Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles overview (PSP)

•December 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is a castlevania game that keeps fairly close to the roots of the series and provides a short (albeit very tough) challenge for anyone who desires a Castlevania experience on the go. Castlevania: Dracula X is a remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (also known as Dracula X for SNES). Much like Castlevania 1 and Castlevania 3 you follow a rather direct path through a series of levels as you guide Richter Belmont towards his inevitable confrontation with destiny.

It is a 2D platformer that is much in the style of a classic SNES game (like Super Mario/Actraiser or Donkey Kong Country). On the DS side you will find Metroidvania type Castlevanias very much in the Symphony of the Night style as opposed to the Castlevania: Chronicles of this one. Both game styles are appealing in different ways, it depends on whether you want more of an action game or if you prefer backtracking and level ups more in the RPG style of game. Even though it is a remake of the classic action Castlevania there are surprises scattered around Dracula X which give you some variety in what kind of game you want to play.

Similar to the older Castlevania’s, at the beginning of each level you start off with a set amount of health, hearts, and weapon which contribute to your final score if you make it through the entire level without using a continue. Credits build up on your main profile but I actually still don’t know what they do. These levels each have their own boss at the end of the level which drops the orb needed to proceed to the next level. You have a standard set of levels leading up to the final boss, but to make things interesting a lot of these levels also have alternate versions of the levels which can be unlocked by completing special tasks in the level and fighting a second different boss within the same level. You can beat the game without unlocking any of the bonus/alternate levels although if you want to see the true ending to the game you will have to venture out and find them.

Richter can save numerous characters along his quest (including one bonus playable character who has her own unique fighting style and powers) which will grant him additional abilities that allow him to cross certain barriers and access secret parts of levels or unlockables. As with the alternate levels if you want to see the true final ending you must rescue all of the maidens trapped in the castle. In a neat touch they will appear on the main menu screen after you have saved them. Some of the levels can be incredibly frustrating (that clock tower), and the bosses as well can be very overpowered (a ship mast boss comes to mind) but it is very rewarding when you do finally manage to beat them. Often you will have to replay the levels so many times that you basically memorize them, but thankfully it is not that long of a game so you won’t have to memorize that many.

In addition to the main game and all the fun alternate levels and maidens to find, the game also has two other unlockable games included in it which add a significant amount of content. There is the original Rondo of Blood which is unlockable and there is also Symphony of the Night unlockable as well which is sure to delight fans as there is now both a metroidvania style Castlevania and and action one to choose from both on the same disc.

Brave explorers can also find OST songs littered around the levels which can be played from the menu and there are songs encompassing all of the games with remastered versions of their originals. If you still want more after unlocking all of the things above then you can venture into the optional Boss Rush mode.

For a psp game it is a perfect 2D platformer companion if you want something to keep you busy but don’t want to worry about a long and complicated storyline or tons of upgrades and powers to keep track of. When you consider the additional games that are also included in the game along with Dracula X the amount of content altogether is quite impressive and will keep you busy for a long time. I would definitely recommend this to all fans who are looking for a fun Castlevania experience on the go.

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Chibi

•November 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Whipping, chains, golems, belmont and curses…probably you know where I’m going with this. Lords of Shadow was the first Castlevania to be released for HD and it doesn’t disappoint. It might be a terrible night for a curse but the scenery along the way is truly gorgeous. Patrick Stewart narrates a tale of whipchains and thorny paths to gothic castles. Castlevania returns in glorious high definition and Kojima adds his special touch making man a miserable pile of secrets indeed.

Resident Evil 7 Chibi

•November 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Discover the truth about your missing wife, but keep your limbs close and your sanity even closer. Resident Evil returns more to the formula roots in this new adventure as you explore a creepy mansion deep in the south. With the addition of first person there is a whole new atmosphere meaning you’re in for a wild ride. Shoot up some steroids, grab some LSD, and pray what you’ve shot stays dead. Ethan is definitely going to get more than he has bargained for with this family, leather-face would have been proud.

Resident Evil 7 Overview

•November 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Resident Evil 7 is the latest game in the series and it is definitely a step in a different direction.

After the action oriented resident evil 5 and resident evil 6, Capcom decided to revisit the older classic formula and this time they have taken it another step even further by making this game an FPS, which is a very interesting change for the Resident Evil formula.

