Doom 3


Doom 3 cover art

Doom 3 is a science fiction horror first-person shooter computer game developed by id Software and originally published by Activision.

Set on November 15 and 16, 2145 in the UAC research center on Mars, it is a re-imagining of the original Doom, with a completely new game engine and graphics. Doom 3 focuses on slow methodical gameplay, as opposed to the “run and gun” feel of its predecessors. It received a positive reception for its fear inspiring atmosphere and groundbreaking graphics, but it was also criticized for its otherwise simplistic gameplay, clichéd horror effects, and pervasive darkness.

Doom 3 had a long development schedule dating back to 2000, with a well-received demonstration at E3 in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The game was finally released in the summer of 2004: August 3 in North America, August 12 in Japan, and August 13 in Europe.[1]

The game was developed for Windows and ported to Linux in 2004; five months later, it was also released for Mac OS X (ported by Aspyr) and Xbox (co-developed by Vicarious Visions). The Xbox version is graphically similar to (although less detailed than) the original and features an additional two-player online co-operation mode. An expansion, Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, developed by Nerve Software and co-developed by id Software, was released on April 4, 2005. A Doom movie, loosely based on the franchise, was released roughly six months later on October 21, 2005.

id Software released the source code of the game on November 22, 2011.

On May 30, 2012, a re-release of the game called Doom 3: BFG Edition was announced for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3, published by Bethesda. On July 26, 2019, a version based on BFG Edition was released for Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. On March 30, 2021, a virtual reality adaption of BFG Edition was released for PlayStation VR.


According to John Carmack, the lead graphics engine developer at id, the "tripod of features" in Doom 3 technology is:

  • Unified lighting and shadowing
  • Complex animations and scripting that show off real-time, fully dynamic per-pixel lighting and stencil shadowing.
  • GUI surfaces that add extra interactivity to the game

The key advance of the Doom 3 graphics engine is the unified lighting and shadowing. All 3D engines up to and including Quake III and Unreal Tournament had computed or rendered lightmaps during map creation, saving that information in the map data, which made the lighting extremely static. By contrast in the new Doom 3 engine, most light sources are computed on the fly. This allows lights to cast shadows even on non-static objects such as monsters or machinery, which was impossible with static lightmaps. A shortcoming of this approach is the engine's inability to render soft shadows and global illumination.

As well as dynamic lighting and shadows, the Doom 3 engine was id Software's first to make extensive use of bump mapping.

To create a more movie-like atmosphere, id interspersed the gameplay with many in-game animated sequences of monsters ambushing the player or just lurking around.

To increase the interactivity with the game-world, id designed hundreds of high-resolution animated screens for in-game computers. Rather than using a simple "use key", the crosshair acts as a mouse cursor over the screens allowing the player to use a computer in the game world. This allowed an in-game computer terminal to perform more than one function, such as a readily apparent door-unlocking button, combined with a more obscure function allowing an astute player to unlock a nearby weapons locker.

Other important features of Doom 3 engine are normal mapping and specular highlighting of textures, realistic handling of object physics, dynamic, ambient soundtrack and multi-channel sound.

id Tech 4 engine[edit]

Main article: id Tech 4

id Tech 4 (AKA the "Doom 3 engine") began as an enhancement to id Tech 3 which was used in Quake III Arena. Originally it was planned to be a complete rewrite of the engine's renderer, while still retaining other subsystems, such as file access, and memory management. After the new renderer was functional, however, the decision was made to switch from C to the C++ programming language, necessitating a complete restructuring and rewrite of the rest of the engine; today, while the Doom 3 engine contains code from id Tech 3, much of it has had to be rewritten.

Unlike the preceding and widely-used id Tech 3 (Quake III Engine) and id Tech 2 (Quake II Engine), the Doom 3 engine has had somewhat less success in licensing to third parties. This is especially apparent in comparison to its direct competitor, the Unreal III engine. While id Tech 4 had taken a new direction with its dynamic per-pixel lighting, this unconventional feature had steeper hardware requirements and was initially only useful in "spooky games", whereas an increasing number of developers preferred conventional engines that could render large outdoor areas. Indeed, due to the long release time between id Tech 3 and 4 (1999-2004), id Software did not have anything competitive when Epic Games released Unreal Engine 2 in fall 2002; game developers used to UE 2 largely went onto Unreal Engine 3.

Like its predecessors, id Tech 4 was eventually released as open source. At the QuakeCon 2007 John Carmack, the lead graphics engine developer at id, said to LinuxGames: "I mean I won't commit to a date, but the Doom 3 stuff will be open source." The source code was eventually released on November 22, 2011.

