We all have games that for one reason or another end up being put in the backlog, usually with the intention that we’ll get back to it after we finish up whatever we’re currently focusing on. For me, I seem to come across games that I begin playing and seem to enjoy enough before…kinda…stopping. What then typically happens is enough time passes that I then decide I’ll just start fresh from the beginning, some games this process gets repeated several times…so I was extra happy to see through to the end a game I have spent years playing off and on – Doom 3; a game I’ve played off and on since its release in 2004. So, after 15 years I figured it was about damn time to see this one through.
After the successes of the first two Doom games, the result of which spawned ports and iterations of the original Doom on just about every operating system and console available (including the notorious Sega 32X and Game Boy Advance ports), iD Software in the early 2000’s their next entry in the Doom franchise would be a remake/reboot of the original first released in 1994. The game spent the next several years in development from announcement to release date. Doom 3 was released on August 3 2004 to critical acclaim and still remains an interesting, if not unusual entry to the franchise.
Doom 3 is a bit of a departure for the series in that the fast paced run-and-gun element of the first two games have been slowed down and takes a back seat to atmosphere and storytelling similar to the BioShock or F.E.A.R, which Doom 3 undoubtedly influenced. You still engage in intense gunfights with demons from the depths of Hell, however the gameplay is more survival horror and narrative than simply shoot everything in sight…though you STILL do plenty of that. The tone of the game is dark and brooding with reanimated zombie soldiers and an entire army of demons seemingly lurking around every corner. The lighting effects and shadows in the game are very impressive and I found myself stopping frequently to take in the terrifying ambience in Doom 3. The story is the same as the original Doom and takes place on the UAC Mars Base Research Facility where scientists have discovered several stone tablets at a nearby excavation site and in the process open a portal to Hell unleashing everyone to unimaginable horrors.
Throughout the game you encounter random survivors, soldier and scientist alike to further flesh out the story of the game. You play as a Space Marines recruit en route to the Mars Facility just as…<don’t say it!>…all Hell breaks loose (no more lame puns 🙂 ). Upon checking into the UAC base, you are given a PDA( REMEMBER those? lol) to keep track of email, as well as audio and video logs; this serves as a way to keep track of your current objective as well as provide further backstory in the events leading up to your arrival as you collect the PDAs dropped by others to listen to their audio logs and email which provide details relevant to your objectives such as locker codes or computer terminal locations.
The majority of the game takes place inside the UAC Facility with its multitude of corridors, labs, and computer terminals; this further adds to the feeling of claustrophobia keeping you on your toes as this game is DARK, not only in tone but in that you are unable to ACTUALLY see what you are supposed to be fighting. This is probably my biggest gripe about the game – even with the brightness settings turned up, it is very very hard to see. Another element that adds to this is the conscious decision by iD to make you unable to hold your flashlight AND gun at the same time, this being the most common gripe I heard as soon as someone would mention Doom 3. You continue making your way through Mars Base until you are sent directly to Hell via teleporter, this was my favorite and far too brief level in which fight the Guardian and retrieve the Soul Cube – an ancient weapon capable of destroying the army of Hell-spawn. You are then teleported back to Mars and venture back through the remainder of the research facility and proceed to find the excavation site where the Stone Tablets and Soul Cube were discovered. You continue to blast your way through hordes of demons before battling the Cyberdemon and saving the day. The Cyberdemon fight I admit was brief and felt rather anti-climactic due to the power of the Soul Cube annihilating anything in its path(and refilling your health at the same time). Side Note: In later “BFG Versions” of the game the famous “duct tape mod” was added, giving you the ability to see AND shoot.
Though Doom 3 is a reboot of the franchise, the game still contains many of the same monsters and demons from the previous games like the Cyberdemon, Hell Knight, and Pinky, though the design of the monsters were changed around a bit( Pinky’s metal cyborg legs!). It also would not be a Doom game with a complete arsenal of weapons at your disposal, with everything from trusty shotguns to chainsaws and plasma rifles to perhaps the best known weapon in any FPS game – the BFG 9000, which is powerful enough to blow a Hell Knight to bits with a single charged shot….hell yeah!! 😀
There’s a lot about Doom 3 that I really enjoyed: the atmosphere is frightfully beautiful, and the graphics have held up remarkably well for a fifteen year old game. The weapons and demons are also well designed and fitting of the venerable Doom series. The levels work well to give the player intense close-quarters combat within the dark corridors of the Mars Base. My only real dislikes about the game were the screen shake when you are hit by an enemy attack to the point where it gets a bit disorienting, along with just how dark the game is, even with the brightness setting cranked all the way up. I know that was a conscious decision to provoke apprehension about just what might be hiding in the darkness as you make your way around, so I don’t feel it’s hugely detrimental to the game. The fact you have to choose to be able to see or defend yourself by not being able to use the flashlight and weapon at the same time is still an annoyance. Nevertheless, the positive things I can say about this game far outweigh a few minor critiques. If there is any other Doom fans out there that haven’t given this a play through yet, I very highly recommend it.
Playing through Doom 3 along with seeing more from the upcoming Doom: Eternal game has made me want to go through and play more Doom games. I mentioned last weekend that I had found a good copy of Doom 64 that I intend to make my way through shortly…as soon as I can find a Controller Pak…the modern conveniences like built-in hard drives that we take for granted these days, right?
In the process of throwing this week’s post together, I came across a list of the FPS games that were released in 2004 like Doom 3…my god what a list of shooters released for console as well as PC: Doom 3, Painkiller, Far Cry, Killzone, Star Wars: Battlefront…and then there was also Half-Life 2 and Halo 2! Following up on this and writing a gaming year in review sounds kinda fun so I may do that in the near future. Has anyone besides me NOT played Doom 3? Does anyone else feel like if they don’t play a game for long enough without completing it that they need to start all over from the beginning?
Keep on playing…