Throughout the annals of gaming history, there are few titles which have left as much of an impression - for so long, on so many - as Doom. It's testament to the game's quality that over a decade after its initial release and some nine years since its sequel, the series has returned to such rabid excitement.
Of course, the fact that it's the most visually stunning and atmospheric piece of software on the planet does help its cause somewhat. We were lucky enough to get another eyeful of the game that's got graphics cards quaking in their ports, when we caught up with id Software's Tim Willits (lead designer on Doom 3), programmer Robert Duffy and long-locked international face of the company and CEO Todd Hollenshead. Get ready to be impressed.
Calm Before The Storm
Just in case you've been living on a completely different planet and are not familiar with Doom 3's setting, let's start with a little background information to get you up to speed. The UAC, a mega-research corporation, has got itself in a bit of a pickle. Having set up base (the Delta Complex) on Mars to conduct top secret teleportation experiments, they somehow manage to rip asunder a gateway into hell. The silly sausages.
Understandably, the hell spawn aren't too happy about being interrupted in the middle of a roasting, and flood out into the base, seemingly massacring everyone. Everyone except you, that is, and a few other helpless unfortunates. Which kind of leaves it in your trembling mitts to take on the entire might of all that is evil, and save the universe from being consumed by a kerzillion years of darkness and suffering. No pressure.
Thankfully, it won't be all guns, guns, guns from the off. As Tim explains, you'll get a chance to get your bearings first, as well as being thrown a few teasers to get you in the mood for the story ahead. When you arrive at the UAC, you'll have an option to explore a limited amount of the facility before the demonic invasion takes place. You can explore some of the more administrative areas, talk with other characters and learn about what's going on with the experiments, while discovering some secrets about the other main characters.
The game's sedate start won't last for long though, and you'll soon find yourself scrabbling for your life, embroiled in some of the most thrilling and atmospheric set pieces ever to grace a PC screen. Having just sat through one particularly gripping and life-threatening sequence which had us crying for our mummies, we asked Tim if he could give us a few more specific examples. We have a scenario where yocRind these tanks of dead demons that the UAC have discovered. All the tank glow with an eerie light and you have to make your way through the facility using just that illumination as your guide. And will one of them burst out of their tanks at you? If I were to tell you that, it wouldn't be a surprise when they do, would it? he told us. Sometimes, the anticipation of what's going to happen can be more frightening than the actual event itself.' We'd say that's a yes then.
Into The Fire
But don't expect to be spending your whole time cowering in the crevices of the man-made locales of the Delta Complex. This is because id Software has seen fit to book you a trip to hell as part of Doom 3's wild ride of bloodshed, the thoughtful souls. Propelled into the fire in order to retrieve a special essential for the completion of your mission, you can expect a none-too-friendly reception, as well as a drastic change of setting and gameplay mechanisms to boot.
When you getto hell, you'll find your stamina is hugely affected, explains Tim. The environment will be totally different and affects your movement around this world. We're leaning more towards crazy interactive puzzles, which will turn you in all sorts of different directions in order to make hell a really unsettling place - you never know what's going to happen next. The world is very dynamic and fluid, unlike the man-made areas on the base. Sounds chilling. But not literally, obviously.
Contrary to what many believe, Doom 3 is shaping up to be anything but a boot-it-and-shoot-it, linear and unoriginal FPS encased in a jaw-dislocating engine. Graphically, it's clearly untouchable, but as we spoke to Tim, it became evident there's more to Doom 3's gameplay than the ill-informed would have you believe.
We have situations where we orchestrate the events that will happen to you. But we also have situations based on what you do. The characters and even parts of the environment will be reacting dynamically to you. We do control the environments, but you also have choices you can make, states Tim. This dynamic environment is probably best highlighted by the way the Al reacts to you. Whereas in the past, many shooters would throw you into a battle where the Al's sole goal was to shoot/bite/kick/stab you to death, Doom 3's nasties are rather more intelligent.
Take the terrifying Archvile creature for example, one of several enemies resurrected and given a makeover from the original game. In Doom, the Archvile could resurrect monsters that you'd killed. But, as Tim is keen to highlight: The Archvile can now call in monsters. If you walk into a room and there's a lot of overhead room, the Archvile may call in some flying creatures. But if you try and hide in the ducts, he'll try to call in some smaller maggot-like creatures to get you. Basically, he'll summon the type of creatures he needs to find or kill you. Now does that sound like a game entirely reliant on scripted sequences? Thought not. Neither does Tim.
Our Al is pretty smart, he continues. Creatures will know where you are, they'll set up ambushes for you, they'll hunt for you, they'll follow you. We've got some areas where, if you get carried away and start shooting out the lights, they'll start to close in around you. All the creatures can see in the dark because they're born from the depths of hell. They can smell your fear. And if you're not careful, you'll be doing the same while playing the game.
To Me, To You
During the course of the game, you'll also have the opportunity to interact with the base's computer system, through the Graphical User Interface (GUI). "We've added a GUI to the computer systems throughout the UAC," begins Tim. It's a very powerful interactive paradigm and doesn't require additional controls. You interact with the GUIs the same way you interact with a webpage, and the graphics are presented with a Flash-hke level of interactivity and quality. The computers can control anything from complex machinery to simply turning on or off the lights in a room." Using a GUI will be simple. Walk up to it, and your weapon will automatically lower and a mouse cursor will appear on the screen.
