Connect with us

Game Reviews

Rip and Tear: ‘DOOM’ Review

Published

on

In all of gaming there are few names more influential or more well known than Doom. It’s the game that solidified the shooter genre, was influential in the early days of the ESRB and gaming controversy, and made Windows the dominant OS for PC gaming. Despite all of this, there are only a handful games bearing the name Doom, and so people were rightly excited when Bethesda showed off Doom (formally known as Doom 4) at E3 last year. There’s been a few stumbles leading up to its release, such as the poorly received Beta and the lack of review copies to all publications which have had people on edge. Does Doom live up to the legacy of one of the most important games of all time, or is this just another pretender to the throne?

There’s nearly no plot to Doom, and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be. From the first moment it’s made very clear that you only exist in the game for one reason: kill everything in your way. You are the Doom Marine, brought into life in the wreckage of the UAC Mars research facility. The place is overrun with demon spawn and you seem to be the only thing that can overwhelm them, often through the use of lethal amounts of ammo. There are snippets of lore scattered throughout the game, and a codex you can slowly fill after encounters, but with a small handful of exceptions, this is pure run and gun gameplay and damn the idea of a story.

20160513004500_1

Doom feels like coming home after a long time away.

When it comes to gameplay Doom is sublime. Let’s not mince words here, this is one of the most enjoyable shooters of the last decade, and outshines even other oldschool shooter reboots like Shadow Warrior, Serious Sam 3 or id’s own Wolfenstein reboot a few years ago. The trick is its almost silly simplicity. Doom isn’t a complicated game, and that’s the best part about it. You see weapon, you get weapon, you use weapon on demon, you move forward. Objectives are kept simple so as to not get in the way and mostly just involve activating a switch, or more likely punching something to make it work.

There were concerns after the first E3 trailer that the gameplay wouldn’t be as fast as the old games, and while it’s hard to accurately compare them, there’s no doubt that Doom is miles faster than any other shooter on the market. There’s no sprint button, because you’re always sprinting. Guns don’t have reloads, save the venerable Super Shotgun, so you’re free to hold down the trigger until everything is dead. And you’re going to want to do that a lot because Doom does not mess around when it comes to offering you a challenge. The first few levels mostly serve as equipment runs, drip-feeding you new guns or abilities so the last two thirds of the game can beat you senseless with insane amounts of challenges.

Progression always follows a linear path of arena fight->hallway encounters->arena fight with the occasional collection puzzle thrown in for good measure. While the linearity of the game might be a turn off, in classic Doom fashion there’s a host of secretes littered in every level, often well hidden with secret walls, switches, or easy to miss openings. Each level also contains an unlockable Classic Level from the original games, which you can play through in HD once unlocked. On top of this some of the levels contain Challenge Runes which teleport you into a self-contained challenge for the chance to unlock powerful runes that add bonuses like more ammo from ammo drops or better jump controls. There’s also an upgrade system for both weapons and armor that sees you hunting down all the upgrade drops, giving plenty of reason to explore the massive levels.

On the technical side Doom remains a masterpiece. Graphically it hits the sweet spot between overly realistic and cartoony stylization. Demons that were scary in the original games like the Cacodemon and the Baron of Hell are downright terrifying when they’re rendered in HD, standing fifteen feet tall and bellowing a challenge at you. Lighting in particular is well done, a signature of id’s games since the 90’s, casting oppressive shadows over the level with scant illuminations from errant torches or burning wreckage. Weapons look great too, well modeled and as enjoyable to watch in action as they are to use.

A special mention needs to be made for the animations in Doom, which are absolutely amazing. There’s been much talk about the over the top Glory Kills – melee finishers that you use to brutalize enemies at low health for the reward of ammo and health drops – and rightly so, as they’re brilliant, both in their execution and the smart way they’re kept lightning fast, meaning they feed perfectly into the flow of battle. There’s little more satisfying then blasting a Barron with a rocket barrage only to follow-up by tearing off his horn and shoving it down his neck.

