Doom 3 ReviewCain Dornan
It appears that almost every first person shooter developer attempts to create games just like Bungies Halo or Valves Half-Life. As the gaming industry slowly matures, more and more complicated shooters arrive on the market, each being remarkably similar, or attempting to be like the two aforementioned highly-regarded titles. The simple run-and-gun titles like Doom are dwindling in numbers, as each developer attempts to create the more advanced, realistic shooter. As a resulted, the genre is beginning to lose a large number of its die-hard fans. When renowned developer id Software announced that the company would be returning to its original roots with the development of a new Doom title, the gaming world instantly buzzed with excitement and anticipation. The original Doom, which appeared on the PC all those years ago, is still regarded as one of the best shooter/horror titles to have ever been released. Pitting players through numerous dimly lit corridors, the original Doom frightened players with the never-ending hordes of evil monsters jumping from hidden corridors and creeping from behind your player. When looking back, it is somewhat difficult to imagine how anyone could have possibly been frightened with the pixilated and blurry visuals when compared to todays high-production titles, which offer utterly gorgeous visuals.
The return of the highly famed series to the PC was a long-awaited occurrence; however, many did not expect to see the series finally arriving on a home console. Microsofts Xbox, which is essentially not too far from being a powerful gaming PC, is now home to the truly amazing Doom 3; one of the few titles available for the system that manages to cause jumps of fright on a regular basis. Combine some superb constant action with amusing weapons and terrifying creatures, and Doom 3 pleases in almost every single way possible.
Doom 3 follows the terrifying experiences of an unnamed soldier of the United Aerospace Corporation. After scientists on the planet of Mars discover new warp tunnels and mysterious doorways into completely unknown worlds, you are ordered to locate a missing scientist, a major contributor to the terrifying discovery. Shortly into your mission, you soon learn of the numerous odd happenings that have been occurring throughout the Mars installation. Whispers, missing people and other strange happenings have become a regular part of life as of late, causing many employees to become fearful for their lives. It soon becomes evident that the warp tunnels and doorways lead into the very depths of hell, allowing horrendous creatures to invade the rather peaceful Mars installation. You are immediately sent into the core of the invasion, armed only with your pistol, flashlight, and UAC-issued PDA to discover how you can stop the invasion from continuing and preventing it from occurring again.
The UAC portable computer adds some nice storyline elements to the game. Through the course of the game you will acquire discs containing information from dead bodies of UAC workers. These pieces of data often contain personal emails and voice logs, in addition to valuable information such as the location of items and codes to cabinets containing ammunition.
Keeping with the simplistic gameplay, the storyline remains to be a simple affair throughout the course of the game. A limited number of cinematics occur, with a large number of these simply being introductory to a boss battle, lasting for around ten seconds. For many, this will come as relief, as the current generation of shooters have produced an increasing number of extensive, often boring cutscenes. For other people, however, the presence of these cutscenes helps to delve the player into the world of Doom 3. The lack of story-driven cutscenes, therefore, sometimes makes it difficult to justify exactly why you are venturing through the snaking tunnels.
At the core, there is a good reason as to why you will be plunging through the dark corridors. You are issued with straightforward objectives by your mysterious commander via computers situated throughout the levels, informing you to do such things as unlocking specific areas, locating personnel or fixing equipment. Although the game does span through a considerably large area, the endless corridors quickly begin to make the game feel repetitive. Doom 3 is incredibly linear, forcing you to go specific ways without any choice. Although this may be thoroughly off-putting for many, the simple fact is that this works very well. Creeping through the tight, flickering hallways with little to no light truly intensifies the fear and excitement as you progress through the levels. Multiple enemy attacks, which only really occur with three or four enemies at any one time, add to the congested atmosphere, requiring you to use your skills and weaponry to defeat the enemies in tight spaces.
One of the major attractions for those who own the PC version of Doom 3 is the inclusion of the two-player co-op mode via system link or Xbox Live. The mode is essentially the same as the single player experience; however, the inclusion of more enemies and events that require both players present better suits the presence of multiple players. When playing in the co-op mode, you are given access to two chapters from the original storyline mode. Vicarious Visions, the developer who adapted Doom 3 for the Xbox, has altered the co-op mode differently from the single player experience in several ways to improve the experience for multiple players. In addition to more enemies and powerups, some doors and other objects require both players to be present in order to function. Numerous short cutscenes have also been cut, allowing players progress through the game at a more fluid pace. One problem that is thoroughly frustrating, however, is the respawning of characters once they have been killed. Instead of implementing a checkpoint styled system to keep the game running at a fluid and enjoyable pace, Vicarious Visions has instead decided to force players to begin the chapter from the very start. This results in one player waiting for the other to slowly make their way back to their last location, which can quickly become an annoyance when some levels can last for some thirty minutes or more. It is an annoying experience that could have easily been solved.
