So after 11 years and various other games, Doom is now back and back with a vengeance. iD Software has gone back to the basics and re-imagined Doom with an incredible engine providing a pulse pounding experience. Be prepared because Doom 3 is upon us and it is good. Damn good.
I’ll stay away from the story as I think you should be surprised as to how the game unfolds so I’ll concentrate on the graphics and game play. The game starts out like Half Life where you are on business and then things start going to Hell, literally. As with any first person shooter, you’re going from area to area and gunning down any demon spawns on your way. If you’ve seen a few horror movies, then you’ll know what’s going to come, but a lot of times you won’t know when.
Like System Shock 2, you’ll have a PDA to help guide you through the game. Various bits of information from audio bites to emails are stored on the device. Your PDA is your guide and helps provide more of the story at hand. When passing by some terminals, the download to your PDA will automatically initiate. What I do like about listening to recordings on the PDA is that you can put it down and walk around with the audio playing until it’s at the end. Thereby allowing you to continue exploring and listen to vital information without having to have the PDA up.
In the original Doom, you had a use button to interact with doors. Now there are more than doors to use and the interface to use them is a bit different. Various objects in the environment can be manipulated and you can tell which ones are by putting your aiming reticule over it. Once done, it will change to a mouse cursor then you can click to trigger any events the item is tied to. In the beginning, there’s a punching chicken game using the old Doom fist that you can play. Later on you’ll need to punch in codes to unlock doors and lockers. Interacting with various panels will also help fill your PDA with vital information or help you perform an action to get you past a certain obstacle.
As with Far Cry, Doom 3 incorporates a stamina bar so that you can’t run forever. Jumping doesn’t have any affect on the bar however so you can hop til you heart’s content. Other than that, the stamina bar drains as you are darting fireballs while running from imps and replenishes while you are walking or standing still. The game is slower paced than iD Software’s past efforts as you’ll be spending a lot of time taking areas slowly. So running out of stamina isn’t going to be a big factor in this game.
There’s in game cut scenes to help move the story along, nothing is pre-rendered. Sometimes in a swooping camera motion panning around the station like David Fincher’s camera work early on in Panic Room, the cut scenes provide either the story of other characters or key areas that you walk into that need some more explanation You’ll usually see the camera pan back to the back of your head when it’s all said and done and there are a few times where a monster jumps out in the scene and puts you right back into the action just as it makes its appearance causing you to quickly try and fire your weapon even before the cut scene is done.
The guns you will acquire are updates on the classics and all of them make their return with a few new ones. You’ll start out with a pistol and eventually move onto bigger and better firepower. Gun effects are pretty good and the models are done well. The machine gun does sound a little wimpy though. Yes, the BFG is back and you’ll have the opportunity to unleash its wrath. And once you get the chainsaw, it’s Evil Dead time as you plow through demons and zombies. You’ll have to be conservative on ammo as there’s little to be found between the waves of monsters. As with the old Doom, you can try to punch some monsters our and if you have the flashlight equipped, you can bludgeon them with the handle if you’re desperate. None of the weapons have an alternate fire mode unfortunatly.
I’ll be honest. If I had never seen Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, I’d say there is no other game right now that looks anything like Doom 3. Escape from Butcher Bay is the closest thing out there right now though that comes close Doom 3. I’m not saying Escape from Butcher Bay is graphically equal to Doom 3 but they do share similar styles.
Doom 3 is big on atmosphere in both visuals and audio. The dark atmosphere helps illustrate what a hellhole the station is like and how horrible it must be to work in such a God awful place. Monsters will jump out from hidden areas and make you leap out of your seat. It seems they like to hang around in nooks and crannies waiting for someone to walk in front of them. Taking a cue from various horror movies, moving lighting will illuminate various parts of the area and you’ll get that occasional glimpse of a zombie or demon heading your way as the light passes over it. The use of colored lighting or lack there of, is very effective in the game to help produce a terrifying experience. It’s really dark, almost too dark and you’ll have one trusty flashlight to help guide you around. Some of the best sequences is scanning a pitch black area, passing over a zombie walking towards you, illuminating his demonic flesh, and causing you to quickly shuffle back to a weapon whereby dropping the room back in to complete darkness and firing blindly into the night. That’s a quick adrenaline rush right there. A small problem I do have with it is that you can’t be holding a gun and using the flashlight at the same time. I can understand for larger guns such as the shotgun and chain gun, but even the single handed pistol will force you to wade through darkness. At least the batteries never run out on the flashlight.
