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SummaryA good reason to outsource creativity.
The GoodDoom 3 is basically a remake of the original with added spice. Id software took a classic game and tried to basically fit it in with modern shooters. What they did was add some good small time innovations. For e.g. You can walk into a usable screen or elevator and your crosshair turns into a mouse pointer where you can interact like u were using a computer. Other additions include taking the basic plot of the first game and expanding it by adding more depth to story not forgetting some key characters. A PDA which you use to check your missions and audio/video logs you pick up.
The story is quite simple. You're sent to Mars to work with the UAC, a very advance technological company which deals with weapons research to teleportation. On your first mission, things go bad and hell invades the base possessing most on-board.
The game's major selling point was it's hyped up graphics engine. Doom 3 would have been the best looking game that year (2004) but it was surprised by long time friend Half Life 2 and new comers Painkiller and Far Cry.
But when it came to lighting Doom 3 takes the crown here. Even other aspects like Character modeling and animation were done well. The animation of the monsters are well done from the creeping walk of the imps to the run cycle of the Pinky demon. The game heavily relies on it's dark lighting reflecting shadows all over the place, it creates and interesting approach to environment design.
As for the levels they're not close to being excellent but passable as good. There are some good details here and there especially when it comes to creating a dark and creepy environment. This can be seen in the Hell level and also in the levels at the latter half of the game. You tend to travel on the surface of Mars to reach the other facilities. You don't get to see much though since you need to run across before your oxygen runs out.
The BadThis is where the review really starts.
Doom 3 as a game overall is terrible. It faces a multiple personality disorder. They've taken run and gun and mixed it with something out of a Silent Hill game. I'm facing dozens of monsters and I'm not really in a mood to open up a PDA and listen to a freaking audio log for key-codes to open a cabinet for ammo.
My point is it's very hard to mix these 2 formulas together. Doom is not Deus Ex nor is it System Shock, it's Doom. It's about blowing up monsters and making it fun doing so.
The game first and foremost follows the new Id Software rule of making everything bulky and macho looking. The weapons look like toy guns and are a snooze-fest except for the chainsaw and Plasma gun. To top things off the sound effects of the guns are weak, so weak that they have mods to replace the sounds. As for balance? Well let's say you'll never find use for the pistol after an hour of playing.
Another ridiculous idea is your light source is a flashlight. Now Doom 3 is extremely dark most of the time. In fact you don't need to play the game to even know that, it's like the symbolic figure of Doom 3.
Now the problem with the flashlight is not because you need to put down your weapon or that you can use your left hand to hold it up. It's just that it does not make any sense at all with the plot. You're in one of the most advanced facilities in the world. They manufacture teleports and advanced laser weaponry and they can't even make a gun with a attached flashlight on it? Did I mention the UAC have set up a facility on Mars where humans can reside that's to produced oxygen etc?
You can even use the Flashlight as a weapon, yeah bonk a monster on the head with it. But as a trained marine I would be embarrassed to do something like that even with half the base dead and not watching.
Getting away from that, you collect PDAs which contain peoples emails and audio logs. You need to listen to them to get a grip on whats going on as well as cabinet key-codes which normally contain health and ammo. You'll need to stay in one place to listen to these as the next room will spawn a dozen monsters and you'd be distracted.
It also lets you know you're objective which in the early half of the game was find bravo team. And when you reach them they're dead. From there it's get from point A to point B. It may say “Activate backup power supply” But if you're smart enough you'll know it translates to get from point A to B and hit a switch over there.
The main aspect, that is the action is terribly dull and boring, leave out a few moments. You're faced with a lot of monsters in a very cramped up environment. After finish them off you hear that sound “Ashawashabasha” and boom more of them spawns. There is a huge array of monsters but 80% of the game is you fighting Imps.
Speaking of which most of the monsters lack the scary attributes they did as 2d sprites in the first 2 games. Imps look and sound like aliens instead of demons. The only good revamps are the Pinky demon and Hell Knights. In fact these 2 were the only monsters which made me use the backpedal key, coz they actually were intimidating. Some in fact remain quite true to their original appearances. These being Revenant, Mancubus and my Doom 2 favorite “The Archville”. Sadly i can't believe the 2d sprite had more personality than this incarnation in Doom 3. I remember the Archville had a creepy as f**k sound when he spotted you. And when he's searching for you he gave out this sinister soft laughter only to have one of the most epic attack animations ever. All this is as usual not present here, he walks slowly summons Imps instead of raising the dead and shoots a small firewall. There are some new creatures like Cherubs, Trites and Ticks. None really interesting. Boss fights were terribly boring except for Vagary which had some interesting way of attacking you. This idea was probably suggested by someone not in the development team like the Game tester as Id Software don't have creative brains anymore. Look at the last boss, the ever famous Cyberdemon. I almost fell of my chair laughing at him. What happened to that Baptomet like massive creature which had a torn, morbid stomach? This guy is just huge and has some strange hunch like walk with some backpack kinda thing on him. Seriously Id what were you guys thinking?
There's also some “plot” in the story which involves a weapon created by the ancestors of Mars known as the SoulCube. This special weapon is a terrible addition here, you kill 5 monsters and you can fire it to drain the health from a monster and give it to you. Berserk power up makes it's way back and it's honestly represented quite well.
Finally the main reason for failure is that even as a horror game Doom 3 has absolutely no scare value leaving out the first 15 minutes of the game which is actually interesting. Throughout the game you're face with mainly cheap scares. Pick up gun and a monster jumps out, pick up ammo same thing. You then tend to wonder if it's really worth picking up anything in the game. To make things worst, the sound effects are abysmal, the scary sounds end up cheesy. Good example is that laughter which is supposed to be sinister but ends up sounding like someone coughing with his mouth closed into a mic. Room turns red in color some weird screaming sounds or laughter and once everything goes back to normal some idiotic Imps spawn. Trust me you get tired of these things. Getting to the point, sound is an important aspect of Horror games. Also Doom 3 lacks those depressive and energetic action tunes which were present in Doom and Doom 2, no music here just ambient sounds. This was obviously done because of the modernization of the game.
The game tries to act cute by throwing in 1 or 2 puzzles....and I'll just leave it till there.
The Bottom LineSo what to make of Doom 3, A game I've been anticipating for years? Well it takes 2 formulas that need a lot of good planning in order to work well together and butcher both of them quite well. This can come off as either a fancy tech demo or a really bad attempt at action horror. The game doesn't keep things interesting, boring shooting mechanics, overdone spawning of enemies and trying to fit the whole adventure style game-play of reading and listening to logs which really didn't work well with the games overdose of action. It's really boring to stay still in one room until the freaking audio stops playing. Doom 3 also has some good innovative features like using screens and consoles real-time, clever use of lighting. The lighting makes you forget that they've used low resolution textures almost everywhere. Not to forget the fluid and quite authentic looking character animations.
But the problem is the game is nothing more than a run and gun trying too hard to look like a deep shooter. I wasn't play Doom the game about destroying the army of hell in the isolated Mars base, I felt i was playing Doom: The not so scary alien shooter with NPC. Id software stick to engines, let other people handle creativity.