The new Doom could not have seemed more dead on arrival before its release. A reboot to the franchise without any of id Software's founders, it could also not have seemed more unnecessary, given the still running success of the original two games thanks to the modding community. On top of that, the game was given a beta that was blasted and utterly destroyed by fans and some critics. So at that point, no one had a sliver of hope for the new Doom. But somehow, against all odds, Doom is a success. Not just a mild one, either. Doom is surprisingly amazing, filled with the intense action the series is known for, while adding small things to move it into the new generation. Between a fast and lengthy singleplayer campaign, detailed SnapMap editor, and enjoyable though slightly derivative multiplayer lobby, Doom is an incredible return to the form of the original games and worthy of any fan of the genre.
The presentation in Doom is solid, with Doom's engine being certainly one to note. Running on the new id Tech 6 engine, Doom aims to fix the problems that players faced with the id Tech 5 engine, and thankfully it has done just that. The quality of the graphics cannot be understated, as this game looks amazing. Textures are sharp, animations are smooth and dynamic, and lighting is still top-notch. The performance is also surprising, running at a constant sixty frames-per-second with no drop or screen-tearing issues, and this applies to the PC version and the console versions. The PC version is also feature-rich, with plenty of customization. This is all balanced by a return to a classic Doom art style, as everything looks like it was updated from the original game. This is especially true of the enemies and areas inspired by parts of the original games, such as a map similar to the Doom II map Deadly Simple. The same level of polish can be traced to the sound, which is also amazing. Sound effects in particular are really well done. The howls and screeches of the demons are very horrific, the environments have the signature mixture of a controlled facility and abstract hell, and the weapons have a satisfying and gory amount of punch and impact. There's also voice acting, which is decent enough, but not exactly memorable stuff. But then there's the music, which is on a different level of metal. Composed by Mick Gordon, who also did the music for both Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, Doom's soundtrack uses a combination of the elements of the original Doom soundtrack and the more foreboding feel of the original Quake soundtrack, and it is absolutely amazing. Some tracks will instantly be familiar to Doom fans, especially the remix of At Doom's Gate (E1M1). It all suits the action perfectly, and will create more than a few moments of adrenaline-fueled mayhem.
The story, rather than taking the approach of Doom 3, brings it back to the roots of the original. Set on the Mars base of the Union Aerospace Corporation, Doom places players as the Doomguy, a marine on the base just moments before he is turned into a demon. After escaping, he finds the base invaded by the forces of Hell, having been unleashed by scientist and cult leader Olivia Pierce. Aided (somewhat reluctantly) by research chief Samuel Hayden, he must stop Pierce and shut the portal to Hell.
The story in Doom is incredibly lightweight, almost exactly in the vein of the original. The story, which is actually quite well-written is still there and told through cutscenes and bits of mid-mission exposition. But these are very rare and very short. Plus, the game has an almost self-aware approach to the player's likely lack of care toward the story, as Doomguy will often smash monitors during exposition or destroy objects that he is told are crucial to the base's experiments. This is often hilarious and shows that the team at id Software knew what they were doing with the campaign's direct focus on story, or rather lack thereof. However, there is a deeper indirect focus through bits of collectable text the player can find, giving those who want another layer of story something to pay attention to.
However, as a Doom game should be, the focus is almost entirely on the gameplay, and the campaign is exactly what you would expect from a game with Doom as the title. It is delightfully old-school, starting from the fact that the game puts the player into the action within literal seconds. Along with this, the game has a tendency to both old-school level design and old-school objectives. Most of Doom will be spent looking for keycards or switching things on or off, which is fairly similar to the original games. The game's level design really shows this off, as each level gives the player a large map to explore and take time with. Players will have to wander the maps, meaning the return of an old-school map system, all the while searching for keycards, secrets, and the ultimate objective or exit. This is certainly old-school progression brought into the new generation and done right. During this, the player will be fighting the returning demons. Ranging from the basic Imps to the Barons of Hell, Doom brings back the demons of old and they are just as deadly as before. Fighting them is also immensely enjoyable, thanks to the combat. The combat in Doom is intense and delightfully gory. Like the original, the combat is absolutely intense, with powerful weapons such as the returning classics of the Super Shotgun and Plasma Gun, alongside new additions like the Gauss Cannon and Heavy Machine Gun. This is even balanced out with the chainsaw and BFG9000, both of which act like power weapons with limited ammunition. Yet this makes the moments when they are used much more satisfying. Each combat encounter feels like a mini-deathmatch arena, somewhat similar to more modern takes on the old-school formula like Serious Sam or Painkiller and it does work really well, giving the player waves of ever more difficult demons to shoot or otherwise gib. The gameplay breathes old-school, but id Software have also added some small modern touches to the gameplay, though they are in no way intrusive. These mostly come in the form of weapon and armor upgrades. As the player kills demons, explores, discovers secrets, and just generally progresses through the levels, the player will earn points to upgrade parts of the Doomguy's armor and alternate weapon modes. These upgrades work to the game's favor, adding flavor to the combat. Some upgrades allow for further movement in combat with the suit, while others give more damage or cooldown timers to the alternate fire modes. For classic Doom purists, the game could be completed without using these. However, they can make combat and exploration more enjoyable for those who want to use them.
Doom's campaign is surprising in length and difficulty. Playing on Hurt Me Plenty difficulty with exploration took about twenty hours to play and complete, while giving a perfect and fair challenge. Even with this length, there were plenty of challenges and secrets that went missed. Those, along with the other difficulty modes, add plenty of replay value to the already fun campaign. Doom also contains a multiplayer mode, as well as a map creation tool called SnapMap. SnapMap acts as this game's version of modding, allowing anyone to create and play maps across systems. This is a very cool feature. Not only is it easy to learn, thanks to built-in tutorial levels, but it's also deep and customizable, especially thanks to updates from id. SnapMap will definitely give players more Doom content, from original maps and modes to remakes of classic Doom levels. The multiplayer is a more interesting story; developed by Certain Affinity, who worked on multiplayer for previous iterations of Halo and Call of Duty, this mode feels less like Doom or Quake and more like a modern shooter. This isn't to say the multiplayer is poorly built, because it really isn't. The gameplay still works well, the servers work perfectly fine, and the game modes are still fun, especially less-traditional modes like Clan Arena and Freeze Tag. But there are some weird design choices, mostly with the weapon loadouts and overall leveling system, that make it feel less than Doom. id have taken over the multiplayer since then, promising more classic-style multiplayer features later in time, which is surprising and welcome from a modern developer. But what exists in the package, despite feeling generic, isn't bad.
Doom is what happens with a developer knows what they're doing. Doom is what happens when a developer has respect for the games they made in the past. In an era where game reboots are a dime a dozen, and very poor in quality, Doom brings back not only the gameplay of the shooters of the 1990s, but the attitude as well. The multiplayer may be generic in its current state, but id's involvement is likely to improve it in the future. What exists now is a return for the old-school shooter. The 1990s are back, and id Software is once again leading the charge.