Game Review: DOOM [Best of 2016 ]

When I watched the first trailer for DOOM it reminded me of some of my favourite gaming memories. It reminded me the first time I saw Quake II at a friend’s house. I was a console gamer, so this was the first time I witness lightning fast railgun head shots from overseas gamers. When it was ported onto the original Playstation I couldn’t believe it as I sat down to play the first demo…

Minimal intro then…silence. Alone, on an alien world with only one direction to walk and only one outcome possible. Walk forward, and my favourite soundtrack of all time kicks in. Watching the DOOM marine sprinting, double jumping, strafing and shooting his way through a genuine horde, accentuated by snapping the incisor of the enemy and plunging it into the beast’s gaping maw…I felt fifteen again. Do not stare into the abyss, break its tooth off and stab it to death with it.

This is not a game review proper. I am not going to talk about light filters and resolution settings. This is about the art of the throwback, and what its success means to the ironic battleground for masculinity that videogame culture has become.

That this game proudly displays the new R18+ classification despite the restriction of potential commercial appeal, this rating is a reflection of just how marginalised old-school gaming culture has become in correlation with increasing mainstream acceptance – similar to the comic books of the post-WWII period. What was acceptable in the ‘90s is not dangerous and restricted. This cultural regression in the name of morality is known as virtue-signalling. The original game was part of the original drive to censor videogames. It’s reincarnation had on obligation to earn this rating or risk any subversive legitimacy.

I, and many others (such as Total_Biscuit) were concerned by the Beta test version. The multiplayer had no identity and felt too similar to other modern games like Call of Duty, the Candy Crush of FPS. Why resurrect Doom as Call of Duty: Hell? Other recent attempts at the throwback like Twisted Metal failed because they were watered down and had little relation to the feel of the originals. The multiplayer remains fairly standard, but the it didn’t matter because the single player campaign is the real deal. This game is HIGH ENERGY!

Game reviewers demand homogeneous, hamfisted  ‘variety’ in the form of repetitive puzzles or limited driving sections because referring to intangibles such as ‘feel’ or ‘atmosphere’ are inherently subjective. There is nothing wrong with subjective journalism if biases, tastes and conflicts of interest are disclosed in advance. In a New Journalism sense, these can actually be incorporated into the article, if done artfully. As a result, every FPS has ‘stealth elements’ and the Halo regenerating shield. These conditions promote hiding, sniping and stealth kills. DOOM gloriously eschews such nonsense in favour of momentum and intensity.

The first time you get in trouble in the game, conditioning will make you retreat and look for health. In DOOM there is only one way to get health. You must kill, the more theatrically the better. Frantic intense fury ensues and a few breathless minutes later, when all the demons are dead – that was awesome. No one else was in the room. No one else saw. You didn’t get a little medal. None of this matters.

To be a success a videogame, or a movie, or a song does not need to tick boxes in order to be a success. This is why criticism, especially pop-culture criticism, is so hard to quantify. A videogame like DOOM must honestly do what it sets out to do, and if this coalesces with what the audience expects, or surpasses it, the work is a success. DOOM is not watered down to appease corporate compromises and concerns. Such influences rob a game of innovation and identity.

DOOM is part of a cultural reclamation that began with Gamergate. This game takes a Black Metal approach – we don’t need you or want you. The speed, fluidity, hyper-realism and ultraviolence all scream ’90s. This is gaming taken to the source. The multiplayer is an afterthought for a reason. This game is made for 3 am singleplayer madness uncorrupted by squealing, foul-mouthed pre-teens to spoil any immersion and authenticity. This is the essence of old-school gaming – a lonesome but unapologetic fantasy world that has no interest in mainstream acceptance. This side of gaming was shamed into obscurity but the pendulum is swinging. DOOM allows us to crank the difficulty up to nightmare, cranky the music up to metal, turn off the lights and go to Hell!