Hardware requirements[edit]

A disadvantage of id Tech 4 was that it needed a high-end graphics processing unit (GPU), which was at least DirectX 8.0 compliant with fully programmable vertex and pixel shaders, such as the Nvidia GeForce 3 or ATI Radeon 8500, with 64 MB of VRAM. By E3 2002, the recommended GPU was the Radeon 9700; while its DirectX 9.0 features are not necessary to render the game, its advanced architecture, 256-bit memory bus, and efficiency were needed to run Doom 3 at high detail and playable speed.[1]

id Tech 4 resulted in the obsolescence of DirectX 7.0 graphics chips such as the widespread GeForce 2 and Radeon 7200, as well as DirectX 6.0 chipsets such as RIVA TNT2 and Rage 128, and software rendering (with an integrated Intel GMA). Owners of pre-DirectX 8.0 cards were able to use a powerful CPU to compensate for the lack of hardware Transform, clipping, and lighting (T&L) in DirectX 7.0 titles, however DirectX 8.0 calculations were far too complex for a DirectX 7.0 card or a fast CPU. While John Carmack initially warned gamers not to purchase the GeForce 4 MX (which was an improved GeForce 2), its somewhat widespread adoption compelled id Software to enable Doom 3 to run on these cards, making it the only DirectX 7.0 chip capable of running Doom 3. Some have gotten Doom 3 to run on unsupported cards such as a 3dfx Voodoo2, however this video chipset was incapable of rendering anything beyond the polygons and textures, such as the per-pixel lighting and bump mapping.[2]

id Software pointed out that the original Doom and Doom II had gamers moving from their 386s to 486s, while the first Quake had them switching to Pentium processors. They hope that Doom 3 would do the same in getting the masses to adopt DirectX 8.0 hardware. However, from 2001-2003, DirectX 8.0 capable video cards were extremely expensive, never spawning a mass market version like their DirectX 7.0 predecessors, putting them out of the range of all but the most hardcore gamers. For instance, the GeForce 3 and GeForce 4 Ti lines never spawned mainstream versions, while the Radeon 8500's mass-market derivative in the Radeon 9000 did not have the best performance.


In June 2000, John Carmack announced the start to a remake of Doom using next generation technology. This plan revealed controversy had been brewing within id over the decision.

Kevin Cloud and Adrian Carmack, two of id Software's owners, were always strongly opposed to remaking Doom. They thought that id was going back to the same old formulas and properties too often. However, after the warm reception of Return to Castle Wolfenstein (which was originally a remake of Wolfenstein 3D) and the latest improvements in rendering technology, most of the employees agreed that a remake was the right idea and confronted Kevin and Adrian with an ultimatum: "Allow us to remake Doom or fire us" (including John Carmack). After the reasonably painless confrontation (although artist Paul Steed, one of the instigators, was fired in retaliation), the agreement to work on Doom 3 was made.

The game was in development for 4 years. In 2001, it was first shown to the public at Macworld Conference and Expo in Tokyo during the unveiling of Nvidia's GeForce 3, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs introducing John Carmack on stage, who showed off a few new screenshots of id Tech 4, including some from the Doom 3.[3][4]

It was later demonstrated at E3 in 2002 using an ATI Radeon 9700, where a 15-minute gameplay demo was shown in a small theater.[5][6] It won awards at E3 that year. It starts off with Dr. Betruger (with spectacles) pushing his way past a couple security guard to initiate a test run. However, computer systems starting going haywire and evil spirits were released from a portal. One guard is possessed by the spirit and briefly lifted into the air, with his skin shriveling up and his goggles/visor exploding as he is transformed into a mindless zombie. After a brief vision of hell, the movie cuts to a nameless marine, taking the player's first-person shooter view. The player kills various zombies, imps, and commandos, before running out of ammo and being killed by a Hell Knight, who then rips off the player's head (the camera view) and eating it.[7] One memorable scene is when a Pinky Demon is eating the intestines of a Fat Zombie in the bathroom.[8].

At the same time of the E3 2002 demo showing, a downloadable film made by Fountainhead Entertainment was released, called Doom III: The Legacy, which contrasted Doom and Doom II with the new Doom III and featured interviews with key id Software staff.

Some speculated that id Software was targeting the 2002 holiday season, although others believed a 2003 release date would be more realistic. After E3 2002, there was no further press release from id Software regarding the project; the company's website only had Return to Castle Wolfenstein as the latest game.

