Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hell Is a Dark and Predictable Place

Last week, feeling that I was climbing out of my money-pit at last, I ordered "Doom 3" in order to treat myself. Money-wise that was a mistake but I'm still having lots of fun with it.

MadKevin told me that the game was derisively referred to as "The Monster-In-A-Closet Game," as in, "I wonder what's behind this door? ARRGH, SOMETHING HORRIBLE!" And he's certainly right...you don't get a feeling that the monsters are in any way intelligent. They just pop out at you when you step into certain areas, like bloody, gruesome jack-in-the-boxes.

But what MadKevin perhaps doesn't appreciate is that bloody, gruesome jack-in-the-boxes can be REALLY DAMN SCARY, especially when coupled by a fully-immersive environment. That's why we go into carnival fun-houses after all. The added bonus is that when a creepy thing jumps out at you in "Doom 3" you can shoot it in the head and watch its brain fly out.

"Doom 3" is ALL about the environment, right down to the far-off screams and the scraps of paper in the corners. It uses all the horror movie cliches because, when done effectively, they actually WORK. When I hear something moaning deep inside a maze of busted machinery, and when I have to relinquish my gun in order to pierce the shadows with my vulnerable flashlight, I get spooked something awful.

My favourite part of the game so far? The severed arm in the toilet. When game designers demonstrate that they have no class I REALLY start to worry.

17 comments:

jj said...

I used to love playing Duke Nukum 3d back in my mis-spent college days. Plus around the same time there was a great Freddy kruger inspired 3d game based on the very same duke engine - Blood. Very much worth checking out. :)

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Oh, Duke Nukem! When I worked at the video store we were located underneath a network-gaming company, so we'd go up and play Duke Nukem after hours. It was the first game, I think, that fudged the Doom algorithms to allow REAL 3D movement, over and under existing rooms and tunnels.

Then Quake I appeared and we quickly forgot about Duke. :)

I never did play Blood. Was it an official release or a mod?

Kimber said...

"Early in the game, during and directly after the event that plunges the base into chaos, the player often hears the sounds of fighting, screaming and dying through their radio transmitter."

That is enough to make me never want to play the game - I feel creeped out just imagining the audio. You are one brave Muffy!

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Yup, that's one of the scariest parts of the game. Wandering around in the dark, listening carefully for sounds of footprints or breathing...then suddenly your radio blasts the dying broadcasts of a bunch of marines. Then...silence again.

It's darn scary. A BIT contrived in its planning, but scary anyway!

madkevin said...

Sure, it's scary the first fifty or so times it happens. After that, not so much.

As I am clearly the biggest nerd to ever post here on the Muffyglob, allow me to point you to some really scary games:

System Shock 2 - Sci-fi themed first-person shooter about a derelict spaceship where something REALLY AWFUL has occurred. You piece together what has happened with the help of email logs and the ship's still functioning AI, SHODAN, while fighting a very disturbing collection of the mutated remnants of the ship's crew.

Bioshock Spiritual sequel to System Shock, except it takes place in a ridiculously awesome Art Deco underwater metropolis created by a power-mad, immensely wealthy Objectivist. Like System Shock, the metropolis is almost abandoned except for the survivors of a New Year's Eve holocaust; the survivors have overdosed on a drug called Adam that allows you to splice your DNA to create horrible, horrible things. If you're looking for a surprisingly intelligent critique of Randian thought mixed in with shootin' stuff, Bioshock is your game.

Silent Hill. PS1 game. This and System Shock 2 were the only games I've ever turned off because I was too freaked out. Unlike most videogames, you're character in Silent Hill is just some dude, with no particular combat skills, so every encounter is life-or-death. The game system uses an auditory trigger - the spooky sound of radio static - to let you know when bad stuff is about to crawl out of the shadows. No joke, after the first few hours of playing this, I was so goddamned scared I threw the controller down and screamed "FUCK THIS GAME!", and didn't play it again for a week.

Fatal Frame There are three of these, I think, for the PS2. You play a little Japanese girl who has to take pictures of ghosts. Doesn't sound very scary, does it? YOU'RE TOTALLY, TOTALLY WRONG. This series is the gaming equivalent of a totally fucked up J-Horror movie.

Blood, by the way, was a game done in the same engine as Duke Nukem 3D. Solid game, but it wasn't scary so much - think Duke with a bunch of Lovecraft references instead of Bruce Campbell references.

Syd Midnight said...

You should get a flashlight mod for the game. I bought and played DOOM 3, and while it's nowhere near as great as old DOOM, it is pretty cool for a FPS, and scary.. best played in the dark.

