In my previous post, I mentioned that certain games try to instill fear in the player. This is the cornerstone of Doom 3’s gameplay experience, which pulls out all the stops. By far the most common technique used is that of the monster closet. In fact, Doom 3 has so many of them, you can’t help but wonder about those the player didn’t trigger. Picture a demon, anxiously waiting in a cramped, 5×3 storage space. It knows it’s supposed to jump out at whoever opens the panel that traps it in there. It never happens. “Is that gunfire I hear outside?”, it wonders. But then, silence. “Have they -- forgotten about me?”.
I had a lot of fun with Doom 3 when it was released, and it still holds up today. One aspect that struck me in the face of more modern shooters are the relatively simple controls. There are no separate keys for throwing a grenade or performing melee attacks; these are weapons that need to be equipped. There’s also no cover system or ironsight aiming. Even the ubiquitous Use function is replaced by interactive computer screens that have become a staple of id Tech 4. All this leaves the control set fairly easy to use, and you’ll never throw a grenade at a button you only meant to push.
Doom 3’s storyline is enjoyable, but the whole thing seems a bit overdone. I admit, I ate it up, but I’m the kind of player who listens to every audio log and reads every mail. And the story of a research base overrun by murderous creatures after a failed experiment is quite well-trodden. The problem is similar to the one that Penny Arcade voiced when discussing Unreal Tournament 3. In this post, they assert that the game didn’t really need a single player story because it is a quintessential multiplayer game. Its campaign mode nevertheless attempts to explain away the mechanics of familiar multiplayer game types by giving them a context. So we’re not capturing flags, but FLaGs (which are Field Lattice Generators that power the enemy respawn units, obviously). While not obtrusive, it does seem somewhat superfluous.
The original Doom is a game that revelled in its own ridiculousness. Doom 3 layers a serious context on top of the same ridiculousness, and this juxtaposition feels awkward in some places. But, as was the case with Unreal Tournament 3, it never actually gets in the way. Except when a lengthy audio log only mentions a security code at the very end. Then it forces itself on the player.