3: Resurrection of Evil
Review by Steerpike
There seems to be no consensus on how to rate DOOM
3. Many argue that it personified 1994's embarrassingly
vapid jumping-puzzle, monster-closet, trap-dodging bromidity; noting
that it's not 1994 any longer and strongly implying that id Software
has never evolved beyond that thoroughly antiquated design paradigm.
Others insist that the game delivered precisely on the promises
it made: to be pretty and scary, to display for us an engine the
likes of which none had seen, and to liquefy us with a uniquely
Both sides are right. DOOM 3 is a childish game by modern
standards, over-relying on design techniques that are outdated at
best and shamefully clumsy at worst. And yet no one can claim that
it's ugly, nor can anyone dispute the fact that it made them jump
or uneasily check their six. DOOM 3 was awkward, but also
pretty and scary. That's why I gave it a Gold Starit was a
lovable idiot, a game that scared me and looked astounding but probably
could have used a better writer and level designer. Those who judged
it harshly criticized it for being the game it was rather than the
game it could have been, something I myself have been known to do
from time to timebut not in this case.
DOOM 3 claimed that it would be pretty and scary. And it
was. So it got a Gold Star. The expansion, DOOM 3: Resurrection
of Evil, claimed nothing; most people took no news to be an
admission that it would be more of the same, which is pretty much
true. Resurrection does a few things better and a few things
worse, but it's still the same game.
There are facets of Resurrection that would have made DOOM
3 better, and vice versa. In replaying DOOM 3 in anticipation
of this review, I was definitely more irritated by the so-last-decade
design issueslike the monster closetsthan I had been,
but the game experience remained great. Maybe more imperfect the
second time than it was the first, but still a solid, super-pretty,
action-packed, oh-so-scary moneymaker.
At first I didn't like Resurrection, but over time it grew
on me. While other reviews are saying it's tight at the beginning
and loses focus at the end, I couldn't disagree more. The early
stages must be endured rather than enjoyed, but about an hour in
it gets really good. Near the end it gets amazing. Generally, though,
if you liked the original game, you'll probably enjoy this expansion.
Nothing Ever Happens on Mars
Resurrection of Evil takes place a couple of years after
the events of DOOM 3. The Union Aerospace Corporation has
quarantined its Martian research facility in the wake of a hideous
accident that opened a gate to Hell and killed hundreds of people.
But now a leftover satellite has picked up a signal from a site
where they'd been excavating remains of an ancient Martian civilization.
And because they're just so damn smart, the UAC whips up
a survey team and pops them onto a spaceship to reopen the facility
and see what's what.
Your character in DOOM 3 was the only survivor of the catastrophe,
and he's clearly not dumb enough to go through it again. By the
time this new mission to Mars rolls around, he's probably on a beach
in Pattaya doing Jell-O shots off Thai hookers, hard at work spending
the enormous payoff you just know he got from the UAC in return
for his silence. You're a different cookie-cutter space marine,
under the command of Dr. Elizabeth McNeil, who appeared in DOOM
3 only as a disembodied email to a coworker saying that she
was leaving Mars before things got weirder.
The introductory cutscene sees your character's squad enter the
dig site and start poking around. This well-directed, well-acted
opening cinematic gets us back into the DOOM mood and starts
the story rolling very quickly. Entering an unexplored chamber,
your team comes face to face with an Artifact of unknown but almost
certainly malevolent origin.
This thing is a floating, still-beating heart covered with ugly
boils and nasty bumps and icky stuff. It couldn't look more evil
if it had a sign that said "I am very, very evil." It's
one of those things you don't need a mother to tell you not to touch.
And yet one of the Marines pops off his helmet, walks to the Artifact
and picks it up. Here's a thing that throbs with malice, a thing
that looks like jellied Satan, and this jarhead grabs it
with both hands. It's kind of hard to identify with a character
that could do something so colossally stupid, and harder still when
you realize that this is the character you play. But that's how
Naturally, about nine seconds after your character picks up the
Artifact, one of the old teleporters blinks on, and suddenly there's
a new express lane straight to Hell. What happened last time the
portal was opened proceeds to happen again: demons swarm through,
and the occupants of the facility are quickly overwhelmed and eviscerated.
