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Game Review: Doom 3

By Michael - 08-20-04

This review may contain spoilers.

(This review's a little late, because I decided to finish the game before I began writing about it. So chances are, you've already read all of the good reviews.)

Doom 3, folks. It's finally here. After years of anticipation, I have the game's box in my hands. My precious.

Of course, the most impressive thing about Doom 3 is its graphics. Every creature is bump-mapped and chock full of details. Every creature and object casts a shadow. Almost everything is covered with blood (which is fairly realistic).

The Hell Knight actually has saliva dripping from its jaw, as seen on the game's box cover. I'm quite impressed by graphical drool, and I'm only at the medium to low detail setting. I may indeed joyously hoot like a monkey if I were to see the high or ultra-high detail graphics in action. 

I could spend all day discussing graphics, but let's just say that this is one of the best-looking games you or I have ever seen (as of August 2004). We'll save a lot of time that way. 

A lot of attention has been paid to the way sounds work in the game. Ghostly voices will whisper in your ear "Come this way" and you'll be able to follow them using the magic of stereo and/or Surround Sound. If you hear a spawning noise and monstrous hissing coming from your left speaker, chances are that a demon is spawning to your left. But sometimes, that clicking noise is just the clanking of machinery. And the ghostly howls in the background are not always an immediate threat (although they definitely add to the atmosphere).

The Doom 3 Theme song rocks, by the way. You may want to listen to it at least once.

A lot of the levels intentionally hint at color and design schemes from the original Doom. For example, the doors and stairs in some areas are definitely reminiscent of the first Doom game. 

The majority of the action takes place indoors, in the dark. Most of the hallways are cramped, without much room to dodge. This can be frustrating. I mean, I can dodge a fireball just as well as any other red-blooded American, but it's kinda hard to do when you're tripping over all the crates and barrels that are left lying around (That last screenshot is actually a bad example of a cramped hallway. Just trust me when I say that the halls are often quite narrow). 

There are a few small outdoor areas, but you are rushed through them. Once you step outside the airlock, you begin to run out of oxygen (It's Mars, by the way), so you have to hurry to the next airlock. I would personally like to spend more time outside, taking in the beautiful Martian scenery, but no. I have to crawl around in a dark, cramped maintenance shaft filled with zombies and demons and giant dragonflies with baby heads.

Doom 3 is scary, and it delights in being scary. The game's maps have a tendency to re-route you to the darkest, spookiest areas (Half-Life pulled this shit as well). Let's say you have to get from point A to point B. Normally, you'd just cross a bridge. But oh no, the bridge is out. Now you'll have to crawl through this maintenance shaft filled with spiders, except they're not spiders, they're upside-down skulls with spider legs holy shit. There is a huge spider/skulls theme in this game, by the way. Anyway, sometimes I look at the darkness ahead, shaking my head, honestly thinking to myself "I really don't want to go in there. There are monsters in there". But durrrrr, I walk ahead anyway.

d3_die.jpg (227603 bytes)
Maybe I'm not wanted here.

You have all of the traditional Doom weapons: the fists, chainsaw, pistol, shotgun, chaingun, plasma gun, rocket launcher and the wondrous BFG-9000. There's also the Doom 3 addition of a regular machine gun and hand grenades. Finally, there's an item called a Soul Cube which can kill even the most powerful monsters. And the Doom 3 marine is badass enough to carry all of these weapons at once.

With no sunshine and hardly any overhead lighting, one of the main necessities in Doom 3 is a flashlight. A lot of people have complained about this. You see, you can't use the flashlight and a weapon at the same time (and the flashlight is pretty useless as a melee weapon). Some have suggested duct-taping a flashlight to a weapon. As a matter of fact, some of the first mods for Doom 3 have been "duct-tape mods" where a flashlight is taped to a pistol or machine gun. It would get pretty tiring for the Doom marine to tape flashlights to every weapon in his vast inventory, so here's my solution: A miner's helmet. You know, a helmet, with a light in it? Mod-designers - get to work.

In id Software's defense, the flashlight/weapon-swapping does add a lot of tension, and it does make you feel like you're fumbling around in the dark for your weapon at the last minute. It really keeps you on your toes, but it definitely would not be realistic or practical in the real world. Most normal humans would do the miner's hat thing, use some duct-tape, or at least tuck the flashlight under his arm. Even carrying a flashlight in your teeth might work, but it might look kinda gay, and possibly chip your teeth. As far as game controls go, I've patched Flashlight Toggle to my middle mouse button (instead of Zoom) so I have quick access to my most recent weapon. This would work if I weren't clumsy. I often accidentally scroll to fists or pistol by accident, instead of pressing squarely down on the button.

