I’ve always loved the Doom games. On the surface, they have always seemed so simple, and certainly accessible. However, once you spend a few hours demon slaying you start to realise that there is a subtle depth to the action, which makes it hard to put the controller down.
Doom 3, however, is sometimes considered the odd one out; the black sheep of the family. After the fairly bloody, sometimes jumpy but altogether not too heavy outings in the first two games, the third was a different beast altogether. Put simply, it was s**t scary. From a franchise famous for an top-notch arcade shooter experience suddenly came a generous serving of survival horror.
The year was 2145, and the planet was Mars. You found yourself on a UAC (United Aerospace Corporation) research base, where it started to become clear something wasn’t quite right. Many of the staff would recall strange noises, people going missing and even fatal ‘accidents’. It turned out the secretive Delta Labs seemed to be the common denominator, which was headed up by Dr Malcolm Betruger. It just so happens he was working with the forces of Hell to enslave humanity. What a charming fellow.
Indeed, Doom 3 was more much story-driven than its predecessors. You could blast your way through the campaign and still get the measure of what was going on. However, there were all sorts of extra nuggets of info that you would use your PDA to view. These were mostly emails and videos, but really fleshed out the game universe. Not only this, but there were plenty of non-threatening encounters with allies who would drive the story forward by setting you objectives and the like.
Doom 3 was claustrophobic, dark and grounded. Gone were the slightly exaggerated comic book style enemies, replaced with disgusting, evil creatures from the pits of Hell itself. Over the top weapons were in short supply, as was ammo, which meant it wasn’t a simple case of run and gun. It was more edge forward and try not to crap yourself when an enemy jumped out on you.
That said, it wouldn’t be Doom without the BFG making an appearance. Indeed it did in Doom 3, but you had to wait a fair while to get your hands on it. Most of the other regular weapons featured one way or another too, but even with the biggest, baddest gun locked and loaded, you never quite felt safe.
Doom 3 was full of narrow corridors with a seemingly endless amount of demons ready and waiting to jump out at you. You rarely got to go outside which only reinforced the serious, close quarters battle for survival scenario that the game intended for the player. At times, you could have easily been playing short segments from Alien.
For it’s time, the game looked great. id did an effective job of creating a non-terrestrial base overrun by demons, with limited lighting and plenty of corners where anything could be waiting for you. To make things even worse for the player, you could only draw your weapon or torch, not have them both out at the same time. There was something about having your torch lighting the way but knowing you may need to switch to your weapon any second to defend yourself from a demon that was absolutely terrifying.
I found Doom 3 to be utterly addictive, and a gamble that paid off. As it had been seven years since Doom 64, which is often forgotten about, id needed to do something a bit different. What transpired may have been unexpected, but it proved Doom wasn’t a one trick pony and could move with the times.
For me, that’s the beauty of Doom 3. It’s altogether a different ball game, but still quite clearly Doom. If you’ve ever thought, “I’ll give that one a miss” or “I’ve heard it’s not as good as the rest” then please stop what you are doing right away, go and give it a try and then see what you think. That is, of course, assuming your nerves can take it!