Party like it’s 1993

SFX - - Reviews -

Bethesda’s mon­ster-mash­ing re­vival is worlds apart from con­tem­po­rary first-per­son games – there are no set­pieces, stealth bits, puz­zles or AI com­pan­ions. Just a faith­ful re­newal of the 1993 orig­i­nal.

In their ex­ploita­tion of an in­ter-di­men­sional en­ergy source, Mars-based mega­corp UAC has opened a por­tal to Hell, giv­ing night­mar­ish mon­sters a shortcut to free food. You’re on a one-man mis­sion to plug it up and clean up the mess. The nar­ra­tive is fed through load­ing screen pas­sages, brief holo­graphic records and oc­ca­sional voices in your ear.

At first you’ve got noth­ing but a pis­tol and a gallery of gory “Glory Kills”, shoot­ing foes un­til they’re stag­gered be­fore hit­ting the right but­ton to twist their skulls 180 de­grees/sweep their legs and squelch their faces. It’s not long, how­ever, be­fore your com­bat acu­men evolves, as you grab new guns, add sec­ondary fire abil­i­ties and slot in ar­mour power-ups. The ac­tion is per­fectly honed, hec­tic, and cloud-drift-smooth. You feel like you’re glid­ing around on a magic car­pet. Each en­vi­ron­ment is self-con­tained and sep­a­rated by a load­ing screen, and while there’s enough space to wan­der, you’re al­ways pulled to­wards the fight. These re­volve around Gore Nests. De­stroy­ing one triggers a shootout against a sud­den rush of de­mons; only by wast­ing them all can you progress. It’s an ex­pe­ri­ence best taken in sev­eral short, sharp doses.

The game’s on­line of­fer­ing is im­pres­sively full-fea­tured. Call­ing SnapMap a map-ed­i­tor would be a dis­ser­vice to what’s ac­tu­ally a pow­er­ful pro­gram­ming tool. There are tu­to­ri­als for logic edit­ing, how to set win/lose con­di­tions, and train­ing in the use of item spawn­ers. Even if you take one look at some in­ter­weav­ing AI paths and de­cide the grind isn’t for you, SnapMap will power bril­liant user-cre­ated con­tent for years.

An over­abun­dance of Glory Kills hampers com­bat, and the unin­spir­ing grey con­fines of SnapMap mode prove re­stric­tive. Still, with the icy blood­lust of a po­lar bear, Doom in­stantly bridges the gen­er­a­tional gap be­tween ’93 and now in a blaze of blood and bul­lets. It’s an old-school shoot-fest made with new-school ex­per­tise. Ben Grif­fin

Has the icy blood­lust of a po­lar bear

Look out for ran­dom bits of metal re­bar in the ground. Hit one and a door opens to re­veal a clas­sic slice of ’93-style Doom.

Some peo­ple take di­ets too far.

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