DOOM 3 is commonly regarded as the black sheep of its iconic first-person shooter franchise due to myriad factors. Is this reputation deserved?
By Liam Evans
Published 10 hours ago
When DOOM 3 released in 2004 it, surprisingly, did not set the world on fire. The game was very well received, selling many copies and garnering?great reviews, but it never had the same impact on the industry as either the originals or the newly released titles. This has left DOOM 3 in a bit of a strange place. It takes the DOOM series in a slightly different direction than most other titles and has thus been branded as the black sheep of the franchise. Is this really a fair assessment?
DOOM 3 is a much slower-paced game than its siblings. The title has a much greater emphasis on its horror element opposed to the action element, a creative choice similarly made by Midway’s DOOM 64. When designing the game, id Software legend John Carmack created a brand-new lighting engine specifically to capitalize on the game’s spooky atmosphere. This lighting engine was one of the most impressive aspects of the experience at launch and remains a technical marvel even to this day.
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The choice to focus on horror inevitably leads to players being made to feel less powerful. Gone were the days of circle-strafing around several Mancubi in a wide-open arena as midi-riffs encourage the player’s seemingly endless rampage. DOOM 3?is set mostly within the dark, claustrophobic hallways of the UAC’s Mars facility, aside from a handful of stages set within the game’s version of Hell (a truly memorable one). The adventure begins with a rather lengthy introductory sequence where the player walks through the bustling facility to check in to Mars and begin receiving orders. Clearly inspired by?the likes of Half-Life,?this sequence feels very unlike?DOOM to a lot of players. The drawn-out introductory sequence is everything the 2016 release?would later lambast in its immediate jump into the action.
In addition to this, DOOM 3?makes a conscious decision to completely reboot the franchise, adding to its standalone feel. While DOOM Eternal?would?reveal that the previous DOOM games all take place in the same universe as the modern releases, DOOM 3?is still left out, unable to snugly fit into the overarching series canon. The title has been relegated to Easter eggs, such as the?game’s Soul Cube making a cameo in DOOM Eternal’s Fortress of Doom.
All that said, DOOM 3?is actually a phenomenal title that fully deserves to be appreciated by both the community and the franchise as a whole. It’s true that the game takes the series in a slightly different direction than future releases, but horror has always been an aspect of DOOM?and choosing to embrace it more fully is not a bad decision. The game is rich with atmosphere and remains the only entry in the series that allows the player to experience the initial demonic invasion in real-time, a truly memorable moment from the game.?The original release required the player to switch to a dedicated flashlight in order to see what lurks in the darkest corners of the base, forcing players to choose between seeing what’s coming or being able to defend themselves. This was a controversial decision at the time but nevertheless proved incredibly effective at creating tension.
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Once DOOM 3 has played its hand and players know to expect, the horrific impact of jump-scares and spawning demons does admittedly diminish, but the combat has not been as butchered as some may claim. Weapons are still satisfying to use (with the possible exception of the controversial shotgun) and killing demons is as fun as it has always been. The re-releases of DOOM 3?mostly do away with the dedicated flashlight, strapping it to the player’s armor allowing for them to both see and shoot any?hellspawn that comes their way. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include a toggle for those who preferred the old system but should please players who wanted a faster-paced experience.
Ultimately DOOM 3?is a truly impressive title. To this day, it is beloved by many at id Software, including DOOM Eternal director Hugo Martin. Aspects of the game have been kept alive in modern installments, such as PDA collectibles (that would return in DOOM 2016 as data logs) and even demon redesigns. The DOOM 3?Hell Knight featured on the game’s cover has served as the inspiration for the design of the demon in both modern installments. DOOM 3?is an important part of the legacy of the franchise and deserved to be celebrated as much as any other DOOM title.
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About The Author
(85 Articles Published)
Freelance gaming writer for CBR. Passionate about pop-culture in all its forms, with an emphasis on comics, television, film and, of course, gaming.
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