Id Software’s latest take on Doom is finally out. Good news: it’s pretty great. I finally got to play a few hours of the campaign last night and really enjoyed the velocity and brutality of the action. It strikes a fine balance between the chaotic difficulty of the first two games as well as the drip-fed progression and upgrade systems of modern first-person shooters.
Also, there’s a button dedicated to whipping out a chainsaw. What’s not to love?
Still, something I’ve noticed over the past few days as reviews and impressions have come in is a resurfacing of criticism aimed at 2004’s Doom 3, id Software’s previous effort to modernize the franchise. That game was a much more aggressive attempt to bring the series into a new era, leaning hard into survival-horror instead of frantic action. Though the game received a decent critical reception, Doom’s diehard fans weren’t really sold on the genre shift.
Without the explosive action that defined the series, Doom 3 just didn’t feel like Doom. It is fair and probably accurate to say that 3 is a bad Doom game and probably the weakest entry in the series. However, the third game, when removed from its brand, is actually a pretty great, spooky time. Imps lurk in the dark waiting to melt you with fireballs while possessed scientists and maintenance workers stumble in your direction, swiping at your face. Blood-covered PDAs and touchscreens feed you information about what caused Mars’ demonic invasion. You’re not an all-powerful badass taking down monster after monster but a considerably weaker standard issue marine who has to use his investigative skills nearly as much as he does his combat abilities.