Next year, a new trailer was shown at E3 2003 and soon afterwards the id software homepage was updated to showcase Doom 3 as an upcoming project but it was also announced that Doom 3 would not be ready for the 2003 holiday season. According to some comments by John Carmack, the development took longer than expected. Originally, the game was planned for release around the same time as another highly anticipated game, Half-Life 2, in Christmas 2003. Doom 3, Half-Life 2, and Halo 2 were considered among the most anticipated games since their announcements in 2001 and 2002, though all three of them would not make the planned 2003 holiday season.

Doom 3 achieved gold status on July 14, 2004, and a Mac OS X release was confirmed the next day on July 15, 2004. Doom 3 was released in the U.S. on August 3, 2004. Additionally, a Linux version was released on October 4, 2004. Due to high demand, the game was made available at select outlets at midnight on the date of release. The game was released to the rest of the world on August 13, 2004 (except for Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, where official localization was delayed and caused the game to be released about four months later, on December 10, 2004).

The development of Doom 3 would be detailed in a book entitled The Making of Doom 3 by Steven L. Kent.


Hell is near

The protagonist is once again a nameless space marine who holds the rank of Corporal. As it just so happens, he gets shipped to the UAC Mars research facility with Counselor Swann and his bodyguard Jack Campbell on the same day all Hell breaks loose. Within minutes of the invasion, the main military units are zombified by evil souls, and the remaining staff are killed off by the attacking Demons. Only a few scattered squads remain, mainly Bravo Team, with whom the player tries to regroup for a large part of the game. It is once again upon the player to stop the forces of Hell from reaching Earth.

The first cut scene displays Swann telling Campbell how fed up he is with being sent to Mars to check security. Swann says to Campbell he is “…tired of doing damage control every time he makes a mess.” Swann is later seen arguing with the head research scientist in Delta Labs, Dr. Betruger, saying there are too many incidents happening throughout the base, along with frightened employees and rumors of what is happening in Delta Labs.

The player's first mission, assigned to him by Master Sergeant Kelly, aka “Sarge”, is to find a missing scientist named Jonathan Ishii who was last seen at the old communications facility. When found, he babbles about sending out a warning - “The Devil is real! I know. I built his cage.” With those words, Hell erupts from the main experimental gateway, sending a shock wave through the complex, along with glowing pentagrams and scores of evil ghost skulls that transform nearly every human into zombies, including Ishii.

Later storyline and ending[edit]

Spoiler Warning: Plot details follow.

In a later cut scene, Swann is seen in a video phone conference with Betruger who is rather calm about the situation. Betruger claims the situation is under control. After deciding on whether to alert the orbital fleet, Betruger addresses you over a computer screen and says that once the fleet arrives, his legion will take the ships back to Earth, thus revealing that he commands the monsters that have overrun the base. Swann's primary objectives are to stop the transmission of the message that would alert the military reinforcements in Earth orbit, and consequently would allow the demons to hijack their spaceships and attack civilians on Earth. Once this transmission is avoided by available methods, his objective becomes to stop Betruger.

Later in the game, the player runs into a colleague of Betruger, who says that he became obsessed with the teleporters when he figured out Hell existed on the other side. He says he took an artifact called the Soul Cube from the archaeological digs from the ancient Martian civilization into Hell, and demons followed him out.

The player never meets up with the remaining Marines, save for one in a cutscene that dies shortly afterwards. He only reaches Swann and Campbell on their deathbeds. Swann was badly injured, and Campbell went on to hunt Sarge. Swann says that Kelly has turned evil and is now on Betruger’s side. However, Sarge mortally wounded Campbell and acquired his BFG 9000. After killing Sarge, the player finds an archaeologist, who explains that the Soul Cube must be used to stop the demon invasion.

After entering the Primary Dig Site, the player discovers a section of Hell that has crept into the Martian underground and deep within the bowels of this Hellscape, they encounter the invulnerable Cyberdemon guarding a “Hell Hole” — a portal to Hell. Defeating the Cyberdemon, which is only possible with the charged Soul Cube, the Cube seals the Hell hole and the game ends.

Afterwards, a Marine recon team and sentry drones arrive to secure the base and evacuate the player, however Counselor Swann has already died when they find him. Dr. Betruger is nowhere to be seen and has transformed into the Maledict.

Spoilers end here.

Changes from original Doom[edit]

For Doom 3, id Software employed professional science-fiction writer Matthew J. Costello to write the script and assist in story-boarding the entire game. id Software focused on retelling the story and creating a tense horror atmosphere instead of the brisk, action-packed atmosphere of the original games. The game's events and atmosphere show a great deal of influence from George Romero's Living Dead series and James Cameron's Aliens, as well as Valve Software's Half-Life.

