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    TheCrudMan's Doom III (PC)

    [January 14, 2008 07:51:47 PM]
    Doom 3 Gamelog


    Doom 3 is a science fiction, first-person shooter game, which takes place in a scientific research base on Mars in the 22nd century. The player takes on the role of a soldier, an employee of the big-brotheresque UAC Corporation, who has just been assigned to the Mars Base, where strange things have been going on for the past few months. Soon after the player’s arrival, a strange portal is opened in the bowels of the base, and all hell literally breaks loose. Demonic creatures pour from the portal, and appear all over the huge installation. The player must fight his/her way through the dark and winding corridors of the base, completing various objectives, all which begin to reveal the game’s back story (the events leading up to the demon invasion), and allow the main story, one of both corporate and satanic evil, to progress.


    Doom 3 forgoes normal tutorial modes, and begins with a cinematic sequence, followed by immediate gameplay. While the first level serves as an introduction it is still not a tutorial in the traditional sense, as it assumes the player is already well versed in the mechanics and controls of a first person shooter, and instead focuses on introducing the player to the environment in which he will be playing, by taking the player through various hallways, having him/her interact with NPCs (non player characters, this term is not typically used to describe adversaries however,) including a spider-like sentry robot (a useful ally at certain points in the game) and various people. The introduction also shows the player how to open doors and interact with control panels, as well as having him walk across a small stretch of Martian surface and use airlocks and elevators, all things that the player will need to do throughout the game, but only in this instance without the threat of imminent death. The introductory level also introduces a key game element: the PDA (in real life Personal Digital Assistant, but in the game introduced as Personal Data Assistant.) The player will use the PDA throughout the game, collecting the PDAs of dead NPCs, and using the information stored within them to unlock doors, cabinets, and find snippets of back-story through the NPC’s email and audio logs, as well as UAC propaganda and informational videos. The PDA even has NPC spam email, which points to a website,, a site which, when visited in real life, has a code which unlocks a valuable cabinet that contains the chaingun, quite awhile before you’d normally find it.

    The environments were creepy when all things were working perfectly, but after the opening of the portal, as shown to the player on video screen during a level that transitions from introduction to real gameplay, they are nothing short of terrifying. The first few levels are particularly terrifying, as the player is unaccustomed to the way in which the game attempts to scare him, has only rudimentary weapons (and not much ammunition), and must endure constant tortured screams and other mayhem coming through over is radio, as demonic creatures terrorize the base. Gradually, the mayhem over the radio dies down (presumably because most of the installation’s inhabitants have either been killed by the monsters or themselves converted into them), the player finds better weaponry (with plenty of ammo), and becomes used to the idea of enemies popping out of the walls, teleporting in behind him through rifts in space covered with satanic runes. The player’s emotional state, much as the characters might, turns from one of pure terror, to one of on-edge adrenaline filled excitement. However, there are still moments of terror throughout the game, such as when the character sees himself in the mirror and experiences flashes of terrifying images, when bloody footprints appear walking down a hallway and a voice beckons the player, when a woman’s head rips off her body and attacks the player, and when objects appear to move on their own for no good reason (including one particularly jolting instance involving a human skeleton in the confines of an airshaft.)


    The game is played in a first person perspective, which serves to add to the suspense by creating a kind of claustrophobia and a sense of being watched, or of having something sneaking up behind you. The game has interesting enemies, all grotesque demons of one form or another, but with characteristics and abilities that make them clearly distinguishable from one another. However, the game becomes somewhat repetitive despite its interesting enemy and weapon design, a fact not helped by the linear nature of the corridor based combat that fills most of the game’s levels. However, the claustrophobic corridor setting, indicative of the movie Alien, does serve to keep the player on edge, especially when things are dark, as they are quite often throughout the game. The game deals with this in a unique but often times laughable (and very scary) way: the flashlight. While most first person shooters that feature a flashlight or night vision portray it as a player or weapon mounted device, Doom 3’s flashlight is a separate item all together, a maglite like piece of equipment, which, to be used, requires that the player stow their weapon in favor of it. This means that the player must traverse the scariest parts of the game without his weapon drawn. Which makes it all the more scarier when the he encounters an adversary, and even scarier when he must switch to a weapon to dispatch the threat, only to be plunged into total darkness. This is somewhat ironic, although possible intentionally so, as the game takes place in the twenty-second century, and the player is exposed to all manner of advanced technology, yet seems unable to find some duct tape to affix the light to a weapon, or even find a helmet or head mounted light (which are available and widely used today.) Ultimately, this element does serve to raise the fear factor of the gameplay, and is thus effective, if somewhat unrealistic. However, the game, although featuring realistic graphics (except the human character models look almost as frightening as their demonic counterparts,) doesn’t seem to have a problem defying realism in the name of gameplay, such as when the player finds a chainsaw to use as a weapon (an NPC’s email on the PDA pokes fun at this: Why did they ship us chainsaws? We’re on Mars, what are we going to use these for?)

