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The Doom3 Diary: A Gamer's Experience
Author: Michael Ahlf 
Date: August 9th 2004
Page: 2

Day Two:

Day two already - and here I go. "Down the rabbit hole", and similar sentiments abound. I wandered over to a nearby storage locker, and learn the keycode (manually tapped into the pad) from listening to someone else's audio log that I got from their PDA. Not too shabby; it definitely helps enhance the atmosphere of the game to wind up listening to all the strange goings-on while waiting for the "useful" information.

In I go, of course. As I pass the security checkpoint, a Marine on guard duty gives me armor, my pistol, and does the test of the "radio." More good news - now I can hear people screaming in pain even when they're nowhere near me. Oh well, at least I have a gun.

Down the next stairwell, there's a convenient red barrel to shoot. Does it blow up? Yes, it does - but it's a bit anticlimactic. Exploding barrels in Doom used to hang around for a while and make a louder noise than this thing did. This one also left a lot more smoke and a lot less light. It may be more realistic this way, but I prefer the hollywood-style explosions.

I stopped to check in with the local "residents" as well. One of them is a creepy guy who thinks I don't really want to find the missing scientist, but won't say why. In fact, he thinks I should ignore everything he said. The other's a disgruntled worker trying to fix a power coupling, nothing out of the ordinary. I find his supervisor's PDA nearby; keycode to more supplies, and a recorded diary entry about more strange bumps in the night. Spooky, scary.

Luckily, I have a flashlight to play with so that I don't trip over anything. It's a really tight-beam contrivance, and getting a good look at a room requires a pretty slow scan. It's also Maglite heavy, the sort of flashlight you'd expect a Marine or a cop to be carrying, which is good - it doubles as a club. The downside is that if you're in the dark, you're going to have an interesting time seeing what you're swinging it at.

 

I really need to be less prophetic - that crack about "down the rabbit hole" returns to haunt me a couple minutes later. First I get to go through an area where all the lights are out; thankfully, in THIS spot all the guardrails are in place, but I can guess there will be others where that isn't the case.

Next, I come across the guard who's watching over the airlock. To get where I'm going, I have to take a short jaunt across the Martian surface. It's a good thing that it's short, too; while a Marine's suit can hold some oxygen, it sure as heck isn't very much. I have to wonder if there's an upgrade for that later on in the game. The Martian surface itself is a desolate, reddish hell. If they're trying to foreshadow the kind of wasteland I'm going to do a lot of fighting in, the designers have done a very good job of it.

So I get to the comm building, and up to the second floor where I need to go. So far, so good. Nothing's even shooting at me. A pity, I'm ready for some action.

I go through a door into the comm room, and sure enough, there's my quarry - one missing scientist, all rounded up and ready to go. 

Of course, it's not that easy. It's never that easy. The scientist is trying to use the old communications array to send a message, presumably to Earth, to warn them of what's about to happen. "The Devil is real," he tells me, "and I have bent his cage."

On cue, the lights flicker. The wierd gate on the screen starts spitting transparent skulls, then the monitors go dead one by one. Those still on are showing guards and scientists getting ripped through by the skulls. I turn right just in time to see the room glowing with odd magic circle designs - impressive, but very easy to miss. Spamming the screenshot key, I still only captured three halfway decent screens of it - and of those, the last one was already going dim.

Then the scientist gets ripped through by a huge skull, screaming as if his soul were being ripped out. But he doesn't die. Oh, no, it's never that easy. He charges me, attacking. After I shoot him, a marine - or is it an undead Grunt now - busts through the door I came in and starts shooting as well.

Heh. At least they die quickly. From the sound of things, I'm going to need a bigger gun, and a lot more ammo. The Marines are being ordered to regroup at Marine HQ. I wonder if I'll make it before they're all possessed too. 

I leave, of course - when a game gives you an objective, chances are it's something you should be doing. In an FPS, chances are it's something you should be doing right away. On the left are two of my "trophy" kills on the way through; the top is what the Grunt looks like, the bottom is some poor possessed lunatic who tried to come at me with a wrench. I'm afraid I made a bit of a mess of his head with several pistol rounds.

