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Back in 2004, seven years after the release of Doom 64 and eight years after the release of Doom II, id decided that it was time to try to reboot the Doom series. As the original Doom used some pretty advanced visuals (for 1993, anyway), Doom 3 was similarly cutting edge visually for the time. The graphics definitely look dated 16 years later, but it was an impressive game for the time, and this is a pretty solid port of it. To have Doom 3 on the handheld is definitely exciting.
Doom 3 marked a pretty big shift for the series as it took a step away from the pedal-to-the-metal badass action and a shift towards a distinct horror vibe. I, personally, dig the horror vibe as I’m a huge fan of horror games in general, but it’s unfortunately not implemented here as well as I had hoped. The basic premise is that you’re a marine escorting some government bigwig on some inspection of a UAC research facility on Mars when someone screws up and unleashes the forces of Hell on the planet. Instead of kicking ass and taking names as you did in Doom and Doom II, though, you’re almost constantly outgunned, and instead of leaping out from every corner with guns blazing, you’ll find yourself creeping around each corner and trying to conserve your ammo for the inevitable next demon you don’t *quite* have the firepower to tackle confidently.
My first disappointment with the game was the implementation of the horror theme. Don’t get me wrong; the game is definitely creepy, and it keeps you on your toes, but it’s not a Resident Evil or a Silent Hill tier horror experience. My second and bigger disappointment was the feel of the gunplay in the game. The shotgun feels inaccurate at all ranges (as opposed to killing whatever is in its general direction at close range), the assault rifle feels like a rubber band gun, and the rocket launcher just doesn’t have the oomph that you’d expect. The only weapon that feels better in Doom 3 than it did in Doom or Doom II is the chainsaw. The chainsaw was really disappointing in my opinion in the first two games, but it kicks ass in Doom 3. Unfortunately, that improvement comes at the expense of every other weapon.
Doom 3 is pretty widely disliked (or at least liked less) among the Doom fanbase, and while I definitely enjoyed the game, it’s not hard to see why. Doom did gore and action REALLY well; Doom 3 traded that for a mediocre horror experience. Had it been an incredible horror experience, it would have been a good trade, I think, but they traded greatness for mediocrity in my opinion. Releasing originally in 2004, too, and coming off the heels of Medal of Honor’s and Halo’s huge market successes, it felt a little bit like just another shooter. It’s a lot more than that, but it definitely isn’t nearly as unique or noteworthy as its predecessors were.
Doom 3 is a good horror game. It’s a good supernatural shooter. It’s not, however, a “great” anything. It’s got a list price of $10 on the Switch eShop, and honestly, I think that’s a bit steep. $7 would be good, I think, because it does include the Resurrection of Evil and Lost Missions expansions, but expansions for a “pretty good” game are still not going to add up to “great.” If you see it on sale as I did (I got it for $3), then absolutely give it a download because it truly is a fun experience. It’s just not an exceptional experience.