Review: “Doom 3” (Computer Game)

I’m a massive fan of the first two “Doom” games and, when I found a second-hand copy of this game for about four quid in a charity shop about seven years ago, it didn’t take me long to decided whether to buy it or not. Since then I’ve completed it twice and I’m astonished that I haven’t reviewed it yet. I should probably point out that this review is of the original game rather than the modern “BFG Edition” of the game.

“Doom 3” is an sci-fi/horror FPS game which follows a space marine who has recently been posted to a Union Aerospace Corporation research facility on Mars. Needless to say, some of the research which is going on in this facility isn’t entirely ethical or benevolent and it isn’t long before mysterious evil creatures begin to attack the facility. As one of the few survivors, you have to fight through the facility and find a way to stop these creatures…..

One of the first things about this game is that it has a lot more of a story than the previous two “Doom” games had. Throughout the game, you carry a PDA which can be used to receive messages and read electronic documents and listen to recordings. Many of these messages and recordings give you a lot of backstory and help you to feel that you’re walking through a place where people lived and worked rather than just another generic futuristic building. In addition to this, if you ignore most of these messages, then you’ll miss out on numerous caches of ammunition (which can only be unlocked with codes hidden in the PDA messages) and you won’t be able to get past a couple of parts of the game either.

The fact that the PDA is an integral part of the game works surprisingly well due to the high quality of the writing and voice-acting in this game. Plus, in many ways, using the PDA is an updated (and far less contrived) version of having to find keycards in every level of the first two “Doom” games. Not only that, there’s also a fair amount of humour in some of the PDA messages too – which is a surprising, and very welcome, addition to a “Doom” game.

In addition to this, you’ll also encounter NPCs throughout the game too. Yes, you can’t really have a proper conversation with them, but this adds a lot of realism to the game (compared to the first two games where you were literally just a lone space marine up against hordes of demons and monsters).

Talking of the first two games, there are a surprising number of references to these games in “Doom 3”. You can find an arcade machine early in the game which is a parody of the original games. Many of the enemies are also based on enemies from the first two games and so are many of the weapons that you can find too. So, if you’re a fan of the first two games, then you’ll still recognise quite a few things here. But, if you’re new to the franchise, then you probably won’t notice most of this stuff (and you certainly don’t need to know anything about the previous games in order to enjoy this game).

But, for all of the wonderful old things in this game, there are plenty of wonderful new things too. Most of all, “Doom 3” comes close to being genuinely scary. Yes, it’s hardly a “Silent Hill” game, but it’s filled with the kind of darkness and horror which the original games could only hint at due to the limitations of computers in the 1990s.

Many of the locations are extremely gloomy and atmospheric, occasionally monsters will jump out at you and there’s even the occasional creepy scripted sequence in the game (such as when you look in a mirror in one of the bathrooms). One of the interesting things about “Doom 3” is that the game mostly takes place in the same location. Although this means that there is a lot less variety than there was in the original games, the settings in “Doom 3” never really get monotonous or boring. They’re just a bit more realistic and understated.

Since this is a “Doom” game, expect a reasonable amount of blood and guts too. However, this never really seems particularly gratuitous in the context of the game and it’s pretty obvious that it’s there because it’s a horror game rather than just for shock value. Yes, along with the surprisingly detailed storyline, complex settings and NPCs it’s very clear that the “Doom” games have grown up considerably since they first appeared in the 1990s.

As for the gameplay, it’s fairly standard old-school FPS gameplay. There’s no regenerative health, limits on the number of weapons you can carry, linear levels, vehicle-based levels, checkpoints or any of that modern rubbish. ID Software pretty much invented this style of gameplay (albeit in “Wolfenstein 3D” rather than in “Doom”) and it’s good to see it in a relatively modern game.

Yes, I can be a grumpy old traditionalist when it comes to FPS gameplay. If you’re one too, then you will love “Doom 3”. If you aren’t, then you will probably become one after playing “Doom 3”.

One interesting feature in “Doom 3” (which was apparently removed in the modern “BFG Edition” of the game) is the fact that you can’t use your flashlight when you’re carrying a weapon. Since a lot of the locations in this game are fairly gloomy and filled with monsters, this adds a surprising amount of suspense and tension to the game and it was a risky, but worthwhile, creative decision on the part of ID Software.

All in all, “Doom 3” is an absolutely excellent game and a worthy successor to the previous “Doom” games.

As I said earlier, “Doom” has grown up since the 90s and this game is surprisingly complex and atmospheric, but it still retains all of the things which made the first two games such great fun to play.

Now, if only ID Software would hurry up and start making “Doom 4″….

If you want more after you’ve finished this game, then there’s the “Resurrection Of Evil” add-on pack. This gives you a couple of new weapons (including the super shotgun from “Doom II” and a weapon which is suspiciously similar to the gravity gun from “Half Life 2”) and a fair number of new levels too. Best of all, “Resurrection Of Evil” is a proper old-school add-on pack (which you can actually buy on a DVD) rather than a modern piece of “DLC”.

And, once you’ve played “Resurrection of Evil”, there’s always “Quake 4” too….

If I had to give “Doom 3” a rating out of five, then it would get a six.