Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fourth Trip to Hell

Seemingly out of the blue, id Software went and announced Doom 4 this morning. I won't pretend to understand why they issued this reasonably big announcement via an underwhelming press release, what with their annual Texas fan orgy QuakeCon barely two months out. (Maybe they have something more momentous to blow out there. Playable Rage, perhaps?) Anwyay, I can't help getting excited about another Doom game, even if the people who are going to make it haven't actually been hired yet.

I loved Doom 3; Doom 3 got a bad rap. There, I said it. Yeah, the point-A-to-point-B gameplay was archaic by first-person shooter standards even in 2004, and having to swap back and forth between flashlight and weapon was kind of a drag (although I will bow to anyone who's able to handle a tactical 12-gauge one-handed).

Setting the design issues aside, I assert the quality of the Doom 3 experience hinged on the conditions you played it under. Not just the screen resolution and beef of your graphics card -- although those things matter -- but more importantly the ambient elements of your play environment. I plowed through the game strictly at night, all the lights off, with a good bass-heavy pair of Sennheisers on, and it scared the bejeezus out of me time after time. I can't remember a game before or since that's poked my brain's primal fight-or-flight fear response so acutely (some Resident Evils come close), nor one in which I've become so utterly immersed. At times I was living in that world and running for my damn life, and I think the external sensory deprivation I imposed on the experience was crucial to maintaining that feeling.

At the time, the prevailing sentiment about Doom 3 was derision for all the button-pushing, rusty industrial corridors, and endless monster closets. But then, most people I knew who played Doom 3 did it with the lights on (lolz) and even sometimes with other people hanging around. Most of them weren't impressed. Indeed, I went back and played it again in that manner some months later, and the jump-out-and-scare-you moments came off as largely ineffectual and sometimes downright cheesy. Not scary in the slightest. Looking at Doom 3 in the light of day brought its faults into stark relief, where before I had been able to overlook them for the sake of allowing myself to get sucked into the game's reality.

It would be ham-fisted and more than a little pretentious to suggest those other people weren't playing Doom 3 "the right way," and of course you are free to enjoy any game in whatever manner you want. And if you just couldn't stand the mindless enemies and dated gameplay conventions, well, that's down to personal preference. Can't knock you for that. But is it fair to expect a horror-themed game to succeed in any environment? You wouldn't watch Alien or The Thing on a sunny afternoon and expect it to be very scary. (If you would, your constitution's even weaker than mine.)

At any rate, with a new team at the helm on Doom 4, I'm optimistic. The whole Hell-on-Mars thing has been done to death, so let's hope they dispense with that setting and take it somewhere new. (Any ideas? Post 'em in the comments.) If they're smart, they'll at least make sure that the Hello Kitty flashlight is UAC standard-issue equipment this time around.

13 comments:

nweasel said...

Hmmmm. Very interesting. To be frankly honest, I wasn't interested enough in getting Doom 3 when it came out, and now, even if I still did want to get it, I can't find it at my general local retailer. I'm sure I can search a GameStop for it or something though, but still.

Even Duke Nukem Forever really isn't interesting me at this point. I'll admit that I still own the originals, Duke Nukem 3D and such, but, I really don't know that I'd want to get into that series again.

Interesting announcement I'd say though. I hadn't heard about it 'til I read it here.

Milkman519 said...

You know your press release wasn't very good when I first hear the news on Brad Shoemaker's blog. Anyway, awesome.

Cry said...

D3's biggest flaw was the monotonous gameplay – you almost always fought against only one foe, in tight corridors, etc. – and its greatet strength was the great designs on the industrial environment. The characters didn't look very good – especially when you compare it to Half-Life 2, which was vastly superior game in just about any resepct.

As youd said, the Hell thing is done, so I'd like to see a more organic environment with earth and trees. But they better not attempt the same Valve did with Ravenholm, which was a dreadfully boring part of HL2, IMO.

What I really want is another id game in the same vein as Quake 1.

Noel said...

If you want a different idea... then, Doom 4 should be situated in Saturn and you would have Hell on Saturn :P. I'm joking. Well, you could do, Heaven on Earth, instead of Hell on Mars, and use the "heaven is a place on earth" song for the game's intro!!! LOL.
Well, that's it.

P.S: I really liked the Ravenholm chapter in HL2, it was really good, but now I'm looking forward to the realease of Left 4 Dead.

the_9th_wonder said...

Doom always hit its stride by eschewing complex mechanics and puzzle solving, ala Half-Life, and focusing on just mowing down hordes of demons. Although, the whole gate-to-Hell-on-Mars set up is rather stale at this point and it would be nice to see id try a different setting. I heard on a podcast this past week that the locale for Doom 4 is going to be Earth. A new dev team coupled with a new backdrop just screams potential. Let’s hope they pull off something amazing.

pill92 said...

I just hope Doom 4 doesn't end up like Quake 4 cause man that game was bad. If you want to play some multiplayer anything 360 hit me up

pill92-XBL

WickedCobra03 said...

I totally agree Brad! I loved Doom III. I was actually more hyped for Doom III and thought it was going to be better than Half Life 2 but I was surprised by Half Life 2 none the less. I mean you remember 2004 when Doom III came out in August and Half Life 2 in November right? I played Doom III all that summer long until Half Life 2 and Half Life 2 blew me away, and I actually went back and played Doom II again a few months back during Easter Break.

Zach said...

Yeah maybe they will make the world a little more open and add more depth to the classic that is doom.

Deaux said...

It's O/T, but it's great that you're joining Giant Bomb. It just gets better and better.

Paul said...

I enjoyed your MGS4 review. Keep up the good work!

:.:BWB:.: said...

Yeah, this game has such great potential. I just can't get over the way that this news got "announced"
I take it since working at Giant Bomb you've forgotten your blog? Shame, but I read both, so I'm still getting a healther dose of Shoemaker-isms.

Jason said...

I am your biggest f****ing fan and I can't even read about what you're doing on your blog? Geez.

:.:BWB:.: said...

I see you got my message Brad, you updated your "who" but. Go on, go the full distance!!