On the upside, even though he was lurching side to side, I'm sure at least one of those rounds got him right between the eyes.

Another thing starts to frighten me - in just about every previous FPS I've ever played, when enemies are moving towards me, they run straight in. Their heads are fairly stationary; a good point-and-click weapon like a pistol makes headshots easy. This is NOT the case in Doom 3; they're lurching and weaving, not quite the same way each movement; getting a headshot is accomplished by holding your fire until you can line up properly, and then waiting for the next opportunity to present itself. 

As I go back, too, I'm startled at every turn. My friend guarding the airlock's been eaten by a zombified worker. His gun, unfortunately, is nowhere to be found. Emergency lights are on, and the radio alternates between radio chatter of Marines trying to defend themselves against what's eating them, and the cackling, booming laughter of some nasty enemy I don't even want to contemplate right now. I can safely say that I'm properly creeped out by this point, and ready to turn and shoot the first thing that comes around the next corner - even if it turns out to be my own reflection in a mirror.

Following the path back to Marine HQ wasn't as easy as one might have hoped. Getting back into the main complex, my original path was blocked; time for a detour, across a bunch of machinery courtesy of the retractable service walkway. One ambush later and I'm entering the next room, just in time to see the flying skulls come in and possess the two inhabitants of the room... er, I guess one inhabitant. The living Marine was turned into a zombie, and a pretty nasty one at that - apparently fresh zombies retain a good degree of their aiming skills, as well as enough brains to duck behind large objects for cover while reloading.

The other inhabitant was a corpse, I guess, but the skulls turn him back into a zombie. Thankfully, he's much stupider than the grunt, bellowing for brains as he shambles towards me. After killing him I find his PDA in the corner, and the keycode into the next room.

I'm given a chance to rescue a normal human, but after several attempts I still haven't managed to do it. Perhaps I just don't have the firepower to stop the zombie before it tosses him off the ledge above me. Either way, it's plenty creepy; the original Doom environment didn't  have anyone around, or anything close to cinematic cutscenes for that matter. It just had lots of carnage.

I finally have a shotgun, but it came at a price - the ultimate in crash tutorials. Grab the shotgun, and I'm surrounded by three zombies. Shooting them is my tutorial in how the shotgun operates. Is it as quick to manage kills as the old one? Not really. Reload's slower, too. And of course I'm doing it all in the eerie red glow of emergency lighting, so I can't quite see what I'm shooting at.

Heading down the next segment, the lights go off, sequentially. I figure I'm good for now... it's not like I'm low on ammo, or low on health, or any of the other things that matter. And it's not like those three flying skulls meant there are nasty enemies ahead.

Scratch that. I'm functionally blind here, can't use my flashlight and gun at the same time. Oh, yeah, and apparently zombies can see in the dark well enough for the grunt to be shooting me repeatedly while his two buddies charge me. That's some wickedly nasty AI there.

I kill them... and the next pair of ambushing SOBs. Annoying, really. Reloading the guns is becoming second nature - every time I think I have a breather, the first thing I do is slap that R key. It's a good habit to get into, as the assaults are coming with less and less warning. I'm sure my heart rate has spiked a few times by now.

Crossing into the next area, my path's blocked by a flaming leak of gas or something. I may not know what it is, but I know better than to try to walk past it. Of course, it's never that simple; as I turn to go the other way, a nasty critter that can summon fireballs in its bare hands shows up. I guess it's the analogue to the old brown Imps that I used to mow down left and right.

This one goes down about as easily, to a shotgun blast in the face. Rather than sticking around, the body dissolves into the air. I wonder what later things are going to do when THEY die... wonder what a Cacodemon looks like these days.

Got Comments? Send 'em to Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
Alternatively, post 'em right here for everyone to see!

The Doom 3 Diary


Added:  Monday, August 09, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

Page: 2/5

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