There was a moment waiting for the installation of the new DOOM from id Software to finish installing where I thought to myself: "Oh no, what if this isn't good?" What if it is just boring and FPS fans are destined to play Call of Duty clones for the rest of our days.
Thankfully, DOOM kicks ass. In the first minute, the player is slaughtering zombies and demons with some heavy metal butt rock blasting away in the background. By the time the title card flashes on screen, DOOM makes a clear declaration: I am have become the destroyer of the shooter genre.
For too long, the FPS genre was ruled by methodical, stealth addicted, tactical pretenders that wanted to be more sensible and more intellectual. It was about telling a story - generating controversy with "No Russian" or telling some epic science fiction tale about rings in space. The idea of the blazing fast, no frills, hardcore shooter was tossed to the wayside; discarded like shumps, beat'em ups, and sports played by robots. id's effort to reboot the Wolfenstein series surprised some but didn't sate my appetite for the genre I discovered in junior high, loved in high school, and skipped classes for in college.
After the first night with DOOM, I didn't even know that I was thirsting for a masterpiece like this. I obsessed over COD and even plied my trade in ArmA, figuring that slower, more thoughtful gameplay is what I wanted. Doom 3 is but a speck in the rearview mirror, thankfully forgotten.
Booting up DOOM is like seeing an old friend after years and years of separation. It took about 20 minutes to reacquaint ourselves with each other. The initial niceties went first. What did you do after college? Oh yeah, I started working for Doctors Without Borders. Wow, that's interesting. You married? Crazy. I have two kids. After the bullshit was out of the way, we got down to business: double-barreled shotgun decimating Cacodemons, Berzerk punching Pinky into oblivion, and hitting that BFG for the first time.
This new modern DOOM plays fast, faster than most contemporary FPS games. It is not as fast as the original, but, relative to its contemporaries, it has this blazing pace. However, the new game builds a couple of great mechanics into the combat to really push the speed. When an enemy is close to death, they will go into a staggered state and the player can trigger a melee kill that will drop some health. This small feature allows the player to be even more aggressive by jumping into the fray in order to heal. It is almost like DOOM is giving you all the tools to wreak havoc.
I was astonished by just how much this new take on the Doom series continually floored my expectations. DOOM made me feel like that thirteen year old again, playing a game that was so violent, disgusting, and absolutely wondrous. It felt dangerous - not dangerous in that it was bad influence. It felt dangerous because I laughed when I ripped the open the face of five Imps in quick succession. I chuckled in glee and kept moving because two Barons of Hell showed up and I had forgot to breathe for the last couple of minutes.
The reverence for the original occupies every nook and cranny of DOOM. From the weapons to the monster designs, this is the true modern sequel all Doom fans have waited for their entire life. One level started with a blue and yellow door visible, and I had to delve deep into the halls and venture back, like an old classic level. Everything here is just designed so well that I was sad I had finished it.
I really hope DOOM wasn't an accident. The multiplayer is so uninspired and the Snap Map feature ultimately disappointing (really, only two weapons equipped simultaneously and different key bindings?) that I fear the single player campaign cannot be replicated. I really hope my natural cynicism is misplaced and unfair, because DOOM is the best game I've played in years.