STAFF REVIEW of Doom 3 (Xbox)

Monday, April 11, 2005.
by Yellowlab

Doom 3 Box art It was not the grandfather of all first person shooters, but when the first Doom was released by Id in 1993 it pushed the envelope of this brand spankin? new genre. It was fast paced, dripping with mood, had wide open environments, and a variety of groovy weapons. Its style was imitated for years to come. It?s been over 10 years since gamers have been treated to a new Doom game, and in that time the face of FPS has changed dramatically. Going into Doom 3 I couldn?t help but wonder if it would be able to compete with the new breed of FPS, or if it would be able to be the ?envelope pusher? it once was.

Another big question was just how well it would look in comparison to the PC version that was released last year. Clearly Xbox gamers would be receiving a ?dumbed down? version. Receiving watered down ports is a new experience for the Xbox, a distinction usually reserved for the PS2.

On the good side, I found Doom 3 to be a very worthy competitor in comparison to other games in its genre. I was also pleased to find out that the Xbox version survived the port from the PC very well. The graphics took a very slight hit, but the difference is not very noticeable. On the bad side, Doom 3 does nothing to push the boundaries of the genre, and in some respects ? such as repetitive level design and standard weaponry - it feels very dated.

I won?t bore you with a lot of plot details, mostly because there aren\'t many details to bore you with. It is a very simplistic story in which you play a generic marine with no name sent to Mars City to investigate the disappearance of a worker there. The game starts off slowly and you will find yourself reading communications or listening to audio files on your PDA for the first hour of the game. The fun kicks in once you start encountering enemies in tight dark places. The action is brutal and there is plenty of blood and gore to please even the most sadistic FPS fanatic.

The available weapons are pretty standard FPS fare, such as the pistol, machine gun, rocket launcher, and grenades. One unique element comes by way of the flashlight that you have at your disposal. You cannot hold both your gun and flashlight at the same time. Considering that most of the game takes place in poorly lit corridors and rooms, this creates a considerable dilemma for the gamer. You?ll find yourself constantly switching between the two. This really helps to create an uneasy mood as you feel relatively uneasy with either one in your hand. However, the constant switching gets tiresome, and it is unrealistic as most anybody with any skill and coordination would be able to hold both items at the same time.

For the multiplayer enthusiasts, there is plenty to keep you entertained, if you have Xbox Live, such as standard deathmatches and a co-op mode. Unfortunately, co-op mode is not available without Xbox Live or a system link connection, which I found to be very odd. Also, for those that purchase the collector?s edition you will find both Doom 1 and Doom 2 included as well as a few other goodies.

Everything about Doom 3 revolves around immersing the gamer in a creepy atmosphere. Fortunately the visuals are sharp and crisp, and do a great job at creating the mood. There is no shortage of texturing, lighting effects, and bump mapping. Doom 3 pushes the Xbox hardware to the maximum, and it is unquestionably one of the prettier games to grace the console. I did note some framerate issues when there is a lot of action on the screen, but it does not effect the gameplay and does not happen enough to be a problem.

One knock I have regarding the visuals is the lack of varied environments. Essentially you will see the same metal corridors and rooms with only slight variations throughout the entire game. After about 8 hours of seeing the same environment it can get very tiring. This is one issue that I felt made the game feel dated. Tight corridors and repeating environments for the entire game seems like a thing of the past, and should not be something that we see from a top notch FPS in this day and age.

Doom 3 really shines in the audio department. Id did a terrific job of using the audio effectively for creating a creepy mood. The music, grunts from zombies, and the marine chatter over your radio are all used very well to paint a scary picture as you walk along the dark tight corridors. Sounds effects such as weapon fire and explosions are serviceable and do the trick.

After playing through Doom 3, I can?t help but think of it as a supermodel. As with most supermodels, Doom 3 is all about the look and mood - just don?t look under the surface as you will find a few flaws. It may not push any new boundaries, but the bottom line is that Doom 3 is a very solid game, and still deserves its status as an elite series in its genre.

Overall: 9.2 / 10
Gameplay: 9.4 / 10
Visuals: 9.6 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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