Doom 3 (PC)

Doom 3
Developer: ID
Publisher: Activision
Genre: First Person Shooter

Ah Doom. A classic instantly recognizable name if ever there was one. The first one is one of the most famous and ground breaking games of all time. Hell, it’s still used in commercials by the PTC and other censorship groups defaming video game violence along with MK1 and Night Trap. The engine has been used countless times to make games from an X-Men killing spree game to a Captain Crunch Vs. the Soggies giveaway. It’s a franchise that with name recognition alone stand up there with titles like Sonic, Mario, Street Fighter, and Double Dragon in regards to games even non gamers recognize.

It’s the best known FPS game of all time. It’s proof that American gaming companies can still make games as familiar and widely purchased as back in the early 1980’s with titles like The Bard’s Tale and SSI D&D games. Doom, since its creation back in 1993 helped to put ID on the map, make yet another person with the last name of Romero famous in regards to undead thing, and taught us that even the hordes of hell itself could be vanquished by one guy with a shitload of ammunition.

Then came Doom 2 and Final Doom. And you know what? Both were okay, but came nowhere near living up to the hype and praise the original got. As I am normally not a PC gamer in the slightest, I shied away from those after seeing them, shrugging and going back to games like Shining Force 3 or Revelations: Persona. Doom I tried, thought was okay but preferred First Person Real Time RPG’s like Eye of the Beholder to it, but I did pick it up for the Sega 32X.

Shut up.

And then came the hype for Doom 3. It would boast the most powerful graphics ever. It would have the most impressive visuals ever. It would scare the hell out of you. It would take Doom and surpass even the original title’s legacy. It was to be the game to own in 2004.

And then there were the naysayers. The ones who said “How come no one talks about the gameplay?” Or people like Tycho and Gabe over at Penny Arcade who made fun of the screen shots for the game when it was still in development. Although the majority of gamers were salivating for Activision to ship this mother out, there was a sizable minority raising an eyebrow in skepticism.

Guess which side I was on.

However, after my review of Dead Man’s Hand by Atari, I surprised everyone by enjoying a FPS for the first time ever. So when the first two reviews here at InsidePulse played the game and furrowed their brow in disgust, Chris Pankonin sent me the game a few weeks after he got it because he was busy with the crystal meth instead, and I was asked to review it in hopes of giving Doom 3 a good score and pleasing our corporate overlords at Activision who cried like babies with messy diapers when we gave MTX Motortrax a poor score.

So am I going to make them take their ball and go home to people that can be bought off with freebies by trouncing the game verbally? Or will Doom 3 capture lightning in a bottle and be the second ever FPS I enjoyed in my life?

Let’s Review?

1. Story

Well it’s a remake of Doom 1. Yes. It is. Accept it. You’re a nameless generic space marine that is in no way related to anything from Warhammer 40K and thus Games Workshop can not sue them.

I wish I could tell you there was any sort of substance at all. But there’s not. You want to know how much plot ID put into this game? A paragraph in the manual and that is it.

You are a marine, one of Earth’s toughest, hardened in combat and trained for action. Shortly after reporting for duty at the Union Aerospace Corporation’s Mars research facility, a massive demonic invasion overwhelms the base, leaving chaos, horror and uncertainty in its wake. As one of only a few survivors, you must use overwhelming firepower and all of your combat skill to battle through the demon hordes, find out what went wrong and prevent the evil from spreading. Only you stand between Hell and Earth.

That’s it! There’s no real plot. It’s a guy with a gun blowing up demons like a second rate Bruce Campbell is a digitized Evil Dead game. Except there were two Evil Dead games. And they both sucked ass.

There’s no real movement or plot at all. It’s the epitome of the main reason I hate FPS games. You have mindless repetitive shooting geared towards the lowest common denominator of gamers with no real substance to a story at all.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. Doom 3 does have cut scenes. There’s audio logs and user mail and some pieces of plot. But in terms of story, this is one of the shallowest games I have ever played. It’s even to the point of ludicrous with cybernetic demons and demons with tanks and demonic skeleton with rocket launchers fused to their shoulders and…ARRRGH! Why would a creature from Hell need man-made weaponry? It’s just silly. Why a f*cking flash light that you have to carry? Helmet mounted light, or even a gun mounted one? Nothing makes sense when you even remotely try to think about this game.

Yes, Doom 3 is not a game you play for any semblance of anything making sense or fitting together continuity wise. It’s a game for mindless time wasting. You will gain nothing from it. You will not sit at school or work the next day describing the amazing plot twists or gripping storyline. You will talk about blowing shit up. Nothing more.

Plot Rating: 3/10

2. Graphics

Okay. Now for some nice commentary.

WOW! Amazing! Beautiful! Vivid! Brilliant!

How’s that for adjectives, eh?

Seriously, Doom 3 has lived up to the hype around the graphics. Sure it practically takes NORAD to run the game without slowdown or stalling, but it’s beautiful to behold. The monsters are grotesque (and yes, some are cheesy-funny-bad), but even if you loathe FPS games, you have to try Doom 3 just to see the innovative graphics and amazing work that went into this aspect of the game.

