XBOX REVIEW: DOOM 3

In one respect, I could sum up this review with one comment: "Doom 3 is like an updated, upgraded version of the original - but a lot more fun." This is a very straightforward game. It follows the Doom formula to the letter without expanding on the gameplay. This is the Doom of the 21st century which makes use of new technologies - and I might add, makes excellent use of them.

Doom 3 succeeds because it's able to exploit our primal fears of the unknown. Even when the unknown becomes the known the amazing graphics breath life into these demonic enemies so that their very presence unlocks new facets of fear. It's what makes this game different from a shooting gallery. By captivating us in this virtual world we don't need anything more than what's presented here to get our adrenaline pumping. It's a testament to the developers that realize the classic premise of the series is still very relevant and will continue to remain so as new technologies are created. Can you imagine Doom in full 3D with a virtual reality helmet?

It would be easy to dismiss Doom 3 as rehash although one could certainly call it that and be quite correct in that assessment but one would really be doing a disservice to the industry with such a shallow observation. It plays like a new game, as though the other games in the series never existed. It's bold and confident - it knows that it's good. It will disturb you in ways that you wouldn't expect. It has elements of Silent Hill and Fatal Frame but Doom 3 is proud of its heritage and makes that proclamation very loud and clear.

Scientific experiments on Mars, which are sanctioned by the United Aerospace Corporation, have resulted in the opening of a portal to Hell from which various demons, hellhounds, zombies and other monsters manifest. As a functional but generic character in the form of an American marine you are trained to shoot and kill all potential threats. You really don't need much more of a story than that. Just go and get 'em. The space station makes a perfect location since it's comprised of the obligatory multiple corridors, hallways and rooms. It's also convenient in that all of the locations can be excused from looking identical or similar.

These corridors are the game's ventricles. They branch through the entire play area like a maze, infecting it with unspeakable evil. Exploring the corridor system looking for encounters is as simple a gameplay device as you can imagine, yet that simplicity is what really works. There is nothing to distract you from your task which precipitates suspense and anxiety by focusing and obsessing on nothing else but your present situation and the unexpected.

Enemies come from all directions. They pop out of walls and vents, from behind doors and even spawn behind you in places that you've already explored and deemed to be free of creatures. Lighting plays a huge role in creating the perfect atmosphere as the station's illumination system toggles in and out, alternately bathing you in light and enveloping you in darkness. A flashlight lets you see in the dark but it only illuminates a relatively small area. Anything could be hiding a few feet in any direction.

Weapons, armor, ammo and information in the form of audio journals can be found lying around the station. Some items are well hidden and will require intense exploration. Audio journals will give you codes to doors and hints on where to find ammo and other items. For my money there's nothing like the double barrel shotgun. It's makes a great mess along with a satisfyingly punchy blast. The pistol is a little anemic and the rocket launchers are overkill. The chainsaw shouldn't be overlooked. This time it's less of a novelty. It's so powerful and effective that I was tempted to use it more than the shotgun but I do so covet a ranged weapon when playing Doom since it helps keep the creatures at bay.

In the co-op mode the corridors have been widened so that you and your partner can walk abreast at the same time without bumping into each other. It's a great mode and being to able play it online is a bonus. There are more enemies and as a result you'll encounter some slowdown when you and your partner turn on the fireworks. The multi-player modes such as Deathmatch, Last Man Standing and Opti-Match are not as unique as the single and co-op modes but they do add some replay value.

You'll be hard pressed to find a better-looking game on the Xbox. It doesn't compare to the PC version but it's a great port. The monsters are really disturbing. Their individual muscles writhe and undulate as they move about aggressively and grotesquely. The sound effects will also send shivers down your spine with unholy screams, growls and laughter that slowly eat away at your sanity over the hours.

Doom 3 is like experiencing Doom for the first time. If you're a first-person shooter fanatic you will not want to pass up this opportunity to live or relive the Doom experience the way it was meant to be experienced.

Preview by Vaughn

While Doom 3 on the PC didn't exactly reinvent the wheel, there are those who loved its atmospheric, almost survival horror type charms. Visually the game was candy, but while playing it one couldn't help but think how other FPS had evolved beyond its shallow mechanics of shoot everything that moves while looking for the card key to open a door. Before the game was released on PC, the hype machine was busying itself with tales of how the Xbox was the only console with enough horsepower to handle the game. That might be true, but it's also fair game to suggest that the love affair with Doom 3 was over faster than a monkeys wedding night - whatever that means.

Xbox owners are sure to enjoy this mean spirited FPS once it's released, but don't expect any trumped up single player enhancements that will erase the sins of the PC version; this will be a fairly straightforward port. We're loving that the game looks so darn good on the Xbox, but truth be told, we kinda expected that anyway.

Although a release date hasn't been set, we've been told that it could be within the next two months. Depending on your excitement level Doom 3 could easily while away the early Spring hours during the lull of releases at the very least.

Preview By Staff

Having had a glimpse of Doom 3 in action at E3, it's a safe bet to say that this is probably the most disturbing and frightening version in the series. After all, they say that the third time is a charm.

You can expect more of the same demon-splattering action but it's more intense than ever and the monster look like Hell - literally. A massive demonic invasion has overwhelmed the UAC's Mars research facility leaving only chaos and horror in its wake. As one of only a few survivors, you struggle with shock and fear as you fight your way to Hell and back in an epic clash against pure evil.

The new 3D graphics engine will make you feel like you're right there - up close and personal. There's no escape.

A two-player co-op is part of the deal as well as multi-player action on the net courtesy of the Xbox Live.

Even though most of us have a computer - and all of us at least have access to one - there are those among us who will probably not play Doom III simply because it's a PC game. I'm not sure if it's the gamers' unwillingness to upgrade or that they prefer to confine their gaming to a TV set while relegating the PC monitor for porn. Whatever the case, id and Activision know there is a fanatical console following out there and that's why the two companies are releasing the upcoming PC version of Doom III on the Xbox as well.

 

Doom is the game that begat the whole horror/FPS genre. It's a spine tingling descent into hell where good reflexes are as important as steady nerves since there are periods of eerie, silent, unrelenting tension. The character models are creatures that appear as though they escaped from a serial killer's worst nightmare.

The PC game is noted for the incredible quality of the graphics and only time will tell if the Xbox is able to pay homage to one of the greatest classic franchises ever. While the PC version will be released later this year, the Xbox version appears as though a spring 2004 release time will be likely.

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System: XBOX
Dev: id / Vicarious Vision
Pub: Activision
Released: April 2005
Players: 1 - Multi-Online
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
5.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
3.5