Doom 3 Review

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Who would have thought back on December 10, 1993, that a shareware game called Doom, created by a little known software company bearing the Freudian name of id, would make such ripples in the gaming industry? Featuring nine maps, a complete episode of the game, and bearing no price tag, Doom offered a full immersive FPS gaming experience for the sci-fi gamer.

As if this wonderful and intense shooter wasn’t enough, it featured the ability to allow multiple players to DM or Deathmatch. In fact, Doom was the game for which the term DM was coined. Other staples of current generation FPS games that we take for granted, be it community created maps, mods, or tournaments, also got their starts thanks to the release of Doom. It seems only fitting that close to eleven years later we are now talking about the first true next generation Doom game

In development for four years, this game has been the literal toast of the town. Drawing gasps, oohs, and ahhs at the past few E3 expos, it was only a matter of time before the game was finally released to the public. Unlike Duke Nukem Forever, this highly anticipated PC game is in fact in stores this moment eagerly awaiting your purchase and installation.

Most modern gamers remember the highly touted and colossal disaster that was Daikatana, a game which claimed it would be a revolutionary title for the FPS genre. After all the hype was over, gamers discovered a horrible game, completely formulaic, featuring only semi-good graphics and sound effects. A fate which Doom 3 itself knew was a possibility. With hype comes the immense letdown that occurs when the hype is larger than the game itself. Would this be the same fate for Doom 3?




Gameplay
As is the case with most FPS games, the gameplay itself is relatively unimportant. Most FPS titles follow a similar control scheme, the standard WASD movement with hot keys for weapons as well as crouching and jumping. The inclusion of the flashlight is nice, if a tad annoying, in that you are unable to mount it and either need to choose the flashlight or your weapon. This becomes very troublesome due to the fact that you’re often fighting in zero light conditions.

The weapons themselves range from the standard pistol, shotgun, and machine gun, to the chainsaw, rocket launcher, and, of course, the BFG. Each weapon has only a primary fire, so those familiar with the alternate fire functions that games like Unreal uses, keep looking; here, what you see (or often don’t see), is what you get.

Overall the movement is fast, with weapons that work well and reload quickly, making the gameplay run rather smoothly, assuming you have the right hardware to be playing this.

Graphics
There is no easy way to say this, but Doom 3 has the best graphics of any game for the PC or console today. From high-res textures, to jaw dropping lighting effects, this game will make you constantly search for the screenshot button to try and capture and save your amazing eye candy Zen moments.

Having said that, please note that this game has the type of hardware requirements that often require the casual gamer to upgrade his PC. Before buying this game, please make certain you are using a higher end pc, I recommend at least a 2 GHz and that you have a high end video card. I played this game using the ATI x800 Pro 256mb card which I bought specifically for this game, Far Cry and Half-life 2. With my setup, I was able to run the game at 1024 resolution with high graphics settings and I never dipped below 60 fps.

Many gamers will complain about the lack of light in this game, and clearly this game is meant to be played in a total dark environment. The darkness, however, is an essential part of the intense suspense that this game constantly subjects its players to. From lights going out for an ambush, to the tell-tale red glow which marks the arrival of the fireball throwing demons, this game will test the limits of your visual senses.

Of particular note is the use of your flashlight in the game, perfectly displaying the shadows, including yours when you are backlit. From shadows thrown off by my flashlight I have actually seen where enemies are hiding. And when I don’t have time to use my light, I find that the firing of my weapons often provides just enough light to see where I am going.

Like many gamers, I assumed that the supposed screenshots I was seeing of Doom 3 were just beefed up renders, but as you can see from the screenshots I used both here and in my hands-on preview, the in-game graphics rival those of many FMVs used in lesser games.

This game also features a limited body damage model where you can shoot an enemy in the head and see that you did, in fact, do damage to the head. It also features a large amount of gore, particularly when you use your shotgun when you are up close and personal with your enemies.

