending you on your merry way. Arcade mode feels more fitting for the DOOM remake than the main experience and the game feels like it was designed for the feature from the start. The reoccurring environments and predictable narrative in the core game is loosely saved by an incredible heavy metal soundtrack from Mick Gordan and an outstanding combat system, but ultimately, it’s the arcade mode that you’ll most likely be returning to.