Similar to the story of the original Doom, the game focuses on the marine who is transferred to Mars and sent out on a routine mission, and who needs to kill zombies and demons from Hell. One difference is that Doom 3 is set on Mars itself, whereas the first two episodes of the original Doom take place on Phobos and Deimos, respectively.

The environment of Doom 3 is generally much more realistic. For example, whereas the original Doom gives the two moons breathable atmospheres, Doom 3's Martian atmosphere is unbreathable (although oxygen tanks allow the player to breathe for a brief time). The gravity is still the same as Earth's, instead of being slightly lower like Mars should be. (If the player with all his gear weighed 300 pounds on Earth, he would weigh 114 pounds on Mars.) Unlike classic Doom, Doom 3's demons from Hell have their bodies dissolve when they die, excepting zombies and certain bosses.

In both cases, the protagonist visits Hell. In Doom 3, Hell takes place within a single level, but Doom 3's one Hell level is much longer and more intense than the others, and with screaming of damned souls. It also has a boss called the Guardian. Other bosses include the Spider Queen, or Vagary (inspired by Dungeons and Dragons' Drider, a dark-elf/spider hybrid, as well as Quake's Vore, though the Vagary can also be seen as an apparent nod to the spiderdemon from the original Doom as well as Shelob from Lord of the Rings) and Sergeant Kelly, who gets transformed into a tank-like cyborg called Sabaoth.

Unlike in previous id games, there are now cut scenes that give purpose and context to the player's actions and introductions for new enemies. Similar to other science fiction action/horror games such as System Shock, System Shock 2, and Aliens versus Predator 2, hundreds of text, voice, and video messages are scattered throughout the base. The messages are internal e-mails and audio reports sent between doctors, scientists/lab workers, administrators, maintenance staff, and security personnel at the Mars base. The messages explain the background story, show the feelings and concern of the people on the Mars base and reveal information related to plot and gameplay. Video booths and televisions play interplanetary news, corporate propaganda, visitor information and technical data about the base and even weapons.

The story of Doom 3 surrounds the discovery of ancient ruins underneath Martian soil. Tablets found at these sites record how an ancient Martian civilization developed a form of teleporter technology. They realized an important fact all too late, as the route the teleporter took passed through Hell. Quickly invaded by demons, this alien race created and sacrificed themselves to a weapon known as the Soul Cube. This cube, powered by the souls of almost every being of this alien race, was used by their strongest warrior to defeat the demons and contain them in Hell.

Having done so, the remainder of the alien race constructed warnings to any who visited Mars, warning them not to recreate this technology; to avoid opening another gate to Hell. They then teleported to an unknown location, fleeing Mars; there are hints that at least some of them fled to Earth, and that humans descended from them. It's stated that the demons once inhabited Earth in an unknown context, but lost possession of it due to an unknown cause. Consequently, the demons want to reclaim Earth.


Doom 3’s gameplay was not as fast-paced as the games before or after it. Almost all of the game is extremely dark, and there is no light amplification visor, nor do weapons have a flashlight attachment. Instead the player must rely on, rather infamously, a flashlight that can only be used in place of a weapon. There are few tactics involved other than grabbing the biggest weapons.

Much of the game takes place in dark close-quarters with demons ambushing from every direction. By contrast the Hell level of the game is considered by many to be the best, as it is more similar to the Doom games of the past, featuring more open areas and making use of unique effects.


Difficulty g_skill Damage
Recruit 0 75%
Marine 1 90%
Veteran 2 170%
Nightmare 3 350%

There are four difficulty levels in Doom 3: Recruit, Marine, Veteran, and Nightmare. The first three are always available. On Recruit difficulty, there are fewer monsters, but it is a negligible amount. The principal difference between the difficulties is the amount of damage the player receives. You also start each level with minimum 25 health on Recruit and Marine. The chart on the right indicates the amount of damage the player will receive on each difficulty level, relative to the definition files (.def).

Upon completion of a campaign regardless of difficulty level, the player unlocks the "Nightmare" difficulty setting. When playing the game on this setting, the player's health falls in 5-point increments at 5-second intervals until it reaches 25, where it remains steady. Additionally, there are absolutely no medkits throughout the game; the only means of procuring health is either by the health stations, which are still operational, or use of the Soul Cube, which is given to the player at the very start of the game.