This game features, as mentioned, large amounts of violence and gore, as well as disturbing images and is not recommended for those under the age of 17.




Sound
As unbelievable as the graphics in this game are, the sound is equally amazing. This is a game where playing with at the very least a Dolby 5.1 setup is the way to proceed. So much of the atmosphere in this game is contained within the sound effects. From a zombie’s silent swish as he leaps out of a locker to their moaning and shuffling, this game needs to be heard to be fully experienced.

Often due to the lack of light in this game, you will need to rely on your ears as you listen for sounds of enemy movement. The zombies in this game have a very distinctive shuffling sound as they move about, coupled with the traditional zombie moans. Outside of this, you will also hear the sounds of doors opening or creatures moving across the floors above you. You will also hear the whirls and hisses of the machinery of the facility in the background. And if this wasn’t enough, you will occasionally hear what appears to be calls for help or disembodied voices asking for the same.

Your PDA provides you with video and audio logs of some of the various base personnel, delivering either back story to the problems of the facility or the sometimes funny comic relief which in a game this intense is greatly appreciated. Through the use of your radio, you are apprised of what is going on by your commanding officer. This also helps advance the plot, as well as provide you with new objectives in your mission. The voice acting ranges from great to mediocre, but it always serves to help amplify the experience of Doom 3.

Multiplayer
Like most traditional FPS titles, this game features your standard multiplayer options including standard death match and team death matches. First of all, those looking for a massive multiplayer online experience need to keep moving, as this game is first and foremost an FPS with a strong single player component. Having said that, when you take this game’s amazing sounds and graphics and put them into a death match arena, it’s only going to be fun.

The arenas tend to be small, often designed for 4 players at a time. The weapons are currently balanced such that you can usually be effective with whatever is at hand. Due to the smaller size of some of the levels and the relative darkness of many of the places in those levels, you will often find great places to hide as well as ambush your opponents.

The lack of lighting will create one problem in team death matches, and that is simply the friendly fire issue. If you play with friendly fire on, be advised that due to poor lighting in many levels you will often find yourself fragging your own teammate. This multiplayer is great for those who are twitch players and thankfully the jumping freaks (you know who you are) will not find this tactic as effective.

The true beauty of the online experience is that given the nature of the gaming community, it’s only a matter of time before this graphics engine is modded and we see some new variations on multiplayer gaming.

Replay Value
For the single player component, you will probably find yourself going back to play the game due to how intense the game is. While you may be able to complete it through a single week of steady gameplay, there is enough in terms of thrills and multiplayer action to make this game stay in your gaming rotation for weeks if not months to come.

Overall
From the way this game starts out like Half-Life, wandering the facility and learning to interact while receiving at least a slight back story, this game seeks to immerse you. At the beginning of the game you will feel like somebody who just happens to be on scene of something both terrible and amazing. So when you find yourself finally being the hero, it just all seems natural. From the amazing presentation, to the sound effects, to the actual storyline, this game is much more than just a Serious Sam or Painkiller where you have a story slapped on to a splatterfest.

This game rests somewhere between Half-life and Halo in terms of the story based FPS gaming and those who have played both will know what I mean when I say that. that.

Finally, to answer my question in the introduction, yes, this game lives up to the hype. As much as I didn’t want to like this game, as much as I hate the hype machine, this game delivers on every level. While ultimate enjoyment will vary from gamer to gamer based upon hardware and individual tastes, by and large any gamer who plays this game will find something to like. The ability to make me jump when enemies fly out at me, or even better to make me jump when a light breaks or a beam falls forcing me to start firing at nothing, this is a huge achievement. This game will easily join the ranks of System Shock 2 and Undying as one of the scariest FPS titles ever made.

I found this game to be highly enjoyable on nearly every level that a game has and as such highly recommend it to both casual and hard core FPS gamers. Just make sure you have the hardware to play..





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