Doom 3: Ressurection of Weasels

By Shamus Posted Monday May 15, 2006

Filed under: Game Reviews 15 comments

I loved Doom 3, but the “Ressurection of Evil” expansion was lackluster at best. It had a sloppy, slapdash feel to it that negated whatever tension the thing was trying to build. From the opening cutscene, it introduced a world full of cliche’ nonsense that alienated me right away.

Stealing a page from Marvin the Android, Elizabeth McNeil’s arm doesn’t seem to fit quite right. Also, what’s up with the normals on her fingers? It looks like she stuck them in a pencil sharpener. This is to say nothing of her breasts, which seem to come from the base of her ribcage.

The mission is led by Dr. McNeil, who hangs around the control room and points at the screens with her freakishly mishapen arms. She’s watching as the team of marines goes deep into Mars in search of the source of some sort of signal radiating from within the planet. I’m not sure what’s wrong with these people. The previous Mars base was destroyed when the gates to hell broke open and demons flooded out. The installation (which surely cost hundreds of billions to construct) was ruined and hundreds (maybe thousands) of people were killed.

Now they get “some sort of signal” from within the planet – from down in the ruins where the trouble started – and they throw together a mission to check it out. I’m sorry, but nobody’s that curious.

Is that some sort of form-fitting backback, or is Dr. McNeil a hunchback?

In the first game you played as a grunt, fresh off the boat. You didn’t know your way around and nobody knew your name, but that was understandable because you were new. In the expansion, you’re the leader of the group of men going into the ruins. Despite the fact that you are a ranking member of the team, nobody has bothered to learn your name, granted you any sort of security access, or even given you any equipment. Everyone just calls you “marine”, which just doesn’t make sense. I mean, who could forget a face like this…

Since you’re dealing with an archaeological site millions of years old, the obvious way to investigate is to send in a group of marines with plenty of C4. The site may be priceless, but digging is just SO boring.

Left:Not wanting to waste precious time walking to safety, our demolition expert set the timer for about four seconds and then ran for it.
Right: John Woo enters the field of archaeology.

And inside you find a glowing, pulsing, levitating heart that seems to be made from stone. Power radiates from it. Fantastic. An amazing find.

Showing less self-control and common sense than a child, our hardened marine walks in and – without saying a word to anyone – picks up the supernatural thingy. Even in normal, non-supernatural archeology, you don’t run around grabbing stuff. Nothing will distance the player from their own character than establishing early on that their character is an accomplished idiot.

“Artifact shmartifact… this sucker will be worth a fortune on EBay!”

The gates to hell fly open (again!) and evil stuff comes out. Everyone dies but you and Dr. McNeil, which is about the most unfair thing I’ve ever seen. She’s the dunce who led the team back here, and your character is the grabby moron who picked up the thing and brought the demons. If there was any justice, you two would have been the first to die, followed by the people who animated Dr. McNeil’s pipecleaner arms.

Note to extinct alien races: If you’re having trouble with invasions from hell, rather than build a super-weapon to fight evil, you could always just stop building gates that go there.

In the first game, you were just a hapless guy who got here as the trouble started. This time around, you play the guy who’s at fault. I found myself in the akward position of needing to apologize to every corpse I found along the way.

The entire experience was not at all frightening. Note that the game looked the same, sounded the same, and played the same as Doom 3, which had a number of really scary moments. I’ve harped on this subject before, but Resurrection of Evil is the perfect example of a game with the right ingredients and the wrong recipe. Both games had the same basic mechanics but Doom was great and RoE sucked.

If you want the player to be upset when everything is destroyed by evil, then take the time to let them explore the place before it gets destroyed. If you want them to be upset about the people who die, then let them get to know a few of the people before they die. Otherwise the ruined buildings and dead bodies are just scenery. And most importantly, if you want the player to be immersed in the game, you have to let them connect with their character first. None of this has anything to do with how spooky the sounds effect and lighting are, or how yucky and spikey the monsters look.

Like with any other medium, you need to start with a good story and go from there. It doesn’t have to be fancy, long, complex, or full of symbolism, it just needs to be a story worth telling. If you don’t have that, then all of your sexy technology is going to waste.

Developers take note.


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15 thoughts on “Doom 3: Ressurection of Weasels

  1. . says:

    id belongs to the world of FPSes before FPSes became American RPGs; it will be a cold day in hell when they make a game with a good story. (Note: Haven’t played Doom 3, might be wrong there.)

