The debate of mouse precision versus controllers has always been hard to quantify, mainly because many modern games are designed with controllers in mind. However, the precision turning speed of a mouse is why DOOM is best played on PC. This isn’t a mockery of consoles, but it’s this reboot’s return to unrealistically fast movement speed that makes playing this game on the platform where its roots are come together with its focus on fast-paced action. Is this a return to form for the DOOM series?
That focus on fast-paced action combined with the precise turning speed of a mouse is exactly why this game manages to pull off something fresh, yet old. This is how old-school first person shooters were, entirely made up of moving way too fast and aiming faster. It was about reflexes and split-second movement decisions. DOOM has succeeded here in reminding people like me what an old first-person shooter plays like, but also takes advantage of modern technology to give levels much higher amounts of complexity and verticality in the form of platforming. Combining old and new is something that is refreshingly retro, and if you’re playing it on PC, you’re going to remember why having a good mouse used to be so important. It doesn’t stop there, though: we also have the programming freedom to make any guns we want and have them do anything we want, and there is a proper assortment of weapons and mods to make things interesting… BUT, if you’re old-school, then you know the double-barrel shotgun is all you’ll ever need. This run-and-jump-and-gun Quake formula just plain works because it was designed with this in mind rather than any sense of realism. This formula carries itself into multiplayer, but also carries with it one problem: an imbalance. It’s hard to explain, but not only do certain weapons carry an overall advantage, but so, too, do some of the “hack” mods. In an effort to do something new they’ve done something wrong, and multiplayer is at its best when people are doing the run-jump-gun Quake thing but at its worst when you recognize some players have a distinct advantage over others simply because they’ve unlocked better weaponry or were awarded more useful perks. Even though skill can overwhelm everything in the end, there’s no denying that multiplayer finds itself trying to be both old and new but instead breaks its old-school balance with the attempt at new things. The modern retro experience works best in single-player while multiplayer takes a back seat as a less worthy side-attraction.
The single-player campaign lasted longer than I expected as an initial playthrough saw the credits roll a little over 8 hours later. The rest of the hours you’d accrue are either gathering collectibles or in the multiplayer experience. If you DO put the hours into multiplayer, much like Uncharted 4, it sees a MUCH deeper level of unlockables and customization than meets the eye. If you can get passed the aforementioned imbalance until you make your way to the top of the food chain it does reward you. Furthermore, while I can’t exactly see it panning out in the long run as a viable map-making community as strong as “The Forge” of Halo fame, the SnapMap editor is a great introduction for the creative map-making mind hiding somewhere deep, deep inside you.
While “id Tech 6” (the OpenGL graphics engine that power this game) gave me difficulty in capturing direct footage via the DirectX-only support of NVIDIA Shadowplay, it proved to be one of the most highly optimized graphics engines I’ve had the joy of playing on. Using desktop capture impacted recording performance, but trust me: this engine runs smooth as butter and I experienced not a single framerate drop throughout the entire game maxed out on my PC. Not only that, but without it locked to 60 my framerate averaged double that around 120 fps. And while textures may not impress across the board, I have nothing but positive things to say about the sights, sounds, and performance, finally feeling like this graphics engine was optimized for the very platform the game was born on. Add to that the gory symphony of demon blood and guts, and I dare say this is one of the most impressive outings of a multiplatform game on PC I’ve had the joy of playing.
Perhaps I’m beginning to sound a bit like a dinosaur, but I did actually have my taste of old-school first person shooters on PC. While I personally preferred Quake during the sudden growth of DOOM-clones, I’m glad to have gotten a taste of what happens when people want to make old anew again. This reboot is fast, gory, and unwaveringly fluid. It’s how PC first person shooting is meant to be, and while its multiplayer finds some jarring imbalance, its map editor doesn’t quite find prominence, and its textures are lacking, I not only recommend this purchase on PC but also to anyone who forgot or doesn’t know what playing first person shooters used to be like. For reference, just imagine yourself sprinting at all times with infinite stamina and all of your guns have a “no reload” cheat active.
I give DOOM…