20160513064208_1

the atmosphere is oppressive, be it the mechanical halls of the UAC facility, or the depths of hell itself.

The audio work is nothing short of perfect. Weapons are destructive, with a special shout-out to the absolutely thunderous Super Shotgun. There’s an extra oomph to everything, and the weapons provide a satisfying level of kick when fired. Then there’s the music, and while there are tracks that felt out of place with an over abundance of wub-wub, when the heavy metal kicks in during a particularly nasty arena fight it’s hard not to get pumped up and it adds a lot to the experience. It might not be as classic as some of the tracks from the original game, but it does a great job of standing up on it’s own and it’s one of the better shooter soundtracks in a long time.

Unfortunately, everything truly great about Doom gets tossed out the window as soon as other players are added. Multiplayer just isn’t enjoyable enough beyond a few matches. There’s some fun moment to moment gameplay, and blowing players apart is giggle-worthy at times, but it’s just not satisfying, and can’t sustain itself for very long. There’s little reason to play it beyond trying it out, and the gaudy and pointless unlocks left a bad taste in my mouth. For what it’s worth, as far as gameplay goes it at least retains the speed of the single-player and there’s been a few tweaks made to the game since the Beta, but weapon damage is still laughably low, being restricted to only two guns is annoying, and PVP just doesn’t do anything special. Let’s break the narrative here and make this abundantly clear: whatever you do, please don’t buy the Season Pass for this game, multiplayer just isn’t worth it.

The third game-mode is the SnapMap player map creator tool, which adds some interesting longevity to the game. It’s not as great as actual mod tools would be, and don’t expect anything like the mods or .WADs from the old games, but it’s powerful enough to create interesting single and multiplayer maps while being easy enough that anyone can piece together a decent map with only a little time investment.

Doom is catharsis made video-game. It’s everything great about the original games given a brand new coat of blood-red paint. It’s an apology for Doom 3, and an apology for the modern shooter genre that some would argue has lost it’s way. It’s the shooter we always wanted from a new Doom game and the shooter Doom was always meant to be. Multiplayer might not be the greatest addition, and some may find the addition of upgrades to be an necessary modernization of their game, but it’s hard to deny the beauty of this game. Fans of the original need not fear the modern shooter, Doom is back.

Andrew Vandersteen has been watching movies and playing games since before he could do basic math, and it shows. But what he lacks in being good at things, he makes up for with opinions on everything nerd culture. A self described and self medicated audiophile and lover of anything and everything really, really terrible, he's on a constant quest to find the worst things humanity has ever published. He's seen every episode of The Legend of Zelda, twice, and thinks the Super Mario Movie was a war crime. When he's not playing games or writing about them, he's messing around with audio or fixing computers. Perpetually one paycheck short of breaking even, and always angry about something.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Game Reviews

‘AVICII Invector Encore Edition’ Review: Rhythm and Melancholy

‘AVICII Invector: Encore Edition’ is a music and rhythm game perfect for newcomers and fans of the genre.

Published

on

AVICII Invector Encore Edition Review

Developer: Hello There Games | Publisher: Wired Productions | Genre:  Rhythm | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam | Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch


In terms of a pure adrenaline rush, nothing tops a well-designed rhythm game. Good rhythm games let players feel a euphoric sense of flow and even excitement. But the best the genre has to offer taps into the heart of music itself. AVICII Invector Encore Edition is a rhythm game perfect for newcomers to the genre but also works as a moving tribute.

I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start

Whether it’s tapping buttons in time with the beat, smashing feet on a dance pad, or moving an entire body in front of an IR camera, rhythm and music games have always been popular. AVICII Invector Encore Edition takes inspiration from music games that came before it but stands firmly on its own. It’s wonderfully accessible, truly a music game for anyone. From diehard fans of the rhythm game genre to people who are simply AVICII fans who also have a console, Invector checks a lot of boxes.

