Back when the original Doom was released, it was a groundbreaking game that helped to completely redefine a genre as well as show the world that Windows PCs were actually viable systems for running video games. It is held in very high regard within the gaming industry, and for a very good reason! In fact, if it weren’t for Gabe Newell being determined to use Doom to show the potential of Windows PCs for gaming, we wouldn’t have Steam…
Over the following years, the series released a whole host of different titles, until we eventually got Doom 3 in August 2004. The game received generally positive reviews from critics at the time but has apparently gone on to leave a sour taste in the mouths of many gamers. With a lot of people citing its slow down and framerate issues, as well as being a “tamer” and easier game compared to previous entries, it has garnered the reputation of being a “casual Doom”. So I thought I would go back to it and see whether this really was the case…
I have to say, I’m very happy that Doom 3s storyline has nothing to do with the awful movie that came out a year later (read more on that here). Instead, Doom 3 deals with a science colony known as Delta Labs, situated on Mars, where the lead scientist has been trying to create teleportation technology. However, these experiments end up opening a rift between both Mars and Hell itself. From here, demons of various kinds come out into the colony and it is up to your to kill them and prevent them from getting to Earth.
There are a few slight plot twists along the way but nothing that is particularly notable. The storyline really is rather straightforward, playing out in a very linear fashion with just one diverging choice that doesn’t really change that much of the plot either. It’s not that deep, doesn’t really act as a driving force for the game and, honestly, is rather forgettable.
Some shooter games can have a memorable storyline as well as high levels of action. However, Doom 3 really doesn’t manage to do that. Instead, the story feels like very much like an afterthought. Of course, people don’t really play a Doom game for the story, but if you’re going to use cutscenes and collectable audio logs to build the world and plot, then you should really put effort into it, as it becomes a major part of the game anyway. Doom 3 fails in this manner, to be blunt.
When it comes to gameplay, the older Doom games were famous for their “run and gun” mechanics, where you would speed around the level, gunning or chainsawing demons as you go. They were immensely fast-paced, often hectic and always exciting. That’s what really made the games so enjoyable. Doom 3 seems to have forgotten that. Instead of incredibly fast-paced action, the game tries to put some slower horror into the gameplay.
The developers tried to mix in the atmosphere and jump scares of horror games with the powerful guns and typically shooter gameplay of Doom, but honestly, it really doesn’t work. Instead, you get a game that doesn’t manage to be scary but also misses the mark entirely as a Doom sequel. It just sort of sits in between both of those scales, having a sort of video game identity crisis. The aforementioned audio logs that you have to go around and find are a great example of this. Rather than just having a blast (pardon the pun) with awesome guns and loads of enemies to kill (like the newer DOOM on current generation consoles), you had to make your way around, checking everywhere for these audio logs.
The gameplay is enjoyable, but for a Doom game, it just feels like the odd one out. Almost as if the developers weren’t really sure what kind of game that actually wanted to make…
Graphically, Doom 3 looked really good for the time overall. The faces looked a little creepy and odd, but the monsters and demons were very well designed. The hallways did feel somewhat atmospheric but captured the science fiction aspects of the game more than the horror elements. The animation is also done very well.
However, the graphics definitely give off that feeling of an identity crisis once again. The fact that the hallways and corridors are more science fiction, with atmosphere added in through a flashlight system, and then you get the big gun animations, all seem to come together in a slightly confused visual experience. That’s really the biggest problem with Doom 3.
It looks great as a game but really doesn’t seem to know what type of graphics to go for, because it doesn’t know what type of game it is trying to be.
And That’s All Folks
In the end, Doom 3 isn’t a bad game at all. It is a fun if average shooter. However, it is held back by an apparent confusion within development about whether they were making a Doom game or a horror game. This affects both the gameplay and graphics, whilst also causing the storyline to feel like an afterthought. If you haven’t played Doom 3 and are in desperate need for something new to play, then give it a try. Just don’t expect it to be anywhere near as good as the other games in the series.
Have you played Doom 3? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!