Doom (PS4)

So, I'm about halfway through the campaign, and the new Doom isn't perfect. But it's the shooter we need, even when it's not always the shooter we want.

Doom 3 was an attempt to take the very old-school Doom formula and translate it to a Gears of War world full of grim darkness and serious story and did I mention darkness because darkness. It had it's moments, but it didn't feel like Doom. Doom isn't scary, Doom is glorious and goofy.

And the new Doom is glorious and goofy. Basically, what it retains from Doom 3 are certain visual cues, like the look of in-game monitor displays and a lot of the sort of future industrial chunky look of the Mars facility. Oh, and the Imps. The Imps running around and jumping on shit and clinging to walls that Doom 3 introduced is all over Doom 2016.

But the tone of Doom is pure run-and-gun. There is no cover mechanic. There is no creeping. They bring monsters. You bring bullets. You will either put enough bullets in enough monsters to survive, or you will die. I'm dying a lot.

The 13 levels (I assume, I've seen about half0 are huge and intricate and, so far, seemingly fully navigable. There are no points in the levels where you cut yourself off from the rest of the level. Which is great, because enemies don't respond, which means you can do the combat and go back and explore for secrets and collectibles. None of this is fussy. It's all very straightforward and clear and good once you get the hang of it.

There's a lot to do, and all of it is fun and useful. There's weapon upgrades and two kinds of suit upgrades and runes, and you get all these things through a mix of exploration, collectibles, and various combat achievements and challenges. It's doled out in a way that never seems like too much.

Levels are structured in a very Uncharted/Tomb Raider way - areas of mostly exploration with a few enemies, then chunks that lock you in a large space and force you to survive against waves of enemies. The combat is TOUGH. Enemies aren't very smart, but they're varied, tough, and the spaces you fight them in don't let you cheat or exploit their dumbness much. It's satisfying when you win, but can be VERY frustrating on the 10th or 11th time you try to clear one, which is where I'm at in the first or second Hell level I'm on.

So, what are the flaws? The first couple of levels don't click right. The rhythm of the game doesn't really establish itself early on, so I found myself liking the game less. And then there are the load times. Load times are somewhat brutal given how often you die. When you die, the "Load From Checkpoint" option appears immediately, but doesn't actually work for 2-6 seconds. This is maddening. Then actually loading the checkpoint is another 20-30 seconds. That doesn't seem like a lot until you're doing it a dozen times in a row after sometimes very quick deaths.

I'd also like more enemies and things to shoot in just the regular walking through the level parts. Some of the levels have it, but others feel like a long walk to the next arena. And some of those walks include first-person platform ink, which is ALWAYS A PROBLEM even when it's done pretty well, which it is here.

But overall, Doom is glory and goofy and big guns and bigger monsters and the kind of shooter we don't see enough of. It's Burnout in a world full of Gran Turismos.