Doom 3

September 22, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft]Doom 3, being one of the most anticipated PC games of all time, has a lot to live up to. After five years of development, Id has made one of the most gorgeous looking games I’ve ever seen. I can easily say that it has the best graphics out of any video game period. Id of course, has also decided to give the game a spooky atmosphere, and has thrown in a story as well.

In the graphics category, Doom 3 kicks ass. I’d like to start off with congratulating the animators at Id that worked on Doom 3, because the animation is unmatched. The movement of every creature in the game is damn near perfect. Some will crawl out from vents, some will jump at you from an opening door, and some will slowly walk towards you in the most sinister way possible. Everything has a realistic look to it that makes it genuinely scary as hell. The lip syncing is well done, and pretty convincing, as well as the darting eyes and stretching flesh on any creature. The lighting is what makes the game though. The whole visit to Mars City, you’ll encounter rooms with no lights, flickering lights, or red lighted smoke coming from the pits of Hell. The lighting is all real-time and you’ll find yourself staring at a shadow on the floor not quite sure if its owner is a zombie right around a corner or a zombie shaped box right around the corner. Eyes glow in the dark, mirrors reveal things lurking up behind you, sparks bounce along the floor, and railings bend under the weight of a hulking demon. The artists involved in designing the Mars complexes are very good at their work. The whole ‘City’ is depressing, without color, and consists of pipes, grates, vents, and huge machines that power it. There are the textures and bumpmapping, which aren’t new in the gaming industry, but are damn near perfected in this game. Everything lights up realistically with the flashlight, including the pale faces of zombies that want to rip your face off and use your blood as syrup for their zombie pancakes. One feature in the graphics section that I thought was really cool was the computer screens. When you walk near a screen that is usable, your gun lowers and your crosshair turns into mouse cursor, and you can interact with the screen. In the manual, it has little facts. One of these facts is that there are over 500,000 lines of script code written just for these little computer screens and over 25,000 image files generated for them too. That’s an example of the level of detail in this game.

[floatright][/floatright]The storyline in Doom 3 is quite simple. All Hell breaks loose. You are a marine in a high security complex on Mars. The complex does secret research in power and weapons, but there is one division that works on something entirely different. The calm before the storm is played out beautifully. You walk into this god forsaken complex and go find your station to suit up ala Half-life. Then you go on your mission to find someone and babam! All hell breaks loose. Any explanation as to why or how it happens I won’t say but its hella cool. There is also a great build up to this point. I found myself jumping like the wussy little Canadian I am at a sound in some garage before anything bad had even happened. You use a PDA to listen to audio logs from workers in the complex and you hear about strange things happening and whispers people hear. Eventually you’re just waiting for a zombie to pop out and eat your brains.

The gameplay in Doom 3 is a cross between a shooter and a survival horror game. You’ll be scared witless just moving from room to room. Let me warn you; this game is scary, it’s dark, it’s twisted. You’ll find decapitated bodies on the ground, armless, legless and headless corpses in bathrooms, and living organisms growing on the wall. Things jump out of nowhere, and bodies swing down from the ceiling. I even found myself shooting corpses in the head, like in Night of the Living Dead, just to make sure they didn’t get back up. Part of what makes it so scary is the flashlight. Those clever bastards at Id decided that you couldn’t fire a gun and use the flashlight at the same time, so you find yourself scanning an area with your flashlight, finding a zombie, then turning it out to shoot damn near blindly in the dark. Some people may have a problem with this, but I have no idea why, because it’s an essential part of the gameplay and it really helps make it as scary as it is.

The actual shooting and gameplay is quite fun, though simple. Technically all you’re doing is running from room to room, shooting things, but it’s done in such a scary and immersive way that you don’t often care. What sets it away from other shooters is that you aren’t fighting hordes of enemies. More often than not you’re fighting one or two at one time, right after they lunge at you from some dark corner of course. The weapons are pretty simple, except for the soul cube, which is a cube, but not any ordinary cube. This cube charges up with five kills by the player and unleashes an attack that instantly kills any demon.

[floatleft][/floatleft]The simple gameplay doesn’t really get dull, because you’ll start getting real pumped up from the action and find yourself saying things like “Don’t lose your head” after decapitating a zombie. Then you will encounter a well lit and empty room and have the lights turn out and have flaming skulls fly at you, or you’ll have to run across a Mars landscape before your oxygen runs out. You may even have to follow a little sentry robot that helps defend you with a mounted machine gun. The A.I. is good on the marine zombies as they take cover and shoot from behind crates etc. On the other hand, the demons are very simple minded and just tend to charge at you. This isn’t exactly a problem as that’s what makes most of the game scary as hell.

The multiplayer is pretty weak in Doom 3 as it’s just simple deathmatch originally made for 1-4 players. People have figured out how to make it work for games with up to 16 players. Given the following of the Doom series, there are sure to be mods for it come out in the near future (Hopefully a co-op mode, because that would kick ass), but right now Doom 3 is pretty much a single player shooter for now. (And a helluva crazy kick ass one too)

So all in all, Doom 3 is a graphical monster with its insane realism and style. On the storyline side, it’s not original, but it’s totally awesome and very well done. The gameplay in Doom 3 is extremely fun and extremely piss-your-pants scary. Yes, Doom 3 was sure as hell worth the wait and the only real negatives I can think up are that it’s very demanding on your system and that has a weak multiplayer. So go get your copy of Doom 3 and prepare to get the shit scared outta you.

[i]Screenshots may have been brightened significantly from their original version because they were far too dark to see any detail.[/i]