<Doom III - The Adventure Into Darkness Begins>
1993; the year of release for PC shooter DOOM, a true classic in every regard. Atmospheric, superb graphics for the time, and hours of top-notch game play. Spin on 11 years, and ID software has just released the remake of its flagship game in the shape of Doom III. John Carmack, head honcho of ID has made it clear that Doom III is what he always visualised the original Doom to be, and the remake has given him and his team the chance to show the game in its true form.
This really, getting straight to the point, is perhaps what flaws Doom III from the start – it’s a remake of a game from 1993. Now, if you are going to remake a game from 1993, obviously the game will look far better running on the X800XT powered systems of today, than it did on the once powerful 486 systems of yesteryear, however, it seems the game play, once cutting edge, but certainly not anymore, has been recreated as well, this is what John Carmack set out to do after all.
The problem is, this is game play from the early years of first-person-shooters, when 15 hours of nothing more than running around dark tunnels, mindlessly blasting anything that gets in your way, was acceptable; more than acceptable, it was what gamers wanted. Alas, the same simple, mindless blasting doesn’t really cut it in 2004, with FarCry still fresh in many gamer’s minds.
In many ways, had Doom III been a completely new game, and ID had the freedom to develop the game play as well as the graphics engine, then it could have been a real classic, in fact, had this game played as good as it looks, we would be talking about one of the finest games of all time, because it looks sublime.
<Nice Place. And Yes, It Is Always That Dark>
The entire experience, from a visual and audio point-of-view, is without equal at the moment. FarCry was beautiful, with immense outdoor environments, lapping ocean waves on a golden beach and rich, deep forests. Doom III couldn’t be more different; dark futuristic corridors, filthy maintenance shafts, and later on in the game, Hell itself, are all brought to life with a quality of graphics not seen before.
The special effects are equally as impressive; a simple fire fight between your Marine and an Imp (one of the many monsters you’ll meet on your way to Hell), is a joy to watch, as the blue plasma balls of your Plasma Rifle crash into the orange balls of energy the Imp throws. The dynamic shadows, particle effects and beautifully lit surroundings (one of the few times they are lit in any way) are simply breathtaking.
<I Can See You Fatso>
The atmosphere in-game during Doom III is also without equal, surpassing the Resident Evil series of games, if only due to the quality of the visuals heightening the shock; all the old cheap shots are here, Imps jumping out from dark corners, far off noises, dead bodies falling from vents, the works. Some work and proceed to make you jump out of your skin, others, mainly due to being overused, leave you less shaken.
So, looks brilliant, feels great, creates a realistic and genuinely scary playing environment… must be a classic then, right? Wrong.
As stated before, there is an element of the game which isn’t so impressive, namely the game play. You soon realise, about 5 or 6 levels into the Doom III experience, that pretty much, that’s it. You’ve seen the game running, know how great it looks and how often it makes you jump, but there’s nothing more to come. Because this is an attempt to remake Doom, complete with Doom’s game play, all you do is walk around (very nice looking) corridors shooting (very nice looking) monsters with (very nice looking) weapons. Nothing more, nothing less.
<It's A Laser. A Big Laser>
After a while, you are hoping the game will offer up something more; the puzzle element, which goes no deeper than reading PDAs you find scattered around and using them to gain access codes to locked doors and weapons storage lockers, could have been expanded upon to include Resident Evil style logic puzzles. There could have been so much more, but again, as this is a remake, it’s almost as if the team at ID didn’t want to expand on it, as then it wouldn’t be Doom.
So no puzzle element, no real depth, in fact not much of anything, apart from mindless blasting. Every two or three levels a new weapon will be introduced, and then two or three levels later a new enemy to shoot with your new weapon, and this continues until the end of the game. All the levels, with the exception of a trip to Hell later on, look pretty much the same, and once completed it will leave all but the most devoted Doom fan wondering why they didn’t do so much more with the game.
Very much a case of a game engine from 2004 and game play from 1993. Flawlessly presented and breathtaking to watch, whilst being tedious and dull to play. The AI suffers from exactly the same faults; they look amazing, but they behave like enemies from a long gone age of FPS games. Whenever a Marine appears, it can be dispatched by simply walking around a corner, readying your weapon of choice, and waiting for it to obligingly walk around the corner into your line of site.
Imps simply stand in front of you, throwing fireballs, which are easily sidestepped, as you gun them down with ease. Compared to the squad tactics used by the mercenaries in FarCry, this is a massive step backwards.
<Kez Hard At Work In The Hexus Control Room - Mars Alpha Labs>
In short, Doom III could have been an all-time classic, if it was a loose remake, set in the Doom universe, but not an attempt to remake the game almost exactly as it was all those years ago, with a new graphics engine. If only the puzzle element was expanded, the AI more intelligent and the levels not simply a tedious trek through another set of dark tunnels, just like the level before, and the level before, and the 10 levels before that.
If you can get hold of a copy, and you have the system to play it, its probably worth a quick game, late at night, with the sound up and the lights off; at least that way you might make it half way through the game before the novelty of the eye candy and the atmospheric setting wear off, and you start to get bored with the shallow, uninteresting game play.
The Star... In The Toilets... With A Torch>
Overall, a big disappointment, but it does at least show us what to expect from a visual point of view, from the current crop of next gen first person shooters nearing release; if Half Life II or STALKER look half as good as Doom III, and can improve on its flawed, overly simplistic game play, then all will be well.