Review:

Does DOOM creatively achieve what the designers intended it to creatively achieve? DOOM sets out to make gaming fun again, and it achieved that for me. This is the game that made me buy a PS4. The developers kept the game true to the spirit of the original but at the same time made an excellent showcase of cutting edge effects and gaming trends. 5/5

Did DOOM fulfil my expectations as a consumer? I wanted to DOOM to be a game I could play by myself, late at night, when everyone else was asleep. I wanted a game that would immerse me in flow, where I wouldn’t be stopped to look for a key or remember an intricate sequence of buttons to fire the grappling hook. This game is pick and play, but has deep potential to become elite level. 5/5

10/10

Criticism – Know Thyself

Reviewing a book or a movie or an album is inherently subjective. The best reviewers (and review readers) have always known this. There are no ways to quantify so much of what makes good art, or even good pop trash. The best music journalists, from Lester Bangs to Dom Lawson, have made their tastes and personalities part of their reviewing process.

My answer is based on New Journalism principles, to embrace my subjectivity and make it a part of my writing. The reader is reviewing the reviewer – Are my tastes similar? Can I trust this guy? Eventually I may be able to get you to give a chance to something you may not have, or let learn to like something that might have normally turned you off. Thus we build a network of connected art and media with each individual as a unique hub. This is the function of reviewing.

Every review I write will only examine two factors:

  1. Does [subject] creatively achieve what the creator intended it to achieve? /5
  2. Did [subject] fulfil my expectations as a consumer? /5
  3. Overall /10

It is unfair to compare masterpiece by a great novelist with a collection of articles. It is unfair to compare a multi-million dollar game with a rebooted retro classic. It is unfair to compare an album that is the high watermark of a musician with a collection of rarities. The intention behind a work factors into its authenticity.

I include the second factor as a recognition of intertextuality and subjectivity. The process of reading creatively engages the reader and the writer in symbiosis. Expectations from a fan will be different from those of first-timers. First impressions last, but a deep engagement with the work of an artist often takes place across several works, often from very different parts of an artists life, to tell a rich and multi-layered story.

If you can think of any factors not covered by these two criteria I would love to try to integrate them, because the subjectivity of reviewing renders it almost useless unless you are familiar with the reviewer.

Book Review: Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich

My testimonial to the success of Gorilla Mindset:

I study law. I commute to Sydney to attend law school, sometimes by train but usually by car. There is parking in a nearby shopping complex, and also some parking on the road near campus. Occasionally I park on campus, but the meters only take cards and coins, and I don’t usually carry coins, and I don’t like putting my card into any machine I don’t have to.

After missing another good spot because I didn’t have the coins for a ticket, rather than scold myself, I used self-talk to calm myself and decide on a solution. Once at home, I was mindful enough to place a pouch in the car with a few coins in it.

A few months later it was exam time. I drove up to Sydney with about 1 1/2 hours to spare. I planned to go over my notes in the library. I made sure to deposit funds into my debit card. I got to the shopping centre and began looking for a spot. I kept looking. I kept looking. The displays indicated vacant spots on various floors, but I was one of many people driving aimlessly, looking for these phantom spots. I drove around the car-park for 45 minutes, with my anxiety gradually rising. I went out the front and back in again, checking the signs that said there were available spaces. After more panicked driving I gave up, and exited into the street with only 30 minutes until my exam.

I luckily found one spot at the roadside. Relived, I went to buy my ticket. Insufficient funds. My deposit had not cleared. This is the point my pre-Gorilla Mindset self would have had no choice but just park somewhere and face the consequences, but thankfully those coins in the car were just enough for my ticket, I made it to my exam with minutes to spare and pulled out a solid mark for the course.

Without Gorilla Mindset  I could have at worst, missed or failed my exam, or at best, had a huge parking fine to pay. Mike’s lessons in mindfulness and positive habit forming have had a tremendous effect on my in life, and academically.

I remember somewhere Mike saying he would be curious about putting Gorilla Mindset to the academic test. I have tested the effectiveness of Gorilla Mindset at the highest level of education. I am competing with kids 10 years younger than me, who have more free time to study and use nootropics. Through techniques like mental warm-ups, contrast showers and mental energy stimulation and conservation, this has been by far my strongest year at law school. My year end average mark was a full 10 marks higher and I owe it to Gorilla Mindset.