    The horror of the gameplay usually relies on cheap tricks: things jumping out at you, the lights flickering, a disembodied voice shouting, rather than any real psychological horror. It also uses the gruesome to try and get a scare: your enemies are horribly disfigured monsters, demons, zombies, and creatures from the depths of hell. They have a tendency to appear behind you in places you’ve already cleared, although they typically make some horrifying noise to advertise their presence.

    After playing through much of the game, I can say that, the story seems sort of throwaway and tacked on, something which is not helped by the fact that the game has only one volume control, rather than independent controls for dialog, sound effects, music, etc, as most modern games have, and lacks a subtitle option. I found the dialog very difficult to hear at some parts, as it was much quieter than the game’s other sound, but if I turned up the sound to hear the dialog, the sound throughout the game was much too loud. Ultimately though, the desire of to know how this dire situation will be resolved and what my role will be in it, kept me playing through the terror, violence, and darkness of the game.


    I already mentioned the chainsaw, and would go on to say that the weapon design of the game is excellent, featuring weapons that are clearly distinct from one another, and have their own specific uses. The game forgoes the trend in more recent video games of allowing you to carry a small number of weapons and swap them out as you need (such as in Halo, Far Cry, and many other modern shooters) for a more retro model (after all it is a Doom game) of allowing you to carry all the weapons in the game that you find. There is also one very interesting weapon the player acquires late in the game: The Soulcube, which adds some unique elements to gameplay.

    The monster design of the game is quite good, they are all very grotesque and scary, but there isn’t enough variety in a given area, while there are many monsters in the game, some only appear at certain points, making the player know what to expect, rather than mixing it up and keeping him off guard. There are a few interesting boss characters, which all in all gives the game a retro feel, which is what it was striving for, being Doom 3, sequel to the retro shooters Doom and Doom 2.

    The limited contact with friendly NPCs is started to grate on me a little bit, which is probably what the game designers intended. I feel isolated and alone as I am playing. I am curious to try out the co-op mode of the game at some point, as I’d imagine that the players would find solace in the presence of one another, and that the game would be much less scary with someone watching your back.

    I’m staring to realize as I play that the game lacks any sort of truly epic or memorable moments. I’ve played a great many first person shooters and in many of them I can identify at least one specific moment that I realized I was playing an excellent, epic, game. Not so much with Doom 3, everything is pretty much muddled together in my mind, the repetitive gameplay, combined with the lack of changing environments, contribute to this. I’d say another problem is the fact that there is no unity or real coherent theme to the music of the game, its simply occasional snippets of music, sometimes pretty well muddled in with the background noise almost to the point when you’re not entirely sure whether its non-diagetic or diagetic. A powerful musical score would have helped to tie the game together better, instead, all the very limited music does is serve to enhance the fear factor of a situation, but does not lead to more pleasurable gameplay.

    One issue with the game is its lack of variety in its environments. While later in the game there starts to be more variety, the player leaves the Martian installation and visits hell, and various other environments such as archeological digs which are somewhat more interesting, but they happen so late in the game, after hour upon hour of the same dark hallways, that the change in environment is actually a respite for the player, rather than enhancing the fear: thus, hell is actually more like a pleasant change of scenery.

    Ultimately, Doom 3 is a good, scary, action-packed game. Although it has many flaws, its repetitiveness chief among them, it is ultimately fun to play for someone looking for a modern twist on a brainless, classic, shooter.
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    TheCrudMan's Doom III (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 14 January, 2008

    GameLog closed on: Friday 18 January, 2008

    TheCrudMan's opinion and rating for this game

    Pretty good, retro-style, scary shooter, but with some fundamental flaws that keep it from growing beyond its retro roots.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstar

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    1 : Doom III (PC) by jp (rating: 5)


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