Long term fans of the Resident Evil series will be happy to hear that the gameplay of RE7 feels and handles much more like RE1/2/3 rather than 4/5/6. There is a mansion (sort of) and bullets are rather scarce as is the selection of weapons compared to the more recent entries. The biggest difference in the gameplay compared to the previous series is that a lot of the enemies tend to respawn, they don’t stay dead. In the case of the normal enemies, once you have killed them these do stay dead but some of the major enemies return to chase you around the mansion like Nemesis did in RE3.

Much like the classic Resident Evil games there are areas that are sealed off which need a specific key to access and there is a lot of backtracking and item hunting but thankfully the game isn’t as complicated to figure out as some of the puzzles in RE0 or REmake were. There are parts of this that really do feel a lot like Resident Evil Revelations (in a really cool way) and the gameplay overall is very similar to a cross between Resident Evil Revelations and one of the older core classic Resident Evil 1 or Resident Evil 2. You will find that there are significantly less weapons compared to RE5 or RE6 but the weapons that are given to you certainly are sufficient to complete the game with and you can repair broken ones to receive even more powerful weapons. There is at least one kind of most weapon types. Making a return is the tape recorder save system (only on the hardest difficulty however) and also making a return is the item storage locker chest that will be extremely familiar to veteran resident evil players.

There are herbs and other familiar items to returning players that can be scavenged and then either combined with other items to make more items or you can also combine them to make stronger items. There are certain items you will need in order to make the stronger items but a lot of items can also be destroyed in order to create the material you do want for whatever it is you are building. You can craft medicine and different types of bullets depending on which weapon you want. There are now standard pistol bullets as well as “enhanced” pistol bullets which are more scarce but do a lot more damage compared to the normal bullets. Both can be crafted throughout the game. Oddly you cannot create any other type of ammo aside from the grenade launcher bullets, it would have made sense to also allow players to craft shotgun bullets and submachine gun bullets but for some reason they didn’t. Depending on your gameplay style you might find yourself stockpiling lots of items and not running out of much or you might find yourself running out of things very frequently and having to create more ammo/health often. It also depends on your difficulty at higher difficulties you will have need for more specific items than you do on normal as the drop rate on normal is considerably higher than it is on madhouse.

The story for Resident Evil 7 is a bit different than that of previous Resident Evils, I guess you could say this feels like an odd crossover between RE4 and RE1. You are on a mission to save someone (like RE4) instead of the usual umbrella T-virus storyline but you will find a lot of references and easter eggs towards the original games scattered around. The story certainly has enough suspense to keep players interested and has a decent amount of twists and surprises. You play a brand new character in a new situation but by the end you will see where it fits in the overall RE universe.

You are guided along the game via a combination of cutscenes, notes, and phone calls. It is pretty straight forward thankfully but the way the game is set up you will probably be extremely cautious the first time and it will take you a lot longer.

This feels a lot like what Texas Chainsaw massacre might have felt like if it were made into a game.

The graphics for Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 were already quite decent in their own rights, the graphics for Resident Evil 7 are even nicer. Especially since the game is in first person now there was a lot attention paid to the detail on the individual items and it definitely is noticeable. All of the items in the game look crisp and clear and when you use guns or weapons the guns become worn or dirty/bloody which was a really neat touch. It seems like a brand new engine, and it looks incredibly nice.

The flip side to that is it is much more demanding on the hardware than any resident evil before it and while my 970 GTX has few problems running it in the 60 fps range on 2K at ultra on 4k the 970 even at lowest settings struggles to keep up with 30 fps. It almost always takes up the full amount of vram my card offers (4GB) and although I have seen the game take up to 12GB of RAM it doesn’t seem to be because it is running out of VRAM because the FPS doesn’t drop like it did when I used to hit the VRAM limit in 970 SLI. There are a lot of graphics options and the game is pretty well optimized for the pc. The Resident Evil games were never exactly legendary for their graphics, but the graphics in RE7 are certainly rather pretty.

RE7 was also very demanding on my i5-3570K processor, but since I recently switched to the Ryzen 1700 I have found that the game rarely goes above 15% usage and often hovers around 6% and it uses most of the available cores although I can’t say how efficiently. I didn’t honestly notice many loading screens. Once you have loaded the game there aren’t very many, the entire game is loaded and you don’t have any loading when changing areas only when you are changing chapters (Kind of like GTA V). On SSD it loads extremely quickly.

Resident Evil 7 doesn’t have any form of multiplayer, they went back to single player only and honestly I don’t mind that.