Incy Wincy Spider
Tim and CEO Todd Hollenshead were reluctant to divulge much information about as yet unannounced enemies. We did, however, manage to find out about one new alien adversary, the Vagary, a spider queen who Tim promises will be as vicious and fast as she is terrifying. The Vagary has the body of a spider and the torso of a female, and is equipped with a web and claw attack. But Al won't be restricted only to things that want to tear out your ribcage and use it as a dish rack. During the course of your quest, you'll invariably stumble across other survivors, who'll furnish you with priceless nuggets of information or help guide you through particularly tncky areas of the game. "These characters will help feed the story and give background information, says Tim. "We've tried to create a much richer back-story for the UAC, what they're doing and why you're there, so you can experience much more than just running around and shooting.
Back To The Future
In what is clearly a homage to Doom, Doom 3 is also set to feature hidden rooms packed with useful equipment, a feature which has been tied in perfectly to the UAC's back-story. "The UAC has always been very paranoid about their security. They were very concerned about their employees stealing technology, so they've hidden things within the base's infrastructure." Of course, keeping yourself and your allies alive would be virtually impossble were it not for the garde's monstrous collection of heavy-duty weaponry, much of which we've spoken about in detail in previous previews. But we did manage to garner some new info about a few of the death-givers that id has been reluctant to divulge in great detail in the past.
Tim assures us that the BFG although still underdevelopment, will resemble the original BFG far more closely than it will Quake Ill's, hopefully meaning a return to its Area Damage' roots. He also revealed that the chaingun has proved a favourite for deathmatch games, thanks to its combination of rapid fire-rate and long-distance accuracy.
In addition, he also proudly promised you'll be able to knock rockets out of the sky with the Plasma gun before they get a chance to part your body from its limbs, a trick which will no doubt prove priceless in multiplayer games. What's more, like many of its monsters, a lot of Doom 3's items are upgrades from the original. The Berserk Pack is now like the Haste power-up and Berserk pack combined. We also have invisibility and IR, but beyond that it's too early to say anything more." explains Tim.
Soul To Soul
But it was his next snippet of information regarding the mysterious Soul Cube which got our heartbeats really racing. We don't want to give many surprises, but can say is that the Soul Cube is an ancient weapon, one created millions of years ago to stop the forces of hell. It was used in an epic battle of good versus evil long before earth was anything like we know it today. The plot thidJcens.
Id's 22 dedicated employees have been working furiously on the game since the company's annual QuakeCon event, during which they received feedback from their fans. Players felt they floated around too much, a problem we found to be rooted in the physics engine. But because the guy who made our physics engine is part of our team (Jan Paul van Waveren), it was easy to fix. We've now made the player feel weightier, which gives deathmatch a more' solid feel."
The way Doom 3 is shaping up, it's looking more and more likely that it'll live up to its hype. A re-imagining of its predecessors rather than a recreation, both fans of the onginal and Doom newcomers will no doubt find plenty to get excited about. Graphically stunning and ever more convincing, and with some gameplay surprises to boot, it looks like it's going to be a slugfest between this titan and Half-Life 2 for 2004 FPS supremacy. Quite frankly, we can't wait till it all kicks off for real.
Mods Your Game?
Programmer Robert Duffy Tells Us How You Can Create Your Very Own Hell On Earth
From the start of the project, id was adamant it wanted to make the modding community's life as easy as possible. You can run the world editor, as well as the other tools direct from the console, Robert explains. Another key factor is that all of the source areas, scripts and GUI scripts are available right out of the box. This provides a huge learning tool for people, as they can see exactly how we put the game together. In the past, we'd typically only release one or two examples, but with Doom 3, you have everything available. We're looking forward to seeing all of the cool content the community produces.
Turn Off The Lights. Camera... Action!
Lead Designer Tim Willits Reveals How We May Soon Be Seeing Doom On The Big Screen Too
Yes, it's happening. Or at least, so Tim believes. With the film rights now officially licensed to Warner Brothers (the third time the game has been licensed), it's looking more likely than ever that the film will get made. There's a high level of excitement at Warner Brothers, says Tim. It's difficult to say until they start filming the movie whether there's actually going to be one, though. However, I think we're well on our way to a solid script. Then we hope to get top actors associated with the project." Could this be the first ever, decent game-based film? We live in hope.
The Sound Of Music
There's No Greater Terror Than A Terror You Can't See
Imagine Jaws with no music. Go on, have a go. What would you have? A fin. A few waves. The occasional sound of a squawking seagull flying by. Doom 3 is no different. Well, apart from the fin, sea and seagull sounds, of course. Without the right sound and music, Doom 3 wouldn't be scary at all. Utilising sixway surround sound and subtle uses of environmental effects and music, it is without a doubt the scariest game we've ever heard, playing with your mind and making you believe there's a demon in your room ready to slurp your intestines like spaghetti.
As id Software's CEO Todd Hollenshead explains: We don't have level music per se, like in Return To Castle Wolfenstein where you had independent audio tracks. We're going for more ambient sounds. There will be elements of music, but there's no soundtrack. Which kind of negates the possibility of having Trent Reznor putting one together, then. At one point, we thought we'd have a collaboration with him, but it ended up not working out for us. But from what we've seen of the game, the sound and music complement the graphics to perfection. Who needs Mr Reznor, eh?
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode