Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Doom 3

I finished Doom 3 the other day, and decided I had a bit more to say about it than I did in my two sentence review earlier.

I was a huge fan of the original Doom games when they first came out. Nothing could be cooler to a fourteen year old boy than a scary, violent video game. So I'd been looking forward to this one a lot, and like a good little nerd I ran down to the games shop the day it came out, and joined the queue of smelly unshaven geeks going "Nyeeh, nyeeh, gigabyte, megabyte, nyeeeh".

Now I'd just finished playing Thief 3, easily the scariest game I've ever played, so I didn't find Doom as scary as the reviews I read said it was, but after playing it for a few hours, I put down the mouse and realised I was shaking and I'd just let out a huge sigh of relief when I clicked exit. So, not scary, but immersive and intense. Here's a point by point critique.

Graphics: Fantastic, one of the best looking games I've ever played, the level of detail on the characters and the sets blew me away. Farcry looked almost as good, but doesn't run nearly as well on my machine. I expect id will make loads of money from licensing the engine.

Sound: Even better than the graphics. Once I get a real sound card and a surround setup, I'll play the game again just to properly appreciate it. Trent from Nine Inch Nails was originally supposed to do the sound, but he wasn't able to in the end, and it's probably just as well, because the guy who ended up doing it did a fucking awesome job. Except for a theme song by Tweaker at the title screen (which is pretty cool), there is no music in the game. Instead there is just ambient noise, sometimes mundane (the rhythmic hum of large electrical machinery), sometimes supernatural (the heavy thud of a heartbeat, or the sound of a someone repeatedly banging two bits of metal together) and always creepy. You never know if the sound is just an ambient effect, or if it's some new horrible monster around the corner. Anyway, I've never seen sound done so well in a game before.

Story: Id put a little more effort into the story than they usually do this time around. I thought it was quite adequate, but didn't really fit with the length of the game. There are lots of story scenes at the beginning and end, but the middle is basically just a long stretch of demon bashing. This probably doesn't bother most people, but I like a good story.

Gameplay: Pretty good. Faithful to the style of the original, but it gets old after a while, which brings me to my next point...

Level Design: A great big C-. Each level has a cool location, but always devolves into the same old routine of open door, kill monsters, search for health, kill more monsters, and so on. Considering the immersive atmosphere generated by the sound and graphics, the level designers should have tried to complement it with more original scripted events than 'more demons teleport in and attack you'. This is the only flaw in an otherwise excellent game, but it's a big one.

Overall, I give it eight chainsaws out of ten, it gets one extra for being so long, seeing as most FPSs nowadays are pathetically short.

No comments: