Review: Doom 3
At a Glance
|ESRB Rating:||M - Mature Audiences|
|My Rating:||Adults - 18+|
|Genre:||First Person Shooter / Horror|
|Review Published On:||April 14, 2017|
|Played on:||Martha & Thaddeus|
Your progress is automatically saved between chapters, but you can also manually save at any time using the pause menu. To pause the game and view this menu, press ESC.
As one might expect from this franchise, there's a lot of graphic violence and demonic imagery in this game -- more than the original two games even, as Doom 3 depicts things more realistically.
Doom 3 doesn't continue the story from the earlier titles either. Instead, it's a franchise reboot, attempting to retell the original story using modern gameplay mechanics. I've heard rumors that this game was partially designed to fit in with the Doom movie, and if true, that's just another point against this game. Even though it starred Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the player's character, the movie failed spectacularly, and it's better to pretend it never happened.
There are some good points about the game: there's a lot more lore and story about the events that unfold, and the Mars Colony looks and feels more like a pseudo-military research station. Even Hell can be considered beautiful, with its rich details and gothic architecture. But, most of this is lost in darkness. In an attempt to make things scarier, the game's world is dark and covered in shadows. In another example of this title's flaws, you do have a flashlight, but you can't wield it and a weapon at the same time.
Further problems include the need to listen to lengthy audio logs or browse through people's emails to find the security clearances you need to open doors or otherwise progress in the game. There's no way to pause or stop a playing audio log, nor is there an option for subtitles. This means the player must listen very closely to the mumbled voice overs to continue their game. And just to make things more fun, viewing your PDA or listening to a log doesn't pause the game. So enjoy being mauled by demons while you listen to some lackey drone on about what they had for lunch last week.
Thankfully, players on Steam have produced complete lists of every passcode so you can ignore the audio logs and just look things up quickly. Players have also produced mods to allow you to keep your flashlight enabled while using other weapons. In fact, this mod proved so popular that it spawned a meme that states "there's no duct-tape on Mars". After all, a little bit of the silver tape would've solved the Marine's equipment issue really, really easily.
Eventually, a new version of Doom 3 was released, known as Doom 3 BFG Edition. This new version makes a number of very welcome changes, but for several reasons (eg, this version is more popular among modders), I'm reviewing them separately. This review is only for the original, non-BFG edition of Doom 3.
Points of Interest
On a side note, the AI in general is worth commenting on, as it's really rather impressive. Monsters have been known to seek shelter, dodge attacks and even circle around the entire level to track down the player. The level design certainly exploits this, as you'll often discover monsters spawning in unexpected places.
Additionally, it's quickly made apparent that it was no malfunction that caused the disaster: one of the scientists is actively dealing with the devil in a bid for power. Thus, the Marine is now dealing with an enemy that has a face and motive, rather than the generic "here are monsters, go shoot them" plot of the original games.
Apparently most players fall into the second group, as the BFG Edition gives you a shoulder mounted light so that you can see what you're doing.
Concerns and Issues
One particularly graphic moment comes later in the game when you encounter a scientist that has been trapped in a processing chamber. He begs for you to let him free, and if you do so, he'll unlock a door that leads to some useful loot. However, while you can activate the chamber if you're just feeling cruel, the panel that controls it is designed so that you can easily activate the chamber by accident. Either way, if the chamber is activated, the most you can do is turn away so you don't have to watch as he is killed by the processing equipment. You're still forced to wait for the chamber to finish operating, so you can't avoid listening to his grisly death.
On the plus side, his screams alert nearby zombie soldiers, and they come rushing in. You also can't unlock the door leading to more supplies without this man's help, so karma is right there to greet you.
Unfortunately, quite a bit of the blood and gore is either on the enemies or caused by the player fighting them. Zombified humans are the biggest offenders, as they are often mutilated before the player gets to them. Examples of this pre-battle damage includes missing jaws, visible entrails, and partial decapitations.
During combat, most attacks cause the target's blood to stain nearby objects. In an extreme example, a powerful attack (such as close range shotgun fire) can blast a zombie's skin and muscles off, revealing their skeleton for a moment. Of course, Doom is famous for gibbing enemies, and Doom 3 continues the trend by allowing you to blow enemies apart with rockets.
One trend regarding the combat that's worth mentioning is that purely demonic beings, such as the ever present imps, leave no bodies behind when they are slain.
Although this is a somewhat macabre device, it's not uncommon for fictional weapons to have a spirit or soul of their own and a desire to strike down great evil. The main difference between the Soul Cube and other traditional living weapons is that the Soul Cube needs to absorb energy from slain monsters before it's ready to unleash it's attack. However, once it's charged up, it's attack is the only thing in the universe that can strike down the final boss of the game.
While this does present some climatic drama and a more cinematic end to the game, it's basically repaying evil with evil; something that the Bible advises us not to do.
In case having to listen closely wasn't enough, the game's camera shakes, blurs, and becomes obscured when the player is being attacked. This makes the combat more "real", but it also means that when the player is dealing with multiple attackers they can be disoriented easily. It doesn't take much to kill you, so losing your bearings in a fight is an easy way to lose the game.
In short, any distraction is liable to cause the player to lose their game. As I explained on the page discussing whether or not games cause violence, this is more than enough to encourage the player to vent every frustration on whatever the last distraction was. Watch yourselves when playing this game.