But the flashlight mods are all called "duct tape" because apparently tape is lost ancient wisdom. Anyone with smarts would duct tape a flashlight to their guns.

It makes the game a lot more enjoyable, and doesn't ruin the experience. Scary things appearing out of nowhere from corners you just checked will still getcha.

Syd Midnight said...

Oh, jj mentioned "Blood".. it was a game using the same engine as Duke Nuke'em, like "Redneck Rampage" etc. 3-D world, but sprite enemies. It had a darker sense of humor though. If you can play old DOS games, Blood and Blood 2 are abandonware and can be found on abandonware sites. It pushed the limits of that engine.

The thing I remember most about it was the "Phantasm" ball weapon.. you throw it, it grabs onto someone's forehead and drills into their brain. Why use anything else ever?

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I'm sorry to all contenders, but I think MadKevin DID win the geekiest poster award. Hail Kevin! :)

You're probably right that the "gruesome jack-in-the-box" effect gets repetative after 50 times, but since I'm only on the fourth level of 24 I have only seen it 43 times...I'll tell you when it stops frightening me.

The "body horror" stuff is already happening on this level...I hope they take it farther, as that's my personal fear-weakness.

As for the games you mentioned, they DO sound great! I'll buy them when they're ported to the Mac.

...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Syd, I must be the only person in the world who ENJOYS swapping my flashlight for my weapon every twenty seconds.

You normally only need to do this when zombies are coming at you, and they're slow enough to keep the gameplay from becoming impossible. Nothing like aiming at an erratically bobbing silhouette that's coming closer and closer...

I'm enjoying the occasional comic touches in the game...the "Martian Buddy" emails, and the way that Swann and his bodyguard are always just a few rooms away. That aspect probably ISN'T supposed to be funny...but is.

PS: Mars needs women. No wonder everything went to hell!

Kimber said...

Amen Muffy - although women probably would have figured out how to attach the flashlight to the gun pretty quickly.

After reading madkev's notes, I'm kind of intrigued. I wonder just how long I'd manage to play before getting too freaked out and swearing at my joystick?

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I think that if any women WERE on Mars -- at least in a game made in 2004 -- they'd be of the "pretty young scientist with glasses and ponytail" type. Perhaps as a way of getting her to "let her hair down," she could attach the flashlight to your gun with her hair elastic.

Then, at the end, she'd get suddenly mutated and turn evil, her clothes would mostly rot off, and you'd have to kill her as the final boss monster. Because that's what happens when the medium doesn't allow for romance.

madkevin said...

I should also mention the awesomeness that is the Doom movie - which I should really write up for a Dude Movie review one of these days - starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a big-ass space marine. It's a pretty standard Resident Evil-type movie for the first hour, until two truly amazing things happen

1) The Rock finds the BFG - the infamous Big Fucking Gun - which is floating in mid-air in some sort of magtnetic field so that it literally looks like a videogame power-up.

2) The last twenty minutes are shot in first person.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Oh jeez, the Doom movie! Creepy Pedro reviewed it a few issues ago...he complained that the controls were unresponsive and he was unable to strafe.

jj said...

Oh jeez, the Doom movie!

An archie comic strip actually managed to capture the zeitgeist of the times. To the age old question of "how did you like the movie", Jughead replied that he preferred the video game. :)

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Oh, that Jughead!

Seriously, when I want a dose of pure humanity WITHOUT any of the bad stuff, I turn to Archie.

Syd Midnight said...

I eventually figured out how to edit the gun properties for DOOM 3.. just to make it a bit more fair. DOOM 3 is nothing like the originals at all, but it can be fun, and certainly is scary if you play it at night!

I suppose there never will be another DOOM, but as a FPS, DOOM 3 is worth its price, and has its moments. A little humor too... how long did you spend playing Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3?

Anyways, Super Muffy is the hero we can count on to save Mars with poise, bravery, and a little bit of duct tape. ;)

Too bad there isn't as huge of a fan base, it's a lovely engine and wonderful things could be done with it.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I didn't play "Turkey" long enough to get my leave reduced, but I am certainly enjoying the snarky emails from disaffected employees ("Tell your security guards to stop leaving their armour all over the place!" and "What's more useless than a chainsaw on Mars?")

I generally like these games until they exceed my skill level, which is beginning to happen in the Communication buildings...I just don't have the dexterity and dedication to exploit all the necessary tactics, and it feels like cheating if I need to save every twenty seconds.

I am also a bit tired of totally linear indoor levels.

They've just announced a Doom 4 is in the works!