Review: Doom (2016)

Ah DOOM. It is the game that changed so much. ID software’s seminal shooter, while not the first FPS on the market, was responsible for many’s first foray into modding, online multiplayer, hyper violence and the first person viewpoint. I remember playing it as a kid, and it remains one of my favourite games of all time, and the series has earned its place in gaming’s hall of fame.


The first two games are classics in the truest sense, games that at the time were revolutionary, gaining a following that endures to this day. The third game, DOOM 3, which came out ten years after the original, doesn’t hold quite as much reverence, with many citing it as the end times for the series.

So when ID announced a new game in the venerable series, at the time called Doom 4, then later retitled to just DOOM, people were a little worried. Added to this was the fact that a multiplayer beta received much criticism and no review copies were sent out to reviewers before hand, generally a dark sign for the quality of a game.

Those worries, thankfully, were completely unfounded. The rebooted DOOM is the classic games through and through, but with updated mechanics, graphics and design that does everything required to bring what you remember about the original hurtling into the 21st century. In short, DOOM 2016 has no right to be this good.


The game's campaign opens with you awakening inside an ancient crypt, brutally killing a demon and escaping to find the ‘Praetor Suit’, the armour that will provide you protection from the forces of hell. Brilliantly, ID software have continued the tradition of not really naming the protagonist, instead the logs etc that you find simply refer to you as ‘The Doom Marine’.

From there, it's all about the killing. Like the first games, this new take focuses on brutal, bloody death with unabashed glee. It is everything that made you smile when you were younger, except now you can actually legally play it (being over 18 that is). As you travel about Mars and then Hell itself, you are given the tools to take down whatever is thrown at you.

These tools range from classic DOOM weapons like the super shotgun, plasma rifle and chain gun, to new brutal melee kills that aren’t there just for show, but one of the best ways to regain health. As you shoot enemies, they eventually stagger and glow blue. Get closer and that glow turns orange and you can hit a button to perform a ‘glory kill’ which rewards you with important health and after some upgrades, Armour.

This brutality extends to another classic weapon, the chainsaw. The iconic device makes a triumphant return, and it is just as satisfying as ever to rip through demons. However, changes have been made. It now requires fuel, which is in short supply. On the plus side, taking down enemies with it rewards you with a spray of ammo pick ups for your other weapons.

The result is a glorious ballet of shooting, melee and ammo replenishment via the chainsaw, with everything covered in so much blood that you could refloat the Titanic twice over. It is a game that will offend anyone still concerned with the violence in the medium, but to those who remember, those who know, this is what DOOM has and always will be.


Levels are massive, with lots of area’s to explore, and explore you should. Dotted around the environment are various upgrades and secrets and help with all the destruction, and the game doesn’t make finding these a chore. The DOOM marine can mantle up to surfaces, jump and eventually double jump, and even gain an upgrade that shows all the collectible locations on the map.

It makes it a pleasure to go through the levels, though some of these upgrades are a bit pointless and it can be difficult, even with the upgrades, to truly find everything. Some power ups though, are awesome. Take for example, the machine guns micro missile upgrade. This allows you to alt fire using small explosive missiles, couple that with an late game upgrade that allows you to have infinite ammo while your Armour is above 100, and you can’t help to laugh maniacally as you rain explosions on a room full of bad guys.

The story is there mainly to give some context to your actions, and as can probably be seen from how late it is in this review, isn’t the reason to play the campaign. Gameplay rules supreme here, and while the universe is fleshed out with cut scenes and the logs found strewn throughout the levels, ultimately I just wanted to get back to the killing of hell-spawn.

By the end of the game, which will take a good chunk of time, the destructive itch will have been scratched several times over. The ripping apart of classic DOOM enemies - Imps, Cacodemons, Revenants, Pinky demons and Hell Knights to name but a few - never gets old, and combat remains fun throughout.

ID Software have included a multiplayer component, and level design section ala Halo’s Forge mode, and these are fine inclusions for the most part, but once I was finished with the campaign, I had more than my share of DOOM.

I feel like the campaign of DOOM 2016 is something I could go back to time and again. The combination of updated mechanics and classic feel make it something special, and as I said before, it never gets old.

This new take on the classic franchise is everything anyone wanted out of the latest in the series and then some, as I said at the start of this review, it has no right to be this good, and it is more than worth your time.

Review: Dark Souls III

*this was originally posted on thisismyjoystick

What’s the first thing you do after being away for a few days? If I was to take a guess, you’re like me and crawl into the warm comfort of your very own bed, pull the covers up and drift off into a nice slumber – safe in the knowledge that this is the bed that had been calling to you all weekend.

Dark Souls III is much like that bed after a few days away. It provides the safe, warm comfort of pitch-perfect gameplay and challenge the series is known for. This time round there are a few changes thrown into the mix, as well as it being a breathtaking visual feast.

