I loved Doom, along with everyone else. Doom 3 is also up there among my favourite games, and is - in its own way - as influential as its progenitor.
How many abandoned, blood-spattered, space bases have we seen in its wake? Prey and Alien Isolation and Dead Space might as well take place in the same location as Doom 3.
And that's the problem. If the new Doom wants to live up to the legacy of its predecessor it can't just look like every other spacebase shoot 'em up, even if it did inspire the sub-genre. And that's exactly what it does look like: even down to the bland, Master Chief-esque figure, on the cover. Frankly, in trying too hard, it just isn't trying hard enough.
I get that this is me judging a game before it has even been released, but I can't help it: isn't that the purpose of pre-release trailers and artwork? Consequently, from everything I've seen thus far, I'm judging this new Doom as wanting.
The opening shots of a sterile, abandoned space station with blood smears leading to a pressure door... we've seen that a million times now. That almost lost me, but it was barely a couple of seconds later before my enthusiasm evaporated altogether: when the character's disembodied arm slammed a corpse's face into a retinal scanner. Again, it's hard to think of a more cliched beat.
Then it treats us to shots of guns being reloaded, enemies exploding in a shower of gore, energy beams, monsters hanging around in hallways like they're waiting to be shot, eyeballs being ripped out and gothic halls. All of it, inevitably, soundtracked by crunching metal guitars. It's like a parody of itself.
I know all of that is sort of what we want from a Doom game. I know that this is precisely what New Doom is trying to be. But things have moved on. Doom isn't the only game of its ilk - and Doom has been cloned, and copied, and ripped-off again and again. Simply releasing another game that looks like a Doom game, that does the same sorts of things that we expect from a Doom game, isn't what I want anymore.
Of course, Doom is going to sell well.
As brands go, there aren't many bigger - even if it has been over ten years since the last bona-fide Doom game. But times have changed. Doom 4 looks far too much like Doom 3.
The series needs to find a way to make itself matter again, to be relevant and stand out in a market that is already full of blood-soaked, me-too shoot 'em ups. And that's what's so crushing about everything I've seen from this new Doom thus far: it feels like it's chasing trends rather than setting them.
I'm trying to remain optimistic. Who would've thought that Doom's old stablemate Wolfenstein would've been so brilliantly resurrected in the shape of The New Order? That was a game that managed to pay homage to its origins in a way that was knowingly self-referential, and yet also intelligent.
At the moment, Doom looks as if it's trying too hard to appeal only to teenage adrenal glands, a Cannibal Corpse album cover brought to life. They might as well have advertised the game with a lank-haired young man in a black t-shirt making Devil horns with his hand, going "YEAH! HITLERSATAN ROCKS!".
I'm keeping my Devil horns crossed that the finished game manages to add some much-needed innovation and intelligence to the mix.
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