‘Doom 3’ features classic action, horror aesthetic 

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Photo courtesy of Steam

Screenshot from the sci-fi game “Doom 3” of the main character shooting an enemy. The action, horror game is the third installment a part of the Doom franchise.

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

It’s an unfortunate yet very common occurrence when a good title, whether it be a game, movie or even song, is overshadowed by a triumphant success released in the same window. 

We’ve seen it in 1982 when the sci-fi classic (and my favorite movie) “Blade Runner” was crushed at the box office by the runaway hit of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (my mom’s favorite movie). We’ve seen it with games like the 2010 “Vanquish” being kicked off stage by the mega-hit “Fallout: New Vegas.”

Case in point, 2004 saw the release of “Half-Life 2,” the classic that truly embodied the label of “generation-defining,” with superb graphics and a physics engine so versatile it still sees use to this day.

But while “Half-Life 2” was showered in its much deserved praise, “Doom 3,” another anticipated title, received mixed reviews at the time for its weird take on the iconic Doom series and thus dropped dead and took the franchise along with it for 12 years. 

Many were quick to write off “Doom 3” because it went away with the rock ‘n’ roll, power fantasy of the first two titles and favored a more slow-pace, horror tone.

But was this game bad in the end? Or was it just a title in the wrong place at the wrong time? 

“Doom 3” was released in 2004 on PC and later released on the original Xbox in 2005. Later, an expanded remastered edition, titled “Doom 3: BFG Edition,” was released on modern consoles in 2012 and later 2019. 

Developed by id Software, it saw players taking up the role of a nobody space marine on Mars amid a demonic invasion from hell. You’ll embark on a 10-hour quest to close the portal to hell while facing off against signature enemies of the Doom series. 

Your arsenal is packed with iconic weapons revamped into the third dimension, as well as some new tools like a plasma-grabber and a discount gravity gun. Where the main difference comes into play, and what makes “Doom 3” stand apart from the series, is in the atmosphere. 

Dark, foreboding steel hallways. Loud and disorientating industrial machinery running rampant. A blood-covered wall and cracked window are all the storytelling needed to tell something terrible has happened. I will adamantly say “Doom 3” has one of the best introductions to a game ever. 

In a literal descent into hell, you arrive at the Mars research base, isolated and alone, with your few encounters with the residences of this lab growing fewer and fewer as you go further into the planet. Combine this tense atmosphere with phenomenal sound design, you have sci-fi horror so good it would be the precursor to the likes of “Dead Space” and “SOMA.” 

It’s not flawless, however, and its biggest weakness is unfortunately the core of Doom, its combat. The claustrophobic hallways give way to frustrating firefights where you don’t really have any cover, and dodging is hard to pull off given you have no space to fight in. The dark lighting also works against the game at times, as your gun doesn’t light up the room when fired, and the flashlight can reveal how dated the early 2000s texture work is.

But overall, I highly recommend this title to not just fans of Doom looking for a new experience, but to those who desire more sci-fi horror reminiscent of “Alien” or “Event Horizon.” It’s a good title that did not deserve the doomed launch it had. 

Doom 3 is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC. 

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