Set in the kingdom of Lothric, Dark Souls III represents a somewhat faster pace than previous entries, especially in terms of moving and fighting. This was no doubt informed by From Software’s previous game, Bloodborne. I missed that game, but did play Dark Souls II on PS4, and some of the changes from that are… strange.

For example, the mechanic where enemies stop showing up after a few deaths is completely gone. No matter how many times you run through an area after dying (and yes, you will do that a lot – this is a Souls game), enemies never stop respawning.

Whilst I can see both sides of the argument here, I have to follow my gut: this is a bad thing. While yes, more things to fight in a game with such pitch-perfect combat is not a bad idea, it does mean you can get stuck into sections, just running round doing the same thing over and over again.

The nature of the combat means that this is fun every time, but it does not provide any incentive to move on. It also means that at least one large section per area is ripe for farming souls. I got stuck in an early area for well over five hours just fighting the same enemies, not moving on to see new bosses.

Dark Souls III does provide the freedom to go about your business in that way and really learn an area before you do in fact force yourself to move on, but you’re the one that has do it. The Souls games have never been about hand-holding; you are given a set of nebulous rules and told to work everything else out. Nevertheless, this feels like a wasted opportunity to tempt exploration and get the player to discover more secrets first time through.

Besides the pace and lack of reasons to persist, not much else has changed. The only difference from Dark Souls II is how the hollowing mechanic has been implemented. In that game, being hollowed slowly lowered your maximum health each time you met your end, down to a maximum of half. This gave some real consequence to each death, making things that little bit harder each time.

While hollowing is still a mechanic in Dark Souls III, it has very little effect on gameplay, save for opening/closing certain quest lines. Some might welcome the change and others hate it, but for me it was just one more thing to keep track of and try to find a solution to in the previous game – one that was pretty easily solved too. Its absence here just makes everything that little bit more focused.

So aside from the setting, pacing and not having your health lowered upon death, what has changed? Not much, to be honest. If you loved the previous games, then Dark Souls III is that all over again, and this is no bad thing. What’s more, if you haven’t partaken before then now is the perfect time to jump in.

It is a master-work of gameplay that forces you to, quite simply, pay attention. There is no such thing as cannon fodder enemies here. Each and every one, no matter how small they might look, is actively trying to kill you – and will, given half a chance.

Dark Souls III always provides you with the ability to prevent this, though; you just have to figure out how to do it. A well-timed dodge or roll and quick counter will dispatch many quickly, with harder enemies requiring the use of other weapons/magic in your arsenal to take down.

Various merchants will appear to help you with acquiring new weapons and powers, while those massive, powerful bosses provide large souls that will net you even better gear if your character is built to use it. These look seriously cool and vary each time with some real stand-outs (which I won’t spoil here) in terms of visual design.

I played as a pyromancer and had an absolute blast (pun intended) throwing fireballs and playing around with the other magic at my disposal, while shredding dudes with – for a surprising amount of time – my starting axe. Of course, I found a new weapon, but I kinda loved the fact that I could compete so well for so long with that humble thing.

It took me all of about five minutes to get back into the Souls mindset, even after not playing Dark Souls II for several months. It just felt right, and I knew where to be cautious and how to figure out my opponent’s attacks. I ran through those starting areas for hours and every time I felt like I had it down, I made one silly mistake and lost thousands of souls (the currency, for the uninitiated), because I was still underestimating basic enemies.

Dark Souls III looks and sounds brilliant, with every noise potentially signalling a death-dealing foe or trap around the next corner. Spectacular views as you emerge from seemingly mundane doorways show the visual bump the series has had even since its current-generation debut last year. The animation is just as smooth as in previous games too, helping you to determine when is best to hit the attack button and when to dodge incoming attacks.


All of the elements of a true Dark Souls game are here: ambient storytelling, powerful enemies, cool bosses, a real sense of world-building and of course, fantastic gameplay.

My only issues are niggles at best that do nothing to distract from playing a brilliant game. As always with Souls games it’s not too hard, just demanding and fair, providing hours of enjoyment even without moving to a new area.

It’s a great starting point for series newcomers as the story is pretty self-contained in each entry, and the lessons learned over four previous games have been refined to a T here. If you don’t like the Dark Souls games then it likely won’t change your mind, but everyone else will be in their element.

Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

*this was originally posted on thisismyjoystick

What’s the antithesis to the idea that modern games are devoid of colour? Put simply, CyberConnect2’s latest Naruto game, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. This is a game that will bathe you in bright lights and pretty colours for as long as you chose to spend playing it.

If you like Anime, love Naruto, or just want a surprisingly solid fighting game, then this is the game you want to play. It’s not without flaws, but I was genuinely surprised by the way it drew me in, even if I had my fill without extensive play of the other modes.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s story is, to be frank, nuts. I have no idea what really went on, there was something about ninja clans, tailed beasts, a world-ending bad guy, and a moral about friendship and working together to beat anything.