The difficulty setting can be controlled by the console variable g_skill. The damage changes take effect immediately, but a map restart or change is necessary for the rest. For example, if a player begins the level on Recruit difficulty and then enters g_skill 3 in the console, immediately their health will begin its drop to 25 and they will receive Nightmare damage. However, the Soul Cube is not given, medkits remain in the level, and the amount of monsters does not increase.


Most of Doom 3's weapons are updated versions of the classic weapons, but those marked with an asterisk are new additions to the series. Several weapons are also based upon these found in Quake II.

As the game generally takes place in dark mazes, there is no long distance "sniper" weapon such as the railgun found in Quake II and Quake III; this omission was notable as it was a frequently asked question about the game. As in previous Quake titles, Doom 3's rocket launcher allows rocket-jumping, though it is much less useful than in the Quake series. The pistol, machine gun, and chaingun each use different calibers, therefore they do not share the same ammo pool as in earlier Doom games.


Doom 3 includes updated versions of many monsters from the original games. Some of these, such as the demon and the Hell knight, are very different from their predecessors.

Additionally, the following new monsters are encountered:

Several monsters were also left unfinished and were not included in the finished game.


Doom 3 includes the following powerups:


  1. Mars City
  2. Mars City Underground: Union Aerospace Subsystems
  3. Mars City: Union Aerospace Corporate Division
  4. Administration: Union Aerospace Corporate Division
  5. Alpha Labs - Sector 1: Union Aerospace Science Division
  6. Alpha Labs - Sector 2: Union Aerospace Science Division
  7. Alpha Labs - Sector 3: Union Aerospace Science Division
  8. Alpha Labs - Sector 4: Union Aerospace Science Division
  9. Enpro Plant: Energy Processing and Storage
  10. Communications Transfer: Maintenance and Transfer Station
  11. Communications: Central Communications Tower
  12. Monorail Skybridge: Facility Transport
  13. Recycling - Sector 2: Waste Recycling Center
  14. Monorail: Facility Transport
  15. Delta Labs - Level 1: Union Aerospace Research Division
  16. Delta Labs - Level 2a: Union Aerospace Research Division
  17. Delta Labs - Level 2b: Union Aerospace Research Division
  18. Delta Labs - Level 3: Union Aerospace Research Division
  19. Delta Labs - Level 4: Union Aerospace Research Division
  20. Hell
  21. Delta Complex: Union Aerospace Research Division
  22. Central Processing: Processing Distribution Center
  23. Central Processing: Primary Server Bank
  24. Site 3: Analysis Facility
  25. Caverns - Area 1: Excavation Transfer
  26. Caverns - Area 2: Artifact Excavation
  27. Primary Excavation: Artifact Dig

Multiplayer levels[edit]

  1. D3DM1 - Tomiko Reactor
  2. D3DM2 - Delta Lab
  3. D3DM3 - Frag Chamber
  4. D3DM4 - The Edge 2
  5. D3DM5 - Lights Out


The soundtrack for Doom 3 was originally supposed to be created by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who had already worked with id Software on Quake. An alpha version of the game with sounds created by Reznor was produced, but contractual issues prevented their use in the final game. However, the definitive soundtrack was created by Chris Vrenna, NIN's former drummer. The Doom 3 theme song was composed by Clint Walsh, Vrenna's associate in the band Tweaker.

Physical media[edit]

For the PC release, Doom 3 shipped as three CD-ROMs in a dark red colored keep case featuring the Hell knight on the front cover beneath the game's logo. Almost all regions use the same box art, with minor variations in logo placement and presence of national or international ratings boards' symbols. The German edition proudly announces that it is the "Original US-Version Uncut" in the top right corner.

The back panel of the box features the game's protagonist pumping a shotgun along with background pictures of zombies, lost souls, and a Bravo Team marine. Language on the back panel is localized for most regions.

All three discs carry the same dark red color scheme and display a circular seal similar to a pentagram but with a different, more chaotic arrangement of lines.

Also included in the box are a manual whose cover is not marked with any text, and a keyboard reference card.

Xbox port[edit]

The Xbox version was sold in both a standard case, as well as a special edition sold in a metal case. The metal case edition had several extras—interviews, G4’s Icons Doom episode, early artwork, and the full versions of Ultimate Doom and Doom II (more info on the ports here). The Xbox Collector's edition includes two more levels, one in Ultimate Doom (E1M10: Sewers) and one in Doom II (MAP33: Betray).