Resident Evil’s have always had their fun share of unlockable bonuses, and RE7 has quite a few as well. Once you beat the game (on any difficulty) you will receive a very special pistol and a book which helps add to your defense. The pistol is a functional replica of the gun you use against the final boss and it is a very neat tip of the hat to a major character from the original series. This pistol will be extremely useful to you on any subsequent playthroughs.

The only stronger pistol available in the game is the .44 but the bullets for that are so scarce you won’t want to use it much. The bonus pistol uses normal pistol bullets which are very plentiful but the pistol is very powerful and has a really cool sound/light animation (thanks for not giving us the laser pointer though). If you beat the game under 4 hours you will receive another set of items as a reward. You will receive some special glasses that allow you to see where all the items in the game are located (normally you would need to take the pill stimulants that wear off after a little while) and you get a cutting saw which doesn’t look like much but if you are attempting madhouse difficulty you will find it invaluable as it is more powerful than most of the guns if you are able to get close enough to use it.

Additionally there are two more things that can be unlocked by collecting all of the nobody bobblehead statues that are scattered around the game. Once you have found them all you will unlock the final two bonus items. Running shoes that make your walking speed faster and you will unlock a second book of defense. If you combine the two defense items together you will have an almost impermeable block. All of these items will be placed in your storage box and you can access them with any character who can get to the storage box although i’m not sure if they will reappear if you take them out and then drop them. For people who are thinking of going back and playing the game on Madhouse difficult these items are incredibly useful and make the game quite a bit less challenging. I attempted madhouse without them and found it so hard I went back to get the items and then had a much easier time my second try.

And last of all, if you successfully beat Madhouse difficulty you will be rewarded with an infinite ammo bonus. Unlike previous resident evils however these items all take up one slot of your inventory and if you haven’t found any of the backpacks or are limited on space you will find that these take up a lot of room so you will have to pick the ones that are most useful to you at that point in time. Later on in the game you should have plenty of room to equip all of them.

After playing the demo on PS4 when it was first released I was a little unsure of how the game was going to shape up but after beating it I wasn’t disappointed. I think most people were a bit put off by the demo because it was more of a technical showcase than a representation of what the game was actually like, the demo felt more like the prologue of the main game.

Honestly it feels longer than it actually is. RE7 is actually a bit on the shorter side but on your first playthrough if you are exploring fully it will take you 10-12 hours. On your second or third playthroughs you can probably beat it in 4 hours or under. I think some of the classic resident evils were longer, but honestly I don’t remember and my ps1 save games are long gone so I can’t check.

At first it might not feel like a Resident Evil but by the end I found it to be almost on par with one of the original Resident Evil experiences (it feels like you are playing RE1/2 but in first person instead of 3rd).

One thing that did annoy me in this was the limited amount of save slots. Honestly why bother having the old Resident Evil save selection system if you are going to limit the amount of saves you can have in the first place, that one was a bit of a peculiar choice. Admittedly it’s not all that big of a game so you shouldn’t need that many saves but they might have at least warned you that there was a limited amount of saves. For anyone attempting the speedrun trophy it is incredibly handy to be able to have lots of saves at different points and if you have played the game already on normal difficulty or on hard difficulty you will rapidly find yourself running out of save slots and you will have to start overwriting. Luckily in my case went for the speedrun challenge directly after beating the normal story but if I ran out of slots while attempting the Madhouse difficulty so I ended up having to overwrite some of my other saves. That is actually one of my only complaints aside from the fact that there isn’t a rocket launcher anywhere.

Although this is a different variation on the Resident Evil formula, I was very happy with it overall and it feels much more like a classic Resident Evil which is what I’ve been hoping they would return to. The action resident evil games are fun for co-op but it’s been a long time since Capcom nailed down the gripping suspenseful single player experience, but RE7 brings a lot to the table and does a decent job of a classic reminiscent experience. I’d definitely recommend it to any of the fans who like RE0/1/2/3/Revelations but I would be hesitant to recommend it to the RE5/6/Dead space horror fans as it is much more of a horror game than it is an action horror like Dead Space or RE4. If you have been looking for an experience that feels like RE2 or RE3 then definitely check this out it won’t disappoint.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Overview

•September 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is the first Castlevania to be brought to the PS3/Xbox 360 generation and the first to be brought to PC in a very long time. It serves a reboot to the series. Lords of Shadow has a more action oriented focus compared to the previous games in the series which were either 2D RPG or 3D RPG’s. It still retains a lot of the features of the original SNES/NES Castlevania’s but it redesigns a lot of things, kind of like 2013’s Tomb raider reboot.

