DOOM 3 has been at the front of many a gamers mind since its announcement a few years back and, as such, there were some huge expectations to live up to, set by its action packed predecessors. The original DOOM and DOOM II games set the stage for the Quake franchise, and after a long and oft-delayed development period, DOOM 3 has finally hit the store shelves. Rest assured this latest installment succeeds at being a great game, but the enjoyment that people will get out of it may not be for the reasons they anticipated.
DOOM 3 starts off with you, a battle-hardened, but newly transferred marine, arriving on the Union Aerospace Corporation's Mars colony - which is involved in various cutting edge technology research. After reporting for duty, you get your first assignment: to locate a lost scientist, which sounds simple enough. This rudimentary mission serves as a drawn out prologue to the action of DOOM 3, similar to the format of other games like Half-Life. This gives you a sense of the facility and the general working atmosphere before the demons of Hell are unleashed upon it.
The tension runs thick on the Red Planet. Every worker seems too busy to talk to a newbie, wrought with corporate deadlines and plagued by faulty equipment. The colony itself, cramped and primarily without windows, is constructed to be just a step above claustrophobic, akin to life in a submarine. From the environment alone, you feel the stress the moment you step off the transport, even before any demon appears, and can empathize with the tension these Mars veterans are feeling.
The instant that you find the scientist and complete the mission, all Hell breaks loose, literally. What looks to be a massive power surge floods the facility, letting lose hundreds of demons and specters, which either attack the colony residents or possess them, transforming their victims into zombies and other supernatural abominations. You faintly hear the screams of those people so quick to shrug you off earlier, pleading for you to save them. As far as you know, you are the only living being in an oasis of the dead and the damned, and your primary mission now is to endure the nightmare long enough to escape.
It is here the game diverges from its prequels. The original DOOM titles tossed hordes of demons at you from every direction, hardly giving players a chance to breathe, and really putting your reflexes and finger endurance to the test. The previous DOOM games were the epitome of "action" and one might even say that at the time, defined the genre.
DOOM 3 is one hundred percent the opposite. Rarely will you face more than two enemies at a time and the overall number of baddies per level is a small fraction of what you would see in its predecessors. There are no open arenas to battle the demons in, either, because elbow room in the confined base is scarcer than ice water in Hades. So while there certainly are action elements, DOOM 3 is not purely an action game. It is, at its base elements, a survival horror game and one of the best ever created at that.
To be fair, there are not too many original elements in DOOM 3. The game liberally borrows core concepts set by System Shock 2 and the Resident Evil series (and perhaps a few others) but where id really excels and where it makes DOOM 3 an original game, is how the game blends it all together to create an atmosphere of suspense and terror unlike any ever experienced.