Thursday 27 October 2016

Games: Doom's reboot fizzes with energy

Doom (PS4/XOne/PC ) 5 stars Age: 18+

Published 29/05/2016 | 02:30

Doom - the latest reboot shows there's energy in the old dog.
Doom - the latest reboot shows there's energy in the old dog.
Fire Emblems Fate

Doom is the daddy. Gamers immersed in the world of Call of Duty or Battlefield may forget that without Doom, such modern pop-culture icons wouldn't exist.

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After a protracted and troubled development, Doom's latest reboot shows there's energy in the old dog yet. And what energy. This 2016 version bridges the gap to its 1993 forefather with a fizzing, hyperactive remix of the groundbreaking template.

So much will be familiar to fans of the original shooter - yet, clothed in crisp 2016 visuals and subtly tweaked, it feels new again. Portal to hell spawns torrent of demons on Mars space base? Check. Voiceless beefcake marine tooled up with bevy of weapons? Check. Fantastically overdesigned, eerie mining outpost full of secret passages? Check.

Even the gorgeously repulsive hellspawn appear in roughly the same order, though now they're hyper-aggressive and ambush in lethal swarms. You, the marine, haven't stood still either, an athletic killing machine whose weapons can be significantly upgraded.

But Doom's signature change comes from the relentless pace - attack is the only form of defence. Sitting still makes you a dead duck. In the absence of recharging health and reminiscent of Bloodborne, carving a swathe through a thicket of enemies rewards you with medipacks and ammo.

A low-key multiplayer mode is offset by a deceptively powerful level editor. But it's that wonderfully frenzied campaign mode that captures the essence of Doom's enduring influence.


(XOne/PC) 5 Stars Age: 12+

Where Doom defines the first-person shooter, Superhot redefines the genre. With a knowing twist on The Matrix slo-mo, it's really a puzzle game disguised as a shooter.

You're dropped into an array of sterile, featureless rooms and time crawls unless your character moves and then everything snaps temporarily into real-time - as a mob of assassins converges on your position. Short, sharp levels teach the rules and Superhot excels at ramping up the challenge and a fourth-wall-breaking back story.

Fire Emblem Fates

(Nintendo 3DS) 5 Stars Age: 7+

Shame about the confusing multiple-edition release of Fates - essentially three intertwined games under the same title but sold separately. But it's enough to know the brilliant Fire Emblem formula - turn-based strategy mixed with melodramatic storytelling - makes a triumphant return.

Each strand addresses the conflict from a different perspective. Fates Birthright targets newcomers to the series with more forgiving battles while Fates Conquest dials up the difficulty and complexity. Fates Revelation, the third strand, follows on from either but leans more towards the latter.

Whichever you pick, you're in for a rollicking RPG adventure.

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