April 17, 2024
Doom Eternal Complete Honest Review

John Carmack, the brain behind the original Doom, once said that a game’s story is similar to the plot in adult films – it’s there, but it’s not the main attraction. Some might argue that a good narrative can add a certain zest to adult content, creating a more engaging experience with elements like chemistry and suspense. However, if we’re comparing games to adult films, particularly those of a more action-packed variety, then I’d wholeheartedly suggest giving Doom Eternal a try. It’s like a fast-paced montage of massive weaponry and powerful punches colliding with their targets, all running smoothly at 60 frames per second.

The 2016 reboot was already quite a spectacle, with its intense battles and dramatic close-ups of defeated demons, all set to a pulse-pounding heavy metal score. Doom Eternal cranks up the intensity even more, offering new ways to maneuver through the air and explore levels that now emphasize height as much as length. You’ll find yourself pulling out and shoving back in monstrous organs from demon bodies; alternative weapon fires begging to be unleashed; and health pickups dotting the landscape in a rather suggestive manner. The game’s settings could be described as something a young H.R. Giger, who’s just discovered AC/DC, might dream up. You’ll navigate through metallic fortresses, run-down office spaces, and corridors of pulsating flesh, unlocking pathways and slicing through surprise tentacles with your trusty shotgun.

Doom Eternal Complete Honest Review

Some may claim that all this is nothing more than straightforward video game violence – pure and simple fun without any hidden meanings. But when you’re descending into the belly of a giant, pierced creature, it’s hard to deny that there might be a metaphor or two in the mix. “Rip and tear” indeed seems to take on a double meaning.

Carmack’s comparison of game narratives to adult film plots suggests that stories in games are unnecessary additions borrowed from movies and books. This idea has been challenged and proven otherwise over time. Nonetheless, Doom Eternal does have its own storyline amidst the chaos. While it’s not as deep as other Zenimax titles, it feels tacked on. After stopping the demonic invasion of Mars, the legendary Doom Slayer now aims to cleanse Earth. Starting from an orbiting gothic station that doubles as a customization hub, he travels to devastated cities, factories, and temples reminiscent of Gears of War. Along the way, he delves into his surprisingly eventful history, experiencing flashbacks and reconnecting with former comrades.

The 2016 reboot brought back the classic Doom combat with a modern twist, ramping up the intensity and adding more story elements like cutscenes, audio logs, codex entries, and in-game conversations. This was quite the change from the original Doom, which had plans for a significant story but ultimately focused on action. Doom Eternal goes even further, introducing new characters and doubling down on backstory.

Doom Eternal Complete Honest Review

Now, the game’s cutscenes switch between first and third-person views, making the Doom Slayer feel more like a real person you can customize with different outfits and weapon skins, rather than just a set of hands ready for battle. He’s wrapped up in the storyline, and there’s an attempt to justify his extraordinary abilities. For instance, one scientist muses that the Slayer embodies humanity’s fierce will to survive. And yes, the Slayer now has a voice, albeit with very few words spoken throughout the game.

Despite this, the protagonist doesn’t seem too pleased with all the narrative focus, often appearing restless during cutscenes as others try to engage him in dialogue—usually to no avail, as most characters end up meeting a grisly end. You’re not forced to listen to the audio logs or read the codex, but they’re there, somewhat hindering the pace like those annoying pools of purple sludge that slow you down in certain areas. They serve as a reminder that there’s more to the game than just carnage. However, because many players don’t come to Doom looking for a deep story, the lore you do find is often superficial and formulaic, filled with clichéd tropes about ancient civilizations and epic wars.

But when it comes to raw action, Eternal certainly delivers. The gameplay is a relentless dance of offense and defense, where you harvest ammo, health, and armor directly from your enemies instead of hunting for supplies. Stunning an enemy opens the door for a glory kill, giving you a bit of health and a brief respite as other demons hold off until you finish your brutal takedown. These glory kills can also be activated from a distance, instantly transporting you to your target, which can be handy for quick escapes or repositioning. Slicing through demons with your chainsaw rewards you with a fountain of ammunition, refilling your arsenal in one go. While larger foes require more fuel to take down, there’s always enough to handle the smaller ones that keep coming at you until the bigger threats are eliminated.

This dynamic approach to gathering resources pushes you to engage with enemies who are naturally inclined to chase you down. Some adversaries, like the Archville that summons minions, act more like environmental obstacles. However, most of the underworld’s army lacks long-range attackers; nearly every creature, from the bulky Mancubus to the slithering Whiplash, is determined to confront you up close. It may seem like total mayhem, but there’s a precise method to the madness in Eternal’s combat, and the game does an excellent job of communicating crucial information moment by moment. Drops for ammo, health, and armor are easily identifiable by their colors; enemies ready for a finishing move flash blue and then orange when you’re in range. The game’s sound design is also a helpful tool, once you get used to the blaring metal soundtrack. You’ll start to interpret the flow of battle through sounds, whether it’s the click of a recharging ability, the gurgle of a Cacodemon ingesting an explosive, or the distinctive shriek of a charging Pinky.