The Xbox port's textures are less detailed than that of the PC version and splits many levels up into separate parts due to console limitations. Even though the levels are split up, some levels have been rearranged and some areas have been simplified presumably because the Xbox hardware would suffer otherwise. Nonetheless, most reviewers were impressed that the Xbox had otherwise retained all of the other features, considering that its NV2A graphics processor (equivalent to an Nvidia GeForce 3, the original base card for Doom 3) was a generation behind the recommended video cards (ATI Radeon 9700 and GeForce 4 Ti) for the PC version. The NV2A processor was what distinguished the Xbox from the PlayStation 2 and GameCube, the latter two consoles were not considered for a Doom 3 port due to insufficient hardware. The PC version had been originally designed with the GeForce 3 in mind but now that GPU is barely sufficient to run the game; a Radeon 9700 was used to run the E3 2002 demo.

The Xbox version has added co-operative multiplayer, which required the modification of levels, such as widening corridors to comfortably accommodate a second player. While the second player character has a unique appearance in promotional materials for the game, the character depicted does not actually appear in-game.

This version is compatible with the Xbox 360.

Xbox controls[edit]

  • Left Thumbstick: Move
  • Right Thumbstick: Look
  • Click & Hold Left Thumbstick: Crouch
  • Click & Hold Right Thumbstick: Zoom
  • A: Jump
  • B: Previous Weapon
  • X: Reload
  • Y: Next Weapon
  • Left Trigger: Sprint
  • Right Trigger: Action
  • White (LB for 360): Equip/Unequip Flashlight
  • Black (RB for 360): PDA/Multiplayer Score
  • Start: Pause
  • Back: Save/Ready

The D-Pad arrows serve as hotkeys to select weapons instead of cycling through every weapon in inventory. Four weapons can be assigned. The weapon assigned to each arrow is customizable.

Physical media[edit]

Media for the standard version of Doom 3 for Xbox matches the PC box art, but includes a standard Xbox Live-Enabled platform header at the top.

Media for the Xbox Collector's Edition versions of Doom 3 were more stylistically simplified, featuring the game's logo on a dark gray background with the same pentagram-like pattern. The limited collector's edition features the same design, but etched into highly reflective metal.

The collector's edition disc features art from the classic Doom originally drawn by Adrian Carmack.

Press kit[edit]

A press kit version was available at E3 2005.

Demo version[edit]

A two-level demo version featuring game play in Mars City Underground and Mars City (revisited) was released on the pack-in disc of the Official Xbox Magazine issue #44. Players with access to Xbox Live could additionally try out the game's cooperative multiplayer at Site 3.


Few games have polarized gaming as much as Doom 3 has, and many reactions to the game are in heavy contrast to one another.


Some commonly named shortcomings of the game are:

  • Reliance on traditionally overused horror techniques such as pitch black darkness, limited use of the flashlight and stock horror movie clichés, which may make the game frustrating to play rather than scary or atmospheric.
  • Repetitive gameplay, similar linear levels during parts of the game.
  • Slow movement unlike the faster play speed of Doom, Doom II, the Quake series and later Doom games.
  • Unlike contemporary first-person shooters, movement is simple; the player can move, jump, crouch and sprint, but can't go prone or lean around corners.
  • No ability to use the flashlight and the weapon at the same time, known as "No duct tape on Mars" problem, whereas today many real-life weapons have hands-free light attachments (as a result of this, many light-mods on the internet add a flashlight to the guns).
  • Somewhat stale storytelling techniques, forcing the player to read or listen to messages by hiding access codes in them, and a shortage of cut-scenes providing story exposition, with one reviewer saying that adding clumsy storytelling to the game ending up weakening the experience. Later Doom games have a codex feature, although players are not forced to read it.
  • Poor monster AI and over-reliance on scripted sequences. Reviewers particularly criticized the monster ambushes that are triggered by the player; while some do fit in with the premises of the level (demonic enemies can be reasoned to come from flaming vats), other enemy spawn points are simply placed along with powerups.[9]
  • Somewhat limited use of physics, which was improved significantly in the Resurrection of Evil expansion.
  • All weapons are direct-fire, point-and-shoot weapons with no alternate firing modes without any variation or innovation. Later Doom games use weapon modifications to implement alternate fire modes.
  • Slow ammo reload times that too often caused ranged fights to become blind button-mashing melee attacks. Later Doom games do not use reloads at all, just like in the earlier Doom games.
  • A small multiplayer deathmatch mode of only a few people, stemming from Doom 3's focus on the single player experience.
  • No official cooperative gameplay in the PC version whereas the original Doom contained a cooperative mode. Co-op mode was included in the Xbox port of Doom 3, which required the redesign of maps to accommodate two players.

