Bad, vile and meaningless: Doom 3 from Alan's clob

Doom

I'm surprised at how similar to Doom 1 this game is. It has the same concept plus some more modern additions like:

If you drop that stuff out, it's just like Doom 1. Research facility of some kind, with people & demons inside, and a bunch of increasingly big guns.

The first thing you'll notice of this game is that it's slow. I know my Geforce4 Ti4200 is aging, and I conclude this thing really wants a fast GPU. I'd expect my XP3000+ to be ok. Still, the game chooses second-to-lowest visual quality and even that is only half playable. Forget fast reflexes, you'll just have to enjoy the slideshow when action gets hot.

However, the speed issue aside, the game manages to impress with its bunch of moving light sources of which several cast proper shadows. Everything is made out of more polygons than you might think is even necessary, and it goes beyond that: the texture resolution is also pretty good, and the resolution is used to give for instance door knobs that are simply painted on, but of course bump-mapped along with everything else, so you really get a lot of detail to soak in. All this graphics, however, simply works to bring back the original Doom in mind -- so much of its style is the similar. In fact, the levels have same sort of elevations for your grunts to fire you from, and nooks where a demon or two might hide... and Also the levels are crammed full of junk that can be moved and probably destroyed too. (Ammo is pretty sparse, so haven't had time to play with that sort of stuff yet.)

The visual style now included some pretty hellish scenes, too: you'll recognize candles on the floor and some sort of slithery wormy creature up the walls and ceilings. And when you approach to pick up the PDA... Well, you'll see. Or how about gradually appearing to lose your mind? Who the devil is that staring at me from the mirror?

The game music is somewhere between atmospheric, ignorable and irritating. Nothing struck me with an impression yet. Game refused Surround on my SB Live! 4-channel setup, also. Don't ask me why.

The game AI seems ok so far. The enemies know how to hide, and evade firing pretty well. In fact, I think the highest difficulty levels probably have those bastards jump around so much that actually hitting them can feel like an accident if your hardware happens to veer to the slideshow. Some serious excercise is needed from player's part, too. Otherwise you'll get shot at, manhandled, pounded, or generally just torn to bits.

On the other hand, some stupid monsters like spiders seem too clever. Every monster in this game automatically knows what is the shortest route to attack the player, and they march in row along that invisible path. It's wrong. The spiders should, I feel, be evil, but stupid, more wrath and fury than this kind of metodical calculation that if I walk 50 meters to the right, then go up two stairs, I can reach a position where I can jump against the player.

Does the game succeed?

So far I'm not enthusiastic. I mean, I enjoy it, but in the end it's just another FPS with poorish voice acting and in general an incredibly tenuous sort of story. And the place looks like it paid serious homage to some classic sci-fi like Aliens the movie, or Aliens vs. Predator the game. But while Aliens at least seem genuinely terrifying, these monsters so far are basically just difficult-to-kill but not especially frightening monsters. Perhaps trying a harder difficulty level would manage to get some more adrenaline flowing. After all, that is why we play these games, isn't it?

There's a few instances of genuine panic when you listen to approaching monsters and all the lights go out. You will run away, most likely. And shoot around half-blind. This game has all the potential to be really, really intensive. But it doesn't come cheap. And the Linux client still isn't ready. Still, I'd heartily recommend it if you like FPS genre in general. Just crank the difficulty to max, or close enough, and you might enjoy it from your first kill. My minus point would be that this game is too dark. It is supposed to be dark, of course, but it's still too dark.

I also don't enjoy being irritated. This game has monsters designed to actually annoy you by their sounds or looks, so that you would be filled with dark, holy wrath and want to kill them. I don't actually enjoy that sort of thing. There is no feeling of release or success in managing to kill the enemies. They are too abstract, I think, and their death is simply not satisfying enough.

I don't actually know why this crucial part of FPS fails with Doom 3. What is the thing that makes killing things fun? I personally liked most the killing of those slow-moving near helpless zombies. At least they go satisfyingly into bits. It's the sense of power, which for some reason just doesn't materialize with these demons from hell. They are perhaps too abstract. Their number is infinite. Perhaps in our hearts we will continue to believe, against evidence to the contrary, that there can't be a true victory against hordes of demons from hell.