Doom 3 also includes a deathmatch-styled multiplayer mode, which, unfortunately, isnt playable via split-screen multiplayer. Instead, the mode is playable through Xbox system link or Xbox Live. A number of basic multiplayer modes are on offer, including free-for-all Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Tournament and Last Man Standing. Although the multiplayer mode isnt Halo 2 quality, its an enjoyable alternative to the single player experience. The downside, unfortunately, is that some slight lag is experienced at times whilst a high amount of on-screen actions are occurring. This is more evident whilst playing through Xbox Live, and occurs in both the multiplayer and co-op modes.
Unsurprisingly, Doom 3 has a large variety of powerful and imaginative weapons available for your use. These weapons are acquired as you progress through the game, usually appearing in dark corners or within storage areas. Like in most FPSs, the power of your weapons slowly rises to battle the increasingly difficult enemies. Despite the large number of weapons that you gradually acquire being considerably stronger than the shotgun, the relative abundance of shells for your beloved friend results in it being the most commonly used weapon. Naturally, everyone will have his or her own personal favourites to use, although the limited amount of ammunition available for the other weapons results in the regular use of the shotgun. There are no complaints with the abundance of shotgun shells. After all, the shotgun is capable of producing an incredibly powerful blow to an enemy once up close, guaranteeing that the enemy will be sent back to hell, or blown backwards at the very least.
Despite the shotgun continuing to win the bloody hands of Doom gamers around the world, we cant possibly forget the various other creative weapons that are on offer. The roaring chainsaw makes a return; however id Software has vastly improved the power and usefulness of this truly crazy weapon. Considering that most enemies, namely the zombies, come running at you without any second thoughts, the chainsaw quickly becomes your best friend, being considerably more powerful than the basic fist attacks. The chainsaw now inflicts incredible damage, easily ripping through any brainless zombie and mulching them into bloody pulp. Its an enjoyable and often humorous weapon to use. Various other weapons also make up your intensive armoury, including the pulse rifle, which shoots balls of futuristic plasma, inflicting an impressive amount of damage. A number of other less-creative, although still futuristic, weapons are also on offer, including a machine gun, chain gun, pistol, and a rocket launcher, which is surprisingly not very powerful.
Although not quite as impressive as its PC counterpart, Doom 3 for Xbox features truly striking visuals. The endless corridors are filled with absolutely stunning lighting effects, which range from small, rapidly flicking lights to moody, dimly-lit corridors that are truly jaw-droppingly beautiful. Playing this game on a large, high definition television set is an amazing experience. There is an abundance of gorgeous games available for the Xbox, and Doom 3 has been added to this list.
Although we did expect the characters and monsters to offer slightly more detail than what eventuated, they do offer some impressive detail. Friendly characters offer excellent facial animations, with accurately moving mouths and fearful, darting eyes. The monstrous creatures, on the other hand, offer some of the most terrifying that have graced the Xbox as of yet. Creatures are covered in blood and ripped flesh, which moves in a truly freaky manner that adds to the overall thrilling experience.
Possibly the most impressive aspect of Doom 3 is its sound. Doom 3s sound effects are simply dazzling, providing the most freakish-sounding experience you are likely to find on the Xbox. The sound of each individual aspect has been captured and replicated in an amazingly realistic way; treating owners of a quality Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound system to a very pleasing experience. Zaps of electricity are evident; the whirring of computer terminals and other electronic equipment is impressively accurate, whilst the footsteps, screams and groans of the gory creatures are truly unnerving.
Voice acting continues the tradition of quality, providing moody and believable voice recordings that offer a distinct personality, drawing you into their world and experiences. The voice recordings that you discover throughout the course of the game offer the some of the most depth and personality seen in a game yet. Informing you of their recent experiences or thoughts helps to heighten the atmosphere, and is presented in a very believable fashion.
Despite Doom 3s impressive visuals and amazing sound, numerous problematic gameplay aspects prevent Doom 3 from a top score. Most gamers, especially fans of the previous Doom titles, will find plenty to love in the latest iteration. Its moody, its realistic, and it offers straight-to-the-point gameplay something that many games in this generation have failed to achieve. Other gamers, on the other hand, are likely to find Doom 3 to be an incredibly linear experience that offers little storyline, resulting in their interest of the game rapidly declining. As a result, it is quite difficult to rate Doom 3s gameplay, as it will spark different opinions from gamers. Nevertheless, id Software and Vicarious Visions have managed to create a truly spectacular first person shooter horror that sticks to the series roots and delivers a thrilling experience.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.