We’ve never really known what fear is…until now!
Making its breakthrough in 1993, the Doom series is renowned as revolutionising the first-person shooter. Pitted against an army of demons from every corner of Hell, the gamer would rip, rend and tear through a unique dimension armed with the most inspired and unforgettable hardware in the field of ass-kickery (I’m sure you all remember the BFG!). And with such a strong reputation, I was thrilled to discover that the developers, Id Software, continued to break all boundaries as they entered the next generation with the third instalment.
Overall, Doom 3 is a true revelation in first person shooters.
Doom 3 is essentially a remake of the first game, but with a much greater emphasis on the storytelling. You play a marine, reporting for duty at the Union Aerospace Corporation’s Mars Research facility. However, moments after loading your gun, the base is overwhelmed by a demonic invasion. On your sergeant’s orders it is your mission to fight your way to the communications tower and call for reinforcements. But as you travel through the facility, uncovering more and more about its recent and disturbing experiments, your greatest decision will be who to trust as you wage a one-man war against the forces of Hell itself.
A familiar cast of nightmarish beasts from the original game haunt the facility’s corridors, from zombies and imps to the mighty Hell Knights. However, since their last appearance, each creature has undertaken a ghastly makeover, with the trademark green skin and pixelated horns being replaced by the charred flesh and twisted tendrils iconic of H. P. Lovecraft’s own creature catwalk. However, as well as the old, be prepared to meet some new abhorrations, including a range of hybrids that even the writers of Silent Hill would not dare to dream of.
Rather than having you open a door to a whole horde of beasties as in the original games, Doom 3 utilises a new method to challenge your nerve, relying on sound and lighting techniques to craft a tense atmosphere that squirms beneath your trembling skin. With only a dim flashlight to guide you through corridors filled with snarling shadows and the taunts of disembodied laughter, you will be wishing there was an ?Arms Flail? button to complete the image of your every cowardly retreat!
The effect is enhanced by the incredible fluidity of the gameplay. For the first time, your marine has the freedom to jump, crawl and aim, allowing you to explore every nook and cranny of the base. And with such stunning graphics, you find yourself engrossed in a truly realistic environment. It is when you duck your own head to the left as you sidestep a fireball that you realise this is so much more than a game.
Unfortunately, Doom 3 is unlikely to escape criticism.
Firstly, some may complain that it is too repetitive. It is not long before you begin to recognise the same corridors and, like its predecessors, the puzzles are rarely more challenging than finding a key for a locked door. However, the designers have attempted to make each level distinct from the last. For example, rather than always walking the corridors, you could find yourself forced navigate ventilation shafts, cross the surface of the planet, or even operate a monorail. In addition, towards the end of the game you find yourself exploring completely new territory; the levels in the Hell dimension being unlike anything I have ever seen, and a true testament to the creativity of the designers. Therefore, although the game’s concept may seem quite basic, it rarely loses your attention.
A more valid complaint would focus on the use of the flashlight. Despite being set in the 22nd Century, it seems that Earth’s military genius seems to have forgotten the efficiency of being able to attach a flashlight to a weapon or a piece of headgear. Instead, you are forced to feel the frustration as a creature leaps at you from the darkness but you must first swap your flashlight for another weapon before you can retaliate. The game’s developers have defended their decision to make the flashlight a separate item as the momentary helplessness is another technique to instil a sense of fear. However, this does not explain why the humble flashlight is actually one of the most powerful weapons in the game. For example, a zombie will easily brush off a bullet wound, but a smack from the flashlight blows it back with the force of a grenade. Perhaps this proves that the game is not without its flaws, but nonetheless, they are few and dimensions between.
Overall, Doom 3 is a true revelation in first person shooters. Combining creative creatures and environments with a similar fear effect inspired by the terrifying Silent Hill series, this game will taunt and tantalise as it captures your soul. If you are not a fan of horror, this may not be the right choice for you. But if you have been waiting for a game that can shake you to the core, I guarantee you will enjoy every minute.
The Bad: Could be seen as repetitive; Unusual logistics of the flashlight.