Four years waiting and it’s finally here. Doom 3 is upon us and history books will know it as the game that saved the PC as a gaming platform. Or will they ?
Years ago a game was released that launched a revolution throughout the gaming industry. That game was called “Doom” and although it wasn’t the first first person shooter, it did open the doors towards the general public for the genre.
The creators of Doom, ID Software, have since then made hit after hit in the game type they invented but when a couple of years ago the question arose what title they would make next, all hell broke loose. Internal discussions heated up so hard that ID Software wasn’t able to keep things inside the office walls and soon the whole world knew that something was up. In effect, the company got split up into two camps. On one side there were Adrian Carmack and his followers who wanted to do something completely different and not follow the path of brainless first person shooters the general public had gotten used to from ID Software. On the other side there was John Carmack and Paul Steed who wanted to do a remake of the game that made them famous: Doom.
We all know the end-result: Paul Steed got the sack but the game he wanted to create would become the next big thing from ID Software.
So far for the history lesson. We’re four years later and when I look at my PC, an icon on the desktop clearly shows that Doom 3 is installed. Having played it, I’m now facing one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever done as a reviewer: write a review of the game that so many people have been looking out for. The game that is said to blow everything we know away. The game that is supposed to save pc gaming.
Still, it’s not the fact that I have to review one of the biggest titles in pc gaming history that is making it so hard for me. I’ve reviewed loads of “blockbuster”-games without ever having any problems with writing down my opinion on them. The reason why this time I’m having trouble is the fact that I don’t have a clear opinion. Even when trying to form one for myself, I just seem incapable of doing so.
Trying to find out how come my feelings are so mixed up about this game, I’ve been talking with a lot of people who also have played Doom 3 and it seems like no matter what they’re saying, I have to say they are correct. Doesn’t really feel as a straightforward opinion, now does it ?
Some people say that Doom 3’s multiplayer sucks. Considering we live in a world where every game that wants to be successful at least has 4 dozen of different multiplayer modes, co-op, thousands of online servers and clan leagues a year before the game is available in stores, this argument is certainly true. However, Doom 3 has never been set up as a game that focuses on multiplayer. From the beginning on, it was clear that ID Software would only be interested in the single player part and the fact we uberhaupt even get a deathmatch mode is something we should be happy for. At least, with the deathmatch mode and decent network code present, the community can create whatever mods and multiplayer modes we could ever wish for.
Other people talk to me about how the game’s storyline isn’t really surprising or original. Again they are correct but they tend to forget we’re talking about a remake here. Doom 3 is not a completely new game but a remake of the original Doom that was released years ago. What could one expect ? It’s not like the storyline could have suddenly completely changed now could it ? When a remake of a movie is created, the new film doesn’t suddenly have different plot twists either but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, remaking a movie with more modern technologies often brings new life into the title that otherwise would have started collecting dust without anyone ever paying attention to it except for those that have seen in when they were younger and have good memories about it. A remake can give a new generation the same joy the oldies had when they got to see the original.
Apparantly some people aren’t too happy with the atmosphere but that’s one thing I can’t really understand. Doom 3 is a horror game and it succeeds very well in creating a creepy atmosphere. The difference with the original game however, is that you have to be a lot more careful now and really don’t want to make it a contest in rushing forward. The levels are extremely dark and the use of the flashlight is really necessary as otherwise you won’t see your hand before your eyes. Of course this only adds to the creepyness as danger seems to lure at every corner. The original Doom was creepy but not half as much as Doom 3. Things are a lot more realistic now and the fact that sound technology has improved quite a lot, you really won’t feel safe while playing this game.
One thing everyone seems to agree on is the graphics. They are great. Maybe even too great, seeing that even a Radeon 9800XT in 1024*768 on medium quality sometimes has trouble giving a decent framerate. Following the guidelines from ID Software themselves, one should even have a videocard that isn’t available yet to be able to enjoy the best quality at good framerates and high resolution. Or has anyone spotted a 512MB vidcard in stores already ?
So, all these things put together leave me with this quite awkward feeling that is hard to express. Is Doom 3 creepy ? Yes. Is it graphically the best thing we’ve seen for years ? Yes. Does the sound add greatly to the atmosphere ? Yes. Is it everything we were told we would get ? Yes.
So, what am I missing ? In one word: Urge. I miss the urge, the need to play. Other top first person shooters gave me an urge to finish them when they got released. From the moment I started playing, I couldn’t stop and when I got dragged away from my desk because I had to go to work, I couldn’t wait to return and continue playing. I don’t have this same feeling with Doom 3.
Technically, Doom 3 is the best game out there. It has everything one could ever want from a first person shooter. However, maybe it’s too much. Maybe the game is so perfect in every way that it doesn’t manage to draw me to it anymore. Or maybe I’m just getting too old and the fact that I’ve seen so many games makes it hard for me to be truly driven to play yet another.
I remember the original Doom and how it finally opened the door for the PC to become the gaming machine we since then cherished. I remember how fascinated I was, going from one level to another, shooting more and more monsters out of my way. I remember how scared I got when opening a door, knowing a foe would be waiting for me on the other side. I remember I got even more scared when there wasn’t any as I was absolutely sure something bad was going to happen when I encountered an empty room with only some ammo which I desperately needed in the middle. I remember how great gaming used to be… but those times are over.
Doom 3 is upon us and it shows us how games are going to be for the next couple of years. Games will be more realistic than ever, they’ll have the best graphics our eyes ever saw and they will undoubtedly outclass anything I played back in the days when PC gaming was still young. Doom 3 sets the new standard for the games to come in the next year. One thing Doom 3 will not be able to do however, is create the revolution the original game did and I’m pretty sure we could use a revolution.