    Pacing seems like a serious problem in a lot of games though — I guess this particular instance is even worse than normal as the way you describe it makes me believe it’s a totally scripted sequence. Scripted (cutscenes) sequences are great for interludes, conversation, and a slew of things that don’t fit into a game’s standard gameplay, but they can get tedious if they drag on too long.

    The major issue I see is that they kind of painted themselves into a corner — You’re a marine and you’re on some kind of generic observation post. There’s no conflict until you touch the artifact, so it seems like they want to rush up to that point, even though doing so trivializes the magnitude of what should be occurring. What they should have done is introduced some sort of renegade human faction that’s looking to get rich quick by digging up stuff from the prior Mars base, with your marine squad sent down to stop them. This also provides a convenient way to avoid your character being the moron who gets everyone killed.

  2. Patrick says:

    They can’t take note…they are to busy having sex with supermodels they lured back to their fancy houses with the coke they bought with your money.

  3. Shamus says:

    One further note is that id hired a professional writer for Doom3, and then outsource the entire RoE project.

    […]This also provides a convenient way to avoid your character being the moron who gets everyone killed.

    I like how you just came up with something more interesting than their story from the top of your head, in just a few minutes.

    It almost makes me think they weren’t even trying. :)

  4. Ethan says:

    So, Mr. ., having FPSs as RPGs is a bad or good thing IYO?

  5. . says:

    Are books written in first-person better than books written in third-person?

  6. Shamus says:

    In defense of Doom 3, the story wasn’t quite as threadbare as we’ve come to expect from “mindless shooters”. It’s much better than RoE, at any rate. From what I’ve read, it’s also better than the movie.

    The story in Doom 3 has a few very minor twists and a couple of interesting characters. Cambel and Swan actually added a good bit of depth to the world, and created the illusion that things were HAPPENING, as opposed to the world being a static maze of predefined encounters and battles. It’s no Citizen Kane, but it wasn’t trying to be.

  7. Ethan says:

    More like, would you prefere that FPSs go back to their point and kill roots or continue along the lines of Half life and Halo?

    Personally, I’m all about story. I’ve played half life and halo but never doom.

  8. . says:

    Ethan — Ok, I wasn’t quite sure where you were going with that question.

    Doom is ok for what it is — A diversion on a slow day. I played Doom once at a friends house when it came out, but I had a Macintosh so I couldn’t play it. While my friend was playing Doom I was playing Marathon, so my first experience in playing a FPS is one with a strong and deep storyline. About a year ago I downloaded Doom off of some abandonware site and played through it in a day. Fun for a diversion, but that sort of mindless shootemup will never compare to an immersive story-based FPS. Nothing in the style of Doom 1 & 2 will fly in the market these days, though. The choice is between multiplayer and singleplayer (RPG) experiences.

  9. Shamus says:

    Nothing in the style of Doom 1 & 2 will fly in the market these days, though

    While it wasn’t a hit, Serious Sam is a morden game that tried to recapture the old-school FPS. You fought endless mobs of bad guys, had huge guns, and the main character ran at about 40mph. It’s played for laughs, though. You are right: a serious game could never get away with this.

  10. fred says:

    i think u need some ice cream. ilike ice cream it is good.

  11. fred says:

    i like to eat doom 3 and i think it is goooooood!!!

  12. Felblood says:

    The first couple of levels of Pain Killer make for a great mindless shooter.

    Almost every second of gameplay consists of spaying shotgun rounds into the swarms of demons trying to carve you into ribbons, or grabbing more shotgun shells.

    Then in the second world they started trying to add “depth” or something and cluttered everything with puzzles and puzzle bosses that were neither fun nor short. Seriously DIAS stuff with the enemy weakness changing into the the thing it was most resistant to for 10 seconds if you shoot the right bubbles. –A change that is signified by a barely perceptible change in his apearance, and you’ve got to be careful to stop shooting as soon as he changes back, because there’s a vey limited supply of ammo.

    I want to shoot hordes of skeletons and fight the 90 foot zombie giant, not battle some stupid bubble monster that can’t be harmed and throw lethal firefly swarms! Stupid developers!

    The asylum level was cool though, because I have a fear of asylums, and the bridge was cool because it’s covered with ice so you sort of skate around while being ambushed by ninja demons.

  13. CyberGorth says:

    Doom 1 and 2 had a story, it just saved them for a big text explanation screen AFTER you beat them. Then you get to find out some of what the hell was going on and who the heck you where.

  14. Rhykker says:

    Heh hilarious… I had a good laugh reading this. One of the few times I actually mean it when I say “lol.”

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