Dark sci fi action filled with shocking demons and disturbingly life-like graphics.
You are a highly trained marine, and upon arriving at the Union Aerospace Corporation’s Mars research base for duty, strange events begin to occur. It is soon revealed that something has gone wrong in the research facility, and monsters begin to invade the place. Most researchers end up dead and soon you find yourself standing alone against the demonic horde of hell. Can you stop the evil from spreading and find out what went wrong?
Doom 3 is an old-school first-person shooter in many ways. It isn’t very heavy on the story, and the action is intense and in-your-face. If you are familiar with the concept of a generic first-person shooter, then you know the drill. Doom 3 is about walking in corridors, rooms and numerous strange facilities looking for weapons, keys and health-packs whilst fighting zombies and demons of different types. It is said that Doom 3 actually is a remake of the first Doom game, and just by looking at the two you’d see that the while the story is somewhat similar, the levels are completely different.
Apart from the graphics, Doom 3 doesn’t really have anything that’s entirely new – for better or for worse. But the graphics are stunning and a feature not to underestimate. Since it portrays much of the same things that previous Doom games does, it adds some impressive visuals you never could have imagined just by playing the older games. Doom games have always been straightforward like this, so it’s actually nice to see that Doom 3 continues on the same line.
Doom 3 is, however much more of a horror experience than previous Doom games have been. The fear-factor is entirely based on shocking you with sudden sounds, events and monsters – and it happens constantly. The first time I played Doom 3 caused me to get a headache because my blood kept rushing to the head as a result of all these sudden shocks – is that a good or bad thing to have in a game? You decide.
The game has an impressive length to it and lots of levels for you to explore. There are 27 levels in all, and in the campaign you will be revisiting some of them as you backtrack and unlock new doors. This is kept at a minimum however. The game keeps throwing enemies at you, even spawning them behind your back most of the time until you eventually reach the final stages and beat the final boss.
The first item you get and learn to use in the game is the PDA, which stores some important information such as your current mission objectives, video- and audio logs you find, e-mails etc. Many of the puzzle elements in the game use clues that you collect from the information in the PDA. For example there is a locked storage cabinet, and the password for it can be found by reading through e-mails from the storage owner.
The monsters come in various shapes and types. The most common ones are the “imps” that are devilish bipedal creatures that constantly throw fireballs at you. There’s also zombie-marines who lurk in the darkest places and spray machine gun fire in your general direction. It will take a while for you to get used to the enemies and what their attacks are, but once you do the fighting really becomes a repetition of things you have done before. What breaks this up somewhat is when you start facing the various monsters in different combinations, and of course, in different types of situations.
Monsters will keep jumping at you from the dark, and the levels are very dark indeed. You have a flashlight that will help you in completely blacked-out areas, but you will also need the flashlight in other situations – it’s just that dark. Equipping the flashlight means that you can’t use any other weapon at the same time apart from using the flashlight as a club. This will cause much of the suspense, because you will need to be ready to draw a weapon the same second you see a monster or they will have the upper hand on you.
To battle all these demons from hell you will need more than just your general duty pistol (which actually sucks against most of the monsters you will encounter), so during your struggle to survive you will stumble upon some more capable weapons; a shotgun, a machine gun, a chaingun, plasma rifle, rocket launcher, hand grenades, the BFG and most importantly a chainsaw. You will be supplied with enough ammunition to go around most of the time but if you keep wasting it, you will run dry!
There are also situations where you will be forced to traverse the surface of Mars, between the different facilities. That’s where oxygen becomes an issue. The game really does everything to create a panicked atmosphere as your character starts breathing heavily, the dust clouds of Mars gets in your eyes, oxygen level keeps ticking down, monsters keep coming at you while you try to navigate in the labyrinthine environment. These are the moments that will cling on to you years after playing the game.
The biggest flaw of the whole experience is that the levels are very linear. There’s practically no exploration of alternate paths or such. There are some secret areas, sure, but nothing that will make you feel as if you are ever lost or need to make an effort to navigate yourself, which could have been a cool gameplay element.
The multiplayer mode is very basic and doesn’t even touch the same heights as Doom and Doom 2. In Doom 3 there is online play with four players at a time, and the multiplayer modes are “last man”, ”tourney”, “deathmatch” and “team deathmatch”. And there are only five maps to play on. Perhaps the most prominent feature of Doom 3 multiplayer is that you can shoot lamps to create dark areas that you can use to your advantage.
The lack of co-op mode was a huge disappointment, as it was done so well in the previous games. Thanks to community created mods you can still play Doom 3 in co-op, but it should have been in the box.
The graphics are, as stated above really well done. Usually, you could argue that graphics isn’t that important for a game, but Doom 3 is in many ways an exception to that. This is one of those times where the graphics really draw you into the game world. Most of the environments look believable, and the constant darkness is a fresh take on lighting design for a game. Everything is very contrasty – the pitch black darkness versus the radiating florescent lights and the gray sterile walls versus the ruby-red blood spatter. The bloodstains are a bit overdone but look awesome none the less. The level design is very detailed and overall extremely well done.
All the environments sound really haunting with a rich array of ambient sounds – computers, air ducts, door locks and humming noises – anything can and will scare you. The monster noises and screams are really well done too. Sadly, the weapons sound very lame and weak, with the possible exception of the standard pistol. Throughout the game you will hear demonic voices and whispers etc, and all those are very chilling indeed. Unlike previous Doom games, there is no background music. The title screen features heavy rock music by the band Tweaker, which is a nice touch.
If you like to be shocked by sudden sounds and monsters, and enjoy the simplicity of Doom games, then this game is for you. There’s a risk that you will grow bored of the game before you reach the end because once you reach a certain point, the game will repeat the same stuff over and over. The graphics are stunning but it does require your graphics card to be fairly up to date. There are lots of monsters to kill and the back-to-basics shooter concept is always entertaining. Doom 3 is certainly a worthy successor of the now legendary Doom 2.