My parents developed the behavior modification technique known as "Bibleman Submersion Therapy" around my eighth birthday. They would dunk me into the bathtub for thirty seconds, and as my head was briefly pulled up for oxygen, they would begin prophesying the future of Willie Aames. "Some day in the future Willie will depart from the hit comedy sensation 'Charles in Charge' and he will become Bibleman, a wholesome Christian hero intent on saving your soul, Richard," my mother would declare in between gasps of breath. "Yes," my dad confirmed as I flailed my arms trying to claw my way out of the bathtub. "Willie Aames shall one day demonstrate the importance of faith during an epic battle with Luxor Spawndroth and his cronies of evolutionists disguised as Christians disguised as evolutionists."
This extreme treatment was in response to a phase I was going through where I absolutely refused to stop insisting I was a blind janitor hired to clean up a futuristic space station of the future situated either on Mars or a planet solely composed of frozen mulch. My father would often try to break me out of this persona by asking questions he thought I couldn't answer, such as what marketable goods my employer manufactured. He always thought he was clever ever since the time he was watching Jeopardy with my mother and he was able to successfully guess, nine times out of ten, Alex Trebek's first name.
"According to the prospectus released last April, the corporation produces a wide range of technologically advanced weaponry, space freighters, and scientific equipment such as the touch screen LCD which never gets dirty regardless of what sewage processing station you toss it into," I would reply with the confident bravado of Marlon Brando before somebody finally convinced him to die. "But for all practical purposes, I've never seen the corporation manufacture a single thing besides these rusty red barrels which explode when shot. You may find such barrels spaced 10 inches apart every 10 inches of our highly futuristic space station of the future, assuming you have been equipped with a janitorial-strength barrel-spotting flashlight."
Eventually my parents abandoned the Bibleman Submersion Therapy just like Jason Hall fled from the smash hit Ice-T vehicle "Sanity: Aiken's Artifact," the only game daring enough to expose our government's secret plan to create large black men that will roam around the streets and collect outrageously gigantic rotating playing cards. However, I never abandoned my dream to work as a futuristic janitor of the future, performing a series of simple and menial tasks on a planet similar to our own but also very different, at least in the aspect of the restrooms. Last week I learned that all my dreams would soon come through, as id Software released the much anticipated "Doom 3" to a public which had already rated it five out of five stars on Amazon.com before they even had a chance to play it.
You know how all units in realtime strategy games always have one critical flaw? Like you can produce little motorcycles that zip around really quickly but never pack more firepower than a broken labelmaker, or you can pump out massive tanks which can destroy the entire Earth but are incapable of moving anywhere at all ever? This is what game designers like to call "balanced gameplay," which roughly translates to "you can have fun just as long as something's slightly irritating you," and I'm proud to announce this theory is often carried out into game production itself. The further technologically advanced a game becomes, the less of a plot and storyline it features, just to balance it out. And yeah, you can certainly find games which have complex characters and plots, but the graphical quality of it will rival that one Atari 2600 game where you had to drive the hot rod up the screen to catch floating numbers somebody had carelessly thrown into the streets, thereby successfully teaching you math.
"Doom 3" is the latest offering from John Carmack and the team of people paid to hang around Carmack and offer invaluable advice such as "please don't lose interest in computer games" and "boy it sure is fun to make computer games, don't you agree?" This title comes after Carmack spent the last half of a decade researching advanced optical physics, particularly in the area of black holes and bedroom closets after somebody had turned off the lights, so you can be sure there are a ton of complex formulas and equations in this game such as "x=60" or, in extreme situations, "x=67." The theory behind "Doom 3" is that lighting, the stark contrast between "not being able to see anything" and "not being able to see anything but randomly aiming into the shadows and shooting something throwing fireballs at you," creates a strong sense of horror and tension much like in the movie "The Ring" where the dead chick in the well threw fireballs at Naomi Watts.
"Doom 3" builds on the dark industrial success id Software created back when Trent Reznor used to spend time producing music instead of counting money, and is some sort of remix between the first two "Doom" titles and a flashlight switching simulator. The story is the same thing we've been exposed to over and over again; evil experiment by evil company goes awry and you are caught up in the evilness, the lone survivor who everybody is depending on to make the evil evil things stop being so evil. The weapons are the same things we've been exposed to over and over again, and the gameplay is the same thing we've been exposed to over and over again, but this is supposed to all be overlooked because the graphics look really nice in the off chance that there's a coding error and you can actually view them.