The gameplay for Lords of Shadow is pretty similar to that of God of War or Dante’s Inferno, but they have traded the fictional worlds of Greek creation for a more dark and gothic setting of medieval Europe, with a very decent dose of magic and supernatural which gives it a vaguely van helsing feel to it. Gabriel has the whipchain which has been the standard weapon for almost all of the castlevania games but it starts off already as a metal chain instead of just the regular whip. The whip gets upgrades which are needed to progress in the story instead of just temporary powerups like in the 2D ones. Other items as well are permanent but you have limited quantities of each. More like the PS2 Castlevania’s in that sense but overall it kind of feels like a 3D version of one of the original Castlevanias on SNES or NES.

The levels usually have a set amount of enemies and puzzles that you will have to defeat or overcome in order to proceed with the story.  Sometimes the areas have infinitely respawning enemies until you figure out what it is you need to do to proceed with the next area. The game will usually show you what you need to do but sometimes it can be confusing. It is possible to backtrack through the level and explore as there are plenty of secrets scattered around but they are hidden behind things that require you to progress further through the story in order to access them. In addition to the secrets scattered around there are also neat scrolls that will give you more background for the particular area you are in. Lore for Castlevania is scattered around the game world in the form of scrolls which are found and taken from fallen comrades (other knights from the Brotherhood). The narrator Zobek also is older and wiser than Gabriel so there are some references on his part as well to Gandolfi and to things pertaining to the world as well as to the Lords of Shadow. The game honestly does a good job of explaining Gabriel and his motivation throughout the game but it is nice to have the added lore to help make the story come alive more and it feels easier to relate to. You can find hints for how to complete the puzzles in scrolls but if you pay to unlock them you will lose out on the special rewards that they give you for beating it without assistance.

The setting for Lords of Shadow is scattered across a decent variety of locations and you will find gigantic bosses (you might sometimes even say colossal) which are rather appropriate for the realms you find them in. You definitely might get a Shadow of the Colossus feel from the bosses but the actual fights themselves are more like God of War bosses.  In order to beat the bosses Lords of Shadow relies on many QTE quicktime events. The rest of the game also uses QTE events and sometimes they can appear out of nowhere which is a big surprise because it was right in the middle of a cinematic. It is a lot like Tomb Raider 2013 or RE6 in this regard and the QTE events might quickly annoy players but it wasn’t as bad as other QTE heavy games. In order to beat the bosses there is always a final QTE combo and if you fail it the bosses health will usually be reset to 1/5th. There is a small learning curve associated with the QTE but if you have played God of War, Prince of Persia, or a Resident Evil game you probably won’t have much trouble with it although there are certain points which probably will frustrate you. The regular enemies can sometimes be more annoying than the bosses at higher difficulties.

Once you have lowered their health enough you can ride some of the enemies. You can ride spiders, wild hogs and some giant wolves. They help with fighting large groups of enemies but the amount of times actually have to ride an animal is actually fairly rare except to progress in the level. The majority of the game will be spent on foot. After you have finished the game a lot of the areas where you would have needed the animal can now be navigated by Gabriel alone when you combine the abilities that you earn by beating the game. The new abilities come in the form of gems. Defeating enemies and solving puzzles will give you experience which you can use to unlock more combos to use in normal game play and also to use with the gems.

Brand new to the Castlevania system is the Light Gem and the Dark Gem. These two gems allow Gabriel to have 2 powerful light and dark gauges that allow him to regain health from enemies with the light gem as well as enabling him to have supercharged damage while the dark gem is activated. Both of these gems have special combos associated with using their powers which can do extremely high amounts of damage to enemies. The gauges are refilled with neutral power orbs that are dropped by enemies or harvested from orb fountains. Acquiring the orbs rely on Gabriel avoiding damage and countering. There is another special gauge at the bottom which slowly builds up as Gabriel kills enemies or counters while not getting hurt. If the gauge is completed successfully then every hit on an enemy will start dropping lots of orbs which will let you power up the special abilities quite fast. The special light and dark powers don’t actually start draining until you hit an enemy with them. Sometimes you will have to use the light and gem powers to solve puzzles presented to you during the story. They will always put a orb fountain nearby so you won’t have to constantly fight enemies in order to gain orbs again. I learned the hard way however that it is always best to enter a boss fight with all items fully stocked up and the light and dark powers already completely powered up because it can be difficult to get orbs or items during the boss fights.