*

Gorilla Mindset is both  life affirming and life changing. What separates this book from other modern masculinity self-help books like David Deida’s The Way of the Superior Man or any of the books critiqued in Jack Donovan’s No Man’s Land is the pragmatism, for example the ‘worksheets’. Writing about ideas is a valuable, internalising experience, far superior to passive reading. I did every exercise as I read, except those that required solitude, which I did at the first opportunity.

I have also read much of the Danger and Play blog and listened tothe Mike Cernovich Podcast, and gradually the full program comes together, and life will only improve because of all these exercises and lessons.

I love the education I get from FreeDomain Radio. It was there I was introduced to Vox Day and Cernovich. Concepts such as framing and self-talk felt familiar, but never used them in a conscious, systemised way. Connections between the abundance/scarcity mindset and other esoteric theories, such as r/K selection theory are compelling.

It is always nice to encounter an approach to the gym and exercise from an intellectual perspective rather than bro culture. I enjoy the Youtube videos by Alan Thrall of Untamed Strength for the same reason. The approach to lifting and training is part of the process of self-actualisation. My approach to lifting is very stoic and meditative. I felt like I related to Mike’s approach to health and fitness lacking in most other intellectual and philosophical approach, using the physical to enhance the mental.

The social response to my utilisation of Mike’s techniques and exercises has been very positive. I have worked to become a better conversationalist by learning to be more present. I have greatly improved my ability to ration and maximise my social energy, which I learned is limited as a natural introvert. I also have the Gorilla  mindset, which allows me to stay mindful and in control of my emotions. This is vital when balancing work and study.

The benefits have been countless. I feel superior in my approach to studies. I feel better all the time, due to improved walking and posture, supplements to improve sleep, contrast showers and mental exercises. I train better at the gym after listening to Mike’s podcast with Markus Reinhart,  and I do it with a more positive game-plan, like like Kai Green, who Mike mentions.

I will read Mike’s book again, and again. I will continue to reinforce my Gorilla mindset, because I have already felt the benefits. When threatened with eviction, which was someone’s attempt to create a scarcity mindset and keep me weak by threatening my career and family. I knew I had enough to deal with the situation thanks to Gorilla Mindset. 

I’ve carried a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald for years:

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong. 

Literature is not the only medium for this feeling of connection and empathy anymore.

*

Coincidences are moments of synchronicity between the conscious and the unconscious,  the victim to all the doubts and sabotage of self doubt placed there by culture,  and the collective unconscious, unbound by time and identity, unimaginably wise and curious. I never saw the film, but that moment of coincidence let me know that I was on the path, and I plan to utilise Gorilla mindset techniques in my study and career.

*

The first night after starting Gorilla Mindset I was at the gym. I was listening to Above and Beyond, recommended at Danger and Play. Between sets, as my gaze drifted across the gym, I found myself staring straight into the eyes of an enraged gorilla. In sync with the music, the gorilla rose and then sprinted toward a man, who sprintied toward the gorilla. They leapt towards each other in slow motion…it was a trailer for The Legend of Tarzan. I never saw the movie, but it was a cool moment of sychronicity. 

Mike Cernovich on synchronicity:

The universe is giving off a vibration.
You may even be controlling your own reality.

Some would say that on any given day, nothing happens. When nothing happens, we don’t notice it. When something happens, we reason backwards, assigning more meaning to a coincidence than it deserves.

(I know all of the arguments in favor of “skepticism.” I also know that I manifest my reality daily in ways that I’d never make public, lest someone try locking me up.)

You can imagine that nothing you do matters. Everything is predetermined. There is no magic or beauty in the world.

Or you can imagine your own reality.

The Review:

Does Gorilla Mindset creatively achieve what the author intended it to creatively achieve? Yes, absolutely. This book as changed lives, it changed mine and will continue to do so.

5/5

Did Gorilla Mindset fulfil my expectations as a consumer? I had few expectations going in. I expected a motivational book similar to Deida’s The Way of the Superior Man. What I got was a streamlined, pragmatic and modern take on the concept. I had listened to a few podcasts and read a few articles, but this in no way prepared me for a book that would vastly exceed my expectations and make Mike Cernovich one of my biggest influences.

5/5

A life-changing 10/10