Review – Doom 3 (Switch)

I was really excited when I found out about Doom 3 being re-released for modern consoles. You see, I love Doom and grew up basically playing almost every single game in the franchise: the original, a bit of Doom 2, a lot of Doom 64, and don’t even get me started on how much I love the 2016 version. That being said, I had never played Doom 3 and can’t tell you why. What really matters is that I can finally play this classic with remastered visuals and all expansions included for a ridiculously cheap price, and the best of all, on-the-go.

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“Yeah, the UAC provides terrible healthcare.”

The premise of Doom 3 is somewhat familiar. You control a silent protagonist working inside a shady scientific organization that’s conducting portal-based experiments, as well as a lot more going on behind the scenes. The game begins at a very slow pace, with everything working normally. All you have to do is talk to people and go to where they tell you to go. As to be expected, things go wrong, creatures show up from out of nowhere and turn the laboratories into monster-infested ruins, and it’s up to you to basically get the hell out of where you are. Does this sound similar to any other game you might have heard of? Yes, you’re not wrong, this is basically the same premise as Half-Life. A game that Doom 3 desperately tries to imitate and this effort creates some good and some very bad results.

Doom 3 is not as fast-paced as other Doom games. It’s less focused on adrenaline, momentum, and over-the-top violence. It’s focused more on being an unsettling, story-based horror shooter than anything else. In other games, Doomguy was the one the enemy feared. YOU were the menace, not the monsters. In Doom 3, you are basically just a regular marine trying to survive a zombie-infested laboratory. You don’t get health packs by killing enemies. You mostly fight against possessed marines in tight corridors, relying more on ducking and finding cover than going full guns blazing on anything that moves.

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When a game from 2004 features better lighting effects than games from 2019.

The combat isn’t as pleasing as other Doom games. Weapons don’t pack too much of a punch; as they are slow, sound unappealing, and usually require way too much ammo to kill a single enemy. The shotgun, which is the most important staple in any Doom game, is the single most disappointing weapon in Doom 3, given how janky and slow it is. The double-barrel shotgun isn’t even available in the main game, being only accessible in one of the expansions, which thankfully is available in this meaty package.

The level design isn’t very exciting either. Gone are the vast maps full of hellish imagery and secret passages to unveil. Doom 3‘s maps are less varied and a lot more linear. Instead of secret rooms, you can access special lockers by finding their specific combination codes. You do so by listening to loads of audio logs scattered throughout the game. It’s underwhelming without a doubt, but at the very least there’s still a tiny bit of treasure hunting in order to get more ammo and weaponry. It’s not like they’re abundant this time around.

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No guts. No glory kills.

That doesn’t mean that Doom 3 doesn’t have redeeming qualities. The game is still very good in its own awkward way. Its atmosphere is unsettling. Its story is actually quite good, a first (and only time) for a Doom game. Its lighting effects and pitch black corridors are better implemented than many other games from nowadays. People may have complained about the over-the-shoulder flashlight, but I thought that it was a great gameplay mechanic. This is a game from 2004 that looks as good, if not better, as many games released over the past few years. It might not actually be a decent action game like its siblings, but it gets the job done as a horror title. You always feel tense because your weaponry is weak, you can barely see what’s in front of you, and you don’t have many opportunities to collect magazines and health packs.

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Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?? Definitely not you.

Let me get this straight: I don’t hate Doom 3. In fact, I really enjoyed it. My issue with it is that it has no personality of its own. It’s desperately trying to be Half-Life to a nearly embarrassing degree. This is the only occasion in which a Doom game was a trend chaser, not a trend setter. With that being said, it’s a very good Half-Life clone, boasting excellent graphics, an interesting story, a very tense atmosphere, and a ton of content. Being able to enjoy this on a portable system for just ten bucks makes things even better.

As a side note, I’d like to point out that the implementation of a mandatory online login for a single player game like Doom 3, as well as its much older Doom siblings, for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, is just downright pathetic. I really hope you’re coming up with a patch for that, Bethesda. For shame.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Doom 3 looks really impressive for a game released fifteen years ago, with impressive animations and enemy designs. The framerate is rock-solid and the lighting effects, while still faulty, are actually better implemented here than in a bunch of more modern games.

Gameplay: 8.0

The controls are fantastic and the aiming assist is very subtle. The combat, while decent as far as shooters go, is quite underwhelming for Doom standards, with special criticism directed to how weak the weapons feel.

Sound: 6.0

For the most part, the game is very quiet, with no actual soundtrack. You’ll mostly listen to audio logs, monster growls, and underwhelming weapon sounds.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Doom 3 is fun and atmospheric, but it tries too hard to be a successor to Half-Life, and not the other Doom games. It almost feels like it has little personality of its own.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Doom 3 is available now on PS3, PS4, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

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