There are two DLC’s which further the story after the ending of the first game and add a brand new challenge to face in the form of a new boss called the Forgotten One. The story in the DLC is told through narrated drawings like Peace Walker instead of the actual cutscenes like the base Lords of Shadow had. Honestly I didn’t understand why they had included this story DLC but after playing Lords of Shadow 2 and Mirror of Fate it’s easier to figure out why it is there.

The fight with the Forgotten One took an extremely long time. This might have been because I used up all my items and powers in order to beat the DLC levels in order to get to the Boss and then I made it halfway into the boss fight and didn’t want to restart from the beginning so I persisted and it took me a really long time but eventually I beat him. Damn that boss though.

The story of Lords of Shadow is about on par with that of any other Castlevania game, the usual balance of sorrow, fear, and pain to be expected from a Belmont family tree. Lords of Shadow was pretty direct, almost like a castlevania 1,2,3, or 4 storyline with some interesting surprises along the way. Zobek appearing to now and then to help you along the way was interesting. They do make reference often to a lot of the elements from the other Castlevania games and they do a decent job of adding lore to the overall game. It feels more like an Origin Castlevania story to me as opposed to just a remake.

When I first played this on PS3 I was impressed by the graphics then at 720P, and playing again on PC in 4K it is still a gorgeous game even many years later with beautiful environments that at times rival the grandeur of God of War 3 or Ryse. The engine is well optimized for PC and it isn’t a very demanding game that runs quite fluidly. At times its easy to get distracted by how nice the scenery is. I’m consistently impressed with the optimization Konami has put into their PC ports lately.

Aside from the story there are a few things that can be done post end-game. There are a set number of scrolls scattered around all of the game levels that add to the backstory of the game and that level. There are also a certain number of gems in each level and a set of 5 gems collected will increase either your life gauge or your dark/light power limits. Also scattered around the levels are special brotherhood upgrades that increase the amount of storage you have for your items, but these are usually locked behind a story specific item that you need to access them. These probably won’t matter much to you unless you are a completionist or you are attempting the trials and higher levels.

There are two additional difficulties for further challenge and if you are trying to platinum the game you will have to complete these. In much the same way as Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Rising you will definitely want the upgrades before attempting the higher difficulties. After you have beaten a level you will unlock a specific trial for that level, there are trophies linked to each chapters trials. Lastly is a bonus artwork that costs experience points in order to buy them. If you have already bought all the skills then this is pretty much the only thing left to spend on aside from saving up for the experience trophy. The DLC packs add one new unlockable but it doesn’t give any upgrades. There are a few Easter eggs that refer to older Castlevanias, the music box is the most obvious one.

For the new generation who doesn’t have the patience for one of the older 2D castlevania’s Lords of Shadow is a good place to start kind of like the new Ratchet and Clank ps3 games. It doesn’t detract from the appeal of the older games but it does have a lot of the elements in it that made the original Castlevanias really fun, although it really is more of an action game instead of a platforming game. I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. After the PS2 castlevanias I kind of lost interest in the series and had given up on there being a great 3D Castlevania but I’m happy to say this one was a surprise hit. I really enjoyed it when I first played it and I enjoyed it almost as much the second time playing it again at 4K. It was a little annoying to have to regain all the abilities and powers that had already been unlocked on the ps3 save file, but it was still very rewarding and I would definitely recommend it for both newcomers to the Castlevania series as well as to veterans who prefer the action RPG style to the metroidvania style.

Doom 2016 Chibi Overview

•July 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Some get sent to hell as a punishment while others go willingly…this time it’s willingly. Doom returns with a BFG and a bang, and has all new finishers for those who like to get up close and personal. If you were worried that ID Tech had dropped the ball after 10 years no need to worry it’s got all kinds of things to bring you back to Doom both new and old. It might be more fast paced than you remember but the experience doesn’t disappoint. Grab your praetor suit, fist bump your mini doll and go blast some demons!

Doom (2016) Overview

•May 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/28/Doom_Cover.jpg

It certainly has been quite a while since there has been a new Doom. After more than ten years I really had some concerns about what kind of game the new Doom was going to be. It switched hands and probably got redesigned a few times so it could have potentially become a Duke Nukem Forever, or a Max Payne 3. Thankfully it ended up being the latter and not the former and it was quite a success.

