Review: Doom 3 (PC)

Doom 3
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: Windows PC
ESRB Rating: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence)
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 8/3/04
Official Home Page:

Minimum Reqirements:
Pentium 4 1.5GHz (or equivalent)
GeForce 3 w/ 64MB RAM or Radeon 8500 w/ 64MB RAM
2GB Free Hard Drive Space

Recommended Machine Specs:
Pentium 4 2GHz
Geforce FX 5900 or Radeon 9800
5 channel sound card and speakers

Test Machine:
Pentium 4 2.4GHz
Nvidia Geforce FX5950 Ultra 256MB RAM

I’m sure everyone who plays PC games has heard of id. If you haven’t, I’ll give you a short history. Basically, they started out making Shareware games in Garland, Texas, and grew in popularity because of Commander Keen. But the title that started it all is Wolfenstein 3D, arguably the first First-Person-Shooter.

After that, the stuck with the genre that they made famous by making Doom, Doom II, Quake, Quake 2, and Quake 3 Arena. In that time, they have become known more for making engines (courtesy John Carmack) than full blown games. The games end up becoming a sales pitch for the engine, which is licensed to other companies to produce games out of. But apparently, that wasn’t satisfying enough. They wanted to make something new, but loosely based off an old franchise.

Enter one of the most anticipated games of the year. Enter Doom III.

First person shooters typically aren’t known for their stories, but some of the most successful ones also have the best story. Case in point: Half Life. This game DOES have a story.

You are Marine. Is that your name? I don’t know, that’s what everybody calls you. Anyway, you PLAY a marine for the UAC, or United Aerospace Corp, which has set up a facility on Mars that develops new technologies. You’re a new arrival to the station, and find out that there have been odd happenings going on in the deeper recesses of the base, including mysterious disappearances and people going insane.

Not long after you arrive, you are given your first task: to find a scientist and bring him back. When you do find him, all Hell breaks loose. Literally. Demons appear, what were humans are now evil zombies determined to eat your soul, or something like that. Your job is to get the hell out by any means possible. Thus begins your downward spiral.

I’ll give them credit. Compared to their previous games, this one has more story by far than any others. You get a decent amount of back story as well. They did a good job of fleshing out this base on Mars, and you could see it as a real place. Despite that, the story isn’t totally original, and is pretty much just a modified version of the original Doom story.
Rating: 5.0

This is really the category everybody wants to see. This is the big thing that the game is supposed to tout. And I’ll probably piss people off by doing this. I’m reviewing the game, not the engine, and while the engine is capable of doing some great things, it has to be used effectively.

Personally, id did not use the engine’s full potential with this game. The graphics are still good, but there are some glaring issues I have. As someone who has done 3D modeling in the past, seeing some of the models frightens me. The toilets are all ugly and could have been done much better. Likewise any candles. The modeling overall is just poor.

They did a decent job with most of the faces, but in every person other than the main characters, they all look the same. There is just little variety. In addition, all the characters, even the lone female, looked very blocky. It looks like they took a rectangle, cut out arms and legs, and gave it a texture. That is one good area: textures. They are all spectacular.

The enemies look cool I suppose, but for the most part, their designs are uninspired. There are a few that look really cool, like bosses, but some of the average enemies look anywhere from boring to goofy (the skeleton with the rocket launcher).

Overall, they didn’t do a bad job, but they simply didn’t work too much on it. They could have made the graphics insanely awesome with no flaws, but instead some things just look thrown together. I guess they’ll leave it up to other companies to do the rest.
Rating: 7.0

I really don’t know how to feel about this aspect of the game. There is one theme song, and the rest is just ambient noise and screams and gun fire. The theme is good, though it sounds a bit to much like Tool for my liking. See, it’s actually by Chris Vrenna, formerly of Nine Inch Nails, and I’m a big fan of both Vrenna and NIN. Either way, the theme sounds very much unlike what he normally does, and sounds more generic than anything.

Chris also played a part in the ambient sounds, and those for the most part are good. There isn’t a whole lot there, and no music during the game, so it just helps set the mood.

The majority of the sound comes from sound effects, primarily your gunshots. Those all sound great. No complaints there. I don’t like the enemy sounds though. I don’t know what they were trying to go for, but they don’t really sound evil to me. They sound almost silly, if anything. Maybe I’m smoking too much crack. And the voice acting is ok. Not special, but not awful.
Rating: 6.0

Control on a PC game. How hard can it be? I’ve always been fond of the WASD keys for movement, and using the mouse to aim and fire. Bonus points to id for including the ability to jump, but not making you have to do all these stupid jumping things like it was some platformer or something. Switching weapons is a snap. I mean it plays like a standard first person shooter. So I only have one gripe, and it’s a BIG one.

Ok, the game is set in the year 2145. Since you’re inside a massive complex on Mars, it is usually dark. So they were nice and gave you a flashlight. BUT, you can’t shoot and hold the flashlight at the same time. If you’re holding the flashlight and see the enemy, you switch to your weapon, plunging the area you were pointing the flashlight at in total darkness, shooting blindly and hoping you hit your enemy. I mean, it’s in the future, so you’d think you could have night vision or at least a flashlight you could attach to your gun or armor or SOMETHING. Some stages it’s not bad, but some are both frustrating and annoying because you can’t hit anything without either getting to point blank range or draw them into a lighted area. I think this is a huge design flaw, and makes the game much less fun.

So note to other game companies. You want to know how to f*ck up a control scheme as simple as this? THAT’S how.
Rating: 4.0

Ok, I’m going to get flamed for this, but I don’t care. Ok, you’ve won the game. What is stopping you from uninstalling it to free up hard drive space. Well, nothing. Really, nothing.