I was actually surprised by how this completely insane story drew me in, and it made me want to see the lengthy mode through, even though I actually spent only maybe an hour or two playing the actual game. This being anime, we are talking about Metal Gear Solid levels of putting the controller down to watch cut-scenes.

I haven’t watched much of the Naruto show, but I have seen a few minutes here and there, and Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 does a very good job of looking the same, with the out of engine cut-scenes seemingly taken straight from the cartoon. Aside from the problems with lip-sync, everything sounds great, and the battle effects took me back to my youth watching anime for the first time.

Not all these scenes are that well animated, some are in-engine and some aren’t, with the ones that aren’t featuring characters that have either poor lip-sync or a mask to cover the problem. The in-engine ones have characters talking, but the lip-sync is even worse there, with mouths moving before any dialogue even comes out.

It is enough to pull you out of the experience, but the story kicks in and pulls you back with the craziness that comes with a full-on anime experience. I didn’t play the first few games in this series, but if they are anything like this one it would be worthy trip back in time.

The actual gameplay is pure fighting game and it’s solid, with a surprisingly deep combat system that I didn’t even come close to scratching the surface of. I played on PS4, so hitting circle will do basic combat, but adding in other buttons creates some real spectacle.

By hitting triangle, your character will load ‘chakra’, which basically means they’ll power up for a few seconds. If you time it right, tapping circle will unleash a ninjutsu attack which, depending on the character, can do a few different things. For the most part, it involves launching massive energy balls at opponents causing large explosions. Like I said, anime.

The ultimate version of this is the secret technique, and when I say this looks cool you best believe me. Hitting with one of those will blast enemies with attacks so powerful that the camera heads to a birds eye view to catch the full size of the explosion, and there is nothingmore satisfying. You can even do a team-up version, which is even more spectacular, as some fights grant you allies that you can call on by tapping L1 or R1.

I was never able to fully utilize these allies though. At the start of each battle in the story, you are given a task-list to complete. They might range from performing a twenty-five hit combo, to hitting with a ninjutsu attack three times, to knocking an opponent off a wall. When you have allies, these include ‘connect with X persons support attack’, the problem is that I could never figure out how this worked.

I would get into position, hit L1, my ally appears and hits the opponent, but I never met the condition. I couldn’t work out if because I wasn’t actually hitting, or the angle of the camera was wrong, or something else; it proved very frustrating to try and figure out but fail each time.

To be fair, this is likely me playing badly, but the Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 simply doesn’t do a good job of explaining when best to use this and what counts as a hit with it. Its a problem with a lot of fighting games, the tutorials simply aren’t there, and in order to get good you have to spend hundreds of hours learning everything.

There is plenty to learn too. Cancels, counters, guards, throws, it’s all here, but those large combos I could never pull off; I just couldn’t figure out how to keep the combo going to the point of hitting that many times. I could get into double digits, but never further than fifteen or so, even with the aforementioned super-charged attacks.

In certain instances you can trigger a series of quick-time button presses, which give all the most impressive scenes some agency, though you do miss out on what is happening by focusing on the action you need to perform. Still, by the end of the scene, someone is definitely screwed up, and your brain, if it is anything like mine, will struggle to process what just happened.

I was able to figure out enough to get through the story, and I found that once I had, I pretty much had my limit. I checked out the other modes, but really I had all I wanted out of the batshit crazy story. These modes consist of an adventure mode set after the events of the story, where Naruto takes quests and battles random enemies. Free battle and online battle, where it becomes more of a straight up fighter, and collection mode, allowing you to view stuff you have unlocked.

Adventure seemed like you could spend a good few hours playing, but it just didn’t have the balls-out action and insanity of story, and felt boring by comparison. The battle modes render it down to just the fighting to let you perfect and battle your friends, possibly meaning you can go back through the story and get that perfect S rank, but I’d had enough at that point.


I almost wish Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 was just the story, with maybe the battle modes thrown in as an extra. It has everything I personally want out of this type of game, but has a combat system that has enough depth to carry those inclined to play online.

The biggest downside to the battle system is the fact that the camera can prove unwieldy. Numerous times I ended up with the camera behind my opponent, causing instant confusion when I was tapping buttons but doing something else. A few seconds later I figured it out, but it is a dumb thing to happen in a fighting game.

Yes, I have manual control of the camera, but that’s not the point. Concentrating on fighting means that camera control is a secondary concern, and Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 should do a better job of keeping it focused on the player’s avatar. It’s not the first game to do this, and probably won’t be the last, but it is a problem that should be ironed out as soon as possible.

“Go Ninja Go”, or just “Go, ninja”?

I would still give this a shot. The fighting system is deep enough to scratch that itch, the story provides a level of insanity few others can match, and there is plenty to do once you complete it, if you find that the story isn’t enough.

It’s not the most stunning fighting game ever made, but I dug what Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 was doing. It looks cool, and blasts light and colour into your eyeballs with unabashed glee. It revels in fun and might just be worth your time.