Do like the game tells you. Play this in the dark with the sound cranked up. It’s not scary. Not at all. But my god, does the art set a somber mood.

There is so much precision to detail here, I wish there was some in my vocabulary that I could use and say to convey to you how incredible it is to watch the game in action graphically. But all I can say is: Find someone that has this game and play it. Even for 15 minutes. Play it and be impressed by what you see.

Graphics Rating: 10/10

3. Sound

It’s about what you would expect. All the ten or so different weapons sound distinctly different from each other. Fire snaps and crackles and pops like it was Rice Cris…er, like it was real. Things sound like they are suffering when they are, well, suffering.

There’s nothing fantastic about the sound effects or noises or music in Doom 3. But what you get captures the mood and essence of the game perfectly and fits the game just right. It is adaptable to mono, stereo and surround sound gaming. The game is set up to take whatever audio system you have for your computer and squeeze every last bit of potential out of it. Good for it.

You want to talk atmosphere, the sound in Doom 3 is chock full of it.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control

I’m a Console gamer. I hate the concept of a keyboard as a makeshift joystick. But on the other hand, I type at 85 words per minute so I suppose that comes in handy with my hand-eye key co-ordination.

But man, yeah. I really hate the layout of the controls. Especially how the keyboard reference wants you to have a three button mouse. Or that the WASD and arrows keys are all needed for moving? What is this: An attempt to copy the clunky Resident Evil and original Alone in the Dark controller onto a keyboard? The fact approximately FIFTY keys are used here makes my eyes glaze over and stop caring. It’s alien to me. Part of why I liked Dead Man’s hand so well is it was so seamless with the X-Box controller. It felt so nice. Here, I was constantly looking down at the reference guide just in case there was a key I was forgetting.

I’m sure it’s laid out very well. That the controls are intuitive to people used to this format and genre. But they aren’t me, and they aren’t reviewing the game! Still, each button has a purpose and when you get used to all the keystrokes instead of a few button and a D or analog pad, the game does go smoothly.

The gameplay aspects of this game are hit and miss as well. Even with a top of the line computer, you still may experience some lag or slowdown. My PC here at home has 1 gig of ram. A GIG. I have a brand new video card. A Pentium 4. I’ve got everything at least a notch or two better than the system requirements. And it still stalled 2 or three times. I still saw lag and slowdown. And guess what? Again, this is why I stick to consoles and portable systems instead of PC games. Not worth the annoyance of frustration. And thank god for quick save, because after your first (and hopefully only) Stall, you will be hitting it constantly from paranoia.

Yeah, Doom has an obviously good engine underneath all the crap, but it’s just not utilized to its maximum potential. It feels rushed to get the game out and show off the graphical capabilities and to get other companies and fans to start doing something with the engine. At best the game is an average play experience enhanced by the sound and visuals. At worst, it’s an annoying “which button does what now?” hunt and peck experience.

Control Rating: 5/10

5. Replayability

Well, you probably won’t ever want to play through the game after you beat it the first time. There’s no point. It’s no repetitive and monotonous, you only do it again if you are a total fan boy. Multiplayer mode is worthless with a 4 player maximum. For a console game? Sure, why not? But even that is passe with concepts like Xbox LAN parties. It’s like they tacked it on as an afterthought.

If you could rent a PC game, I would say do that. It’s 10-20 hours of your life and then the game will just sit there unless you have friends to lend it to. There’s a bunch of cheats and nifty tricks, but it doesn’t make the game any more replayable.

Doom 3 is a one trick pony in being amazing beautiful but holds little value in any other way. It’s like a First Persona Final Fantasy in terms of all glitz and no guts.

Replayability Rating: 3/10

6. Balance

Doom 3 is not a particularly challenging game. Not at all. When you unlock nightmare mode after beating the game, then it’s a bit of a different story, but the main mode is pretty easy. In fact, the hardest time you’ll have is the fact enemies materialize out of nowhere without any notice. I find this to be exceptionally stupid and silly. Zombies can teleport, but don’t do so when a chainsaw is coming at them? What the heck? NOTHING annoys me more than random battles in RPG’s, and for Doom 3 to take that aspect and put it into an FPS is absurd. It doesn’t add to the fear actor. It adds to the annoyance factor. Especially when you start up the game after a save and everything is dead and then, BAM! Monsters galore.

Again, Doom 3 has the underpinnings of a great engine. It just fell short with some of the silly things ID did with the game.

Doom 3 manages to be easy and annoying all at once. That’s never a good side for a game trying to be a GOTY contender. Even Nightmare mode is inane with the fact your health is constantly lowering as you play. Only super zealots or masochists will find that fun.

Really, that’s my issue with Doom 3. It’s not fun. Not to me. It’s only entertaining if you like mindless hack N slash where you can literally go brain dead while killing things. There’s no skill to beating this game. There’s no AI to the monsters. It’s just lowest common denominator killing. Tappa tappa tappa until you beat the game or die.

