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Doom Eternal review – the same orgiastic thrills with a creeping weight of story

“Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie,” the original Doom’s programmer John Carmack once wrote. “It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.” A connoisseur of sleaze might object that story often makes for sexier porn – after all, story tends to involve chemistry, atmosphere, suspense and all the other emotions that distinguish intimacy from the act of banging together genitals to spark a human being. Still, if we’re going to liken games to pornography, and assuming it’s the more kinetic kind of pornography you’re after, I heartily recommend Doom Eternal: a looping video compilation of oversized guns and fists plunging into squelchy orifices, spurting along at 60 frames a second.

2016’s accomplished reboot was already quite the debauch, its firefights punctuated by leering close-ups of skewered hellspawn, its heavy metal soundtrack always building to a crescendo. Eternal turns up the heat even further, allowing you to dash and flip your way around arenas that are newly fixated on the vertical axis. Dripping organs are wrenched out of, then stuffed back into, demon torsos; chargeable alt-fires scream for release; health orbs spatter the ramps and chokepoints like – well, you get the picture. The environments often look like the work of an adolescent H.R. Giger who’s just got into AC/DC. Aside from silvery Protoss-ish fortresses and some seriously down-at-heel office blocks, you’ll wander labyrinths of squirming flesh, using runes to unclench toothy sphincters and shearing pop-up tentacles in half with your shotgun.

Some, of course, will soberly insist that all of this is just good, honest, videogame violence – clean, upstanding fun with absolutely no over- or undertones whatsoever. And to these people I say: when I am walking down the shaft of an enormous spear, straight into the pierced belly of a reeling, gaping titan, it is difficult to argue that there isn’t some kind of metaphor in play. “Rip and tear”? More like rip and splooge.

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