The days of 2004 are hazy in the memory, but a glance down a list of notable releases that year shows a glut of singleplayer first-person shooters. Far Cry, Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and perhaps the one with the least shine to it, Doom 3.
It was a busy time, and it’s no surprise that many people skipped over Doom 3 because of it’s move towards a slower paced, darker entry in the series. Or they ignored it because the great new hope, Half-Life 2 was only a couple of months from release.
I played Doom 3 at the time though. Having not played the original titles at that point of my life, I was keen for some Martian demon slaying. The setting intrigued me, and I bought into the lore. The PDAs scattered around the UAC complex revealed the corporate deceit that brought the darkness down upon the planet.
The darkness was oppressive, in the original version of Doom 3 you had to switch between using the flashlight to guide your way, or your weapons. It cranked up the tension, shooting blindly in the gloom hoping to kill all that stood in your way.
I loved it. The only problem? I was a damned wimp! The Imps scared me to death whenever they appeared, and the tension of switching between the flashlight and the action shredded my nerves. The only way that I was able to complete the game was with that wonderful thing known as God mode.
The way fear works in games is an odd thing. For me, Doom 3 was the big horror game of 2004, yet others who played it without any trouble were left shaken by Ravenholm in Half-Life 2. All I know is that God mode got me through it, and at that point I didn’t feel any regret about it.
Return to present day, and Doom 3 is everywhere, and that includes the Switch. It’s not Doom 3 quite as I knew it, this time around it’s the BFG version which has supposed improved graphics (well, maybe not improved on the PC version), better audio….and a shoulder mounted flashlight.
Thanks to that flashlight and autosaves, it’s not quite as hardcore as the version which scared me fifteen years ago, but it’s still Doom 3 and I can play it on the Switch. Having cheated my way through originally, I’ve been working my way through the first couple of hours as god intended. No cheats here, just plain old Doom Guy blasting demon’s and exploring the endless corridors of Mars.
These days the game doesn’t scare me, at least not when playing it on a TV with just the Christmas tree for mood lighting. Playing it in undocked in bed with headphones and the lights out does make my blood turn cold with dread…but thanks to that shoulder mounted flashlight, I find myself able to keep playing.
Is the Doom 3 people will be getting to know these days the same one that I grew up on? No, for me not having to make a choice between seeing the horrors or blasting them takes away a good portion of the fear factor. But still, the heart of the game remains. Slay those demons, take down the UAC and save Mars.