And despite seeming like nothing more than shallow pandering to your lizard-brain, the violence here is actually a smart piece of design—a core part of the pacing, in fact. Doom’s bloodiest moments are tied to a new “Glory Kill” system. You shoot demons until they’re staggered, then you run up and melee-kill them in the most gruesome fashion possible.
It keeps the game moving. Getting in close isn’t just recommended, it’s required, which means you’re constantly dodging and strafing and leaping from target to target. Shoot a Cacodemon, then punch out its eyeball. Shoot an Imp, then stomp on its head. Shoot a Hell Knight, then wring its neck. And et cetera. Stop to think and you’re dead.
That’s in direct contrast to modern shooters, where you’re innately fragile and spend most of your time cowering behind cover and popping off shots at vaguely-head-shaped pixels a half-mile away. Which is not to say those shooters hold no appeal. It’s just different. Slower.
Unfortunately Doom’s pacing ends up being its own worst enemy. The game flies like a bat out of (into?) hell and does a damn fine job of it until about two-thirds of the way through the twelve hour campaign, at which point it just...runs out of surprises.
You start to realize you’ve seen every enemy, seen every environment. The levels, which early on are massive and branching, become more and more linear and pack fewer secrets.
And by the end, Doom sacrifices its excellent pacing on the altar of larger arenas and increasing waves of enemies. The last levels are a shadow of the opening half, full of drawn-out engagements and few corridors to prod. A fully-decked arsenal will still chew through waves of enemies, but it’s not quite as satisfying when a dozen more show up shortly thereafter.
Long live id Tech
We can’t talk Doom without also talking about id Tech. Long story short: It’s incredible. Last week I mentioned I was seeing over 100 frames per second on a GeForce GTX 980 Ti at 1080p/Ultra, and those numbers held true for pretty much the entire game. Given how good it looks, I’m amazed.
I don’t expect id Tech to make a huge resurgence. Unreal has pretty much cemented its hold over most non-proprietary studios, with Unity taking the remainder. Even if id Tech is easy to work with, I don’t see it gaining a foothold.
But damn, does it look fantastic. Granted, it’s in service of creating battered industrial platforms and barren hellscapes, but still: Wow.
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