The new Doom seems to have heavily borrowed a lot of elements from Wolfenstein TNO, so if you have played either TNO (The New Order) or TOB (The Old Blood) it will feel quite natural to you. It also borrowed some elements from the Quake series (Quake 3 and Quake 4) which are already in the same vein as other ID Tech games so that wasn’t a surprise at all. It looks like Doom 3 but it doesn’t really feel like it at all. The borrowed elements are quite welcome, but they turn doom into more of a fast-paced action game then the horror survival angle that Doom 3 went for. This Doom feels much more like the classic Doom 1 and 2 games in design. You start off a little bit slow and then it quickly starts getting crazy after a couple of levels.

Each of the missions has a set mission, goal, but every level each has its own special set of challenges and secrets that are optional side quests. These optional challenges will unlock weapon points that allow you to upgrade each of your guns which allows for added versatility and more power. Similar to TNO each of the weapons has a mod (actually 2 mods) that allow the gun to be used in two different kinds of ways depending on your playstyle. Some of the mods add more power to the weapon, some of the mods add scopes for long range, and some of the mods add an explosive or multi shot option.

All of the guns have 2 mods that need to be found and then the mod unlocks a couple of additional perks for that gun. You have to complete a particular set of requirements in order to unlock the perk. Luckily you can switch between the mods whenever you want as long as you have unlocked them. The mods are found scattered around the level and you can pick which weapon you want to unlock the mod for when you find a mod. There are enough mods to unlock all the weapons in the game but it is unlikely you will find all of the mods on your first playthrough. You don’t need to have them to beat the game but they usually make things a lot easier. In every level there were usually one or two mods to be found, the first one was usually pretty easy to find while the other ones could be pretty tricky.

In addition to the weapon mods there are also Armor mods, both of which are a welcome change. The armor mods allow you to upgrade 4 categories in your armor suit which each have their own special set of uses. One category gives you increased exploration perks and allows you to find hidden secrets more easily, another category gives you more perks when messing with powers, a third perk gives you environment resistance upgrades, and the final category increases your speed when doing certain things. These armor upgrades were scattered around the levels in the form of Protean keys that you found on special elite guards. Once again there are enough of these in the game in order for you to be able to fully unlock all of the upgrades but without the exploration perk fully unlocked most likely you won’t find all of the upgrades unless you are extremely good at treasure hunting.

Then there were a third set of upgrades that were scattered around the level which allowed you to further boost your health, armor, and ammo capacity to more or less double what the initial amount was, and they are permanent upgrades. These are glowing red balls of pure argent energy that your suit just seems to love. Like the others there are just enough of them to be able to upgrade all of the skills eventually.

If you are really having trouble locating the upgrades and items the final set of upgrades in the exploration pack set of the armor upgrades will reveal the location of most of the items that are scattered around the various levels and it will tick off what you have already unlocked but unfortunately it isn’t all that good for locating secrets.

There are powers that give temporary bonuses, in a kind of Quake 3/4 reminiscent style you will find them as floating orbs around some of the levels. The powers will be familiar to returning Doom and Quake fans like haste, and berserk mode but they cannot be unlocked they are just bonuses that appear in the levels and will help for the particular area that you are currently facing. Often one of the missions challenges will involve using one of these bonus power-ups, and you will complete certain areas faster or more easily by using the power-up suggested for it.

Lastly there are runes. The runes augment your abilities and unlock special bonuses that give passive boosts once you have completed the optional requirements for them. The runes are usually hidden around the levels and you have to complete a challenge in order to even unlock access to the rune. Once you have beaten the challenge the rune is unlocked in your rune circle and you can select it from the menu. At first you can only have one rune unlocked but eventually you can have up to three runes simultaneously active at any time. Each of the runes has a default set of bonuses, but once you have completed the prerequisite for that particular rune it will unlock a second level with a significantly improved always on passive bonus. Some of them enhance your agility, some of them increase the rates of certain items dropping, some increase your speed it’s a mixed bag really. I preferred increased ammo drop, speedy fatalities, and death be gone one time. Which ones you prefer and select depend greatly on your playstyle.

Once you have damaged an enemy enough they will enter a special flashing fatality mode. You can attack them with melee and you will execute a finishing move on them depending on what angle you are attacking them from. By doing this you will gain large amounts of health and often other bonuses as well. If you do not kill them while they are in this flashing mode they will recover and you will have to fight them again.