“BUT, BUT…” you complain. “There’s multiplayer!” HAH! Multiplayer. Why did they even bother to include it? It was clearly an afterthought. They only included it because people would have complained if it wasn’t there. So they threw in what THEY call multiplayer just because they knew it would shut the fanbois up.

Here is Doom III multiplayer. See, you can only have a max of 4 players. That’s right, 4 players. And the multiplayer maps are just cobbled together from singleplayer maps. That’s it. They didn’t do any original multiplayer maps that I could see. Ok, so your 4 players are in the map, but you can’t find each other. The maps are too f*cking big. Me and another person played a map and we went a full 10 minute round without seeing either other, and neither of us were camping. The next match, we set up a place to f*cking MEET in the level so we could shoot at each other. How sad is that?

Ok, before people get pissed at me, I will say that there are hacks to give different multiplayer game types, and there is one to get the player count up to 32. But I’m not going to hack my game to give it something that should have been in there from the beginning. And why didn’t they include that many players to begin with? Simply put, they hacked multiplayer in themselves. They never intended it to have 32 players. I wouldn’t even want to try one of those games because I imagine it would be laggy as hell. Either way, I’m basing these observations on what comes in the game box. Like if I did a review of the original Half Life, it would have gotten a poor score as well, because multiplayer in that game was not fully realized until Counter Strike.
Rating: 1.0

It’s hard to rate this, because the difficulty of the game isn’t quite what it should be. See, the difficulty depends on a few matters. Firstly, was it a surprise attack, or could you see the enemy walk/teleport in? See, many times when you open a door, an enemy will be crouched on the other site and leap to attack you before you have a chance to hit it. Another thing that makes the game more difficult is darkness. If you’re in a dark room and enemies come out of hiding, it’s pretty tough to kill them all without taking damage yourself, especially since you’re only going on muzzle flashes. I’ll give them credit though, because the game does follow the typical curve of difficulty, it’s just sometimes it’s more difficult than it should be.
Rating: 6.0

Well, it’s a first person shooter. And it involves the denizens of Hell. Where have we heard that before?

Seriously, there are a lot of elements in this game that seem ripped straight out of other games. Like the train ride in Half Life. The arrival in Half Life. The visions in the Suffering. There are others, but they aren’t coming to me right now. Basically, it’s as if they took Doom, Doom 2, Half Life, and the Suffering, and crammed them all together. That’s about how it turned out. The only unique thing is that you carry around a PDA, and can use it to get emails and videos and such. It was a neat idea, but ultimately it just became a key to getting into doors.
Rating: 3.0

This game is very repetitive. It’s almost all in small corridors, most of which are fairly dark. Dark and tight. The gameplay is thus: search for a PDA to download security access, open door, kill enemy who pops up behind or in front of you, search for the next PDA, kill 50 monsters who pop in on top of your ass. The level design could have used a little work. There are some levels that are very cool. I don’t want to spoil it, so I will leave it at this: they are near the end of the game. So that being said, those levels were the ones that I couldn’t put down. The others I wanted to rush through as quickly as possible because I was tired of the kill, PDA, kill, PDA cycle.
Rating: 4.0

Appeal Factor
As far as appeal goes, this is probably one of the few games that most PC gamers want to play at least once. Console gamers could care less, but this is the cream of the crop (or so people expect) for PC games. It’ll also appeal to the homicidal person who likes to see brains pop out EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY KILL SOMEONE. First person shooters are a very specialized genre, but it’s also one that is broad. Still, this is a game that a bunch of people want, but not everybody can get it because on top of the game itself, you may need a computer upgrade. I know I did.
Rating: 6.0

Ok, id is one of those companies that is, as Eric may put it, on the top of Mount Perpetually Over. They’re one of the few companies out there that can take as long as they want on a game and it’ll get done when it’s done. And because it has the name id on it, it will sell well. Doom 3 will be a huge success. That is a foregone conclusion. But it has also been hugely hyped. So this rating is for the hype machine. Personally, I don’t think it lives up to it. I’m not saying it promised something and then didn’t deliver, I’m just saying that everybody expected this game to be incredible, and it wasn’t. Speaking to co-workers, one of the biggest heaps of praise they gave it was that it was “scary”. Sorry, not scary. After the 2nd time of being surprised by an Imp behind a door, I came to expect it, then the only surprise was when there WASN’T an Imp behind the door. There were two places that I could see something being startling. One was when in a building with a glass ceiling, seeing an Imp climb over the glass and cast a shadow down could have been unnerving. The second time was seeing a seemingly dead Imp in a glass case start beating on the case suddenly. The rest of the time, I wasn’t even creeped out. Not even remotely close to being creeped out like I was during the Fatal Frame games. Those games are creepy.
Rating: 3.0

Ratings Summary

Story: 5.0
Graphics: 7.0
Sound: 6.0
Control: 4.0
Replayability: 1.0
Balance: 6.0
Originality: 3.0
Addictiveness: 4.0
Appeal Factor: 6.0
Miscellaneous: 3.0

Average: 4.5

Short Attention Span Summary
Doom 3 as a whole is not awful. It’s just not good. It does not deserve all the praise that it is given. If I were to review the capabilities of the engine, I likely would have rated the game higher. But this is the GAME. But it’s what we’ve come to expect from id. Will this game get companies to license the engine? Probably. The engine is good. And for what it’s worth, this is one of the best GAMES id has made. None of their other games have had an even remotely satisfying singleplayer experience, and to make the multiplayer interesting, you’d have to install mods. So I can say that single player is somewhat satisfying, and it is worth it to get this game because someone will make a good mod for it that will make it all worth it. But the game itself is not.



, ,