Meet your Doom! Doom 3 that is…

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As some of you may know I have always been a huge fan of the original Quake game released way back in the 90’s (on the N64 in my case) so much so that I did a Halloween tribute to it a few years back and the beginnings of a Let’s Play! On Youtube (links to both at the end of this post.)

It seems hard to discuss Quake without people inevitably making comparisons to the Doom franchise. Therefore I have always avoided playing Doom, possibly feeling that it would be some sort of slur on Quake to do so, but most likely it was more a case of not seeing how it could ever live up. However, when I came across the special edition of Doom 3 for a few pounds in a second hand shop I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to find out what the franchise is like to play.

To be honest, my expectations of this game were quite high (Quake prejudice notwithstanding) as it regularly makes appearances in people’s lists of the scariest video games. Happily, I have not been disappointed. As a horror game, it’s a very competent effort indeed, and manages to create a wonderfully creepy gaming experience. The opening level sees you on a Martian outpost of a sinisterly powerful corporation tasked with exploring space and conducting scientific research. From the get-go there is a feeling about this place is not quite right. Whether it’s the oddly overly sterile environment, the egotistical overseer/manager of the facility or the disembodied android voices echoing down the corridors, the place just feels like a disaster waiting to happen.

Sure enough within minutes of your arrival everything starts to go horribly wrong and you find yourself tasked with hunting down some employees who have gone missing. The horror and suspense is built up well as you being to explore some of the abandoned sections of the base with only a flashlight and some of the terrified maintenance personnel for company. Naturally when you find the missing staff everything kicks off, with the creepy devil’s heads appearing out of the walls and possessing the hapless scientists and turning the marines into mindless zombies. This doesn’t sound particularly original, and it isn’t, but it is done with polish enough to make it seem both frightening and refreshing.

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It’s quite hard to pin down what makes this game so frightening but here are just a few of the factors which combine to make the overall effect. This game manages to create a perfect sense of isolation; you very rarely run into anyone who hasn’t succumbed to the possessing force which has ravaged the base, and the few who have mostly die pretty quickly. The lighting and level design is used to great effect to further emphasise this sense of loneliness and isolation; the claustrophobic corridors, ventilation shafts and access tunnels lend themselves well to creating an overall sense of dread and impending doom. You also begin the game with very little actual information about your surroundings and narrative; most information in the game is gained through finding personnel PDA’s which hold a variety of voice memo and staff e-mails which shed light on what has been happening in the research facility. The audio effects and monster design in the game are also top notch, managing to be both crisp and yet retaining an almost retro sort of feel; you can see the care and attention which has gone into bringing out the canon in this game.

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Overall, this is a great horror experience. My only real criticism is that the lack of overall narrative and character interaction can sometimes seem stifling at times; but mostly this is a great game and well worth a play through. Does it compare to Quake though? I can’t really answer that as I have not played any of the more recent entries into the series for a fair comparison. I did enjoy playing the original Quake more, but that is not a particular criticism of Doom and may have as much to do with nostalgia as anything else. The Doom 3 BFG edition also comes with the original versions of Doom and Doom 2 so perhaps a more direct comparison would be more appropriate there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcfxPkKwh5I

https://theinverselook.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/halloween-quake-revisited/

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Zombie aPokelypse!

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I apologise for the terrible attempt at a pun. I felt quite literally ashamed of myself for thinking of it, but after half an hour of further thought resulting in zero better ideas I decided to just go with it.
First, lets just set the scene. After a day’s exhausting shopping in the Celadon department store you emerge into the fading light of dusk. You are immediately surrounded by other members of your fellow citizenry. On closer inspection, they do in fact appear to be undead monsters intent on hunting you down and eating your face. Time to panic, right? Wrong! With the right team of Pokemon the zombie apocalypse can be reduced from a stomach churning, gory nightmare to a mild annoyance.
From the outset, having Pokemon over human companions has several advantages. Pokemon won’t go berserk with cabin fever and try to kill you; they won’t steal your food and they won’t be an endless burden to you on your quest for survival. Obviously some company is fine, but Pokemon do have their advantages. But what team to have? No legendaries, of course. They may well just decide to leave you to your fate and watch all aloof as you helplessly get torn to pieces by ravenous monsters.

1. Charizard

Obviously Charizard. It’s big, it can fly, and its fire breath can disintegrate zombies en masse with little to no effort. Even when surrounded on all sides you can laugh in the face of danger as your faithful companion reduces zombies in the immediate area to ash. In the unlikely event that there are too many to handle, Charizard is big and strong enough to simply fly you away to a safer location. On cold winter days, lighting a fire will be no problem at all, greatly increasing your changes of survival.

2. Greninja

The Pokedex description for Greninja states that the water shuriken stars that it compresses and throws are powerful enough to split metal in half. Let that sink in for a moment. If it can do that to metal we are talking about some serious damage to zombie flesh. The speed and accuracy of Greninja’s ninja skills means that zombies can be decapitated with murderous force at an incredible rate. And, if by chance one makes it past and heads for you, that tongue it uses as a scarf can stop it lasso style leaving it completely open to a shuriken throw. But defense is not the only consideration. In a zombie apocalypse scenario, provisions are equally important. Fresh water is hard to come by in many areas. Not for you it isn’t. One rain dance whenever the thirst takes you and you’re laughing.

3. Trevenant

Similarly, food can be scarce; enter Trevenant. Not only can this Pokemon create perfect growing condition for crops or natural food sources, but it has the ability to endlessly recreate berries and similar foods in sunny weather. If you’re feeling a bit peckish after your drink of water, a sunny day to create more berries is just what the doctor ordered. Also, look at Trevenant. It’s pretty strong looking, and can easily camouflage itself in a woodland setting, offering interesting ambush opportunities.

4. Steelix

Are your other Pokemon exhausted and in no condition to fight with zombies closing in? No matter, just deploy Steelix. This Pokemon is huge and made out of steel. All it has to do is curl up in a ball and you can sleep safely in the middle surrounded by a wall of impenetrable steel as zombies frantically claw at its body unable to make even a scratch. Once your other Pokemon are rested you’re back in business. And, of course, its pretty huge and could probably just squash most zombies anyway. Win win.

5. Alakazam

I’ve picked Alakazam but really any psychic Pokemon will do. If the TV series is anything to go by, all psychic types can use psychic to physically manipulate objects and move them around. This will make you very safe, and could potentially be very entertaining. If the oddly hilarious blasting of bears off a cliff using your voice in Skyrim is anything to judge by then some psychic based zombie killing shenanigans could provide some light relief in a world gone mad.

6. Pikachu

Well, its cute and even in a zombie apocalypse a sweet pet would be nice. Its electric attacks would be pretty useless in combat though.

So there you have it, a team capable of maximising your chances of survival in a world ravaged by zombies. One thing that has become apparent from thinking about this is that they way Pokemon are described in the games and cards makes them sound dangerous and terrifying. Lets just hope they wouldn’t use a zombie attack as an opportunity to make a break for freedom….

Picture taken from kotaku.com