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Developer:
id Software
Publisher: Activision
Platform: PC
Release Date: August 3, 2004

by Nicholas Bale




In this long-awaited installment of the Doom series from id, it's time to be afraid. Be very afraid. You will be.


Unless you've been living in a cave for most of your life, you've heard of Doom. I remember Doom. I remember shooting waves and waves of monsters down. I remember I was always in God mode: I was too afraid to try anything else. Well Doom 3 has taken that fear factor and multiplied it. By a billion. And two.


First of all, I've got to mention the graphics. The pictures that have been released thus far have been nothing compared to the game in motion. The crisp graphics, shadows, and little details make this game look absolutely stunning. And freaky. And surprisingly, it doesn't create too much of a strain. On my year old graphics card I was able to run the 'medium' detail setting. Except for gasses and other particle effects, there was little or no slowdown.


You start off as a nameless, voiceless recruit to the Marines in Mars City. You're given your first assignment: to locate a missing scientist. You get a pistol. As you finally find him, everything starts shaking, you hear screams over your radio, and things literally go to hell as these ghostly skulls fly into your mission, turning him into something else. Suddenly there are reports of men down over the radio, multiple casualties, and basically, the excrement hits the oscilating object.


The atmosphere of this game is what sticks out the most. The game takes place on a station on Mars, and the claustrophic setting, dark shadows, and cold metallic surroundings all add to the fear. In addition, the sounds echoing through the hallways will keep you on your toes. Was that hiss you just heard the sound of a piston, or some hellish demon behind you?


The enemies pop up everywhere, in true Doom fashion. Walls slide down, exposing demons clothed in shadows, or they'll be summoned in from the pits of hell themselves, creating a hellish red glow that will set your hairs on end in the process. All you'll have to warn you of their appearance is a indecipherable whispering, and in time, you will begin to fear that noise. Oh, and don't forget to check your back. Always.


Speaking of enemies, Doom 3 fans will be happy to see all their old favourites brought to stunning 3d life. They're the old zombies, fire-throwing imps, big pink demons, those floating spherical enemies that spit plasma, and a lot of new additions (seriously freaky additions, lemme tell you).


Some of the old weapons are also back, as well as new ones. You'll get basics like the pistol and shotgun, the machine gun and rocket launcher, plasma rifle, and even the fabled BFG. Unfortunately, Doom 3 has gone with the 'bigger-is-better' route. As you pick up new weapons, the old ones become obselete, except to save ammo on your bigger, better weapons. In fact, ammo for the chain gun pretty much disappears altogether once you find a more powerful gun.


In regards to sound, this game doesn't really have that category. Except for maybe two or three tracks in the game, the rest of the sounds are ambient and that crescendo that is heard whenever something is going to happen. The voice acting, however, is top-notch, and the ambient sounds are realistic and clear as well.


Now, for all it's graphical amazement, fear-inspiring enemies, and wicked weapons, the game suffers terribly in the area of gameplay. Seems the guys at id worked a lot more on the graphics engine than the gameplay.


As someone who is expecting Half-Life 2 to be the next coming, Doom 3 is a disappointment, especially since it's supposed to be on the same level. There is a bare minimum of interactable items, namely, computer screens and boxes you can push for absolutely no reason. While the computer screens are neat in the way they're used, it's just not enough. I want to be able to shoot out lights (well, not really. It's dark enough.), push over some shelves, and shoot out windows.


In addition, the game seems extremely linear and scripted. As I headed up to the communications area, I said to myself "It's going to be broken. It's always broken." Sure enough, it was broken. So obviously I had to go to another station, something I couldn't have done before I found the first communications area, no of course not. Throughout the game you're led by the nose, going through a predetermined set of metallic hoops to get to where you want to go.


This scripting manifests itself a lot in items. When I see an item on the ground, I'm always worried to pick it up, because it always triggers some enemy to appear, which makes me use up the item, be it armor or ammo. It starts to get predictable, and that's never good.


Let's look at your character. He has no personality, which is okay, this is obviously a game about shooting stuff, not character development. However, answer me this: If this man is a trained soldier, why is it that he can't hold a flashlight and a pistol at the same time? Nothing is more aggravating than wandering through a dark area, flashlight on, finding an enemy, pulling out a weapon into total darkness, and having no idea what the heck to shoot at. And this happens a lot. And why in the world must I use a flashlight instead of, say, infra red? It makes no sense.


In the area of replayability, Doom 3 isn't too great. With single player, there are four modes, easy to hard, and nightmare. The game is pretty easy, even on the medium setting, and on nightmare your health constantly is going down, which makes it merely annoying, unless you're into timed games. Plus, the game is about twenty hours of playing. If you like the game, that's a little too short. If you find it dull, that's way too long.


And at times, the game does get dull. Not dull in the sense that nothing happens, but in the sense that you feel like id has run out of ideas. At a couple of points in the game, in between new enemies and guns, I was actually kind of bored, because I knew that behind the next corner there would be an imp, and under the elevator was a spider, and picking up the armor in the middle of the room would send a swarm of demons from hell to tear me apart. Again.


Multiplayer is limited. You can go online but it's only supported for four players (although apparently some servers have managed to bypass this limit in some way), and there's not a whole lot of modes, just the basics like DeathMatch and such. The maps are sorely limited at the moment as well. However, this is in its infant stage, and it's likely the mod community will go bonkers with Doom 3.


If you're into getting scared, and if you own a surround sound system, then this is probably a great game for you. If you're a fan of games with some character, choice, and other objectives than shoot everything you see, then this probably isn't for you. Id has made a shooter that, while it looks fabulous and makes you shiver, it is just that: a shooter.


Final Grade: 81%


Official Doom 3 Website


Minimum System Requirements:

  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP
  • Pentium IV 1.5 GHz
  • 384MB RAM
  • 8x Speed CD-ROM drive
  • 2.2GB of uncompressed free hard disk space (plus 400MB for Windows swap file)
  • 100% DirectXR 9.0b compatible 16-bit sound card and latest drivers
  • 100% Windows 2000/XP compatible mouse, keyboard and latest drivers
  • 3D hardware Accelerator Card Required - 100% DirectXR 9.0b compatible 64MB Hardware Accelerated video card and the latest drivers




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