Levels across AVICII Invector play largely the same. The player picks a track and a difficulty level, and is off to the races. They control a slick spaceship moving forward along a track, and must tap or hold buttons as the ship passes over them. This “falling jewel” style has been popular from the Guitar Hero franchise and beyond, but Invector finds ways to make it feel unique. The art direction is breathtakingly stellar, taking players on far-out trips through cyberpunk-esque cities and crumbling pathways. There are even portions of each level where the player can steer their spaceship Star Fox-style through rings and around pillars to keep their point multiplier up.

Invector feels like it’s trying to affect as many sensory inputs as it can. Though Encore Edition is fully playable on handheld mode on Switch, Invector shines brightest on a big screen with a thumping sound system. The neighbors might get annoyed, but who would hear them complaining?

Tracks are divided up by worlds, with four to five tracks each. Worlds must be cleared sequentially, by scoring at least seventy-five percent on each level in that world. While this may sound initially restrictive, Encore Edition gives players access to two extra worlds with five tracks each right out of the gate, so players have plenty to play with at the start.

There are three difficulties available, and each mode offers a different experience. For players who just want to experience AVICII’s music in a low-stress way while enjoying amazing visuals and ambiance, Easy mode is the way to play. Anything above that amps the difficulty up significantly, with Hard mode escalating the required precision to an unbelievable degree. Building up a competitive high score can only be achieved by hitting multipliers and keeping a streak going. At higher difficulties, Invector feels challenging but exhilarating. Scoring above ninety percent on any difficulty mode above Easy feels extremely good, and the online leaderboards are the perfect place to boast about that achievement. During high level play, earning a high score feels transcendent.

Worlds and levels are strung together with brief, lightly-animated cutscenes. It’s a slim justification for a rhythm game, but they’re better than nothing and provide just enough context to keep things interesting. AVICII Invector is both visually and aurally pleasing, but even if the player isn’t a diehard fan of EDM or House music, there is plenty to love.

This world can seem cold and grey
But you and I are here today
And we won’t fade into darkness

AVICII Invector is a truly fantastic rhythm game. But it’s also more than that. It is impossible to play Invector and not feel a twinge of melancholy. The game is a tribute to a hard-working perfectionist, but the man behind the music had his demons. Though the visuals are enticing and the gameplay electric, it is difficult not to feel sad from the opening credits. It is to Invector‘s credit that all throughout, the game feels like a joyful celebration of Tim Bergling’s music. It is a worthy tribute to a man who revitalized and reinvigorated the EDM and House music scene.

At the end of the day, almost every aspect of AVICII Invector reflects a desire to connect. For players connected to the internet, global leaderboards are a great opportunity to share high scores. Invector is much more forgiving than Thumper or Rez or even anything in the Hatsune Miku catalog. Players can cruise through this game on Easy mode if they want, and they won’t be punished. The Encore Edition even includes a split-screen multiplayer, which is fantastically fun.

In his music, Bergling worked across genres to expand what pop music could look like. With Invector, music lovers and players of nearly any skill level can have a pleasing experience. In video games, that’s rare, and it should be celebrated.

According to publisher Wired Productions’ website, all music royalties from AVICII Invector Encore Edition will support suicide awareness through the Tim Bergling Foundation.

Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Tamarin’ Review: Monkey Trouble

Like Yooka-Laylee before it, Tamarin flounders in its attempts to recreate its source material for a more modern audience.

Published

on

Tamarin Game Review

Developer: Chameleon Games | Publisher: Chameleon Games | Genre: 3rd Person Shooter/Platformer| Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC | Reviewed on: PlayStation 4

You have to be of a certain age to recall a game like Jet Force Gemini. One of Rare’s one-off titles of the N64 era, like Blast Corps, Jet Force Gemini never earned itself a sequel but was a fun sci-fi adventure for its time. It’s this same energy that Tamarin, from Chameleon Games, attempts to channel.

