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The NEW DOOM - Early Impressions

So I finally played through the new DOOM a while back! Disregarding the lack of numeral appended to title - which makes the game seem to be intended as a potential replacement for the old classic with the same name which it has neither merit nor meaning to match, it was... boring, easy to get lost in, too much, and too little, with too much grind: a futuristic interface at the expense of readability, with impractical scrolling, fuzzy fonts and more. The rune challenges were both fun and annoying, and so were the other elements of the sort.

They claimed this to be a no-nonsense re-inventation, but though nostalgic elements are indeed both common and appreciated, the overall feel is far gone. It feels more like RAGE than DOOM. More like Bethesda than iD. More like the games I enjoy playing once for the visual experience, than the classics that provide no-nonsense carnage, with atmosphere and pixel perfect simplicity and simple menus for quick re-playability, rather than gargantuan scenes, overly complex futuristic aesthetics and elaborate side-story you shouldn't bother to read.

I'm past the 'boring' first impressions at this point, and knee-deep in the perpetual grind. But this is an addiction more like alcohol than good food. A little won't taste so good, but as your intake grows so will your appreciation - until you're drunk and giddy, and soon wake up with the worst hangover ever, wondering why you wasted so much time in this pit of hell? Good food: can be enjoyed instantly, as many times as you wish; over and over, and over again.

To elaborate on that simile: good food takes time to prepare, as this game very much did, but once it's done you'll want to eat it all at once, and if you really liked it you'll want to eat it again in the future. You'll savor the experience. You'll be satisfied, and maybe surprised, and feel complete with the intricate yet flawless ensemble of ingredients therein. But here... there were some odd ingredients. Something tasted a bit off. Maybe the chef forgot one of the obligatory spices. Maybe he added too much of another. It's tasty, but maybe a bit salt. One portion's enough.

It's not my distaste for the modern grind speaking, it's my distaste for (to focus on plausible reason rather than the finished product) selling (out). The modern gaming experience has shifted from innovation to surplus: better graphics, bigger sizes, more hours with each game. The ingenuity required to craft a legend seems lost with the times, but I have no doubt my later reviews on this game will be more positive, because it's easy to have an honest first impression the first time you play, but difficult to maintain the negativity if you do get hooked to something, and this seems like something it'd be easy to get hooked to... for good or bad?

A few thoughts on the main differences, and new elements in this game:


Good choice not giving him a voice, but chill out with the aggressive personality. Shaking fists, throwing screens at walls, etc. Sure, destroying the energy capsules make sense (as do the glory kills - they're spawn of hell after all), but I always felt the original Doomguy had a near unphasable resolve, strong-willed, quick, smart, tough and with a strong sense of justice. All good things personified, with a little bit of unearthly grit. Don't make it personal.

The background story was pretty cool, though I wouldn't mind if more of it was 'myth'.

Glory Kills

...were easier to get into than I expected, not so much gore for the sense of gore, but because they serve a purpose, and with continual use it becomes a both strategical and satisfying form of easy carnage. Beasts that'd take plenty of additional ammo to tear apart are easy to break with your hands, which does both complicate and make some encounters almost too easy, but also adds an appreciated new strategical element to the battle. And you can manage without them, if you really want to.

Weapon Upgrades

These felt like an unnecessary complication at first, but there is a sense of strategy involved, and the varied attacks are fun. Depending on what upgrades you apply you can make each round a different experience with this. Though I don't think I'd mind if they skipped them entirely, and just went with the...

Suit Upgrades

...because these were just perfect. Simplistic and rewarding. A good complement to the classic backpacks. This, kill counts and secrets would be all the 'extras' I need.

Power Upgrades

...don't look as cool as they could. I liked the old spheres better.

Rune Challenges

These would probably be better left outside the main game. Mini-challenges? Fun, but they disrupt the experience (and require re-loading the level both before and after). Could've made this one of those 'bonus' things you usually unlock when you complete the main game.

Secrets, Collectibles, Bots...

It's too much. I wish I could disable them all. Classic secrets, that'd be enough.

Arcade Mode

Haven't tried this one yet, but I like the idea! Endless variation.

New Monsters

It feels like they were made to be horrifying rather than characteristic and personal. Was the Imp fur too 'cute'? I miss the green Hell Knight plasma too. The new feels a bit generic. New additions are appreciated, and the new combat patterns feel balanced and intelligent - the AI is great, but even if the new enemies remind more of the old than some of the ones in DOOM 3 they're still not like they used to be! If this wasn't DOOM I'd love the new ones too, but I liked the old better. They had character.

There's little hope for this to change now of course, but maybe with a suitable mod we could play this with the monsters like they used to be. The new AI is great, just need a more traditional visual match to their much-improved mechanics.

The 'Documentation'

Trying to back up everything with science and fancy words makes a lot of it lose it's charm. When you embark into hell, at least, then leave out the science. It's uncharted territory; it should be new. Of course it'd make sense humans have been to hell and back before if the previous games were prequels, but this isn't DOOM 3 is it? After Hell on Earth? It seems like this ends in the right place for a reinterpretation of the second game as well, and yet parts of the documented 'myth' seem based on the earlier games. I'm not with it.

Level Builder

This thing had a name, but I just can't remember it right now... I haven't tried it yet, but I both like and don't like the idea of it. What I don't like is how it effectively replaces the extra perks people would've thrown in with their custom levels had they made them on their own, outside the game, and how this feature pretty much renders the modding community (a big portion of it, at least) unnecessary, and not only that, but also relies on official servers to keep said level archive and community alive. What I do like is of course that it lets everyone make levels, and share them easily! There seems to be a big dose of those available so far.

It's a fun feature, but still, I wish they'd made a game that was easy to hack; with which the modding community could thrive for years to come. The original's survived a long time thanks to that.

Hayden and Vega

Great characters. You never really know where you have them, and they sometimes surprise you. They definitely add something to the story.

The Multiplayer Style

Though the Single Player campaign is a big part of the game (and I really appreciate it), it feels like big parts of the game are designed with multiplayer in mind. Boss fights and arenas in particular. The original had some arenas like them, but far from all, and power-up's were often hidden away, or provided at special occasions, whereas here they're all over the place, and sometimes hidden in plain sight in one of the many nooks and crannies of highly dimensional multiplayer-like maps. I appreciate the design overall - it looks awesome, but it feels pretty different from the original too.

Anything Else?

One thing I'd have loved to see here were more segmented levels, where each one provided something new and memorable - architecture that just didn't look good, but had that special something that kept it from just becoming one more level. The boss fights were pretty unique, but all the rest of them blur together. The only big distinction is Hell and Mars.

It's not all bad. I mean: it's a great game on it's own! It's fun, just like the original, and I applaud the effort that went in to making it both easy to play, and replay, with attention to detail and mechanics, all the while keeping it true to the classic in so many ways. But is this the one game that'll replace it? Hell no. This is something else. A good something, and forget boring - I don't know how that seemed like a suitable word to reflect my early moments with the game, but...

I guess wat irks me is that they had perfection with the first game, so why didn't they use what they had to make something even better? I don't mean re-using old level designs, or keeping the graphics crisp and 1995ish, but they had a working formula. A precise balance of elements that made the game. Decades of research as to why it was such a well-received and lasting game, too. Colliding interests? Too many interests? Too different developers? Whatever the reason: it didn't turn out quite like I hoped it would, but it was still a blast to play.


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