Dr. Betruger, the human villain of DOOM 3 who couldn't have
been more ridiculously contrived and terribly written if he'd appeared
in a melodrama penned by a nine-year-old, is back. He's just a head
now, attached to a demon's tongue, and this time he intends for
the invasion to succeed. Betruger needs the Artifact, plus some
way to get his demons to earth, and the UAC has unwittingly provided
DOOM has never had much story. And yet to me, that storythe
story of the original from 1994is one of its strongest assets.
Only the vaguest anorexic wisp of a plot exists, so your own imagination
(if it works like mine, at least) delights in filling all of the
gaps with self-invented thematic spackle. DOOM is about the
price of scientific hubris, about reality's darkest corners, places
into which humanity was never supposed to peer, where rationality
and science meet their end in a strange twilight realm occupied
by cackling nightmares.
And they kind of screwed it up with DOOM 3, which is supposedly
a remake of the original. By tying in a human villain who knew exactly
what he was doing, by including all of the crap about the extinct
Martian civilization, by making it less about a disastrous experiment
and more about one person's plans to manipulate Hell for personal
gain, they've actually diluted the whole thing. And since Resurrection
includes even more of that stuff, its story is a bit tinny and
sad. It's a shame that they loaded so much crud onto a plot that
was elegant in its minimalism. My own script and design for DOOM
3 and its expansion would have been very different, and I do
wonder which would have made the better game.
I was overjoyed to get reacquainted with my dear friend Flashlight,
which, like a faithful dog, guides you through the gloomy corridors
of the UAC's Site One Complex. The DOOM 3 engine is as dark
as ever, but still pretty and still running on modest systems. Carmack
has admitted that the darkness was a conscious insert because the
game engine wasn't capable of rendering fully illuminated scenes
fast enough; it's certainly true that your computer will plod on
the rare brightly lit occasions.
The sound is again incredible, especially in 5.1. Though many games
claim to support full 3D sound and 5.1 stereo, none of them have
a chance in Hell (get it?) of beating DOOM 3's self-urinatingly
scary audio. You will jump and look back every time one of those
rear speakers pipes up, even if it's just the pneumatic swish of
a closing door. This game has a near monopoly on scaring the bejesus
out of you with diegetic sound.
Quake 4 and other DOOM 3powered games will
arrive soon, but for now all we've got on this engine is DOOM
3 and Resurrection. I'm curious to see how easy the codebase
is to develop for, and whether its surprisingly moderate requirements
(considering what it looks like) will hold up. Just because the
engine's creators made a beautiful game with it doesn't mean everyone
canTroika somehow managed to make Source look downright repellent
in Vampire, so let's hope that DOOM 3 is easier for
noninventors to work with.
It goes without saying that id's games are just technology demos.
Nearly everything they create requires the hand of another design
team before a really groundbreaking game is spawned from it. The
same is very true with DOOM 3; we mock id for creating a
game with design schemas from 1994, but the truth is id's designers
never evolved beyond that point, and they wouldn't hire designers
who hadbecause it's not a game-making company, it's the world's
best-publicized engine seller. We'll see more from the DOOM 3
engine soon enough.
Grabber? I Hardly Know Her
The gameplay is identical; this is an action game with a slightly
slower pace than something like Serious Sam but far faster
than the cerebral, lonely experience of System Shock 2. Dr.
McNeil has locked herself in her office and has whole list of things
that need to be done, and you're the lucky volunteer. You shoot
your way from objective to objective, learning the story through
emails, voice communications and simple progress. Once again you
find yourself locating the PDAs of now-gutted coworkers for clues
and necessary info.
