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Doom 3 Review
|ON OTHER PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox|
developer: id Software
P4 1.5GHz, 384MB RAM, 2GB HDD, GeForce 3/ATI 8500 or better
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Aug 03, 04 (released)
|» All About Doom 3 on ActionTrip|
As far as my gaming addiction goes (yes, it is an addiction), I can safely say that I grew up playing id Software's games. From feeling sick the first time I fired up the original Doom, to gems like Quake 1, 2 and 3, I've gone from being a teenager to a gamer dad in the time it took id to release the third iteration of the Doom series. Now I know this is stretching it, but you could almost say that reviewing Doom 3 is like reviewing your dad's role as a parent. You cannot remain objective. It's impossible. End of story.
All things in life change, and just like I've changed, so has the gaming industry. Back in the day when Doom 2 was released, 3D engines were pretty much the main focus of any shooter game and we all know that John Carmack's incredible talent for coding is what rallied so many people to id's cause. Over the years, critics have often said that id is great for coding engines (and licensing them), but not as good for creating immersive and cinematic single-player games. Games like System Shock, Half-Life and five years later Far Cry changed the way we look at FPS games. The genre has gone from being a platform for testing new technologies to becoming probably the most immersive and cinematic way of presenting virtual worlds on the PC.
So the big question on everyone's mind was has id managed to adapt. Have they evolved, matured and changed their way of thinking enough to bring something truly groundbreaking to the gaming scene.
To be honest, there is no way anyone can ever see Doom 3 as being a bad game. So to cut right to the chase, Doom 3 is a very good game. Hell, it's a very, very good game and any true shooter fan should buy it right this instant. The question remains though: is it groundbreaking and as good as everyone thought it would be.
The answer to this question is fairly complex, and it largely depends on your own preconceived notions of what a great FPS game should play like. Doom fans are going to regard Doom 3 as the second coming of Jesus, while fans of the genre in general might not find it as good as the hardcore id followers.
It goes without saying that in many aspects Doom 3 visuals are a work of art. The sheer visual splendor and the incredibly creepy atmosphere of the game are good enough reasons to proclaim the Doom 3 engine one of the best engines out there. However, while the quality of lighting and the amazing complexity of some of the scenes beat any other shooter on the market, Doom 3 engine is not without its faults. The number of polygons that went into creating the incredibly moody environments had to be compensated in some way, and I couldn't help but notice the rather low background textures in many of the scenes.
Secondly, while the outdoor environments (if you can call them that) look good, I rather missed the depth you get in Far Cry, as Crytek's game doesn't have 2D sprites posing as background scenery (which Doom 3 does in some cases). What is remarkable about Doom 3's visuals, however, is the awesome engrossing quality of the settings that will knock any true gamer out of their seat. In terms of character design, as well as the design of most of the scenery, id artists have done a superb job, and this will become most apparent in the later parts of the game when Doom 3 reaches its spectacular climax.
Going hand in hand with the incredibly immersive visuals is by far the best collection of audio effects I've ever heard in a videogame. I would dare say that most of the creepiness of Doom 3 comes courtesy of the bizarre and often psychedelic audio effects that wreck havoc on your nervous system when you're playing with the lights out.
Ironically, even though the ambient sounds are amazingly scary, and coupled with the visuals made me come very close to panicking at the beginning of the game, the very thing that annoyed me the most about Doom 3 is what makes this game go from truly terrifying to just very, very intense. Let me explain why.
One of the hallmarks of the original Doom games are, of course, the spawning monsters. Id decided to stay true to this tradition and, while they added all the elements of modern day shooters into the mix and created a very contemporary cinematic experience, they also decided to retain certain formulas of game design that made Doom what it is today. So yeah, whenever you see body armor, as soon as you pick it up, you had better turn around 'cause there is a 99.9% chance a monster will be spawning behind you, or jumping out of a shaft to attack you. This scare tactic works like a charm in the beginning, but then it slowly begins to wear thin on you. Eventually, it was easy to predict the familiar setups in many of the scenes, as something around 20 of the 27 or so levels in the game pretty much use the same way to scare the player. You will enter a room, hear strange demonic sounds, lights will go out and sure enough, monsters will be boiling from darkened corners.
This might be great for Doom fans and some will argue that this is in the spirit of the franchise (and is therefore just as it should be). If you're one of those people, you will be thrilled by the overall game play. Doom 3 has plenty of amazing moments and that's why it's an awesome game, but I cannot escape the feeling that id Software used repetitive design to make it seem longer than it really is. Bottom line is, even though there is upwards of 20 hours of game play to be found in Doom 3, the game could've been a lot shorter if id didn't include so many levels that are essentially very similar in their nature.
Phenomenal creepy atmosphere, satisfying end game climax, sounds, visuals, very intense and highly cinematic FPS, excellent weapon models;
Examples of repetitive design as a result of trying to extend the length of single-player, fear factor diminishes as you get accustomed to the design principles (needed more variety), some low-res background textures.