Review: DOOM (PS4)

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Title: DOOM
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (52.46 GB)
Release Date: May 13, 2016
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: id Software
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
DOOM is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Some would call DOOM “the grandaddy of all shooters” and I am one of them. So seeing the franchise on this current generation of consoles is a no brainer. But, does it stand the test of time? In most respects, yes, but it falls a little flat in the single player campaign.

You wake up strapped to a table and find yourself fighting for your life. As you break free, you see a familiar suit and the real fight begins. You find yourself on a decimated Mars research facility with Doctor Samuel Hendrickson as your guide and Erica Pierce, who plays the part of the antagonist to a degree. The main thrust of the story, as it is in all versions of DOOM, is to stop the invading hordes of Hell on Mars.

This is where I find myself having an issue with the single player campaign. There is a lot more you can do with this story than is done here. I bring up Dead Space as a game that does this type of story justice. Imagine if you could meld the story of Dead Space and the gameplay of DOOM… instant winner.

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The story is your typical fare: go from point A to point B to point C while slaughtering Demons. While this is great for a few hours, it does start to get boring after awhile. Luckily, the excellent combat and gameplay get you through to the end of the game. To this end, the single player campaign, while enjoyable, is somewhat underwhelming considering some of the stories told recently.

The majority of the story details can be found in the codex, which drives me a little crazy. Some of that could have been in dialogue on screen as you traverse the levels or look for secrets. But if you’re looking for more, it will be in the codex. One unique thing that I found does a great deal to tie the DOOM mythos together. While I won’t spoil it here, to me it’s pretty cool.

The combat is better than I expected and really makes good use of the system’s hardware. It is fast and furious and flows unbelievably well. I cannot describe how much fun it is to traverse through the levels blowing demons back to Hell. It is the highlight of the game without question.

… give your weapons additional abilities …
As in any DOOM game, the weapons play a major part, and it’s even mentioned in the story as kind of a gag. Everything from the Combat Shotgun to the BFG makes an appearance here. While you will probably use the shotgun quite a bit, it’s fun to learn how to effectively use the weapons and what enemy types to use them against.

Another aspect of the game is the ability to upgrade your suit and weapons. To survive Hell’s soldiers, you will need to hunt down these upgrades. You can upgrade your health, armor, and the amount of ammo each weapon holds from Argent Energy found on each level.

Weapon upgrades come as secondary forms of fire and can be very useful on the harder enemies. These come from UAC drones that are hidden on each level much like the Argent Energy Canisters. Along with the drones, you earn weapons points to give your weapons additional abilities.

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Another way to upgrade is through Rune Trials that are found within the maps. These consist of objectives like “Destroy thirty Imps within a set number of time with a specific weapon”, or “Destroy thirty barrels with the pistol”. Once you meet the objective, your character will gain special attributes like an armor boost or the ability to absorb power ups from a greater range. The Trials, once found and unlocked, can be played from the Campaign menu.

You can find a set number of collectibles in each map that will unlock extras from the Campaign menu. Along with these secrets, sometimes there is a little easter egg or a funny interaction, so I recommend taking your time to find these items.

… beautiful in its own gory way …
The maps in the game are huge and there is so much terrain to cover that it’s almost ridiculous. But that is one of the strengths and id Software did a excellent job of making maps diverse. In one section it will be tight quarters, then the next will be wide open, and somewhere in between in the following section.

Also, the verticality of each map plays an important part in the level design. No longer confined to one level of play, this allows the combat and exploration a breath of fresh air. I found this to be thrilling at times and it only added to my enjoyment of the game.

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Visuals:
When I say this game looks good, I am doing it a disservice. DOOM is beautiful in its own gory way, and it’s one of the better looking games on the system. The graphics provide depth and texture to the horrors taking place on Mars and transport you into the situation.

The lighting system provides the mood this situation deserves and is quite excellent. As for technical performance, I found some texture pop-in, but nothing so bad that it will take you out of the game.

Audio:
There’s a large part of me that wants to say the audio is the best part and I’ll tell you why. I’ll start with the hard rock soundtrack. It’s mostly in the background, but on certain occasions when the action is fierce, the soundtrack kicks in a little louder and makes you feel like a badass.

Most of the time it’s subdued but it works well with the game. The sound effects are equally well done, as they place you right on Mars fighting Demons.

… become one of Hell’s Soldiers …
Online/Multiplayer:
The multiplayer is where you will find more of the action after the single player campaign. Each match type provides a different type of strategy and focus. Six of the match types will have you fighting 5v5, which makes for a fun but manageable situation.

You will find powerups on the maps for health, ammo, and armor, all DOOM staples. You will discover Artifacts like invisibility to add another wrinkle to your gameplay. But the biggest difference between this multiplayer and others is Demon Powers.

