The "Doom" franchise has apparently pulled a fast one on me and revived itself. I admittedly don't pay too much attention to the realm of first-person shooter video games, but I'd like to think I'm tuned in at least enough to catch wind of a new entry into such a legendary franchise.
"Legendary franchise." I felt a thin film of slime rise up from the keyboard after typing that. I'm also not entirely sure what it means when it comes to a new release happening. There've been enough shitty sequels to established IPs to know that pedigree doesn't directly translate to quality in any measure — take a look at pretty much any Sonic the Hedgehog game from the last decade.
This year's "Doom" is either a reboot, reimagining or remake. I'm not really sure, and I've been trying really hard not to Wikipedia anything while writing this. But it's definitely not a spiritual successor, spinoff or sister title, that much I'm sure of. Maybe it's just a straight-up sequel? Seems unlikely.
When the original game came out in 1993 (damn, Wikichastity broken), it brought with it 3-D graphics, multi-tiered levels that allowed a new way for players to move around in an environment, and modding support that is still being used by an active scene today. These were great innovations and first steps that soon became mandatory inclusions for other shooter games that came after it.
What does this new release bring? A system of so-called "glory kills," quick and completely over-the-top ways of finishing off weakened members of the legions of hell that reward players with ammunition, health, and all those other standard shooting-game baubles.
Admittedly, that's being completely unfair. By most accounts, the new "Doom" is pretty good, racking up an average score of 80 on Metacritic, with many reviewers praising the game's single-player campaign, constant pace of action, and smooth and satisfying controls. But is that enough to keep people talking about the game for more than the next three months?
There's nothing inherently wrong with capitalizing on nostalgia for a franchise, but so often it leads to games that shoot themselves in the foot. Sure, the coming weeks will probably be chock-full of players uploading montage videos of demon chainsaw kills to YouTube, but when it comes time to reflect on what the new game did, saying "it had good controls and a lot of gore" doesn't make for much of anything memorable.
It might've been as much of a "Doom" game as you could make in 2016 while still grabbing the feel of the original, but that's still a qualifier that holds the game back rather than sets it forward. Sequels/reboots/whatevers done well should be building blocks toward something unique, not solely an excuse to revisit something familiar. Either that, or they end up stranded in a middle ground of games that were good enough for that month.
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