Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hell On Mars: It's Vaguely Frightening

Well, last night I downloaded the Doom 3 demo. Why so late, you ask? Because I like to steadfastly remain behind the times. All of them...

When I first loaded the game up, I was a bit more impressed than I was prepared to be at the opening sequence, when you first arrive on Mars. More so than any other game I've ever played, the idea that I was in a outpost station on a strange world was thoroughly reinforced. Maybe somebody at id software decided the best course of action would be to simply travel into the future, see what it was like, then built it into the game and turned off all the lights. The creepiness factor of the station can not be denied although, at least in the beginning of the game, it's a very real kind. The same kind of creepiness you feel when it's your job to go into the freaky basement alone.

As soon as all hell broke loose and I was tasked with trying to make it back to HQ, my peers screaming in terror over the radio, I lost interest and went to sleep. Now, I'm pretty sure that was not the reaction that id was looking for, but the speed with which the game turns into a prettified Doom 2 with a stupid flashlight mechanic is startling. The flashlight issue has been maligned over many times by many people since the game first came out, so much so that mods exist that place your flashlight smartly on your gun. The second issue is more of an issue I have with games in general. Some RPG's aside, there is never a point in most games where things calm down again, you never get a break. I'm sure that a lot of hardcore gamers out there feel that they don't need a break, some may explicitly not want a break, presumably to keep up the intensity levels.

My realization was that I'd prefer Doom 3 without the monsters and combat. I could perfectly happy wander around the station for hours, performing the occasional menial task while I continued to discover the backstory of this strange place on Mars at my leisure. Of course, I'm entirely sure that id would not have had a very good time of selling the game in that state, except maybe to me.

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