Doom Eternal Complete Honest Review

New features include an ice bomb that you can deploy to instantly freeze groups of enemies, halting deadly attacks in their tracks. Your shoulder-mounted flamethrower spews fire, making enemies drop armor shards and encouraging you to stay in the thick of the fight when you’re low on protection. But perhaps the most significant addition is your enhanced mobility. The Slayer can now use launch pads, perform mid-air dashes, climb walls, swing from bars, and pull himself towards or around foes using a grappling hook attached to the Super Shotgun.

These abilities allow for acrobatic feats that might remind some of the gravity-defying battles in the underappreciated game Lawbreakers. Picture yourself grappling an enemy, blasting them with your shotgun as you soar by, leaping to a bar to swing toward a dazed Pain Elemental, then landing on a launch pad while switching to your Heavy Assault Rifle to pepper the area with micro-missiles. The arsenal is largely a fun remix of what was available in Doom 2016, with each weapon offering two upgradeable alternate fires that cater to various strategies and adversaries. For example, your shotgun can either launch sticky bombs, perfect for disarming a Cyberdemon, or transform into a rapid-fire Gatling gun to manage crowds.

As you venture beyond the adrenaline-pumping battles, the allure of Doom Eternal starts to wane a bit. Setting aside its expansive narrative, the game feels slightly weighed down by its numerous customization options. You’ll find yourself hunting for weapon mods within the levels and equipping runes that grant abilities like slow-motion aiming in mid-air, as well as Praetor Suit upgrades that let you attract health pickups from a distance. While there’s a certain skill involved in mixing and matching Rune perks, especially in the more challenging “Master” level versions with tougher enemy placements, the RPG elements aren’t particularly groundbreaking, and frequent menu navigation can slow down a game that shines brightest amidst the chaos of combat.

Doom Eternal Complete Honest Review

What tends to drain the energy from Eternal is the repetitive structure of the campaign, which oscillates between intense combat arenas and platforming sections reminiscent of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. There are hidden treasures to discover, some nestled in lofty nooks or behind destructible barriers, along with secret combat encounters. However, the pattern of alternating between gunfights and platforming remains consistent. Boss fights offer a change of pace—the final battle is especially epic, featuring a two-stage confrontation with a towering adversary. Yet, some boss encounters can be tedious, requiring the same strategy over and over to deplete an enemy’s health bar. Interestingly, the game provides nearly invincible Sentinel armor after several defeats, although Doom Eternal is otherwise commendable for its accessibility: lowering the difficulty doesn’t hinder your progress, and you can return to your original difficulty setting after the boss fight concludes.

Remember, the classic Doom wasn’t just about relentless action. It was eerie and could really get your heart racing. You’d hear monsters shuffling behind walls, and secret panels would slide open unexpectedly. There was a story, albeit a minimal one, but it didn’t rely on extensive lore to explain its strange world and spaces. The secrets were as much about exploring the potential of digital environments as they were about grabbing an extra boost. It was a place filled with surprising turns and visual illusions that changed just because they could. Doom Eternal, despite its plethora of collectibles, doesn’t quite capture that same sense of wonder. Sometimes, it seems like the levels are crafted in reverse, starting from the end-of-level summary that tallies up all the optional finds and challenges. One might say that 3D worlds have lost their ability to surprise us compared to back in 1993, but that overlooks the innovative work of many Doom modders who still manage to create fresh and captivating experiences with the old id Software engine and tools.

What I haven’t touched on yet is multiplayer, which isn’t available at the moment, but already appears to be an improvement over the somewhat makeshift online mode of Doom 2016. It’s an asymmetrical setup where one player takes on the role of the Slayer and others control different types of demons from the single-player campaign. As a demon, you can call forth AI minions using the D-pad, suggesting that success hinges on smart crowd control as much as direct combat. This could be a nice change of pace after the intense solo campaign, which, despite breaking away from Carmack’s old rule, might just be one of the best gaming experiences of the year. Nevertheless, I’m left feeling ambivalent about Doom Eternal. Fundamentally, it’s a rehash of the 2016 reboot with some new features, and its deep dive into the Doom lore is as perplexing as the battles are thrilling. Is this what Doom has come to—a barrage of collectibles, unnecessary cutscenes, and the endless grimace of demonic foes?

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