Made up of former Rare staff, the folks at Chameleon Games are almost certainly the best team to make an attempt at rekindling such a long dead franchise with their spiritual successor. However, as can be the case with retro throwbacks, sometimes it’s better to ask whether you should bring back an older style of gaming, rather than if you could.

As we’ve seen with games like Yooka Laylee and Mighty No. 9, it often seems that the idea of an older game or franchise being resurrected for modern audiences is better to imagine than to actually play. While the occasional Bloodstained does come along to buck the trend, more often than not we get a game which is too faithful to its sources to make a mark or too different to rekindle that old love and nostalgia.

All of which is to say that Tamarin, while very faithful to its inspirations, never quite hits the mark that brings it to the next level. Part of this is the natural aging process, particularly of the first era of 3D platformers and adventure games which spawned on the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. While many of the games of that generation packed in endless hours of fun, so too have many of their mechanics aged terribly.

Tamarin Game Review

This accounts for Tamarin‘s weakest point, which is undoubtedly its combat. The shooting sections of the game, while channeling another Rare franchise that balanced cuteness with cartoonish violence, are just so mechanically terse that they drag the game down egregiously each time they crop up.

Like with Jet Force Gemini, players will spend much of Tamarin battling troubling insectoid enemies that threaten the peace of all of civilization. Also like the game which was such a clear inspiration for Chameleon, Tamarin brings back the clunky 3D aiming reticle. Not only is the shooting janky here, it feels downright unwieldy when you first get your hands on a firearm.

Though players can get the hang of it with a little effort and some reworking of how they see shooters, there seems to be little point in doing so. Tamarin‘s braindead AI and sparse few enemy types make combat feel like much of an afterthought to the experience, despite how central it is to progressing through the game.

To be fair, Tamarin does also bring some of the good from its spiritual forebear. The gradually growing arsenal of laser guns and rocket launchers does feel fun to play with, and the game is peppered with plenty of upgrades for the guns along the way. Sadly, then another of the Space Invaders style mini-games will pop up and derail things all over again.

Yes, there is a strange reference to yet another long gone gaming franchise here. Unlocking certain doors requires players to start from the center and aim the analog stick around firing at hovering, shifting rows of bugs. Again, it feels very unwieldy, and by the end most players will simply settle for spinning the analog stick wildly while firing with the machine gun for maximum ease.

Fortunately, more successful are the platforming sections. Making up the other side of Tamarin‘s coin, is a game more inspired by Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country 64 than anything else. As players travel through the outside world, gathering collectibles and gaining new abilities as they go, Tamarin shows much more variety than its combat sections.

With clear cues marked on the terrain to denote which areas require upgrades or new abilities to traverse, Tamarin is generally able to point you in the right direction across its world, though a map or minimap would help matters considerably. Though the game is split into many separate areas, they often look so similar that it can make the game hard to navigate and harder to remember where previous markers were for exploration. Even a rudimentary map feature would make this far less of an issue.

Alas, the exploration flounders on occasion as well. Jumping sometimes feels a bit too flighty and can even break the game at times, allowing players to jump off of surfaces they shouldn’t be able to normally. Further, the need to hold down a button and press another to grab certain collectibles is totally unintuitive and is another feature that seems to be more or less pointless.

As such, for all of it’s cute mascot spiritedness and lovingly attributed influences, Tamarin ultimately falls short in bringing back some of the best franchises of yesteryear. Though the effort is a valiant one, Tamarin, hampered by the flaws of the games it attempts to emulate, is just too clunky in its execution.

Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered’ Review: Some Games Age Like Milk

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered fails due to problems that existed in the original title, as well as flaws in this remastered edition.

Published

on

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered

Developer: Square-Enix | Publisher: Square-Enix | Genre: Action-RPG| Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Mobile | Reviewed on: PlayStation 4

There’s a bit of a storied history between Nintendo and Square. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is an important part of that history. Or rather, the original version, released in 2003, was.

