Doom 3 Review

We head to a Martian doom, in the much anticipated follow-up to the classic shooter.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 6th September 2004

Doom 3

  • Developer: id Software
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Release Date: 13th August 2004

It has been eleven years since the release of the original Doom, the game that started the first person shooter. Since its release in 1993 we’ve seen Doom II then we had Final Doom after which many believed id were trying to hold on to something that had gone past its sell by date. Now finally we have Doom 3, arguably the most anticipated game of the year so far and probably one of the games we’ve waited the longest for and of course the question on everyone’s lips is, was it actually worth it?

Doom 3 is more of a remake of the original then a sequel to the series. The game sees you take up the role of an unnamed Marine in the 22nd century. You have just been sent on assignment to the Union Aerospace Corporation's Mars research facility. The facility has been rocked by a series of accidents, disappearances and generally strange things going on. When you are sent on your first assignment to track down a missing scientist who has fled to an old communications building all hell breaks lose, literally. Yes those good scientists from the UAC have unlocked the gates to Hell itself. It’s now up to you alone to figure out what exactly has happened and to stop the pure evil forces of hell reaching earth.

The rest of the story behind Doom 3 is told through the odd cut scene and the games PDA system. Each member of staff on the UAC Mars base was issued with a PDA where they can store information, access e-mail and create voice and video logs and it’s through these logs that the game describes the strange happenings that help move the story forward. PDAs also store your security clearance level so picking one up that use to belong to someone who has either been killed or turned into a zombie can result in you having clearance to areas in which you wouldn’t normally be allowed. PDAs can also contain other useful information such as pass codes to storage cupboards that be filled with all kinds of goodies such as weapons, ammo, health packs, armour and so on.

For the first twenty minutes or so of Doom 3 you are given the opportunity to explore the base you have just been assigned to. You are able to access various information terminals, listen to conversations going on around you and chat with workers, scientists and other marines that have been assigned to Mars. Of course this doesn’t last and as soon as hell breaks loose and everyone else has become a zombie they’d rather just rip your limbs off rather then stand around discussing life on Mars.

If you were expecting Doom 3 to be packed with action from start to finish, then you’ll be disappointed to learn that it’s not. The flow of the action is often interrupted by you needing to sift through the various different information contained within PDAs scattered around the games levels. Also in Doom 3 enemies have a tendency to jump out at you from behind corners and inside cupboards and the occasional corpse will get to it’s feet and try to take a bite out of you. Its a little different to the approach of the original games but it’s bound to have you jumping out of your chair on more then one occasion.

Levels in Doom 3 have been designed pretty well, they are darkly lit and extremely atmospheric although missions in the game are nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s all pretty much what was introduced in Doom. You simply go through the levels killing the bad guys, operating the odd switch on a computer console and collecting pass codes from slain scientist’s bodies. While it’s in no way revolutionary it does add to the games old school appeal.

As the levels in the game are extremely dark it can be difficult to see anything, but luckily our unnamed hero is equipped with a flash light that lights up the area surrounding him. The effect of the flash light works well, however it also serves as the games biggest annoyance. Firstly unlike in most games that would attach the light to his gun or give the marine some kind of night vision equipment our marine likes to hold his in his hand. This in itself wouldn’t cause a problem if he was able to hold a gun at the same time but he’s not so when some spawn of Satan jumps out in front of you it’s a cause of frantically hitting the F key to return to your weapon.

Weapons in Doom 3 are quite varied and fun to use, there’s the usual range available such as a shotgun, machine gun, rocket launcher and so on however ammo is quite scarce so you have to make every shot count as you never know what’s around the next corner and when you’ll find your next supply of ammo. Grenades are also scattered about the game for you to pick up and use however, these are likely to cause you as much harm as they do enemies because of the strange way in which our marine friend throws them and due to the tight corridors and pokey rooms that are featured in the game.

While you may have been expecting Doom 3 to require every little thing you have learned since you started playing games you maybe a little disappointed to learn that after a while enemies become a little predictable. Enemies are by far not the smartest to grace a game and will often run towards you while you shower them in a hail of bullets. That said they do have one or two tricks up their sleeves, they will give chase if you try to run from them and some of the more human like demonic scum will try to duck when you take a shot at them, however none of this changes the fact that they are ultimately dumb.

Visually Doom 3 is probably the best looking game ever released, characters feature an excellent amount of detail and if you’ve ever played the original Doom you’ll more then likely recognise some of the enemies that often lunge at you from behind corners. Animation in the game is flawless and frighteningly realistic at times, the way enemies walk, move their weapons and try to avoid your shots is most impressive. Environments in the game feature an excellent amount of detail, computer consoles will burst into life when you walk near them while a voice narrates some background information on some of the advancements in science they have made while been based on mars. Unlike in most games that require you to enter a separate view whilst operating computers, screens in Doom 3 are clearly readable with no need to do this and should an action be able to be perform the mouse will change to a pointer to signify this.

Doom 3 sound design also adds to the games frightening atmosphere, sound effects on the whole are excellent although weapons sound a little tinny. What stands out most and adds most to the games overall eerie feeling are the random shrieks from the games monsters usually as you’re about to head down an extremely dark corridor. Also from time to time what little light there is will suddenly black out and you’ll hear a demonic laugh echo around the base just before you hear shrieks and moans heading in your direction. Also another impressive feature of Doom 3 sound design is near the beginning of the game when hell first breaks loose the radio chatter from marines around the base sounds every few seconds. The panic and terror in their voices is extremely authentic and helps set the tone for the rest of the game.

Doom 3 looks and sounds amazing and all this contributes to probably one of the most atmospheric games of all time ever and at times you may be tempted to turn it off to simply calm your nerves. Despite the fact the game isn’t as action packed as I was expecting it is still a very strong title that provides plenty of nerve shattering entertainment no matter how hard you are to scare.

Review Score: 8.8/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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