Silence fills the room. You are on your own, one man against untold forces of twisted alien foes. A team has already been sent out to try and assess the scene and to try and contain the horrors that lie inside but to no avail. As you weave your way through the compound, picking up people’s PDA disks, accessing their data and realising that what you are facing is, at the very least, insurmountable odds, it begins to dawn on you. Glancing at your shotgun you see you have four shells. The pistol has rendered itself useless against your enemies, your machine gun eats ammo like there’s no tomorrow, and you only have one clip. Welcome to Doom 3.
Fans of previous incarnations of the Doom franchise will already be familiar with the setup. A mining corporation (UAC) is having trouble at its Mars base, and it’s up to you to enter the ‘fragfest’, clean the place up, and stay alive. Story-wise, that’s it, but then again Doom has never been one for storylines. At least this time there is a little full-motion video to set the scene for newcomers and veterans alike before sending you into the hellhole that is the mining complex.
And what a hellhole it is. The lighting is spot on firstly, with little or no lights for most of the game. The occasional flicker of a cable hanging from the roof is sometimes the only guide and the sparks can frighten the on-edge gamer. The flashlight becomes the gamers’ best friend, casting light into dark areas, taking away the sheer scariness of some areas, unless there happens to be an Imp in that little nook you shine your light.
Enemy wise, a couple has had facelifts from the original Doom all those years ago. Zombies are the first beings that need to be taken care of, a few bullets from your pistol or a shotgun blast to the face will dispatch them. The old favourite, the Imp, has been recast as a huge snarling brown ball of hatred, hurling fireballs at you as you try in vain to put it down. These are the standard enemy, but this does not mean that they are easy to kill; they will still take a bit of a pounding from weapons such as the shock rifle later on meaning they can potentially be devastating. From there on, the enemies take an interesting turn for the worse, as weird mutated freaks become the norm, though some of them are weaker than Imps.
Enemies such as Lost Souls (skulls that float around in the air) that swoop and attack you are weak enemies, but they are so fast it is difficult to get a decent aim on them. When there are about five in a room, they can become the most difficult enemy in the game.
To say any more would ruin the surprise of what’s in store for you, but the bosses in this game have to be the brainchild of some mental hospital patient, they really are that messed up!
No matter how beat-up you may get, health is scattered around the levels as well as armour shards. You just have to look for it.
Narrow passageways look like they have nothing in them until you shine your torch into them, and see some precious health and a couple of clips that could just keep you going to the next medical station. These medical stations are a new addition to the Doom franchise and are wall-mounted screens which administer health to you every time you click on one in increments of 10, with a maximum of 100 available. Sometimes they can be linked, so say if you took 50 off one earlier on, the one you meet next may only have 50 available to tender to your wounds rather than 100. This forces you to try and be economical with the health you are provided.
There is also more interaction with your surroundings. Lots of little operations are present, such as depressurising certain areas to call lifts — all done by wall-mounted screens which react to your clicking. It makes you feel that you are having an impact on your environment and helps erode slightly the linearity in the game.
Graphically this game is gorgeous. When you see the minimum specs required to play, your jaw will drop, this game needs a very good PC.
The game needs these specs, if you barely scrape the minimum it is strongly recommended to upgrade to really appreciate ‘id’s wonderful creation. Even so, the game on low-quality still looks good and when you’re running backwards out of a room while being chased by assorted enemies, you won’t care about how good the graphics are, as long as your ass is safe.
Each spark of light, each fireball, each gun and each room have been lovingly crafted; they really do add to the atmosphere of the game and aren’t add on’s which are there merely to fill space or to pad the game out.
I played this game on standard speakers, and I can tell you that the sounds recreated were good. However, 5.1 owners are really going to hear the difference while playing the game, and they are guaranteed to get a couple of frights on their way to completion. Even events that are beneficial such as picking up armour have unnecessarily loud noises just to keep you on your toes. Doors opening, guns reloading and the murmuring of enemies have all been done very well, and coupled with the low lighting succeed in keeping you in fear of what might be lurking around the next corner.
There are some annoyances, however. Sometimes you will be attacked and you will not be able to see where it is coming from, as it will not be in front of you, as you might well expect. No, sometimes it comes from behind you, i.e. from rooms you have just explored which contained no monsters whilst you were in there. Although it may have been designed to make you feel nowhere is safe, it can lead to annoying deaths and a slight sense of frustration that enemies seem to appear from anywhere.
Another issue is the longevity of the game, which is slightly on the short side. Hardcore gamers will get through it rather easily, but if you are the sort of gamer who likes to play in short bursts then this will definitely last a substantial amount of time.
Doom 3 takes the Doom franchise to a whole new level. This is a game not to be missed, and it sets the benchmark for Half-Life 2.