Almost Right

User Rating: 7 | DOOM PC

What is this? It's not really Doom.

Doom 4 (make no mistake, this is a sequel to Doom 64 which technically was the real Doom 3 even though it was a rehash of Doom 2, so I'm going to call it Doom 4) throws you into the action immediately - like the original. Good? After a brief scene that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and hints at a really, really dumb twist about Doomguy, you are tossed into action shooting possessed in a brief battle that shows you the extent of everything you'll see in the next 10 chapters. Shoot. QTE. Repeat.

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The level design is uninspired and...industrial. None of the levels have any of the charm of the original games and they are just so boring and lifeless - that's in comparison to a practically 2D game. They are all so lazily laid out that it almost dwarves the re-introduction of colored keycards/skulls, because getting each of them is an effortless affair that almost always requires a simple trot down a hallway, and a punch-fest with a few demons. On top of that, the game - because it is 3D - has platforming in it. Why is there platforming in my Doom? Why am I dropkick brutalizing demons? Yes, I'm aware there was elevation in Doom, but it was almost always out of your control. The platforming only gets worse too, with the argent tower, and the levels gain a large degree of verticality to them once you get to Hell, in an aimless attempt to mimic Quake 3 multiplayer during your single player Doom experience.

I play games like Far Cry or Dying Light or Mirror’s Edge if I want first person platforming. Don’t ever do this again.

This entire level was an unnecessary way to justify jumping
This entire level was an unnecessary way to justify jumping

For the first half of the game, new enemies are introduced in a bland, generic way where none of them are given any pomp and circumstance - they just happen to join the fray. I didn't even realize the first time I was fighting a Hell Knight until I had already half killed him, and it only registered for a brief few seconds in my mind before he was dead anyway. Best of all, there are a lot of enemy types, so it's just a constant repeat of "hmm what's this random guy I haven't seen this one I don't think, oh he's dead." Until the Manccubus. Then almost every enemy afterwards gets special treatment. The ONLY time the first half of the game even had a little cutscene to say "OMG" was when you fight the first Mancubbus, and then immediately after that you are fighting Mancubbi all the time. Remember the first time you encountered a Pinky in Doom 3? It was scary and it was awesome. In this game, the System Shock 2 hologhost shows you what a Pinky looks like long before you ever see one. Sidenote: They are somehow the strongest enemy in the game. Pinkys and Spectres. The guys that took 3 shotgun hits to kill in every other game.

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Doom 4's soundtrack, like all the demons in Doom 3, basically hides in a closet for the first half of the game until it can jump out when the game gets real. I will keep my ears and eyes out for a mod that lets you put in Andrew Hulshults excellent Doom album, because it is the only acceptable soundtrack. On a positive note, once you get to hell the music definitely improves, but it doesn't excuse the lack of music in the first several chapters. And really, all I hear is Demon Hunter, like I'm playing KF2. No offense, Demon Hunter is just dreadfully boring wannabe-stoner-metal. The rest of it sounds like Slipknot and unfortunately, the music even at the end of the game only shows its face when you're fighting.

Still, they definitely put in effort to make this an actual Doom game as opposed to Doom 3: Monster Closet Simulator. The fact that enemies are three dimensional, combined with the fact that they actually move around and try to flank you makes combat slightly more advanced than the originals, but it quickly becomes thoroughly mindless and just... boring less than halfway through the game. Glory killing everything to death is too easy and far too likely for you to become over-reliant upon, especially with enemies that are otherwise bullet sponges. It basically negates the entire point of Doom to have this feature be so powerful, because the weapons are boring and not fun to use and more often than not, they serve no purpose but to weaken an enemy so you can instakill them. In fact that's even one of the Rune challenges. The weapons still feel like they have no weight or umph to them, just like they did in the multiplayer beta. By the way, this game literally has the Halo plasma pistol in it. It may be a different model and fire different colored plasma, but it is the exact same gun. Right click to charge fire a powerful shot left click to spam. The only difference is it has infinite ammo.

The perfect example of how linear and asinine the platforming is. You must use the green marked platforming spots, or you die.
The perfect example of how linear and asinine the platforming is. You must use the green marked platforming spots, or you die.

To exacerbate that, it doesn't feel like enemies are any threat to you either. The only enemies that ever concern me are Hell Knights and it's only because they are fast and follow you around with a ground pound attack - even Barons are harmless. Summoners? Don't care. Manccubi? Too slow to matter. Revenants? Lol, so easy to kill. It doesn't even feel like you're in danger when revenants rocket spam you, and the same applies to all the various projectile weapons demons and possessed toss at you. I played half the game before I died from an enemy and the only reason that happened is because I didn't actually look where I was going and ended up running in to a laser. That was the one and only time I died in the entire game from an enemy. Every other death was fall damage or from the BFG laser grid. They made the enemies weak and still don't have as many on screen as Nightmare doom levels did. In the day when there were 6 Revenants on screen it was an emergency. In this game it's like "Well, guess I'll just shotgun them in the face or rocket spam them."

The graphics are pretty and the game is mostly well optimized. You can cry all you want about how Rage had a lot of memory issues because of textures, and how those same issues persisted in The New Order (you're wrong if you do), but this game runs just fine. I did not have any issues until Hell on Mars and then my FPS flatlined at like 12 frames, for no discernible reason. My GPU wasn't overheating, my CPU wasn't overheating, my SSD wasn't overheating and nothing else was running. The same happened on Phobos.

The effects look pretty cool from the explosions and the glowing magma to the red dust storms on the planets surface. Unfortunately, it all still looks generic and clay, though, like Doom 3 did. The only difference is they learned how bump mapping and specular mapping works so now it's not as bad. On top of that, the physics in the game are inconsistent and decide when they exist. You can run directly into an object and it won't move, but then run into the same object somewhere else and it goes flying. Or, take a look at the ejected plasma cartridges when you fire the plasma pistol. And as with all modern games with physics, objects will move slightly and then get caught in an endless loop, making more noise and being more disconcerting than the enemies.

Should I even mention the story? Think Doom 3, but with a commune communitatis trope underlying the completely absurd story. A story where demons can evidently be captured like Pokemon, and Hell is accepted unquestionably as a physical place. A place being treated more like the rain forest or Iraq or something, rather than THE SCARIEST THING IMAGINABLE. Not only is the story ridiculous, but there's too much of it, and the game too often forces you to remember there's a ridiculous story behind all the demon blood and explosions by wrestling control away from you in story moments when you activate a switch or grab a thing. Did I mention the really, really, really dumb twist about Doomguy? The one I hinted at?

Multiplayer? So bad. So unbalanced. Nothing has changed since beta except now people have BFGs and Manccubi.

This isn't a terrible game, but it's not a good game either. It spends too much time trodding through the UAC facilities in Mars dicking around before the game actually gets good. "Getting good" literally only happens after the first time you go to hell - halfway into the game. From this point the gameplay is more frenetic and brutal, but by that time there are no new enemies except spectres and you are already indeed the Doom Slayer. Just enough, far too late.

I would not pay full price (and didn't), but hey at least it's definitely better than Doom 3, that's for sure.