Balance Rating: 4/10

7. Originality

Sorry. It’s a remake of the original Doom. Sure the original Doom set the standards for all FPS games after its release, but a remake is a remake is a remake. This is still a highly linear game with out any real innovation aside from graphics. But hey, those graphics are amazing. But you know what? Final Fantasy 7 was the same way. A game that was BRILLIANT and way ahead of its time graphically, but everything else was pretty much rehashed bits and pieces from previous FF games. Only the graphics made it stand out. But BOY did it stand out because of that. And sold insanely well. The same too will happen with DOOM 3.

Yeah, everything from multiplayer mode to the level designs in Doom 3 is something that would have been trend setting a decade ago. Now it’s just like a middle aged broad with massive plastic surgery. Looks good on the outside, but man is it the same old, same old on the inside.

Originality Rating: 3/10

8. Addictiveness

Doom 3 was amazing to look at, and less fun to play. I had more fun watching other people play the game than actually doing so myself. I’d play it for a bit, and find myself bored rather quickly. It was too damn linear. And this is a day an age with games like Morrowind that are so open ended, this seems kinda sad. And hell, even with other FPS, there are so many other games that give you more options, larger levels, or a better multiplayer experience. Doom 3 met the hype of the graphics and proved the people naysayers wrong there, but it also proved the skeptics right where they had a tingling spider sense about the fact ONLY the graphics were being talked about. Doom 3 just feels like a rush job to show off the graphics and engines in a bare boned format. And it leaves me apathetic to the playing of it.

It’s not a bad game. It’s fun for a while, and every time you see a new monster for the first time you coo at the how pretty ugly can be. You get into the sound and occasionally have moments where making monsters go splat for the sake of psychotic mindless killing is fun and giggle-inducing. But that’s it. Doom 3 is not gripping. It is not spellbinding. It is not mesmerizing. It is a game that happens to be gorgeous. You can take it or leave it otherwise and if the graphics weren’t there, this would probably be a bargain bin game.

Addictiveness: 5/10

9. Appeal Factor

Americans and Europeans love the FPS games. Doom is a household name. This game been hyped in the media and by every site on the planet since day 1. People are going to buy it (and have) in droves. And the purchasing frenzy won’t die down for a while. This game is going to be something everyone can find something to enjoy in it. Mostly the graphics. Some people will just like shooting things. Everyone knows about the game. And nearly everyone will play or at least see someone play this game in the near future.

This game has a very high appeal factor, although that appeal is one of a limited duration. It will sell, but with little replay value or substance, there will be a large backlash, something we are already starting to see the undercurrent of. Still for now, Doom 3 is getting its 15 minutes in the sun. And people are going to crow about it. Except for other video game web sites that will call the game mediocre but then dress it up with an 8.5 rating thinking that’s all Activision and ID and even their readers will look at, continuing a game of politics so they can get freebies in exchange for not being completely honest with who really counters: the readers with a limited budget counting on gaming sites and magazine to not be biased or inflating scores left and right because they was to know what best to spend their entertainment dollar on.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Appeal Rating: 7/10

10. Miscellaneous

Okay. I love all the hidden things they put in the game. The demon email? Hilarious? The Billy Goat Burger? WONDERFUL. This is where the game showed so much promise before ending up just another forgettable game. So many in jokes and codes and tricks. It would take the entire length of this review all over again just to list them all. They even put the Nigerian spam mail scam in the game. Cracked me up. If even a fraction of the energy went into the plot or level design that they had in the injokes and hidden nifty things to find, Doom 3 really would have lived up to the hype it ID and Activision tried to make for itself. There are so many things to tinker with and find, it totally overshadows the actual game.

Funny, isn’t it? Funny like how the two big PC and FPS games at InsidePulse.com wanted to review the game SOOOO badly, and gave it a lower rating than me, the guy who HATES almost every FPS under the sun as well as despises playing PC games. But then I’m also the guy who is anal enough to explore everything one can find in a game.

All the cheats and tricks really do crank this column through the roof. Nice job ID.

Miscellaneous Rating: 10/10

Short Attention Span Summary
Doom 3 reminds me a lot of the type of women I tend to date. Insanely hot. So beautiful you’re amazed it’s real. People that see them for the first time wish they had something even a fraction as beautiful. But woe to thee, for underneath the attractive frame lies madness. Crazy gibbering Lovecraftian madness which makes you wonder how something so pretty can be so up-fucked where it truly counts. After you really truly get to know it, you realize they may still be nice to look at, but the inner works are nowhere near anything you want to associate with on a permanent basis. Bottom Line: Treat Doom 3 like you would one of these women. You fuck it hard and fast and then you dump it immediately afterwards as the fun will run out very, very quickly. But at least then you have the photos or movies to prove that hottie was yours in order to make everyone else jealous. It’s good for a one time use, and then off to the rubbish bin.