Head back in time to 2004 and you’ll find many awards going Doom 3’s way. Not for the game it ultimately ended up being, but the fact that it was a technical marvel at the time. You had to own a real beefed up PC to play it with top specs and the Xbox version of the game is a modern marvel. It should simply just not have been possible on that hardware. Here we are 15 years later and it’s finally appearing on the PlayStation platform for the very first time. The question is, has it aged well enough for you to head back into hell?
Doom 3 takes place in 2145 where the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) has set up a research facility on Mars. This research includes advanced weapon development, space exploration and some other dodgy things that you would expect from a big corporation. Unlike previous games in the series, you fill the shoes of an anonymous Space Marine corporal. On your arrival to the base you’re asked to take care of some basic tasks and naturally things turn sour very early on. The gates of hell open up and the next thing you know you’re shooting demons in the face. It all happens very quickly, but throughout your journey you’ll be picking up PDAs that provide you with some background information at just how disgruntled the various employees were on the base before meeting their fate. The UAC ignored the pleas and in turn their base has become a demon playground that requires you to demolish all in its path.
In terms of atmosphere it’s very reminiscent of Dead Space.
Make no mistake, this game still has the Doom DNA flowing through its veins, but it’s had a few sprinkles of horror added into the mix. Throughout the game you’ll have to deal with dimly lit corridors as you battle your way through everything that hell can throw your way. In terms of atmosphere it’s very reminiscent of Dead Space. What starts off with you being surrounded by metal walls will later have you looking at blood-smeared walls, telling a story of what took place on the base. Your most important item in the game? Your flash light. Activate it and the batteries will slowly deplete to ultimately leave you in darkness. But, thankfully, it recharges real quick. It comes down to keeping your eye on that charge meter before entering any new area that looks like it might host a whole load of monsters for you to dispose of. As handy as your light might be, you’re here for the weapons and Doom 3 won’t disappoint.
As always you’ll start off with your traditional handgun and shotgun (which you’ll find in quick succession) and later you’ll get access to the bad boys. Once you get hold of the Plasma Gun, Rocket Launcher and, the bad ass of them all, the BFG 9000, you’ll be splattering monster guts all over the show. Doom 3 does not hold back on the gore. The chainsaw is proof of that. You’ll be painting the walls red. A click of your left analogue stick will switch your character between walking and sprinting and this is perhaps the only bit that feels very ‘2004’ – the controls aren’t quite on par with what you’ve become accustomed to in 2019.
You simply just have enough weapons at hand to fend off any threat.
L1 and R1 will have you swapping weapons, while L2 will operate your flash light and R2 shoots (the only bit that feels traditional). Even though you will get access to grenades later on, I found that I barely used them, as having to rapidly press the L1 or R1 button to get to it is just far too stressful when in the middle of a battle. You’re also constantly keeping an eye on your health meter and armour. The only way to replenish health is by standing next to a health station to gain health – each tap of your button adds 10 health of the 100 in total. These are scattered all around the base and I never found myself emptying any of the health stations on the normal difficulty. You simply just have enough weapons at hand to fend off any threat.
Brawn over brains
What starts off as Imps, later change to the more destructive Revenants and powerful Hell Knights. There is a huge variety of enemies. The game constantly keeps you on your toes and at no point are you one hundred percent safe. If it’s not crawling over-sized spiders that add to the chaos it’s baby-like cyborg flying monsters that leap at you when you least expect it. Their baby cries are what nightmares are made of. Some monsters, like Imps that constantly plague you, can also teleport from one point to the next, so you’re always on your guard as soon as the ‘sh*t is about to kick down’ music kicks in. To break up all this action there are some basic puzzles that reminded me very much of Half-Life’s puzzles, but on a much smaller scale and difficulty. Doom 3 is about killing things and finding a key pass to open a door or finding the code to a locker is mostly how complicated it gets. It’s just that it sometimes requires some doing to get those codes.
You would have had to live in 2004 to understand just how jaw-dropping it was at the time.
What is incredibly impressive, even now, are the graphics. No, it looks nowhere near as good as some of the experiences we get these days, but it’s aged incredibly well. The lighting is superb and some of the textures, especially towards the end of the game, are real impressive. You would have had to live in 2004 to understand just how jaw-dropping it was at the time. That said, in the options menu there is the option to turn flash light shadows on and off and… well… it’s quite laughable. The shadows look like drop shadows you would add in Photoshop. It’s very basic and when you consider that a game like Silent Hill 2 did miracles with that in 2001, it goes to show that it had its faults. There are also some textures that have not been altered and when you get close it blurs into what you’d expect from an N64 game. On the surface it’s still very, very impressive.
Single-player heaven, multiplayer hell
Doom 3 is going to last you just over 11 hours and once you’re done with that you can jump right into the included DLC that’ll last you an additional six hours and that ties in with specific parts of the story. Unfortunately there is no multiplayer mode whatsoever, so if you’re not into shooters for the story then this is a different kind of hell for you. Bethesda has just uploaded a patch in time for a required login to allow players to play while offline, but it’s probably only right that I point out that it did not require to sign into Bethesda.net to play anyway. It only affected the first two games.
Doom 3 received a bit of a raw deal from fans at the time for heading in a new direction with its injection of horror. Today it’s all the better for it. The pace and overall length of the game feels just about perfect and if you’re keen for one hell of a good shooter this is definitely worth revisiting.