While it might seem to younger gamers like Square-Enix and Sony have always been close, Square had a different best friend for much of the 80s and 90s: Nintendo. Though a rift developed between them when Square opted to focus on CD-roms rather than cartridges for Final Fantasy VII, that rift only lasted for about 6 years. The game that signalled the end it? Well that was a new release exclusively for the GameCube: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

Though Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was released to relatively positive reviews 17 years ago, the game has not aged well. The quest of a caravan of crystal bearers to refill their crystal’s power and protect their homes from a deadly miasma, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered fails due to problems that existed in the original title, as well as flaws in this remastered edition.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered

The first, and most considerable, problem with the game is that the quest at the heart of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is tedious and repetitive. Players ostensibly go from area to area on a world map, exploring uninteresting towns and beating lackluster dungeons. If this wasn’t enough, players are also forced to replay these levels over and over again in order to gain enough upgrades for later levels.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: all RPGs ask players to level up in order to succeed. You’re not wrong, it’s simply the structure of levelling up that makes this experience so trying. The only way to level up in Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is to beat the entire level again. Players are not rewarded experience for killing enemies but instead can choose one stat to upgrade each time they complete a level. What this means is that every tiny upgrade to your character can take 10-15 minutes at a time to get.

This wouldn’t be as trying on your patience if simple, basic flaws in the game weren’t so egregious. Hit detection is incomprehensible at times because, even when your character seems to be standing right next to an enemy or boss, they often fail to connect their attacks. Even worse, rather than mapping different attacks to the face and shoulder buttons, players must cycle through them one at a time, with the attack button standing in for defense, magic, healing or food consumption.

Of course, much of this has to do with the format of the original game. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was meant to be played with link cables and Game Boy Advances connected to the GameCube. Each player would have a different bonus displayed on their GBA screens and, as such, players would work together in local multiplayer, aiding each other with their unique screen information as well as their combat skills.

Naturally the GBA had only two face buttons and two shoulder buttons, hence the layout. However, it’s been 17 years, and it’s pretty egregious that Square-Enix didn’t even think of giving players an option to rework the button layout. Doing so would make combat much more dynamic and help to fix the often clunky feeling of battling the game’s monsters.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered

Adding to the tedium are unskippable cutscenes all over the game. Every single time players challenge a boss, they are forced to sit through the same cutscene introducing the boss. Further, there are random events that occur on the world map which are also unskippable, even if they’re repeats of events that the player has already seen. Haplessly tapping the confirm button to skip through dialog that we’ve already heard should not be an issue in a game released in 2020.

These flaws were mostly a part of the original release as well but what’s the point of remastering a game if you haven’t fixed anything? Even the visuals in Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered have failed to receive much polish. The game looks murky and fuzzy rather than sharp and clear. If Square-Enix could clean up Final Fantasy VIII for its gorgeous remaster, what stopped them here?

This is without even mentioning the loading times, which are frankly absurd for a game nearly two decades old. Again, it seems that getting this remaster out the door trumped quality control for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered, which does nothing to help the game’s case.

Though the game is markedly more fun when players join you to take on a level, even the online connectivity has serious issues. To make matters worse, if a player chooses to use the multiplayer, they’ll have to carry a chalice around themselves if no one joins them, picking it up and putting it down all through the level.

Since single player has an AI character who will carry it for you, this option could be easily added to multiplayer, disappearing when (or if) someone actually joins you. This would allow the structure of the game to remain static regardless of whether someone joins your game or not, instead of making the game harder if no one decides to pop in.

While game director Araki Ryoma has promised to address the issues with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered, the game has aged so poorly that, even without the flaws of the remaster, it’s hard to recommend it to modern audiences. Sad as it is, some games are better left in the past. Such is the case with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

Continue Reading

We update daily. Support our site by simply following us on Twitter and Facebook

Facebook

Trending