This year saw Doom return as hellish and furiously intense as ever, after remaining over a decade in the shadows. Backed by a fist pumping hard rock soundtrack, a dynamic combat system, and plenty of grotesquely brutal executions, the long-awaited sequel stood as a worthy modern-day successor to the franchise's early pioneering classics. While its multiplayer aspect was admittedly lacking substance at launch, a slew of updates, including the most recent Bloodfall expansion, have worked to subsidise a more well-rounded experience.
A wave of panic rushed over fans after learning that publisher Bethesda wouldn't be providing review codes of the game until launch. This sparked questions over the game's quality and many grew weary as to why the publisher was so reluctant to provide critics with early access. But the world took a collective sigh of relief as the game finally made it onto the shelves, as it emerged as one of the finest shooters of the year, sustaining the soul of the original games and providing a modern twist.
Lavished in widespread acclaim, the main campaign puts you in the shoes of a seemingly voiceless protagonist and sees you descend to the depths of hell to vanquish the invading demons of Mars. Gameplay, similar to the original titles, is blisteringly fast and requires you to manipulate the verticality of the environments to secure an advantage over your harrowing foes. Maintaining a sense of momentum is a must as you'll often find yourself darting out of the path of fiery projectiles, dashing around in desperate need of supplies and hastily retreating to replenish your arsenal.
There's a definite weight felt behind weapons and due to an ever-expanding cast of hellish demons, you'll find yourself switching between them frequently to best adapt to their varied attack patterns. Starting with a plasma charged pistol, it's not long before you encounter a shotgun and other deadly weapons that you'll tear from the hands of mutilated soldiers. Enemies benefit from strong design, and due to the introduction of more and more powerful opponents, waging through hordes rarely feels repetitive. Imps and Cacodemons make a reappearance from classic titles and look as grotesque and ferocious as ever thanks to the game's gloriously impressive visuals.
Timed executions, named Glory Kills, are wonderfully gory and remain unique for each individual enemy type. Similar to actions seen in Bloodborne, there's a definite risk for reward aspect associated to their execution as, missing your opportunity can leave you caught up close and in a position of vulnerability. But by pulling these off you'll be showered in ammunition and health supplies, making them at times, almost a necessity for you to survive. There's just something oddly satisfying about slicing demons up with your chainsaw or bludgeoning them to death with their own arm; especially after they've given you so much hassle.
From blood-soaked laboratories to the fiery pits of demonic hell; Doom's gorgeous visuals are consistent throughout, sporting some of the finest graphics on modern-day consoles. Its frame-rate also runs at a silky smooth 60FPS creating a fluid experience during the frantic bouts of chaos. An atmospheric synthesised soundtrack may have populated earlier titles, but this time composer Mick Gordon has ditched programmed sounds in favour of gritty hard-hitting guitars. In doing so, he was able to craft a score that's just as badass as taking a chainsaw to an Imp's face, which in itself is pretty impressive.
With the original Doom's legacy of revolutionising the shooter genre, it was a little disappointing that the recent reboot's online experience didn't have the same impact as the solo campaign. Halo-veterans Certain Affinity directed multiplayer development ahead of launch, and although they did a solid job, it didn't match the quality of the single-player offering. However, post-launch id reclaimed control over this aspect of the game, and the improvement since May has been tangible, with lots of tweaks improving the experience beyond the inclusion of new maps and game types.