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This allows you to become one of Hell’s Soldiers until you are stopped by other the other team or players. I guarantee you will have fun with this, wreaking havoc on the game map. Each match type has a time limit and kill counts, when applicable, and this provides some tension and drama to the matches.

There is also a pretty big customization component to the multiplayer this time around. You can customize your armor with options for each individual armor piece, colors, patterns and even gloss. This is also true for your weapons. You can unlock these options as you progress through the levels in multiplayer.

… learn the maps and strategies …
Another big component is Hack Modules that give your character special abilities for a set amount of time. These range from Infinite Ammo to being able to see the enemy’s life bar. You can switch Hack Modules on or off, or even change them when you respawn. There are three sections to the Hack Modules that give you a fair amount of abilities that you can earn.

Team Deathmatch: This is the meat and potatoes of any modern shooter, and DOOM is no slouch in this department. The action is fast and furious and not much has changed since the open and closed Betas, but it runs smoothly and has no issues. I found myself leveling up pretty quickly in this mode and it’s great to learn the maps and strategies to become a better multiplayer opponent.

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Soul Harvest: This match type is where you have to collect souls from the fallen enemy players. This mode has some strategy to it as you can take away souls from the other team if you’re quick enough. I saw more teamwork with this mode throughout my matches, as people would team together to collect and take away souls.

Domination: Domination stays true to the 5v5 formula where in this match type you control points on the map. A tried and true FPS multiplayer staple, but with the DOOM touch. This is one of my favorite match types, as your kill count doesn’t matter but capturing points does. Whereas my skill as a shooter is on the decline, I can still contribute to the team.

… freeze tag with guns …
Warpath: This, like Team Deathmatch, has not changed much from the Betas. You have to control a moving zone and score enough points to win the match. This offers another excellent opportunity for people with trouble getting high kill counts to score some much needed XP. Teamwork is needed here, but in my matches with random players I had difficulty finding a group that worked as a team.

Freeze tag: This mode is a little different then the match types above. Instead of a time and score limit, it is a best of five rounds. Basically, it’s freeze tag with guns. Once you take down an enemy they are frozen until they are either thawed out or the match ends. Grouping up can be a big help, but it can also cost you dearly. The same is true as with going solo. I found myself hanging back a little and trying to hide and thaw out team members. This match also was also a matchmaking trouble spot, where it was hard to find ten members.

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Clan Arena: It’s another best out of five match type, but once you’re dead, you’re out of the match until it’s over. This was my least favorite of the match types available. One and done is not my favorite thing with multiplayer. It also removes the use of the excellent Demon Powers.

Matches are often quite short and can lean pretty heavily to one side if the team is overpowered with higher level players. One strategy I used was to hold back a little and pick off some of the injured players, but that only worked some of the time.

… play levels that were created by other people …
Matchmaking is pretty good overall. There were occasions that the other team was overpowered with high level players, but I was on the opposite side of that as well. Very rarely did this occur out of the thirty matches that I played for the review.

Snap Map is new to the franchise and this is where you can build your very own DOOM level or play levels that were created by other people. This adds longevity to the game and is a welcome addition to say the least. You will find everything from your traditional levels, to maps that will help you earn snap credits, and even a music creation level.

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Building a level is supposed to be a snap with you being able to build one in five minutes. This is true to a point. I found the control options difficult to memorize and a handy control map would have been nice to have. While the basic tutorial throws a lot out at you to begin with, you will find an easier time with things creating a map.

You can start with templates and continue from there. The templates range from anything like survival modes to 4 player co-op experiences. From there can do whatever you would like, and that’s the beauty of Snap Map. I will say that once I got into the editor it made a lot more sense and was fairly easy. But I still recommend going through the tutorial area.

… one that should not be missed …
Conclusion:
DOOM is back with a vengeance on the PlayStation 4, and it’s still showing why this is a historic franchise. You will get the full package here, the story mode will last you anywhere from four to ten hours depending how you play. The excellent multiplayer should be tried and I’m sure you will enjoy your time with it. The Snap Map is also a cool addition that can possibly give you many hours of enjoyment.

Everything from the graphics to the audio is a vast improvement over the last iteration of DOOM, but it also pays tribute to what has come before. I only wish that the story was built up a little more to compare with some other games in this genre. But this is one that should not be missed and is a great addition to anyone’s PS4 library.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Shawn Hiers

Shawn Hiers

Disabled gamer. Married Father of 3, and playing since the Atari days. I have a passion for all things Lego and an avid Toy Collector. I am also an huge Doctor Who Fan and can talk all things Who for hours 🙂

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