The Doom franchise has always been about bloodletting, run-and-gun mayhem. And little else. In fact, one of the creators of the 1993 original, John Carmack, once said that the story really didn't matter in a game that everyone knows is all about mowing down demonic entities as fast as humanly possible.
And so it is again with this reboot of the controversial granddaddy of M-rated shooters, 23 years after it originally prompted video game watchdogs to ponder just how much violence is too much.
John Doe vs. the Hordes of Hell
As the 2016 version of Doom begins, a nameless guy wakes up in a nasty lab scrawled with glowing demonic symbols. And he's immediately called upon to start crushing skulls and ripping jaws from the hellish horrors that soon assault him. From there, he slips on a space suit to seek out some, uh, tools with a little more flesh-riddling punch.
Why, you ask?
Well, it seems the Union Aerospace Corporation built a massive facility on Mars to siphon energy from Hell. Yes, that Hell. I mean, hey, there's a gas crisis on Earth, so somebody had to do something. Why is there a portal to the underworld on Mars? And how do you make hellfire into something that can keep your Honda humming? Who knows. Doesn't matter. The point is, demons have swarmed the place, and everything has gone badly—very badly—for UAC employees.
Your character's objective is as focused as the point of a white-hot poker: reboot the corpse-littered base, close that demon-spouting gate, and annihilate anything that squirms, leaps and roars.
Of course, that's a pretty big task since the entire facility is now one big pulsating organic mess.
Obtain, Optimize, Obliterate
Gameplay is quite simple, albeit in an overwhelmingly chaotic way: Keep moving, keep ducking, keep exterminating.
You're almost always locked into some area of steaming, blood-spattered darkness, a smoky and devastated part of the Mars facility (or, at times, Hell itself) that features a computer voice telling you there are too many demons present to unlock the doors. Kill those swarming things, and your reward is access to another devil-filled room just like the last one.
And so you dutifully stockpile an arsenal of weapons, death-dealing implements wrenched from the hands of mutilated corpses or snatched up from some nearby pile of dribbling goop. As you blast a shotgun round into the eye socket of a snarling foe or rip a baddy from sternum to abdomen with a chainsaw, you gain a near-constant stream of experience points that allow you to upgrade your weapons and defenses.
The marauding, malevolent entities get more and more massive, of course. Accordingly, your attacks shift from assault rifle blasts to proton gun zaps, mortar-like cluster bombs and rounds of micro missiles. When an enemy gets hit just right, the game opens the door for so-called "glory kills"—graphically blood-gushing dismemberment techniques, one of which features force-feeding a beastie its own organs before it explodes in a gelatinous kablam.
If all that evisceration weren't enough, some of the occult symbols on walls are actually portals to special "Rune Trial" side tests. They feature still more creative ways of rending demon hide and snap-crackling devilish bones.
Create Your Own Carnage
Along with all the ridiculous entrails-rending and decapitation of the single-player campaign, the game also offers a multiplayer mode that centers around tower-defense challenges.
Meanwhile, in Snap Map mode players can stitch together their own hellish levels for others to play through online, giving them even more opportunities for demon-blasting pandemonium.
All these years later, then, Doom's still playing the same game it always has: amping up goopy gore to ever-more gruesome levels as it invites players to revel in all that demonic destruction.