- The Washington Times - Friday, July 1, 2016

One of the grand daddies of ultraviolent, first person shooters makes a hard-core return to lead gamers into their Doom (Bethesda Softworks and id Software, rated heart attack inducing Mature, reviewed with Xbox One, $59.99).

A lone Marine finds himself resurrected and powerfully enhanced within a seemingly abandoned and massive research facility on Mars.

He quickly learns that unholy experiments from the Union Space Corp. have opened a portal into the underworld and released an army of bloodthirsty demons looking to spread evil across the galaxy.

The player becomes the one-man exorcism machine and with help from initially a shotgun, pistol and enhanced high-tech armor suit (Halo’s Master Chief would gladly wear) ventures inside and outside the facility to stop an evolving attack against humanity.

This premiere stress-reliever offers a massive amount of enjoyment as a user eviscerates through the single-player campaign in roughly 15 hours of run-and-gun action.

Early on, I found very little more satisfying than making sure I had a full load of shells for my Super Shotgun and running into a swarm of demons blasting and cutting my way through the pack of them as pools of blood and body parts lay strewn about after my rage.

As the story unfolds, though, new, more insane weapons such as a rocket launcher, a beam rifle and a room-clearing BFG 9000 plasma gun exist with plenty of modifications and powerups.

For example, a player finds a heavy-assault rifle and can add a set of six exploding micro-missiles to fire at targets or add a three-round burst to a shotgun.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the chainsaw. No more brutal a weapon for slicing and dicing a demon exists as long as a player can keep the tool topped off with gas by finding canisters strewn among the locations.

However, most visceral of any battle choices occurs when staggering an enemy. The Marine can now move in and perform a close-quarters “Glory Kill” that not only terminates the subject in the most violent way possible but cause it to dump more health-restoring orbs.

For those in need of practice, the addition of “Ruin Trials” scattered among the locations helps hone a player’s skills and unlock even more modifications to weapons.

Environments range from sterile claustrophobic corridors littered with rotting corpses to a massive energy-spewing tower and the outdoor scorching sand of the Red Planet.

As far as the enemies, over a dozen varieties in total, a player will often encounter waves of possessed soldiers, revenants (demons with cybernetic augmentations), Hell Knights with the might and demeanor of the Incredible Hulk and floating Summoners that can call upon unlimited minions into battle until she is exterminated.

One of the cooler objectives within the story is found when the Marine must destroy a gore nest. Acting sort of as an umbilical cord to hell, these ceremonial mounds are crafted from unwilling victims’ blood and entrails. The hero must literally rip an undulating mass from the nest to destroy it but then deal with those attacking horrors sworn to protect it.

So, suffice to report, this is a game born and bred upon violent and brutal encounters, so humans of sound mind need only apply.

A word of warning for those new to “Doom.” The fast-paced frenetic style of is not for the amateur gamer here. Even attempting the action of the medium difficulty setting will guarantee many a horrendous deaths at the hands of the demon-controlled minions.

Those immersed in the new “Doom” experience should also take time to explore and unlock the many secret levels paying homage to the original franchise, peruse a wonderfully informative in-game encyclopedia filled with “Doom” lore and enjoy a couple of other modes to extend the gameplay.

First, build death traps for others to get caught in via a dense “SnapMap” level creator. A gamer literally concocts his own “Doom” world complete with enemies, weapons and power pickups and posts it for players around the world to take his deadly challenges.

Next, the online multiplayer action features six styles of competitions — spread out over nine maps and involving soul-sucking, freezing enemies and death matches. In a clever twist, a player can transform into a demon for a short time to wreak havoc on opponents.

If it not already apparent, “Doom” is more than back and better than ever. Bethesda Softworks’ effort for the latest home entertainment consoles not only pays respectful homage to the franchise but also offers one of the best first-person shooters of the year for the adult gamer.

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