After the first two games, it all went quiet on the Doom front. There were a few ports, and even a game for the Nintendo 64, however the general consensus was they couldn’t quite escape the shadow of the original. Despite this, Doom 3 was released on the Xbox in 2005, which is a re-telling of the first game with an action-horror twist on events; the emphasis very much being on the horror. Considering just how good the 2016 re-imaging of Doom is, did iD pull it off 11 years previously?
Before we begin, let me warn you. Doom 3 is bloody scary, and jumpy as hell. You’ll once again be battling through an infested UAC facility before descending into hell itself to quell the demon invasion. This release also contains both the “Resurrection of Evil” and “The Lost Missions” expansion packs. And all this demon slaying goodness is yours for just £7.99.
When you boot up Doom 3, all will seem normal as the menu screen is backed with some heavy metal riffing just like the good old days. However, this is a red herring. In the actual game there is actually very little music backing the action. Instead, the clever use of silence and chilling sound effects, such as whispering and shrieks, hammers home the point that this is a very different Doom to that of Doom (1993) and Doom II (Classic). It’s all about tension, and it’s effectively ramped up as you wander through the demon infested UAC facility.
Considering its age, Doom 3 still looks pretty good today and this is largely thanks to the excellent use of lighting effects in the game. You’re equipped with a torch, held in your left hand, which means it is slightly off centre causing you to check every nook and cranny of every room you enter. It’s another way Doom 3 effortlessly dials up the tension. For the truest experience, switch off the lights, plug your headphones in and try not to crap yourself.
What is potentially most pleasing about Doom 3, is just how much you find out about the game world this time round. This is a game with a strong narrative that has moved beyond being renowned for its gameplay alone. It has, in fact, evolved in so many ways. You can jump, look around in full 360 degrees, there’s voice acting and even an autosave function! Thankfully, manual saving is still available to you, and I’m sure your gaming sixth sense for an imminent big battle will be tingling continuously.
In Doom 3 you play as an unnamed marine, who is not exactly chatty, visiting a UAC facility in Mars City. You quickly start to realise there’s some weird stuff going on, and it’s not long before you’re fighting off demons who enjoy jumping out at you from every conceivable hiding place. It then falls to you to stop the demon invasion before it is too late.
Your main source of information is your handy PDA, which also acts as a keycard to open various security doors. As you find PDAs belonging to other UAC members your privileges will be upgraded, and handy emails and audio logs will also be automatically downloaded. Not only do they flesh out the events unfolding around you, but they sometimes contain codes for storage crates containing all sorts of goodies. You can also use it to access video files as well as view your inventory, which is essentially a list of all the guns you have.
As you may have started to assume by now, Doom 3 plays very differently to the other games, but retains most of what made them so popular. There are even some Easter eggs to be found, such as enjoying a round on Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3. It may play like a standard FPS but the way the action is presented makes it hugely engrossing. The classic demon trick of jumping out at you is present and correct, except some will literally jump at you this time round, in a more frenzied style of attack. They are still partial to hiding behind a fake wall too, which could open at any time and not just when you flick a switch like in the originals. These are just some ways in what makes the numerous jump scares unpredictable. Demons will be coming at you from above, behind, and sometimes even from below.
In every way possible Doom 3 is designed to make you feel isolated, vulnerable and always under threat of attack. You’ll feel so relieved when you occasionally meet another survivor for a bit of human interaction and have a chance to catch a breather. You’ll spend most of your time in dingy, poorly lit corridors but will occasionally get to walk outside on the surface of Mars. However, even here you have very limited oxygen that won’t last for long. You’ll need to act fast, collecting oxygen canisters to stay alive. There’s no let up to the constant danger you face in this game and the pace is set from the very start.
The demons themselves have also had an overhaul, so much so that even the standard Imp now looks very menacing. If one gets too close it will start slashing at you repeatedly. Bigger and badder demons, including the occasional boss character, are gradually introduced as you venture deeper into the nightmare. When you take damage your screen will violently shake, making it difficult to aim accurately and defend yourself. You’ll also need to time your reloads carefully, because if you need to in the middle of a firefight it may prove deadly.
On the subject of guns, they are more grounded in reality this time round but classics such as the chaingun and plasma rifle still make an appearance. The eagle eyed amongst you may notice a character using a gun which fires large green blasts of energy. I wonder what that could be? You will also come across little drones that will help you for short periods of time that prove to be rare but useful allies.
If you play on the default difficulty, it’s good to see the game isn’t too hard or too easy. If you wish, of course, you can dial it up or down depending on how you are coping. It is worth saying that playing it on the easiest difficulty will dampen the experience somewhat. In fact, you’ll be cheated out of the proper experience unless you play on “Marine” difficulty or higher. The names of these have changed slightly too, and the hardest “Nightmare”, remains locked until your clear the game.
Doom 3 on Xbox One is essentially a risk; a risk taken to reboot the series in order to offer something different. It’s successful at what it sets out to achieve, regardless of how much it’s changed since 1993. It’s an adventure that’s compelling and hard to put down, mostly thanks to how immersive the game is.
This ensures that Doom 3 is a gripping re-imagining, offering a new take on the original but retaining the classic Doom DNA. It’s a different, hellish experience, and that’s exactly why you should play this game.