Friday, April 16, 2021

Review Day: Doom: Eternal

I bought DOOM: Eternal in a Steam sale a few weeks back (just in time for the first weekend that Maia spent away from us in over a year) and dove right now. I found it better than its predecessor but suffering from many of the same flaws. I considered DOOM (2016) to be flawed but fun: it was enjoyable to run around killing things in the game and a good fan service from the original 90s series. However, I never actually finished that game because I'm a completionist: I hated missing secrets and having to replay levels to get them, or continuously try the minigame challenges over and over without success.

This new iteration feels a little less like the mindless fun of the originals, as careful resource management is required during a run to balance health, armor, and ammo. It also features an overwhelming number of weapons, weapon mods, and upgrades, all of which are thrown at you in the course of a single level near the beginning of the game. After being interrupted by the 20th screen describing a new technique I was supposed to learn, I almost stopped playing.

However, soldiering through that point is worth it -- I ended up focusing on a few of my favourite weapons and upgrades and ignoring the rest and had a great time all the way to the end. The game is at its best in the chaotic monster arenas where you get into a ballet-like flow of dancing around and blowing things up. The load times are also insanely fast (at least on an SSD) making deaths tolerable, and the framerate on the excellent graphics is rock solid at high detail levels.

Less positive are the numerous jumping puzzles that are interwoven through the arenas -- they're not hard, just tedious. The game also has a new defensive monster, the Marauder, who's easy to beat when following a pattern but breaks the hypnotic, kinetic "flow" so badly that the game is actually less fun when it's around. The story and cutscenes are unnecessary -- I skipped all of them after the first couple of levels.

Overall, this is a great single-player shooter that will give you a solid 20 hours of fun. I liked it enough on normal difficulty that I'll play it again on a harder level, at least until new children reduce my game time back to 0 again.

Final Grade: B

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