But within a few years, that method of progressing the story is
going to be as antiquated as monster closets are now. Design in
general needs to move past games where you spend all your time looking
for three-digit codes. Finding dead characters' PDAs, reading their
email and copying their email and security clearances is contrived;
it's a lazy form of game design. In the future, this stuff needs
to be part of the game worldif I need a password or some other
small clue, put it on a sticky tacked to a bulletin board, or in
an email on an employee's workstation, or a note on a desk, or a
voice mail or in a file cabinet or something. Running around picking
up everyone's Palm Pilot and reading messages is just not good enough
With physics practically assumed in modern games, more and more
we'll be seeing the ability to manipulate the physical world built
right into the level design. Designers are still cutting their teeth
on this interesting new concept, and early attempts like the one
in Resurrection are well-intentioned but, like the progression
options above, not fully embedded into the game. So far, they've
taken the form of a weapon that can alter small-object physics.
Along with the power to pick up, fling and drop objects, Resurrection's
"physics weapon," called the Grabber (nice name,
guys; don't think too hard), can snatch enemy projectilesand
even small enemiesright out of the air.
Despite the fact that it's the first of what's sure to become many
lame ripoffs of Half
Life 2's Gravity Gun, the Grabber does manage to
differentiate itself. There's a more kinetic feel; it bucks like
a mule and shudders wildly when it gloms onto something. It's a
lot harder to use with finesse because it doesn't maintain its grip
forever, doesn't hold objects firmly and can't be used to knock
objects away without first pulling them toward you.
Mastery of the Grabber is no mean feat. The device emits a bright
green beam and ripple effect that seriously distorts the picture,
and any grabbed object totally obstructs your field of view while
it's being held. This makes aiming quite an adventure. Moreover,
it needs to lock on grabbable objects, and the targeting system
is very unforgiving. Learning how to snatch enemy fireballs and
hurl them back is fun but often frustratingly hard, especially against
the no-margin-for-error Hell Knights that appear with alarming regularity
late in Resurrection.
The double-barreled shotgun, missed in DOOM 3, is in its
glory in Resurrection, and it goes a long way toward balancing
later portions of the game. There's also a cute anecdotal story
about what such an archaic weapon might be doing on Mars. I appreciated
this, just as I appreciated DOOM 3's hilarious justification
for the chainsaws. The DB's shell-gobbling nature is offset by the
fact that Resurrection is much more generous with ammunition. Constant
shortages in DOOM 3 were frankly frustrating; you don't have
that problem here. If you can't get the hang of the Grabber, you
can still get through with regular weaponsbe warned, though,
some creatures are only harmed by the Grabber, and most enemies
are surprisingly vulnerable to their own ordnance. It's also incredibly
satisfying to snatch up Trites and splatter them against the opposite
That scary Artifact your character so smartly bearhugged at the
beginning of the game isn't just a creepy item, it's an important
weapon and the key to victory. At first it just sits there and looks
disgusting, but once you defeat the first of the game's three interim
boss monsters, it starts to gain power: it slows time, multiplies
your damage and finally renders you invulnerable for short periods.
The Artifact feeds on human souls to fuel these powers, but there
are plenty lying around. It's easy to forget the Artifact or to
conserve it for "special" occasions. Big mistake: hotkey
the Artifact and use it often. Without it, you cannot hope to proceed
through the nightmarishly difficult final stages.
Human: It's What's for Dinner
Nerve got a stack of new monsters that id didn't have time to finish
before they shipped DOOM 3, so their responsibility there
was pretty minimal. Old favorites like the Fire Imps and Cacodemons
return bolstered with some interesting new creatures, including
an especially terrifying one that has a television set for a mouth,
which I would imagine does cut down on dental bills. Best of all,
the most annoying enemy from DOOM 3 (yes, tentacle soldier,
I'm talking about you) barely appears, while we get a lot more exposure
to unusual creatures like the big fat Mancubus and the cry-for-mommy
Countless video games have proven that nothing good ever comes
from research into teleportation. In Episode Two of the original
DOOM, the situation unfolds with exquisite pacing. At first,
the Deimos Base looked pretty much like its twin on Phobos: blandly
military in a today's-graphics-can't-communicate-much sort of way.