You’ve obviously seen the models that exhibit incredible detail. While you can still see some corners on rounded objects such as heads and pipes, the detail in the textures is what is truly amazing. Close ups on characters and creatures show how well crafted the textures are. It’s this that truly brings the characters to life along with the smooth animation. It’s pretty intense seeing spiders crawling out down the walls around you or an imp charging at you. The updates on each of the monsters that appeared in the original Doom is impressive and the design of them are top notch. You’ll recognize your old favorites by what they do and when you see how far they’ve come, you’ll be amazed. A good example is seeing the imps throw fireballs at you. The warping effect around the ball from the heat is truly spectacular. Some are missing however and we can only hope an add-on for this game will add some of the missing monsters into the game.Environments are lively and aren’t empty square rooms anymore. The industrial design of Mars is incredibly detailed. Pipes, active video screens, and environmental effects provide an incredible atmosphere to wander through. The attention to detail is amazing and the world actually looks very alive. The level of interactivity with objects in the world isn’t as extensive as say Max Payne 2 so you can’t grab a coke out of a vending machine or turn on a faucet in the bathroom. But there are other aspects such as moving machine parts and video terminals that help make a room very active. Scripted events also help make the world seem dynamic and some of the ones you’ll experience are pretty damn cool. The false scare events are pretty neat to see. Suffice it to say that you’ll spend a few moments just sitting there watching events unfold and then be in the heart of the action as the events occur. What’s shown in the graphical aspect of the game is that iD Software did a lot of the big and little things to make Doom 3 an incredible visual masterpiece.
The use of physics is very subtle and nothing overwhelming. With games like Far Cry and Max Payne 2 using physics to the extreme, Doom 3 doesn’t rely on it. You can knock over objects and see them interact with each other and there are some effects on the monsters themselves, but you won’t see bodies or objects flying around like crazy.
Surround sound plays a big part in drawing you into the game and if you can hook your system up to a 5.1 system, you’ll definitely be pleased at how it turns out. You’ll hear whispers in dark rooms that will freak you out or maybe be startled by a panel dropping beside you. Monsters jumping out of the darkness will roar loudly, making an already terrifying visual sight scarier. It’s another aspect of the engine that produces a movie like experience, helping draw you closer into feeling like you are on Mars stuck in cramped spaces with the possibility of death at each turn. Speaking of sound, the voice acting in the game is top notch and doesn’t sound amateurish. From audio logs to random characters that you run into, the voice acting is always of good quality.
Yes, a beefy machine will be needed to run the game at its most gruesome best but the game does scale ok to lesser hardware. I ran the game on an AMD64 3200+ with 512MB of ram with both an ATI X800 Pro and a GeForce 6800 GT. NVIDIA’s card’s going to be faster with OpenGL applications but ATI has stated they are working on improvements in that area. So, if you do own a Radeon card, expect some performance improvements in driver updates. The game does load and save pretty quickly, thankfully.
Just like the old classic, Doom 3 only has four player deathmatch for the multiplayer option. That’s going to disappoint a few people out there and I, for one, was hoping for co-operative play. It’s too bad that the feature will only appear on the Xbox version but I hope that someone comes out with a MOD soon to add this to the single player experience, if possible. As for only four players, the engine does support more but iD only did a four player deathmatch for the game.
In reality, there’s nothing innovative about the gameplay. Nothings really added to the genre and those expecting some new twist to the old formula will surely be disappointed. You’re still running around from point A to point B, finding weapons and items, and hoping to outlast any demons that come your way. And the game might be a tad short for some. The AI in the game is simplistic with the soldiers actually doing some hiding behind obstacles. But then again these are demons and that just want to rip your flesh apart so brute force, charging straight at you is probably what they would be aiming for anyways. What is fun though is the journey presented by iD Software and the scripted events that lead you through a very harrowing gaming experience.
Yes, Doom has come a long way in 11 years. iD Software’s hand at creating breathtaking game engines shines bright with their latest entry. A fest for the eyes and ears, Doom 3 is a crowning achievement in allowing a player live through a sci-fi horror experience. You’ll be in awe and frightened by what you see and hear. There's even some fun Doom trivia in the manual with bits of information about the game like the size of the game compared to Ultimate Doom. It’s hard to live up to all the hype and Doom 3’s not going to be the be all end all game that everyone’s waiting for. What it is though is a fun, exciting, and often scary single player experience and a great look at what’s to come when other developers take a hold of this engine and put their out their own products using it.
Talk about adrenaline rushes, Doom 3 gives you some great scares, awesome graphics, and pulse pounding audio.
Rating: 9 Excellent
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.
I'm married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.