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The Doom3 Diary: A Gamer's Experience
Author: Michael Ahlf 
Date: August 9th 2004

Today, my copy of Doom3 arrived via Airborne Express. With it came a press kit, Prima "Official Game Guide", and the dream finally realized of playing around with the third installment in the venerable Doom series, the game that for many of us was the first glimpse into what gaming would one day become. 

Looking back, it's hard to believe that Doom is barely over a decade old, that it was in 1993 that I first got a taste of something better than Wolfenstein 3D. Gone was the semi-coherent turning radius (always aiming a bit left to assure a hit). Gone was the 16-color palette; instead, raw gradients of color were everywhere. Gone was the "clean room" appearance of Wolfenstein, the walls with everything set at right angles. Instead, Doom had given us a vibrant world full of enemies, guns, blood and gore. Doom also had taken the cold, silly sounds of the PC speaker and replaced it with a beautiful soundtrack and amazing weapon and enemy noises. As the years went on of course things got better - Doom is today a great contender for a prize as the best aged game forever, comparing what it's doing today to its humble beginnings.

Of course, before I could actually play the game, I had to run the installer and take care of chores - nothing like a list of "things I have to do" to get in the way of gaming. Laundry? Check. Cats fed and litterboxes cleaned? Check. Computer's drivers all up to date? Triple-checked.

Fuzzy bellies rubbed? Of course. Logan was most upset when I stopped, too - "Psycho Hell Kitty" stare courtesy of the camera's flash.

At last, I was ready - the game was loaded, all three disks worth. I took a moment to reflect on the included "recommendation" on the back of the keyboard reference card:

A Note of Caution:
Doom 3 is a terrifying sci-fi horror game experience.
It is not recommended for the cowardly or the faint of heart.
However, for those who dare to face Doom 3 as it was intended:
Lock your door. Turn off the lights.
And turn up your sound.

Enjoy Doom 3.

Almost poetic, isn't it? And so I did indeed close my door, kill the lights, and load up the game. 

The first thing I noticed was the new interactivity - something no id Software title has toyed around with previously. Where Doom was 'run into something to activate it' simple, the new setup lets players actually interact with the environment. Walk up to someone and click "fire" and they'll talk, if they have anything to say; pull up to a computer console and select an entry, click interactive buttons, close windows... here I am examining a ship's cargo manifest.

It's a bit much to take in at first glance. Ultimately I get the feeling it's going to be a staple of the gameplay - messing with these things has got to be a source of necessary clues for completing objectives.

Next, I got my PDA. Not much so far, just enjoying the scenery, the UAC "welcome new employee" tape running in the background, and seeing the little camerabot scuttle in front of me. For a second I thought the base was already about to explode, and me with only my fists to fight through the first wave of enemies; it would have been scary, but alas, they apparently want to build up suspense a bit more before setting events in motion.

Wandering down the hallway a ways, I found a cutscene, and spent a bit more time exploring what my PDA could do. Then, I found more incontrovertible proof that the id designers had approached the game with a good degree of humor.

Behold, Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3 - a hybrid making fun of Street Fighter games, but with the added bonus of incorporating classic Doom textures and icons. And of course, beating the heck out of helpless turkeys until they explode.

Meanwhile, the PDA is proving to be a pretty nifty source of info all on its own - one can spend a good deal of time just picking up random material and reading it. If this holds true throughout the game, we're looking at enough reading/viewing material to rival Betrayal at Krondor or Deus Ex.

I wandered into the bathroom to check things out - wondering mostly how much detail id Software had bothered to program in to everyday objects. I was remembering again the world of Deus Ex, where just about every faucet turned on, every button made noises. Sadly, it wasn't to be - none of the faucets work, none of the hand dryers either. No wonder all the workers are trying to get the heck OFF of this base if they've had to put up with that for months.

Then I went to Marine HQ, to finish my first "objective." Not really an objective, but just to show up in Marine HQ. Despite this, the Marine commander yelled at me for being late, then assigned me a rescue mission. I'm supposed to go find a scientist who is missing, the one mentioned in the missing persons report I downloaded to my PDA earlier. He sets me to follow a scuttling, vaguely arachnid robot called a sentry. Boy, talk about FAST - I know I'm going to have to be shooting these things later, I just know it, and it doesn't make me very happy. Pinpoint shooting reflexes are going to be very necessary - that and some distance!

If you're thinking the game is dark, you're right, it is. Just about everything's dark, and playing with the gamma settings doesn't do a lot for it - the game's lighting system won't do a lot to reveal "dark" areas even if you've got it turned way up. 

Well here I go, off on my first "mission" with nothing but my fists. Either I'll find a gun, or I'm going to have to punch something for real.

As for the rest, well... that's something for tomorrow's diary entry.

Got Comments? Send 'em to Michael (at)!
Alternatively, post 'em right here for everyone to see!

The Doom 3 Diary

Added:  Monday, August 09, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

Page: 1/5

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