Happy Weekend TAY!
I’m still a little foggy from seeing X-Men Apocalypse Thursday night into Friday morning with the family. The showtime was 10:30pm and finished up the credits at 1:10am. Add to that an hour drive home and it was a late night and a long day. The movie was great though. X-Men was my comic as a teen and even with the liberties taken with characters and story, I enjoyed the film.
Last week was pretty swamped around here and there was only a little time for gaming, but I finally started my descent into hell.
I finished up Bioshock last weekend and loved every single minute of it. For me, it is absolutely one of the greatest games ever made. It still holds up spectacularly well and I hope E3 will see an announcement of the rumoured HD-remake. Everyone should make sure to add Bioshock to their list of games to play if you haven’t spent time in Rapture already.
With the Little Sisters saved (seriously, you are a monster if you killed them), I was free to move on to Doom.
First off, it should be named Doom 4. I hate when things are named the same as the original, it makes it confusing for my old brain. You either have to call it Doom 4 or Doom (2016) when talking about it (the “latest Doom” will only work for a few years). At the very least, give it a subtitle.
I haven’t made much progress, but part of that is due to restarting at a lower difficulty.
I began the game on the Nightmare difficulty (against Rathorial’s advice) but then after getting quite far in the first level (after the prologue), I decided that Nightmare required too much of a major shift in the gameplay to enjoy Doom the first time through.
Part of the problem is that Nightmare is a big jump in difficulty from Ultra Violence. Having now played a bit on Ultra Violence, I would like more of a challenge but Nightmare was a little too much right out of the gate while I became acclimated to the game.
Nightmare requires you to constantly keep moving, one good hit can be death. This makes for taking in the enemies animations and surrounding visuals hard to enjoy. Also, the Glory Kills don’t work well on Nightmare. The Glory Kill animations leave you in a vulnerable position since you stop moving when they finish. I did a little research before I restarted the game and found some confirmation to what I was observing. Eurogamer had a post from some people that had completed Ultra Nightmare, which is the same as Nightmare but you only have one life. One of the players in the article also echoed my feelings on Glory Kills on that difficulty. Apparently, once you level up, Nightmare mode becomes much more manageable. I guess I’ll just save that difficulty for a subsequent play-through. Right now I’d rather see what the game has to offer with all its features than having to worry about optimizing my strategy the first time through.
The other issue with Nightmare difficulty is that unlike the first three difficulties, you can’t lower it mid-game. You are stuck on Nightmare. Not really a problem unless you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
Doom is fantastic though. I’m glad there is loads of love for the game around here. I was fearful of how the game would be after John Carmack’s departure from id Software, but I’m glad to see that the game captures the spirit of the original game even more so than with Doom 3.
The visuals and sound design are amazing. All of this is tied in with the stellar performance of the id Tech 6 engine and the game looks incredible while running like a dream on my 980Ti. I am able to run the game completely full out and downscaled to 1080p (native resolution for me on my TV) from 2715 x 1527 (2x native) and there is nary a drop from 60fps. I can downscale from 3325 x 1871 (3x native) and generally run the game at 60fps, but some of the more crowded battles can drop to 40-50fps. Downscaling from 4K sees performance drop right off to 30-40fps in general play. I’m wondering if this is more to do with running out of VRAM than exceeding the GPU itself. It will be exciting to see how Doom runs on the new Nvidia GPUs with their increased VRAM. I’ll stick with 2x native downscaled to my 1080p TV, when you are downscaling you are generally just trading jaggies for performance, so I’d rather keep the rock solid 60fps. Weird thing is that I can max out the anti-aliasing at 2x native and get 60fps. If I turn off the anti-aliasing at 3x and 4x native resolution I don’t seem to see any bump in performance compared to 2x with it on maxed.
The level design in Doom is also incredible. This is some of the best secret hunting I’ve seen in a game in a long time. Coming off Bioshock, which I think has some of the best level design in gaming overall, it is nice to see the smart complexity of the maps in Doom as well. I’ve only finished two levels so far, but I have spent a great deal of time and had a ton of fun getting 100% of the secrets on those levels.
Really, my only complaint (so far) about the game is the checkpoint system. It seems to use a combination of encounter and progression checkpoints. I’m a huge fan of checkpoints and think this is the best way of marking progress in games. Saving and quitting or suspending a game should always be an option (which Doom doesn’t have unless you’d like to leave your PC on) but checkpoints make the player more accountable for their performance since you can’t “save-cheat” your way through a battle. Doom’s problem is that the location checkpoints are not reusable.
Once you’ve killed all the bad guys on the level (there is no respawning of enemies) and set out to hunt down those remaining secrets, the checkpoint system’s problem rears its ugly head. Experimentation and exploration seem to be a foundation of the level design, but the lack of reusable checkpoints means that backtracking is a pain.
Often secret hunting can involve precariously balancing and jumping over instant death. If you die while exploring, you’ll be reset to the last checkpoint, which is the furthest one you’ve found into the level. If you made it to the level exit and went back to explore, this means you have to redo a bunch of travelling if you die. This seems unnecessary since there are no respawning baddies, plus there are tons of examples in games of allowing the player to retrigger checkpoints as you pass back over them. It just feels a little sloppy in Doom to have such basic checkpoints.
I would also have liked to remove the crosshair and aim down the sights of the weapons, but this would have made the controls more complicated since the game already has a fairly robust secondary fire system using another button. I can live with a tiny dot on the screen if it means less complications to the controls.
My wife and I also managed a little more Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune which continues to be great fun. It is showing its age a little with some of the quirky controls at times, but we are enjoying our time with it again.
I hope this weekend will see more Doom, my little taste has me drooling for the meal. I imagine my wife and I will play some more Uncharted and Rock Band 4 is always on tap.
What are you playing this weekend?