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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Doom.

Transcript Edit

Doom, and I still hate the practice of sequels with identical names, so from now on I'll refer to it as 'Deum', was promising to be the kind of classic-style FPS that I enjoyed very much, which immediately made me suspicious. You're a hardcore retro shooter focusing on fast pace and mobility while fighting off hordes of monsters? Well it won't be truly retro unless it's level-based with open-ended maps and key hunting - oh it does have that. Alright then, bet you couldn't resist having weapon reloading. That's the one thing that shooter developers always put in these days without considering how it screws up the pace of - oh there's no reloading. Alright, what the fuck are you up to, Bethesda?

For me this is like when an attractive young woman comes up to me in a bar and says, 'You know, I'm so attracted to aging socially-awkward hairy men who play too many video games. Why not buy me a drink then perhaps a house?' Perhaps I've gotten too defensive and cynical from a lifetime of disappointment. But after playing through Deum I think I've come to realize that people who come on to me might not necessarily be gold-digging harlots. Some of them are just trying to get back at their dad.

I didn't know what to expect of Deum but did know what I didn't want. I didn't want Doom 3; the game that was 90% pitch blackness and 10% audio logs. So hopes weren't high when Deum opens with the protagonist having to listen to a voice on a computer screen, until 5 seconds into the speech our hero smashes the monitor like a confused gorilla then starts shooting zombies and never stops. Deum certainly seems to have firm understanding of its audience because while there is a plot going on, the player character couldn't give a half ounce of deep-fried shit. If you want to know the plot then pause the game and read all the fluff text in the character and location database, sipping daintily from your delicate pink teacup full of pussy juice while the game waits patiently for you to strap your bollocks back on and get back in the fray. Not the most organic way to bring story across but what the hell else could they have done? Have Jiminy fucking Cricket sitting on your shoulder whispering stories in the brief pauses between the sounds of partially muscled bone being crushed between your erect bullet-proof nipples? 

For what it's worth, the plot is, stock amoral corporation sci-fi subcategory 9, Weyland-Yutani type, has stock evil science motivation subcategory 12, energy crisis, and they have found the fool-proof and completely-unlikely-to-backfire solution of extracting energy from the Christian afterlife. I don't know why they felt they had to stick to Hell. You would've thought a few solar panels around God's beard would've done the job. Sadly, not-Weyland-Yutani forgets to screen its employees for death metal fans and someone unleashes the hordes of Hell on the Mars base. You, meanwhile, are a mythical demon-slaying warrior who is being kept in hell's drunk tank after the last time you smashed the place up, awakened to once again show the demons what for, and dress up like a Lego astronaut.

Deum's gameplay is a surprisingly faithful update of the original Doom's. No you couldn't double-jump in the originals but you could move faster than a conservative political campaigner through a minority district, so it's still in the spirit of things. The combat is distinctly mechanics-focused. It doesn't make conventional sense that chainsaw murders make the victim burst into piles of ammunition or that smashing their head in makes them disgorge bandages and Mars bars, but it does from a mechanical perspective because the chainsaw's what you use when you're low on ammo and brutal murder is the game's intended solution for moments of high stress as well as moments of low stress and all the moments in between. 

I wasn't sure about the whole 'glory' kill thing. They're called 'glory kills' for one thing, which sounds like what you call stabbing someone to death with your knob through a hole in a cubicle wall, but they're actually pre-animated takedown moves, the thing that modern action games persist in having that have a tendency to kill the pacing as assuredly as a passport checkpoint on a roller-coaster. To Deum's credit they are very quick: it's more like an Israeli passport checkpoint then an American one, but considering you can glory-kill every single fucking monster just by getting their health low, it gets repetitive. Maybe it should've been more of a reward like in Resident Evil 4 where you have to kneecap dudes before you can suplex them. It stops being memorable when I kill every single Baron of Hell by pulling their horn off and wimpily swiping their face with the wet end like I'm giving them a Dirty Sanchez. 

Actually, before I continue with my list of whinging nitpicks, perhaps I should clarify that I do recommend Deum, and had more fun with it than I've had with most triple-A shooters lately. And that being the case, it would be remiss of me not to list what issues I did have, but none of them are deal breakers and it doesn't actually bother me that much that most of the NPC dialog sounds like they are trying to do an impression of Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. Okay? Okay.

The loading times are a bit of an arse, and in levels with jumping puzzles over instant-kill death pits, they are a lot of an arse but they're triple-stacked arse with whipped butter on the side when the game was treating me hammering the ledge grab button as more of a blue-sky suggestion than a command. Relatedly, this is definitely a game that benefits from having the mouse and keyboard rather than the controller because the controller's best suited to wheeling yourself around an arena like a runaway dessert trolley on a chest-high wall safari - not so much for simultaneously jumping one way, looking at another, grabbing a ledge, shooting a dude and tying up your shoelaces. 

The game's a little bit crazy with the upgrades. There's character upgrades, runes that give you passive buffs and the main currency is weapon upgrades. They give that shit away like condoms at a Planned Parenthood clinic. You killed all the monsters, weapon upgrade! You went into a secret, weapon upgrade! You came back out of the secret, weapon upgrade! Why the fuck not. Thing is though, you can only use them to upgrade the special alternate attacks each weapon has, a lot of which I didn't get much use out of when a good hard shotgun blast will answer most of a demon's probing interview questions. But hey, if the token's too easy to get but the upgrades are kind of shitty then I guess those issues cancel each other out.

And the upgrades must have been having some effect, 'cause I thought the game was a bit easy by the end, where I felt like it had no more tricks up its sleeve. "Oh goodness, I killed the entire wave of monsters and two Barons of Hell spawn. This will call upon all my training that I had 5 minutes ago the last time this happened." The monsters never took me by surprise, the way they'd always spawn in with the red glowy effect of shower of confetti and an English butler reading their names out loud. I don't want the Doom 3 thing where you pick up a small health pack and six hidden doors fly open to reveal hell's entire buggery squadron, but there's gotta be a middle ground. Oh yeah, and the grenades feel a bit wimpy. I throw it, there's a little 'pfutt' and all the zombies around it fall apart with embarrassment.

I think that's it. As I say my problems are mere flicked bogies sticking to the edges of a perfectly solid core. Maybe it's rather blatantly pandering to my generation of gamers but this is the good kind of pander; the kind who gets all the bamboo and has sex once in a while.

Addenda Edit

  • Master of the raised eyebrow: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Mind you to hear people go on about this game you'd think Painkiller had stopped being a thing.
  • Maybe next they could add a turbine to the Buddhist wheel of karmic rebirth.
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017

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