Some critical reviewers consider that the technological level of Doom 3 is similar to that of other games of 2004, and that features such as bump mapping had already become industry standard. For example, an often mentioned feature of Doom 3, per-pixel lighting and stencil shadowing, had already been implemented in some games released in 2003, even a budget title from Activision Value called Secret Service: Security Breach.

Rebuttals to criticism[edit]

Many gamers argue the apparent shortcomings are not shortcomings at all, but are integral to the gameplay id determined to display for Doom 3.

Since Doom 3 is a remake of the original Doom - a game which did not have high-end concepts common in today's more complex games - remaking Doom with too much complexity would remove a key component that made Doom popular in the first place.

The deliberate slow pace, horror clichés, and overly scripted sequences (including the randomness of enemy spawning points) is designed to inspire terror. Every aspect of the game, from the lighting and sound to interactions and monster ambushes contribute to an overall feeling of fear and anxiety. [10]

The flashlight is a key element of Doom 3's gameplay: the player must balance between seeing the enemy, and defeating it. Almost every monster has glowing eyes, or some aspect of bio-luminescence which offers a target for the player. If weapons had a light attachment, this results in the mystery of "the unknown" to be less potent and frightening. Making things easier is the default flashlight toggle "F", which enables the player to switch very quickly between his weapon and the flashlight, if he is using the WASD keys and the mouse to move, similar to the rationale behind the use of the very frequently used "R" (reload weapon) key and the "C" (crouch) key. Additionally, muzzle flashes can be enabled for marginally better visibility while firing.

Another rebuttal concerns the story of Doom 3, which is done through the use of audio and video logs. The use of logs in this way is similar to the use of logs in System Shock 2. Ken Levine, lead designer of System Shock 2, said of the logs in Doom 3, "It amazed me when I played Doom 3 that they didn't mix their recordings into the ambient space of the world. The people sound like they're in a recording booth."

A few of these criticisms of Doom 3 are based on expectations for other types of first-person shooter games. During development, it was often compared with the equally anticipated Half-Life 2. Some have argued that since Doom 3 was released before Half-Life 2, many have come to expect things from it that they previously had expected from that game. For example, the common complaint about Doom 3's lack of environment interactivity could be considered a subtle complaint that Doom 3 doesn't have a Half-Life 2-style "gravity gun", a weapon which can be used to throw or push many objects in the world, including small objects, cars, and organic lifeforms. Ironically, Doom 3 was said to have a "gravity gun" item designed long before Half-Life 2, but was not in the game proper. This weapon appeared later in the Doom 3 expansion, Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, which then drew the ire of some who felt that id was simply pandering to Half-Life 2 fans.

With regards to a minimal multiplayer mode, the designers intended that Doom 3 would be played and remembered primarily for its single-player story experience, as opposed to id Software's previous titles which were known far better for multiplayer deathmatch. (The follow-up Quake 4 would have a return to multiplayer focus using Doom 3's engine.) The Xbox port of Doom 3 did implement co-op mode but in order to make the co-op mode feasible and balance out gameplay, levels had to be redesigned to accommodate both players.


The game was a commercial success for id Software, with the planned total revenue estimated by Activision at $20 million. It was one of the top selling games of 2004, alongside Halo 2 for the Xbox and Half-Life 2. The financial success was bolstered by the near-record number of pre-orders placed for the game.

id Software also typically benefits from licensing the engine to other developers. Several games have already been developed using a modified Doom 3 engine, including Quake 4, Prey, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Wolfenstein.

As of August 23, 2006 Doom 3 has garnered an average review score of 87%, according to 97 media outlets on [11] By the same source, it is in the top 10 PC games of 2004.

Doom 3 won the following E3 2002 Game Critics Awards: Best of Show, Best PC Game, Best Action Game, Special Commendation for Sound, Special Commendation for Graphics.

Easter eggs[edit]

  • A terminal at the end of Delta Complex, just before entering CPU Complex, displays a red screen. An email can be downloaded from this terminal containing a rather tongue-in-cheek message written by the demons on proper human sacrifice techniques.
  • In the final room before the cyberdemon encounter, a small id Software logo can be found on one of the bricks in a corner. Approaching this turns the crosshair into a mouse arrow as would happen if the player approached a terminal. Clicking this opens a secret room which contains a PDA. Picking this PDA up downloads special "thank you" messages from the id Software staff.
  • If the player earns a score of 25,000 on the in-game arcade game Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3, an e-mail will be sent to the PDA congratulating on setting a new high score, being a shining example of humanity by punching defenseless turkeys, and losing two days of leave.
  • On the first level, after issuing the protagonist his PDA, the receptionist returns to typing on his screen. He types an e-mail message about the marine arriving on Mars and being very rude for reading over his shoulder.
  • In the Primary Excavation: Artifact Dig level in the room with several tablets, one can be compared to the original Doom cover, but with fewer demons and the Doomguy has the Soul Cube in his hands. It also has his head broken off.