I admit, the graphics are impressive. Professor Carmack did an excellent job of emulating dynamic flashlight technology, probably to the point where a new generation of children will yearn to grow up and hold flashlights of their very own. Characters have a high polygon count and look more realistic than many of the people attending this year's QuakeCon. If any game has ever made me believe I was actually trapped inside a giant plastic lego industrial waste facility which couldn't afford to pay its power bills, it's this one. A generous portion of your ass will undoubtedly be blown off by the 500 million realistic looking sewage pipes, steel grates, and dirty metal surfaces you'll pass in your quest to reach the ultimate futuristic waste processing facility of the future. In order to break up the monotony of dredging through countless narrow hallways full of rusty metal and sewage pipes, "Doom 3" has a few missions requiring you to dredge through slightly different narrow hallways full of rusty metal and sewage pipes so you can press a button on a LCD which makes additional narrow hallways full of rusty metal and sewage pipes accessible. Sometimes you get to pass gigantic machines with no discernable purpose, such as the "big metal machine which rotates metal canisters around in a circle" and "the huge metal machine which glows and emits constant noises from a Bill Laswell sample CD."
In the near future, when I'm strapped to the electric chair and the sweaty, obese Alabamian warden asks me if I have any final words, I will proudly exclaim, "yes I may have murdered all those orphans the prosecuting attorney falsely claimed I murdered, but at least I never produced a first person shooter about killing spiders in a sewage processing plant." Then everybody will thoughtfully glance at each other as the words slowly sink into their brains, and they will soon be overtaken by raw emotion when it dawns on them that I'm not the real enemy, I'm merely a victim of circumstances. The warden will still flip the switch and fry my brains out, mostly because this takes place in the bleak and tyrannical police state future that KMFDM so astutely predicted, but at least everybody will finally realize that the gaming industry shoulders some of the blame. Here's a little message for you guys and gals coding the latest and greatest game about shooting with guns: we gamers don't have wet dreams about killing spiders. We don't talk about how awesome it would be to run around a waste processing station and either shut down or activate the processor which processes the waste processing; I'm not even sure who first decided that every game needs an obligatory sewer system level. When we think of our favorite video game moments, not a single one of them revolves around shooting a barrel which either catches fire or explodes. And as awesome you think the idea of "simultaneously spawning a bad guy in front of you the exact moment a bad guy spawns behind you" is, most of us generally don't agree. Let me rehash that list for some of the more lazier developers out there, complete with an animated gif of a checkmark to let you know exactly how much I love animated gifs of checkmarks:
THINGS NOBODY WANTS TO SEE IN A FIRST PERSON SHOOTER:
- Spiders and the inevitable Spider Queen because if there are spiders that means there's gotta be a Spider Queen, am I right or am I right folks?
- Performing a seemingly never-ending series of menial janitorial tasks inside a gigantic filthy industrial complex.
- Hundreds of millions of barrels which inexplicably explode when touched, yet are located in every hallway and next to every computer everywhere. There are apparently a lot of futuristic workplace accidents in the future.
- Enemies that silently spawn behind you and attack before you even know they are there.
- The phrase "powered by Lithtech" on the box.
As previously mentioned, "Doom 3" is a very dark game. Despite the fact that it's the future and you're in a highly futuristic industrial complex that manufactures highly technological machinery, the only portable source of light you can find is a 99-cent K-Mart flashlight which spent the last week repeatedly falling off the back of a pickup truck. One of this game's most awesome gameplay features is the flashlight juggling physics which revolve around constantly switching your flashlight for a gun or your gun for a flashlight. Remember that paragraph I wrote above about balanced gameplay? Well the flashlight juggling physics fall into that description as well; if you've got the flashlight then you are defenseless but can see what's killing you, and if you have a gun then you can defend yourself but you can't see what's killing you. Sure you know that your health is being gnawed away by a plastic spider of some sort, but you are unable to locate the exact position of this spider due to the fact that the lights are all out and every time it hits you, your character spastically flings his head 180 degrees backwards like a retarded child after licking a tazer.
I don't know, maybe I'm bitching too much just because I'm a bitter 28-year old webmaster with unrealistic expectations for so-called "revolutionary" games from revolutionary companies. But you know what? If you want to read ecstatically positive reviews of "Doom 3," then look on virtually any gaming site or magazine anywhere, all of which are currently researching ways to physically make love to id Software over the Internet. If you're mad at me because I'm the only person in the universe who is too stupid to understand that shooting spiders in a dark sewage processing facility is terribly frightening, then feel free to complain about my lack of journalistic integrity on one of a million public forums about choosing the correct neon light for your Evangelion case mod. None of this will change my opinions regarding "Doom 3" though. I'm sick to death of the goddamn "dark industrial" motif found in every first person shooter since 1994. I easily grow tired of repetitive "find the button and press it" tasks which are only made difficult by the fact that the buttons are miles apart and in different Martian area codes. I don't want to shoot spiders, I don't want to shoot barrels which explode, and I don't want to shoot only when I have put down my flashlight and therefore cannot see anything. Now if you'll excuse me, I must head out and tell children around the neighborhood how dinosaurs never existed and if they believe otherwise then they're going to hell. I'll bring my flashlight.