Games I Own: Doom 3

Posted on 15th Apr 2009 at 17:40 by Joe Martin with 6 comments

Joe Martin
In response to my last Games I Own blogpost someone asked me when I was going to start blogging about some of the really bad games I own. Well, now I am. I don’t like Doom 3.

Or, rather, I don’t like much of Doom 3. The first half an hour or so of the game is pretty good, despite being pretty much a straight rip-off of Half-Life, and there are some bits that really make you jump later on…but the rest of it? Bleh.

There’s three main reasons I don’t like Doom 3. The first is that it’s endlessly repetitive – dark hallways go on forever, punctuated only by utterly redundant outside sections and oh, another scared scientist. Worse, it doesn’t even seem like there’s any variation to the game; all I can remember of it is fighting endless bloody imps.

The second reason I don’t like it is that the game as a whole is massively contrived and manufactured. There isn’t a single part of Doom 3 that stands out as being an example of where game design and concept meet; this is a high-tech science base that’s supposed to be utterly self-reliant yet even the well-lit areas are dismal and dim. Everyone moans that there should be duct tape somewhere in the base, but I’m more concerned by the poor lighting conditions even before the demons appear. And a marine should have more important things to do then go fetch eggheads, right? And why doesn’t a single scientist decide to follow the man with a gun, or at least mug him for his weapons?

Games I Own: Doom 3

One thing some Doom 3 defenders (or deniers) like to bring up in the face of these claims is that the game was originally very different. The first design for Doom 3 had more survival elements, vehicles and so on…but all this does is lead me onto my third reason for despising Doom 3. That is: it doesn’t appear to really know what it’s supposed to be.

The game fluctuates wildly. The perpetually dark corridors, blood smeared walls and suddenly appearing enemies would have you believe it’s a horror game. All well and good, but the endless baddies who exist only to be effortlessly knocked aside with the plentiful weapons and conveniently placed barrels betray the fact that it’s really a corridor FPS. The audio-diaries that hint at secrets, the coded lockers and the levels that let you go back and forth suggest a solid explorative element…but the corridors, lack of rewards and forceful player funnelling say otherwise.

Games I Own: Doom 3

This confusion permeates right to the very root of the game. The opening section of the game is very Half-Lifeesque in keeping the POV always within the totally mute character who goes about a simple routine, but the game breaks from this needlessly for many cutscenes that sometimes do nothing but introduce more unimaginative enemies.

Doom 3 obviously seems to thinks that just because the previous games had demons in them then it’s obviously part of a horror franchise. It doesn’t understand that it’s actually a pure-bred action romp – or at least not fully enough to embrace that heritage. Instead, it tries to fuse the two and fails horribly because the two can never easily mesh. Horror is formed from moments of intense speed that are contrasted by periods of extreme slowness; the ghost standing still, then quickly pouncing. Action meanwhile is nothing but speed.

Games I Own: Doom 3

The blend didn’t work well for F.E.A.R, which had levels which were either scary OR action-orientated, and it doesn’t for Doom 3 either. That’s utterly aside from the fact that none of the original Doom games were really scary to start with – they were about excitement, not panic. The levels were built around the idea of mazes and arenas, not dim, claustrophobic bathrooms.

There are things I do like about Doom 3 admittedly, like the Plasma Rifle and the voice acting – but it’s all tiny diamonds buried under a thick layer of cloying, obvious and unimaginative mulch.

Times I’ve Completed It: Once – though to be honest I got so tired of it after I got about 3/4s of the way through that I just put God mode on for the remainder.

Random Trivia: Not only was Doom 3 a point of contention for id Software staff that lead to at least one person being fired, but it was also prohibitively expensive – an apparent budget of more than $15 million.


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salesman 16th April 2009, 04:22 Quote
OK so I have to agree with you in that I don't like the game, just for the simple reason though that it is called Doom 3. If in fact someone else made it and it was called something else as well then I wouldn't mind it. I think the real reason I don't like the game stems from it being Doom 3 made by id. You know it is all that hype behind it, and even if it wasn't hyped it is still called Doom 3 so it has to live up to 1 and 2. I believe that id is in a tough spot though because what do they do now with the Doom franchise. I hope they leave it alone. Have you played the mod for Doom 3 that is Doom 1? I would be interested in your thoughts on the mods and such for Doom 3 or the engine.
bridgesentry 16th April 2009, 04:25 Quote
I agree totally. Why do any players on earth return to a hell w/o any rewards, any upgrades, any fun, any character customizations?! This game has Hollywood grade art in visual and sound, only to make the hell become a nightmare. I don't hate darkness and I don't feel it is repetitive, but I hate an all day nightmare!
Bauul 16th April 2009, 08:46 Quote
It's a foregone conclusion I was going to comment on this, but here's the slightly suprising bit: I actually agree with you. To be honest, I realised from about half an hour in exactly just how repetitive D3 was going to be, and given I'm a complete unashamed Doom fanboy, I thought "right, I'm not going to let the shoddy game design spoil my experience!", and promptly set about obeying eight simple rules for playing it, rules I recommend any first time players follow:

Rule 1: Only play at night.
Rule 2: Only play alone and with the lights off.
Rule 3: Allow yourself to get absorbed into the game.
Rule 4: Play for no more than 1 hour at a time.
Rule 5: Put in no more than 4 hours a week.
Rule 6: Play on the hard difficulty setting.
Rule 7: Play it slowly: explore as much as possible
Rule 8: Don't ask questions of the game

These are totally contrived, true, and are indicative of actually how weak the game as a whole is, but if you are able to stick to them, it actually makes the game very rewarding. The horror is allowed to blossom, the story actually appears quite good and the action doesn't become too samey. Whilst it's true Doom 3 could have been soooo good it's cringworthy, if played with a bit of discipline and a lot of good faith, the actual game can be a hell of a lot of fun, which is why I rank it right up there in the "games that took over my life" list.
chimaera 16th April 2009, 10:10 Quote
I'm the same, although I never actually completed the game - I really enjoyed the first half-hour to an hour. I was playing late at night with the 5.1 sound and all that and the tension and atmosphere were spot on. It all went to hell (so to speak) soon after we started having bad guys to deal with - I very quickly got bored with the "scary" stuff jumping out of a cupboard behind me trick that was used to death.

All in all I doubt I got more than a third of the way through the game before giving up and I've never been tempted to go back and finish it.
Paradigm Shifter 16th April 2009, 12:09 Quote
I enjoyed Doom and Doom 2 - which will probably explain my liking of Serious Sam, as that maintains the recipe of 'lots of guns, lots of ammo, thousands of enemies'...

...but Doom 3 left me unimpressed. It lacked the charm the earlier games had. I didn't have so much of an issue with the lack of 'duct tape' (although the mechanic of needing to wonder around with just a torch, then switching to a weapon grated after about five zombies...) so much as the monumentally unimaginative level design and walk-through-door-have-demons-spawn-behind-you that was old in games long before Doom 3 was released. I tried the game again with Resurrection of Evil when I found it for £2 in an HMV sale once, but even that wasn't amazing. I did enjoy it a little more than the original game, though, and it kept me amused for a couple of days.

I've come to the conclusion that, starting with Quake, iD are good at engines... but not that good at games.

I hope Rage or Doom 4 prove that to be incorrect.
Xir 17th April 2009, 09:08 Quote
All in all I doubt I got more than a third of the way through the game before giving up and I've never been tempted to go back and finish it.

Same here ;-)
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