Doom 3 The Latest of a Greatest
By Jim Bray
It all began with id Softwares Wolfenstein 3D, a violent little
game that took the usual video or computer game and made you the star.
It was called a first person shooter (among other things, Im sure!)
and I, for one, was hooked. Instead of controlling an onscreen person (or
thing), the monitor became your point of view and all you could see of
yourself was your outstretched hand and whatever bit of ordnance it happened
to be brandishing at any particular time.
Then came Doom, which upped the technological ante substantially, offering
much better graphics and game action and introduced a level of horror and
gore that I, at least, had never experienced before. It was gross and violent
and Im sure the social engineers found no redeeming value in it.
And of course it was a huge hit and I, for one, had a ball playing it.
A lot has changed in the gaming landscape since then. The technology has
marched onward steadily, upping the graphics, game play and fun quotients,
and so it was undoubtedly time for id Software (now distributed through
Activision) to revisit its old chestnut to bring it in line with the new
state of the art.
And have they ever pulled it off! Doom 3 is more than just a shoot em
up; as with most of the best games these days it also has a storyline (earlier
versions merely hinted at a plot, leaning heavily on action rather than
The result is the creepiest game Ive ever played (not that Im
an avid gamer, alas), a game with atmosphere so thick you can practically
cut through it with a chain saw. This game gets the adrenaline pumping
and the shivers creeping up and down your spine and even if youve
visited a place in the game before and know whats going to happen
you still tense up and jump out of your skin when it does.
Yep. Id call that a successful sequel!
The setting here is the Mars installation of Union Aerospace Corporation,
which is undoubtedly as evil a corporation as anything out of Hollywood
these days. At the beginning of the game, you (a space Marine) arrive there
to take up what youre told ominously upon arrival will be the worst
assignment ever. The place is a research lab where theyve apparently
been trying to find new sources of energy but fortunately for us,
since otherwise this would be a very short game! - in the process they
appear to have unleashed some horribly evil forces.
We dont really know that when we first arrive, of course. We just
expect it because, after all, this is Doom. But we do find out that people
have been disappearing, others have been hearing weird voices. Its
a dark and dangerous-looking setting that reminded me of the first two
Alien movies, which were pretty good places to find creepiness.
It takes a while to actually get into the action itself. You first have
to report for duty and then get your assignment and only after youre
on your way through the establishment do the beasties of Hell starting
rearing their ugly whatevers. Its a nice building of the tension;
rather than just throwing this stuff at you from the very beginning, you
start to learn the lay of the land and have a chance to marvel at the wondrous
graphics before all Hell breaks loose.
This gradual building of the tension really works, though of course if
youre just looking for the opportunity to blow things away you may
find it slows things down.
But as much as there is new in Doom 3, it still packs all the fun and
action of the classic Doom games that preceded it. Enemies are horrible
and liable to come at you any time, from around a corner or behind you,
or just after you figure youre free and clear at least for a few
seconds. Sometimes theyll leap upon you so quickly and surprisingly from
where you may least expect it - youll nearly wet yourself.
Well, I nearly did
Doom 3 is the best-looking game I have ever seen or played, thanks to
its stunning 3D graphics that generate lifelike, atmospheric, and detailed
environments. I found it to be too dark, however. I mean, its supposed
to be dark and moody, but there are areas you have to navigate that are
so dark you need to use your flashlight just to keep track of where youre
going. And when youre holding the flashlight you cant hold
And that can be fatal.
Apparently, theres a mod you can get that lets you duct tape the
flashlight to your weapon, but I havent seen it nor have I tried
it. Sounds like a plan, though!
Even when I did come across areas with a modicum of lighting, I had to
turn the gamma up on my system. Very dark.
Game play is very similar to the other Id shooters, though there are several
new wrinkles including a PDA-like device you carry with you; it isnt
particularly innovative overall (hey, how many times do these people who
rewrote the computer gaming rules - need to innovate?) but it is familiar
and that isnt a bad thing.
The game is really a haunted house-type thing in a sci-fi setting, and
theres definitely nothing wrong with that. You're basically on your
own on this Mars outpost, far from home, fighting in the dark for your
life against supernatural forces of evil.
And the game sets that scene brilliantly! As with the overall graphics
look, the special effects are spectacular, and they help move the game
along rather than merely being there to dazzle. The creepiness is everywhere
and in everything, and its darn scary!
And of course you get to collect an awesome arsenal of weapons to use
against the enemy. Your basic pistol is a semiautomatic and not much good
for more than picking off zombies. The shotgun is very satisfying to use,
the machinegun is also a treat, and if you want to mow down a horde of
marauding baddies the chaingun is well worth the price of admission. Theres
also a plasma gun, which has very good stopping power, and the rocket launcher
is nice if you want to make a real mess. Theres even a soulcube,
which saps the energy from your enemies and gives it to you, and that can
come in really handy let me tell you!
If you really want to make a mess, use the chainsaw.
Unfortunately, I dont have enough time to really get into games and so
it takes me forever to play a game far enough through to do a fair review.
It also means Im usually a sitting duck unless I use cheat codes, and
Im reluctant to do that because Id rather get offed a few times
and get a true feel for the game than proceed at breakneck pace through it
just so I can win.
So I still am nowhere near the end of Doom 3, but (thanks to quick saves
every few seconds) am making steady progress. With each new fight I learn
more and get more comfortable with the controls and the concept and sometimes
can even kill the baddies before they get me.
Still, this is an awesome game that builds on the fine Id games tradition.
Its gross and its ultra violent but isnt that what you
expect from a first person shooter such as this?
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think