Sunday, March 16, 2008

Doom 3: Worlds on Fire Review

A few weeks ago I was at Chapters picking up a copy of World War Z (which is absolutely amazing, by the way) when I noticed a novel based on Doom 3 entitled Worlds on Fire. Since I greatly enjoyed Doom 3 (Xbox), I was curious to see how exactly they'd novelize the game's story. I mean, Doom 3 is the game with the classic, repetative, FPS formula: Lone Marine enters dark room, pulls out Flashlight, sees monsters, lowers Flashlight, pulls out Shotgun or Rocket Launcher, kills monsters, moves onto next dark room, repeat. In a nutshell, that's it, that's the game.

At least Doom 3: Worlds on Fire has a bit more to it than that. The novel is written by Matthew Costello, the same gent who penned the script for Doom 3. The first half of the novel is more like a prequel, starting out about a year and a half prior to the game. It details the current state of the UAC research facility on Mars, and the experiments that Dr. Betrugar is running, while at the same time contrasting a mission on Earth that goes sour, a mission headed by Lt. John Kane (aka Doom Guy).

Ultimately, like in the game, Kane gets sent to Mars and all Hell breaks loose, but even though it features a lot of the same characters and Mars locations from the game, the novel plays out very differently. While I found the plot to work in the game, mainly do to its dark, creepy atmosphere and excellent sound mix, Doom 3: Worlds on Fire is a pretty cheesy novelization.

Firstly, the "prequal" sections were really unnecessary, and it simply would have felt more like Doom is they were either abbrieviated greatly, or outright nixed. Secondly, the characters just didn't really work for me, they didn't seem real to their situation. There were many new characters (some of which we could have done without, and many from the game, however these were different from their game iterations (Swann's a wuss, for example), and Kane just didn't feel much like Doom Guy. Doom 3: Worlds on Fire certainly didn't have much in the way of suspense or horror, and it seems to me to be somewhat of an afterthought novelization for a 3.5 year old game; I couldn't even find it advertised anywhere on id Software's site. It was nice to read about General Hayden though, a character in the original script but cut from the game, but really, he wasn't necessary. In fact, his inclusion brought about the dumbing down of Sgt. Kelly, which I also didn't like.

Doom 3: Worlds on Fire is the first in a trilogy of novels, and while I suppose it isn't horrible, it certainly didn't have any redeeming qualities to make me want to pick up the next two. As a fan of the games, I know the story, and it was a whole lot more convincing experiencing it than reading this modified version of it. If you're a fan of Doom, I'd still recommend passing this book up.


Anonymous said...

Sir i greatly disagree with you. Worlds on Fire was a excellent book.
Since I read a lot i can see into books. This one had the same plot as the game and i could understand the time line. It wasn't cheesy or corny.
The prequel was good. It shows how all of things that happened before hand to tell how the events in doom 3 came to be. To any one Reading this. Pick the book up. Sit down and read it. It goes at a moderate pace. The second book is coming out in march next year.

Juxtapose said...

You are, of course, quite welcome to disagree with any and all of my reviews and comments, and I'm personally glad you enjoyed the novel.

All art, be it games, film, novels, etc., is rather subjective, and so what one person likes another person may not and vice versa.

I just couldn't get into Doom 3: Worlds on Fire, and it's writing style really didn't suit my own tastes.