The story in the Doom games has never been very deep, and this one isn’t really an exception. Rather predictably someone has managed to open a portal into hell, hell has escaped and it’s basically up to you to stop the demons and close the portal again. There is less of an introduction than there was for Doom 3, this feels much more similar to Doom 1 or Doom 2.

The lore for this Doom is slightly deeper than previous Doom games and there is added information to unlock and further backstory to the Doom marine (particularly) once you arrive in Hell. Sadly the audiologs from Doom 3 didn’t make a reappearance but there is still plenty of things to read about once you have encountered them, and the additional data is discovered in the form of datalogs. You will learn some of the basic backstory to most of the levels and enemies that appear just by playing through the normal game but if you want to fully understand the lore behind that particular item you will have to further unlock datalogs that are found around the levels. There aren’t very many characters you will have to pay attention to so it’s pretty easy to understand the story behind this. Not like story was ever ID Tech’s forte either so I didn’t have high expectations in this department. The story for this Doom is simple and straightforward.

The graphics in this Doom certainly shine. They built off of the already pretty engine for Wolfenstein’s TOB and TNO, but took the look and feel of Doom 3 but gave it a TNO makeover and it looks fantastic. The game scales incredibly well on PC hardware, and maintained 60 FPS comfortably on a 970 gtx and a 3570K. The textures in the game perhaps weren’t quite as detailed as the ones in Wolfenstein were but they were certainly a huge improvement over any of the previous titles in the ID repertoire. I’ve played it on PS4 as well and I can’t honestly say that there is a gigantic difference between the PC settings and the console settings but there are certainly subtle differences, especially in the aftereffects. The recent ID games look extremely good without requiring that strong of hardware to run it on. I remember I ran TNO on my old 8800 GTX/Q6600 and that ran very acceptably, and while it certainly does look vastly better on the 970 it’s not like the Witcher or Crysis where the difference between Medium High and Ultra settings is incredibly obvious, it is rather subtle. I noticed it definitely used a lot more VRAM than any of the previous ID games, but it ran very smooth and fluid.

There is multiplayer in this Doom. It feels rather similar to the Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament. There are a bunch of different maps and modes but most of the content in the multiplayer is locked behind DLC. You have levels that you gain by killing enemies and there are team based maps. I played enough of it to unlock the basic multiplayer trophies but I didn’t play it for very long. It’s pretty neat that you can transform into certain demons and gain unique special abilities. You can also unlock custom pieces of armor for a specific set but the majority of these have to be bought in the DLC. You also unlock special powers for your character based on your level which can make it a bit unbalanced if you are playing against very high level opponents. It honestly doesn’t feel very different from Halo multiplayer or Unreal tournament.

There are plenty of secrets to be found scattered around Doom. You have the data logs which will provide more information for the majority of your enemies and it will also give you background information on the maps and characters. You also have the argent cells which boost your storage capabilities. You also have the keys you pick up off the elite guards which let you upgrade the suits powers. There are runes which increase your passive and active skills. Finally there are also secrets which contain weapons before you would normally get them, and also upgrades that might be useful to you at that particular point. Once you have beaten the game there really isn’t much in the way of post endgame unlockables but you can replay any level with your current set of upgrades and you can work at locating all the collectibles on the map. You do unlock the harder difficulties after beating the first game (nightmare and ultra-nightmare). I find it slightly amusing that they give you a trophy for beating the first level on ultra nightmare but no trophy for beating the entire game on ultra nightmare.

I wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t scrapped it and rebuilt the whole game when Bethesda took over, a friend of mine lamented that the original Doom 4 concepts got tossed out. I too am a little curious to see what the original idea might have looked like versus what the final product ended up being, but at the same time after 10 years hiatus I feel they could have done a lot worse, and I don’t mind the current finish. I remember back when the Doom 3 beta came out and that too ended up being very different than the final finished Doom 3…whether it changed for the better or for the worse I guess we will never find out although i’m very happy with Doom 4 as it is. There was a bit more action and it was faster pace than I was expecting Doom to be but it was a welcome change and they managed to incorporate the game-play pretty well. The scary jumpy factor seems to be pretty much gone (although try playing it on ultra nightmare and you might find yourself getting a feeling reminiscent of playing the original Doom 3 on nightmare mode). If you enjoy other Doom or Wolfenstein games then you will almost certainly enjoy this one.