Doom 3 -- good stuff

December 12, 2005

I just finished Doom 3.

I had my doubts about it. I wasn’t too impressed by the demo – it promised just loads and loads of same ugly-looking boxed corridors. Dynamic lighting is nice, but it can’t save crap playability. Still, it wasn’t so bad that it would have totally discouraged me from going for the full version. Which I did.

The good news about Doom3 is that it is LONG. Maybe not so much so for professional gamers, but I sometimes can spend only half a day a week gaming or so, and this way, games like Doom3 can easily stretch to months in calendar time. Which is fine, as long as you don’t stay away so long that you would lose your edge.

Long FPS-es can become repetitive and initially, this seemed to be the case for Doom3 too, especially in the demo – scores and scores of same-looking corridors, lights, darkness, flashing lights and same old boring monsters. In the full version it was not so bad – enough variation to keep you busy and wondering what’s gonna happen next, yet not so much that it would be too chaotic.

I liked the tech gadgets – PDA-s, lockers, trains, computers, teleporters. There were enough to make it more interesting, but not as much as to make it übertechy. The plot and storyline was pretty straightforward and there was always only one direction to go. There was a critical decision you had to make about whether or not to transmit a distress call, but I’m not sure what, if anything, that changed. Anyone? Being a good person as I am ;) I still went for transmitting it and in the final movie some troops did show up – maybe it would have affected the final movie. I saved the spot but it was only about halfway through the game and replaying it all with a different choice would be too much trouble just yet – maybe I’ll give it a couple of months rest and then do it at a more difficult level with the other choice.

I did it currently with an “average” level (Marine? or something). The balance was just right – in some places it was pretty tight and you had to go two or three times to find the right way to go through the scores of monsters, but not more. Guess they didn’t want to make it too difficult for entry games and it’s more of a “just shoot’em all with your biggest baddest gun” than “try 10 times to find the right stealth tactics to bash them in the right sequence” kind of game.

One thing in great games is gradual unfolding and Doom3 did it well. Initially everything was simple with just a few different monsters and weapons, but as you progressed, the situations got more complex with the different scores of monsters coming at you and having to try a few times and a few tricks.

One more thing in great shooters is that they don’t have “infinite respawn”. This is where the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series suck – they often have timers where you have to hold position while infinite hordes of enemies spring to life right in your face and come at you. Doom3 is not exactly what you would call “realistic”, but to its credit, it never had “infinite respawn”. Some situations came pretty close to infinite respawn, but only until you realized that one particular type of monsters could spawn others, so if you killed the “mother”, you were ok.

BFG9000 was cool! Bio Force Gun. Or, like the dude said in the Doom movie (which of course sucked artistically bigtime but was still entertaining), “big fucking gun”. So was the Soul Cube. All in all the arsenal went across the whole range and you could take fellows either at a distance or slash them with Doom series’ trademark chainsaw. There’s no sniper rifle or other silly unnecessary gadgets, it’s all about proximity firepower. One thing I missed, which wasn’t really necessary but would have been fun, would have been some close proximity thing like flamethrower. But of the current stack, my favourites were probably chaingun, plasma, rockets and BFG, although I used all as needed in the situation.

It still couldn’t beat my recent years’ favourites though – “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” for a historic and “Far Cry” for modern current-era shooters. Too bad “Far Cry Instincts” is only available for Xbox, I’d love to have it on my PC and I hate when monstrous megacorporations force me to make platform decisions based on for which platform they decide to license and compile stuff. Choice is fine but these days you can cross-build shooters for most platforms pretty easily (Xbox is a PC anyway, just configured differently).

So let’s see what the Resurrection of Evil expansion has in it…