Why I Love – Doom 3 – Dancing in the Dark

As someone growing up in the 90s, I played Doom. A lot. Our massive computer would only barely run 30% of the time. It was loud, hot, had occasional steam blasts emerge from the rear fan. But it could run Doom like a dream. That’s not saying much, my calculator can run Doom. There’s just something amazing about that memory of sitting in front of this lumbering great beast of a computer that wouldn’t let me past the second room of the seminal point-and-click Normality (look it up) running the horror-thrills of this desolate Martian base. It was incredible. And like many people, it remains a cornerstone of gaming growing up as a young lad. Then, 2004 brought me Doom 3. And I love it to this day…

Well. Sort of.

Doom 3 sees you play as the infamous ‘marine’, an anonymous member of the Martian special forces. Your mission is to find out exactly what happened in the sinister excavations of the base. Something was found, something dark and ominous. And it’s all on you to find out what. Classic horror-fodder right there, and the knowledge of the plot of the original Doom fuelled expectations. It even sets the atmosphere. Knowing what happens in the original made the new experience all the better. “I can’t wait to see the Revenant”. “I wonder what fucked-up imagery I’ll be seeing in this dark interpretation?” Those were the kind of thoughts that made the game so sinister upon the first playthrough. That expectation of what was to come…what could be conjured up…it was amazing. This game though….dark is the word I’d use, both in terms of style and actual content. The pitch blackness of the environments, it added so much to the previously bright neon colours of the computer version. It was a different Doom. This time, the name was deserved. Every corridor, every hallway, there was this impending sense of dread. It’s funny how something so minor as the lighting scheme could result in such an all-encompassing feeling. And it was perfect. Until the remake.

There’s been a trend over the last couple of years. Mildly-successful game? Re-release it on the current gen and make shedloads of money! Doom 3 was no exception, and boy oh boy was I excited. And I played it. And it was terrible. Well, maybe not terrible, but certainly lacking the sense of dread the original had. WIthout that sensation, it was just another standard modern-day shooty affair. Ugh. And the reason it was like this? It was but one change. They made the torch shoulder-mounted. That’s it. Through this pandering to the most basic CoD-fanboy’s expectations, they ruined it for me. This tiny change robbed the game of the sense I got whilst playing it the first time. Previously, the torch occupied a weapon slot, meaning you couldn’t shoot and shine the torch at the same time. It gave this incredible feeling of panic when something was barreling down at you in a cramped hallway. Am I hitting him where I want to? I hope to God I am. It was incredible. Now though…oh, I can see exactly where I need to shoot all the time. Headshot. Pad down. Walk away.

So, for you game studios planning on updating some of my favourites in the future, please be careful. I know you want to be successful in your re-releases, but just think about what you’re doing. Or a demon will get you. And chainsaw your face off.

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