I had a hard time writing this review. Not because of how I wanted to word myself, but because I couldn't bring myself to play the game. I tried and I tried, but nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I did not want to play Doom 3, but I tried. I really did. I really just could not play it no matter how hard I tried. It's not becuase it was "too scary", it wasn't because there is no duct tape on mars (well, I'll get to that), it was because the game was full of bullshit. Not in the way where everything was a lie, but in a way where you are constantly being jumped by one enemy or another, and you don't have enough ammo because you can't fucking see it because it's so dark. You're always being hit for bullshit reasons. Don't tell me that this is a commonality among Action/Survival/Horror games, because it isn't. At least, not as much as this game.
Gameplay. Here we go.
One of my biggest problems with this game is the jumpscares. All sorts of demonic things happening without any buildup, just "HA! MADE YOU SHIT YOURSELF!" sort of horror. Not horror where it's actually scary, or at least, not making your skin crawl sorts of horror (at least not much of it), just "GOTCHA!" moments. It's not scary, it's frustrating. All these spider demons appearing out of nowhere just jumping you and attacking you at the same time. They surround you and kill you.
The game is just way too dark. And I know of the BFG Edition and the duct tape mods, but why didn't they just add it in vanilla Doom 3? I know it's for the "horror" atmosphere, but damn, if you don't see what is so scary, then it's not nearly as scary. Sure, I was startled by those fucking trites a few times. But after that, it was less scary and more "COME GET SOME!", except for when I was trying to reload.
There's a healthy amount of these spread throughout the base. They can be quite useful.
For enemies, you have the imps, the zombiemen, shotgunners, chaingunners, lost souls, cacodemons, hell knights, arch-viles, pinkies, mancubuses, revenants and the cyberdemon, the final boss of the game. The game does not include the Spider Mastermind or the Arachnotron. The demons do look a lot scarier now though, with their forms just being overall more fleshy and unnerving overall.
It instead introduces a slew of new monsters. Those monsters are the Cherub, a monster you really do not see much throughout the game, the Maggot, a monster that looks like a two-headed imp, Wraiths, who also look like Imps, Ticks and Trites, who can BURN IN HELL, the Vagary, whom is a boss at the end of Alpha Labs Sector 4, the Guardian of Hell, the boss of the Hell level, (I'll get to that when I do), and the Sabaoth, a mutated Sarge with a BFG 9000, not too dissimilar to the Makron in Quake II which has a BFG 10k.
The worst thing about the enemies is how they come right the fuck out of nowhere and attack you, eventually swarming and killing you. It happens too often for the game to be fun, on top of the problems I have already. Hope you saved close to where you died.
Seriously. Fuck the Trites.
Ok, so you have your standard Pistol, Shotgun, Machine Gun, Chaingun, Rocket Launcher, Plasma Gun, and BFG. Something this game brings to the table is the Grenades from Quake II and other FPS games from that era and the Soul Cube. Only problem with the weapons?
The reload times.
The game takes its sweet ass time reloading, leaving you open to attack. Not to mention that the weapons for the most part aren't very good. Many times I've been mauled for health because the game takes three seconds to reload instead of just one or half of one. Believe me. That makes all of the difference.
The weapons are also pretty weak as well, except for the Plasma Gun, the BFG, and the Rocket Launcher. The Pistol does just about no damage, the Shotgun is awful and the spread is pretty damn terrible, the Chaingun rarely has any ammo anywhere, the Machine Gun feels like a rapid fire Pistol, but the Grenades aren't half bad. The chainsaw appears, but it's not like I used it much. I didn't have time to think about it while I was being mauled from all sides by enemies I couldn't fucking shoot because my gun was reloading.
The added weapon, the Soul Cube, is an interesting piece. You shoot down 5 demons, any 5 demons, and it's fully charged. By using it on just about anything, you get a good amount of health back. It's highly useful, just as long as you can kill five enemies. I like it.
Throughout Doom 3, you go through the UAC's Mars base, getting jumped and tossing grenades into hordes of enemies until Dr. Burtruger sends you to Hell without any weapons. then you have to fight demons with your fists and get ripped to shreds multiple times until you find your weapons and have a resemblance of a chance. You then come back and fight Sarge with a BFG, take that back from him and go down to the dig with your Soul Cube you got from Hell and slay the Cyberdemon with the Soul Cube. Problem solved, you're the only one left alive and Dr. Bertruger is eaten by some sort of hell... thing. The cyberdemon fight is fun, though. I'll say that.
The sound mixing is actually really good, aside from the opening and ending tracks being 64kbps OGG, that's... not very good. The audio quality of everything else though is really good, and the spatial relations of everything, with the panning, fits. You're often enough able to figure out where whatever monster you're looking for is for that reason. This game is almost more of an audio experience because of how your range of hearing is so much better than your visibility. The sound effects for the most part are as meaty as they need to be, and that's what matters.
If they wanted scary though, maybe they should have done music akin to Quake's atmospheric music. That tends to be thought of as a good addition, and apparently they were working with Trent Reznor on that, but that just didn't end up happening for one reason or another. Too bad, too, as that could have made people's opinions on the game a lot better.
The control is as it should be. Tight and snappy. There's not much to say about it, really. It's like every other PC game with remapping controls and mouse sensitivity.
There's also the Xbox port which is very impressive. It keeps the look of the PC version pretty well, and seeing he Xbox's actual technical specifications, the only thing it really is missing is the memory. The PC version asks for 384MB or so, and the Xbox's GPU is derived from the GeForce 3, so it has that. It also has the added bonus of being on a DVD-DL as compared to three CDs, so it may have higher bitrates for some things such as the two songs that really need it. A good, impressive and well-rounded port, really.
As a quick aside on the note of ports, there's a few source ports for Doom 3, the one I used was dhewm3 and it was really just bringing the code to a modern computer. Not much in the way of customization, but it's very faithful to what Doom 3 was. https://dhewm3.org/
This game definitely feels structured like it should have replayability. A game where you know the demon is coming and you know how to react. However, if playing through it the first time is infuriating, I'm not likely to return to it in the future or return to it at all. I really just don't like the lighting or the weapons. Everything else is fine, if you ask me, just not really Doom. You could say that it's meant to be a reboot, but it shouldn't be titled Doom 3 in that case, implying it is a direct sequel to Doom II. I'd say it wouldn't be panned nearly as hard by fans if it didn't have the Doom name attached at all.
The id block that allows you to grab the developers' PDA, with all of the people that worked on the game thanking you for playing through it. A nice little easter egg.
That doesn't change the fact that the four biggest problems I have with the game (the low visibility making for frustrating, but not scary gameplay, the weapons overall being garbage and the reload times leaving you way open to attack, not to mention the enemies swarming you when you least expect it) make me not want to come back. If this is the kind of game you like, that is fine. I can't get behind it for these reasons, however, and instead of getting the atmospheric horror shooter people tell me it is, I get a frustrating dark game that feels more like the game is cheating than like I'm playing with the enemies on a level playing field because they can see in the dark and you can't. There's also the Ressurection of Evil expansion, but seeing as I was barely able to play through the game as-is, I didn't bother to play it.
I don't recommend it, and I really don't see myself coming back to it any time soon.