But later in the episode, it became very clear that something much
more horrible than an alien invasion was taking place (remember,
that's what you thought at firstthe truth wasn't revealed
until the end of Episode Two). Indeed, the Deimos Base is slowly
passing into the realm of Hell, and it's changing accordingly.
They tried to accomplish something similar in DOOM 3, with
disastrous results. Basically they threw in some tentacles and glistening
stuff and called it a day; it seemed more like the base had a bad
fungus infection than a case of the Going to Hells. Resurrection,
on the other hand, does it so well that it's practically indescribable.
Late in the game your character is obliged to teleport back to Delta
Labs, the scene of the original explosion in UAC Site Three Complex.
You've been warned that the entire area is phasing in and out of
this reality, but when you get there ... well, I won't spoil it,
but let's say that Nerve did a really good, viscerally upsetting
job of making you feel like you're not in Kansas any more.
Hell, also, is cooler, even though it has the same basic look and
feel of the version we saw before. Truth is, in DOOM 3 you
barely spend one hour of the game's 20 in Hell, and that in the
middle rather than the endodd considering the structure of
the original. Resurrection is a much shorter game, but Hellwhich
you're still not in for that longis a better-designed level
and much more gratifying. The final confrontation, too, is more
DOOM-like than DOOM 3's own pathetic emulation of
the Cyberdemon of old: no tricks are needed at the end of Resurrection,
just a hell of a lot of firepower.
If Resurrection has one serious problem, it's that it isn't
that scary. It tries to be, it tries so hard, using the same questionable
devices as its forebear: tiny cubicles containing demons just waiting
to fling themselves out; creepy whispers; flickering red lights;
annoying laughter. The usual stuff. But it comes off as an action
game rather than survival horror. This isn't a good thing or a bad
thing; it's just a thingand certainly not a deal-breaker.
I was all set to hand Resurrection of Evil a Rotten Egg
early on, when I was obliged to pass through an incredibly annoying
series of crushy smashy squishing traps, followed immediately by
an inordinately obnoxious fireball puzzle. I'd never felt so glued
to the anachronism of DOOM 2 as I did during those moments,
but thereafter it became clear that the point of those scenes were
to teach you how to use the Artifact correctly, and they never reappeared
so I forgave it. The first hour is intended to introduce you to
the Grabber and the Artifact, both of which are game-changers. Think
of it as a tutorial and you'll be fine.
If you didn't like DOOM 3, well, you won't like Resurrection.
The Grabber is fun, but there's one in Half Life 2. The
last nine-tenths of the game feature wonderful level design, but
it's still pretty much an extension of its predecessor. And certainly
you won't find it as scary, though on harder difficulties, it's
a lot more challenging. But it still looks amazing, and it's still
an enormously gory, satisfying experience for those who just want
to blow off some steam.
I'm assuming that this is the end of DOOM. It's conceivable
that id will farm out a DOOM 4 to some other company, which
may or may not continue the remake tradition and glue on DOOM
2's narrative. I'd be okay with that, because DOOM 2 also
had a fun story that would have been quite engaging if they'd bothered
to write more than a line or two. But I doubt a DOOM 4 will
happen at all. id and the world both seem to have moved on, evolved
beyond DOOM. Just as Sonic died when 2D scrollers
did, DOOM died when the last of the brainless shooters finally
Personally, I'd like more than anything to see them remake the
original DOOM again in about seven years, when graphics are
photorealistic. Better still, hire me to write it. The games still
have a capacity to terrify, and a good remake would finally give
us DOOM as it was always supposed to be. For now, though,
fans could do a lot worse than Resurrection, while those
who never cared for DOOM 3 won't find anything here to change
Release Date: April 4, 2005
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