Saturday, October 18, 2008

To Hell and Back

I've spent the last six weeks playing "Doom 3." Even considering the hugely inflated price I paid for the Mac version, that's a lot of value for money.

Having savoured each and every level to its fullest I was getting a little impatient near the end. Most of the game is played in tiny corridors, which gets tiresome, and after the joy of a wide-open "Hell" level it was a bit of a letdown to return to the corridors again.

So yeah, for a week or so I've just wanted to FINISH the damn game, and tonight I was happy to discover that the final Cyberdemon boss was a real wuss (Soul Cube, kill some minions, repeat). I'm finally done. And the epilogue cinematic was very cool.

I'm not much of a game player so maybe I'm just naive, but I've got to say that the Doom environment was BEAUTIFUL. Playing it on my 24" monitor with stereo sound blasting was almost too immersive for comfort. Yeah, most of the time you're creeping through dark corridors waiting for something to jump out at you, but the level designers knew enough to put breathtaking rewards in now and then...huge rooms, a blasted Martian landscape, a seemingly-endless elevator shaft. And even those corridors are pretty to look at, draped in steam and shadow.

Kudos also to the almost fetishistic approach to architecture, wherein the game REALLY seems like a microscopic tour of a working space-age factory...WITH MONSTERS! You sometimes get the feeling that the level designers spent more time building pipe schematics than they actually spent on the stuff the player USES.

Having finished the game without cheating, here are some tried-and-true pieces of advice for those having trouble.
  1. Never open a door without your shotgun ready.
  2. If something falls down in front of you, turn around IMMEDIATELY and kill the thing that was sneaking up behind.
  3. A wide-open space? Get your plasma gun. Need to kill your enemies faster? Rocket launcher.
  4. If a room contains little vents near the floor that you can't crawl into, that means trites are waiting.
  5. Trites are enormously fun to kill with the machine gun. Two bullets and they pop. This becomes like a very easy shooting gallery game.
  6. When you go through a door for the first time, run a few steps into the room and then back out through the door again. That way, whatever creatures your entry triggered will have to come for YOU. The level designers rarely accounted for this bit of sneakiness.
  7. The chaingun sucks.
  8. When facing imps and wraiths, just run right up to them with your shotgun and shoot them in the head.
  9. Go as slowly as you like. The nice thing about the game is that there are no time limits. Of course you might take six weeks to FINISH it...
  10. Mars really needed an affirmative action program.
Done, done, done! Back to more productive wastes-of-time.

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