Eleven years ago, a small game called Doom booted up from the humble blackness of the almost extinct and forgotten DOS prompt. What transpired next was anything but a doomed franchise. Doom single-handedly set a standard, of not only what a first person shooter is, but how horrifyingly, edge-of-your-seat a game can be. Whipping around the corner of a dark corridor, and running straight into a growling, foaming Imp induced the gut wrenching that, at that time, could only be experienced watching horror-flicks at the local cinema.
Sure the imp looked like a flat, checkerboard, paper cutout. Yes, the growls sounded similar to a heavy smoker’s wheezing. Oh yes, id Software had done this genre before with Castle Wolfenstein 3D. Regardless, Doom was refined, scary, and even leading edge gaming at the time. With it’s stunning, and very controversial cult-like images, vast weapon selection, and furiously paced multiplayer aspects, Doom became the oak tree from which every branch of first person shooters has grown. Doom creator John Carmack is hoping to plant a giant redwood tree with Doom’s 3rd incursion.
Information that Doom 3 was in development seeped into the ears of the gaming community way back in 2001, but unfortunately, it seemed that the stream of info had subsided by late last year. It’s not that there wasn’t much to talk about anymore. More to blame was the sudden debut of a rather unexpected sequel – a little ditty called Half-Life 2. Though most fans bet on Half-Life having a sequel at some point due to the cliffhanger of an ending, the news was sprung on a rather un-prepared E3 crowd, and the media frenzy that followed seemed to drown out most of the Doom 3 chatter. Still, rabid Doom fans have held out patiently, waiting for id Software to crank up the volume on its media machine, and it’s quite possible they could have their wishes fulfilled at E3 this year. Since Doom has gone quiet for a few months, and the developers have almost certainly had time to reflect on the Half-Life 2 bomb, I fully expect an all-out frenzy of information and improvements from its showing at this year’s mega-show.
Improvements? It’s hard to imagine that the beautifully rendered graphics shown thus far could possibly get any better. Just look at the creatures! With bump-mapped wrinkles, light mapped intestines, and pixel shaded saliva, never before have character models looked so real, that you feel you could actually touch them and feel the texture. Not that you’d want too! Granted, to see all the gore and carnage in true high resolution and animation, you’re going to have to upgrade that PC to at least a 128MB graphics card, and have a processor that’s into the 2Ghz range; but it’s a small price to pay. It’s doubtful that Doom 3 will make the April 15th release date that some retailers have allowed pre-orders for. More likely, is that id Software is hoping to make a strong E3 appearance, with a Doom 3 showcase before release.
What else is known about our politicians’ favorite upcoming game? It contains the most sadistic, ugly, grotesque, and imaginative creatures ever seen. I doubt you could have a single peaceful dream about any of these things, unless you’re Nine Inch Nails lead vocalist, Trent Reznor. If you’ve seen any of his music videos, you realize this guy probably chews creatures of this like, and eats them for breakfast. Mr. Reznor was originally scheduled to do the soundtrack, ambient music, and effects for Doom’s third coming. It was a known fact that at the E3 demo, it was Reznor’s sound effects that were presented, and it was generally agreed upon that they were going to pull you in, and make you scream for your mother; from the low, echoed growl of an Imp searching the shiny, steel hallways for living flesh, or the low rumble of the Martian wind storms whipping rocks across the divide. It’s unfortunate, in my opinion, that Reznor has pulled out of the Doom project, as it’s obvious he had the vast dark imagination worthy of being plugged into the audio of this title. As proven many times before in games of this genre, ambient sound is everything. It’s one of the main tools of movies, used to pull an audience into the atmosphere, and character of the movie. Now that the gaming industry has practically caught up with, if not overtaken movies in technology, it’s tacit that better and better sound, ambience, and visuals are the key to pulling you into the shoes of the gaming character and world. Still, I expect the audio crew at id Software is more than capable of exploiting its audio technology to its fullest, so have those 5.1 capable surround sound cards installed, and the volume cranked to the max.
It’s been said that the story of Doom 3 will basically rehash the events of the first game. What this translates to, is that you’re playing the part of a marine, on a Mars mission, and like a bite into a really ripe grape, the gates of Hell open up and spews juicy morsels of freakish creatures across the landscape of Mars. It’s your job to clean up, send them hightailing back where they came, and get out alive. It’s not exactly the deepest script ever conceived (though there is a Doom movie in the works).
Unfortunately we, as gamers, typically expect a ton of time and effort to be put into the front stories of gaming. It’s refreshing sometimes to ditch those preconceptions. Tell me this