It's no secret that the Doom reboot has garnered a lot of praise with both fans and critics. As a fan of the series I can't help but appreciate how it modernizes the origininal vision of the the 1993 game and does so while infusing some of its own ideas and personality and being unapologetically "gamey". Some time ago I wrote a blog on why modern games aren't gamey and enough, and this does an excellent job of showing that it can be done successfully. However, I feel like it stumbles in a number of ways that I feel like the previous games tackled in a different (and in some instances) better way.
As the title suggests this is going to be a comparison to the three Doom games that spawned from the original trilogy. The games are: Doom 64 (1997), Doom 3 (2004) and the Doom reboot (2016). For the same of simplicity (read: laziness) I am from hencefourth going to refer to the 2016 reboot simply as Doom 4. Yes, I know that is not the true name of the game, sue me. The original games are Doom 1, 2, and Final Doom, I'll try to limit the name Doom by itself to the series as a whole.
Now what it's interesting about this "trilogy" of games is that despite each being based on the original games each represents a different vision how they should be represented. Let's address them one by one.
Doom 64 chronologically is the closest to the original games, in fact it came out less than a year after Final Doom, yet in many ways it feels like a generational leap. That's a fair enough statment considering Doom 1 was designed to run on DOS and Doom 64 was designed to run on the N64. From a pure gameplay standpoint there isn't much of a leap, we stll have many of the old standbys, the same weapons (save for one new entry) nearly identical controls, and the same enemies. So what makes this version so different? The atmosphere.
Doom 64 takes a much darker tone than the original trilogy, from the instant you start the first level you know something going to be different, gone is the notrious (read: terrible) butt rock that ruins the atmosphere of these games (I ALWAYS mute the music) and replaced by something more...ominous. The color palete has also changed from mostly neuteral tones to blacks and reds. Hearing the demons in the background suddenly goes from annoying to unsettling, you simply aren't as able to predict where your enemies are coming from.
The icing on the cake is the intriquate level designs. If Doom 64 nails on thing, is that it feels like a labrynth, full of traps and secrets. You may be walking into a secret room that gives you that health pack you so despartely need or it could be an ambush. To this day it is my favorite version of Doom.
Doom 3 in many ways feels like it's trying to recapture that feeling of survival horror that Doom 64 captured so well, but at the same time addressing the biggest issue that Doom 64 had: how dated it felt. Doom 3 foregoes any bit of story that the previous games had and assumes you've never played a Doom game at all. It's obviously a far superior game visually and one could argue the improved aethetics make for a more forboding atmosphere. While I will hear someone who makes that point, I would like to say that I think it's far more than that. Doom 64 liked to trick you with traps in the levels, Doom 3 would much rather put a needed power up in a room where monsters will spawn on top of you.
The cooridors are much tighter in Doom 3, and the level designs are far more linear. They were obviously going for the "tour de force" appeal and I can see where it totally paid off for them. Mechanically it's far superior to Doom 64, as there are modern ammentities such as jumping, aiming vertically and reloading. It may not even seem worth mentioning, but bear in mind the series never had any of these mechanics up until this point.
Some may call this the black sheep in the series, the pace is slower, due to more emphasis on story (mostly by means of unsettling audio logs) slower combat and moving speed. Still, I can't help but feel like it does a lot right, particularly the BFG edition (even if it does omit the Xbox version's stellar co-op campaign).
Doom 3 holds up very well visually...
Doom 4 in many ways feel like an apology of sorts to anyone who thought Doom 3 strayed too far from its roots. Doom 4 is from the getgo fast, franentic and (most imporantly) fun. As I stated before Doom 4 has no problem with being "gamey", which let me say, is a breath of fresh air. Instead of circle strafing enemies, popping in and out of cover, and generally playing defensivley, Doom 4 encourages, nay, forces you to take the opposite approach. Much like Burnout, no risk, no reward. When you kill enemies they will drop health, wait till they are flashing and melee them for a glory kill. There is no stopping and manally cycling through your weapons, they are accessed on the fly with an on screen wheel. Everything moves at a very brisk pace, even reloading has been removed to hasten combat to the highest controllable level. Doom 4 also spends the time to give upgrades as well. It may seem out of place at first but it's pretty awesome to be able to augment your weapons and abilities to better confront the hardships you face. More importantly though, it keeps the game interesting, Additionally you can take on optional challenges that give you even more upgrades. Pretty good stuff here.
But this is where the unpopular part of my opinion comes in. I feel like Doom 4 just isn't scary. Now I get that it's not trying to be, but it's arcadey nature meant I never feared dying (despite being just as much of a threat), the forgiving nature of the checkpoints meant that I was at worst a few minutes behind. I get that it would be difficult to implement given the structure of Doom 4, but it's worth notiing. I also feel like the platforming just feels...wrong. I get this sinking feeling in my gut when I have to jump I feel like I'm going to get a cheap death. Platforming didn't feel right in Turok, why would it feel good in Doom? I also feel like the multiplayer is totally skippable. If they had simply made modern version of Quake III, I would have been more than happy.
Now this is by no means a comprehenive review of the games, just some of my thoughts. I actally really enjoy playing all three of these games and feel like they all bring something different to the table. I feel like the survival horror elements are just as important as the shooting, the level designs and the secrets.
My hope is that the next Doom we get will learn all the lessons that previous games have taught us and make a game nails all the elements. As a fan of the series it gives me something to look forward to while replaying what we do have, hopefully it won't take another 10 years.