Doom 3 in the test - scary first-person shooter with top graphics

Author: Petra Schmitz
Date: 2004-08-05 16:09:00
The monster slaughter plate Doom 3 is in the shops and we are up to our knees in zombie blood after the test. Is id-Software's first person shooter the new reference?

An infinite number of films, an infinite number of books, an infinite number of games - they all taught us one thing: You shouldn't play around with extraterrestrial artifacts, it always backfires! In the case of id-Software’s horror shooter Doom 3, things even go down, straight to hell. As a courageous space marine, you stand between the incarnate and the known universe. That doesn't sound particularly tempting at first. However, if you move into the darkest possible room with the right hardware and turn all options to the limit, Lucifer's realm will be transformed into an utterly lovely place.

We hung around for two and a half days in the devil's anteroom and living room - only interrupted by a little sleep, quick food intake and cat washing. The result: A dead boss, Olympic dark circles and the test that tells you why Doom 3 is one of the best shooters of the year, but still doesn't deserve the dream rating of 90 percent.

The dead planet

Doom 3 turns the red planet into the dead planet: About 20 minutes after you arrive as a marine on Mars at a research station, a certain doctor impostor (you can like id's humor, but you don't have to) fumble a little too intensely with mysterious ones Remnants of a foreign culture around. And whoosh - the gate to hell opens. This releases ghosts and monsters, which scientists and guards either absorb directly or turn into mindless zombies.

From then on there is actually very little to consider: Always have your eyes and ears at their performance limit and always have a loaded weapon close at hand. Because death can lurk in every closet, in every ceiling hatch, in every ventilation shaft and behind every dark corner. And Doom 3 has more dark corners than Cologne cardboard noses at carnival time. How good that you can illuminate them with a flashlight. Common, but great when it comes to fear-sweat production: You can either light up or shoot. Not infrequently it will happen to you that a disgusting creature jumps into the beam of light and you forget to draw your weapon out of sheer shock.

Black and strong

Despite or because of the dominant darkness, Doom 3's graphics are simply breathtaking. If you follow a frightened researcher who shows you the way with a weak lamp through dark and monster-infested terrain, the hair on the back of your neck will stand up - with horror and rapture. Because again and again an imp jumps out of the blackness in your face or hurls fireballs. At least as spectacular: you carefully feel your way through a slightly lit corridor, suddenly the wall breaks open and a zombie on fire stumbles towards you. When this first happened to us, we almost forgot to pull the trigger on our shotgun.

However, you quickly see yourself in the same corridors, always fed up with the same gray, albeit high-resolution textures. But when you set foot in hell after two thirds of the game, the monotony is quickly forgotten: deep red colors and billowing lava determine the picture. In addition, the opponents graphically increase again. In the last three hours of the game, id then gets everything out of the engine that is possible. After another excursion to the research station, you swap gray metal walls for solid stone: beneath the surface of Mars, you shoot your way through huge caverns, climb over gigantic cranes - below you flames lakes - and work your way up to the gates of hell. Of course, we won't reveal anything about the final level.

Lead and blood

At the beginning of the bloody monster battle plate, id sends you slow zombies that you can easily avoid. That's a good thing, because initially all you have is a neat pistol that does only moderate damage.

Once you find the shotgun, the enemies get tougher too. Fireball-throwing Imps and wild boar-sized Pinky Demons (both known from the first part) are on your toes. The well-armed zombie soldiers turn out to be particularly dangerous fellows. With the Chaingun you can do a lot of damage - even over long distances. The nasty thing when you get hit: the picture blurs. This makes aiming extremely difficult.

The further you go, the harder the fighting becomes. However, mostly not through stronger opponents, but simply through their number: If you are facing ten spider-like trites, several mutated soldiers and three imps at the same time, a common weapon is not enough.

Then it's time for the plasma cannon or even the rocket launcher. In the last third of the game there are also some tough nuts waiting for you in the form of intermediate opponents. You can only defeat them with the right tactics, but the developers give you enough information to do this. In hell, for example, helpful ghosts whisper the necessary tip in your ear. You will not experience moments of frustration, it all depends on your reflexes. As a reward, special booms beckon.

One step, one monster

The artificial intelligence of the adversary is limited. The zombie soldiers use cover and sometimes roll themselves out of the field of fire behind a box, but most opponents rush blindly towards you.

However, that doesn't scratch the atmosphere, after all, they're stupid hell creatures programmed to kill. On the other hand, it is a bit sad that the fights are all based on triggers. If you cross a certain point - e.g. enter a dark room - you can be sure that in a few seconds mutants will peel themselves out of the darkness and a monster will be beamed into your back - announced by a flaming one drawn on the floor Pentagram. Later in the game, an imp will pop in your face almost every time you open a door. It is more surprising when nothing happens.

On the hunt for the code

Doom 3 is simply brilliant in many respects, but weakens in one important discipline: level design.

The game consists almost entirely of narrow corridors and small rooms. In the Alpha Labs, for example, you run through corridors for around six hours and get access codes for locked doors. The Delta-Labs that follow after the hell level are not a bit better, despite the slightly different optics.

Extremely annoying: you have to go to the other side of a collapsed bridge. The way there leads for about an hour and a half through a huge complex in which three teleporter stations want to be activated. And of course you also need the right codes for this. The only changes: sequences in which you have to operate a crane to clean a contaminated room or to build a bridge and short sprints over the rusty surface of Mars. You can't stay there long, however, as you run out of air very quickly.

Read, listen, look

In addition to the weapons, your PDA is the most important utensil. You can use it to download access codes, read e-mails, listen to audio diaries and watch videos. In the e-mails, voice files and films you will always find hints or combinations of numbers to open storage rooms where ammunition and medipacks are waiting. On the other hand, it is a bit annoying that the important information often only comes at the end of an audio file and you are not allowed to fast forward or read the text. So always have a piece of paper and a pen handy to take notes.

I can hear you trapping

The sound of Doom 3 is at least as impressive as the graphics. The game supports 5.1 surround systems - and only then unfolds its full force.

Do you hear restrained moans from a distance? Zombies are on the march. The faint pounding of many small feet on metal announces an attack by the Trites. Violent, bass-heavy grunts and puffs promise voracious Pinky Demons. It is particularly nasty if you are walking through a deadly quiet section and suddenly loud screeches can be heard from the right, left or behind. Then you can be sure that you will be attacked by a monster a nanosecond later.

The multiplayer modes are pretty poor. Only four people can compete against each other in deathmatch variants.