  • At the very beginning of the game, there are two posters for the UAC. One of them ironically says, "One step closer to heaven".
  • The Doom community long predicted a sequel to Doom II, usually referring to it as Doom 2000 due to speculative information released from id Software about their future possible projects. Some of this speculation is recorded in this Doomworld mailbag from August 1998.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect parodied the Doom 3 audio logs in the level What Lies Below. In this level, Cortez can access a scientists’ personal audio log, which contains his locker code (or, at the very least, several three-digit numbers which he believes are his locker combination). The final boss, Jacob Crow, is also an apparent parody of Sabaoth.
  • The UAC is apparently the successor organization to NASA; in one of the videos, the UAC claims to have been the leader in space technology "since the dawn of the Space Age".
  • The airlocks display pressure in pounds per square inch, meaning that UAC engineers still use English units in the 22nd century. The pressure inside the complex is 14.7 psi as on Earth's surface, while the pressure of the Martian air is given as 0.13 psi, which is more or less the actual value.
  • The name "Dr. Betruger" is similar to the German word Betrüger which means "betrayer" or "deceiver."
  • was an actual website that provided the code (0508) to the two Martian Buddy lockers within the game. A cache copy of it can be accessed at
  • The Hell level of Doom 3 features only weapons that appeared in all of the Doom games (Fists, Pistol, Shotgun, Chaingun, Plasma Gun, Chainsaw, Rocket Launcher and BFG9000).


The original 2004 PC Edition of Doom 3 allows users to create their own modifications for the game.[2] These include simple tweaks defined in the form of Decl files,[3] custom game levels,[4] Total Conversions that replace almost all of the game's default resources, or code modifications[5] allowing users to modify aspects of the game or engine code that are not accessible via Decl files.

Examples of these modifications include:

  • The Classic Doom for Doom 3 mod which replays Knee-Deep in the Dead but with the new Doom 3 engine.
  • The Last Man Standing mod which enables cooperative play, and introduces a new game type.
  • A mod that puts lights on the weapons (but which are less effective than the flashlight)
  • A mod that prevents the bodies of the monsters you killed from disappearing [12]
  • A mod that makes the Cyberdemon at the end of the game vulnerable to weapons other than the Soul Cube
  • A mod featuring the Doom 3 weapons for Classic Doom source port ZDoom also exists. It includes several Doom 3 weapons (using sprite-based graphics and Decorate to recreate the weapon behavior) except for the grenades and Soul Cube. The mod works with both Doom and Doom II, though the mod lacks the super shotgun when played with Doom II.
  • Doom 3: Phobos, a total conversion which revamps Doom 3's gameplay as well adding new monsters, a shotgun redesign and a new story.
  • The Dark Mod started out as a total conversion for Doom 3 inspired by Thief before going standalone after the source code release.

References to Classic Doom[edit]

See main article: References to Classic Doom in Doom 3.


See Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil and Doom 3: BFG Edition

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


Official sites[edit]

Game websites[edit]


  1. Staff (13 August 2004). "Doom 3. Release Summary." GameSpot (archived 🏛). Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  2. Making DOOM 3 Mods : Mod Basics (archived 🏛)
  3. Making DOOM 3 Mods : Decl Files (archived 🏛)
  4. Making DOOM 3 Mods : Radiant (archived 🏛)
  5. Making DOOM 3 Mods : The Code (archived 🏛)

Games in the Doom series
Classic Doom
Doom 3 Doom 3Doom 3: BFG EditionDoom 3: VR Edition

Expansions: Doom 3: Resurrection of EvilThe Lost Mission

Official ports: Doom 3 (2019 version)

Related: id Tech 4

Doom (2016) Doom (2016)Doom VFRDoom Eternal

Related: Development of Doom (2016)id Tech 6id Tech 7

Mobile games Doom RPGDoom II RPGDoom ResurrectionMighty Doom
Canceled games Doom AbsolutionDoom 4 1.0
Tabletop Doom: The BoardgameDoom: The Board GameAssault on Armaros Station
Related: Commercial gamesExpanded universeList of booksList of commercial compilations