The game starts you out slowly by throwing a couple of good-old-fashioned zombies at you here and there. No big deal. They can be taken down with a couple of headshots from your pistol. 

Once they introduce you to new-and-improved Imp, however, you are hosed. Imps can leap off walls at you, and they can dive at you quickly - almost as fast as a bullet. They like to wait for you behind closed doors. Once you open the door, they will pounce on you. 

Pink Demons are back, and they're maybe 3 times larger than before. They like to run straight at you and make you run backwards - Just like in the first Doom game.

I don't believe we'll see any Cacodemons in this game, but (what appears to be) Doom II's Pain Elemental is here, and is a royal pain in the ass  (Now that I think about, I guess he is actually supposed to be a Cacodemon. He just has more eyes and is a different color than the original).

Doom II's Revenant is also here. He's a skeleton. With rocket launchers on his shoulders. That mewls at you like a pitch-shifted kitty-cat. "MAROOOOOOOOWWWWL!" came the horrid roar of the evil Revenant. "MEEEOOOOOWWWW".

I don't want to spoil everything for you, so I'll just say that there are many more enemies in the game, and they all want you dead.

When you are hit by an enemy, the screen blurs, and your aim is thrown off. This is a good way to make you feel disoriented.

It's set up in such a way where the game is very addictive. I've spent a lot of time, playing in the dark, thinking to myself "Just one more monster. Then I'll go to sleep." I haven't had this much fun playing a game late at night since Dungeon Keeper.

You will NEVER see a monster before it sees you in this game, and it can get frustrating. You can shine your flashlight ahead of you, looking for monsters that may be hiding in shadows, but you'll never find them because they're hiding in the fucking WALLS! And those spider/skull things hide in small gaps in the wall. Monsters have a habit of setting traps for you, much like the first Doom game. You pick up a little ammo, or a piece of armor, and every demon and his mentally-handicapped brother is on your ass. Sometimes, it's just not worth it to pick up that health.

The monsters pretty much tend to jump out (just to scare you) then run at you quickly, throwing fireballs or whatever. That's not very bright, especially since I'm carrying maybe 2000 lbs of weapons and ammo. A few of the armed zombies are actually intelligent enough to duck behind a crate or wall when you shoot at them, but that's about as smart as they get.

It gets a little repetitive to have every enemy pop out and surprise you, but it can be a thrill at times. Occasionally, I'd actually jump in my chair, and I'd point at the screen, "Oh, you got me that time, Mr. Evil Demon #2046! I didn't see that one coming!" It's like saying "gg" after a game of Halo, except the monster doesn't call you a "n00b bitch lol". You have to commend your opponents, even if they're artificial. 

Machine Power:
I have a P4 1.7 GHZ machine with 512 MB of RAM and a GeForce FX 5200 video card, and this is the bare minimum for this game. I unfortunately play the game at low video quality minus a few special effects, and my framerate is still pretty skippy, and nearly unplayable once a bunch of monsters are on the screen throwing fireballs (I downloaded new nVidia drivers, which improves the framerate somewhat, but it's still pretty slow on my machine). This isn't id's fault. It's mine. I should've gotten a new computer. They hit me because I deserve it. No. I fell. Every time Id comes out with a new game, I've had to upgrade my computer, but it's always been worth it.

Favorite moments:
  • I find it really cool and creepy when the Imps crawl around on the ceiling and walls. On occasion, they even crawl around on windows.
  • The first Pink Demon breaks a 2nd floor railing to get at you. That's dedication. It's also the kind of thing that makes you say "Uh oh".
  • I was laughing my ass off when I finally got the chainsaw and began hacking up zombies. I was overwhelmed with joy. It was a nostalgic, glorious moment, where 1994 and 2004 overlapped.
  • The main villain's voice SCREAMS laughter at you as he destroys objects in your path. This frightened me several times.
  • Later in the game, I was taunted by the voice of the main villain. He told me "Death will not be the end for you. Your soul will forever burn in Hell." That may not be an exact quote, but I remember thinking "That's just not very nice."
  • I saw the Cyberdemon. Wow.

d3_wtf.jpg (168981 bytes)
That's just disgusting. I mean, what is that?

I really enjoyed this game. If you want to learn more, freaking buy it already! Doom 3, despite its very few flaws, is historical.

My rating: Five pentagrams out of 5.






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