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Doom 3 Xbox Review
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The closest thing to hell, without actually going there…and a lot more fun too

     Doom is back. That’s all you really have to say about it. This beast has been totally revamped. It’s got new graphics and a new engine. It’s also got all the trappings of the past with its awesome cooperative and multiplayer modes. The game is ready to jump head first, screaming into the blazing, rip roarin’ depths of hell. Are you???

     Actually Doom 3 isn’t an original idea. The original Doom was created by Id software in 1995 as a revolutionary FPS available free online. It blew away anyone lucky enough to realize its caliber at the time. What was passed off as a storyline in classic Doom has been carried over and added to in Doom 3. This time you actually feel as if you have landed on Mars and are in a space installation. Gamer’s will also find that you still shoot demons, watch gore fly, shoot more hell spawns and then reload your arsenal of guns for some more demon lovin’. All in a day’s work, right?

Graphics

     Anyway let’s get down to the review of the game. First I’ll focus on the crisp graphics of Doom 3. Now you can’t forget that Doom 3 was released on the PC first. The graphics were nothing short of amazing and luckily almost everything has been carried over to the Xbox port. I compared the PC version to the Xbox version and found that the Xbox version has graphics that are just barely watered down. It took me about a minute to forget about the difference and get down to playing. Doom’s new engine also features some great lighting effects. You are equipped with a flashlight that reveals the many patches of darkness on Mars HQ. This ingenious lighting effect only adds to the game play when you locate a hidden item or occasional monster in the shadows. It really sets off a character or creature when they step into the light. Speaking of characters and creatures, the models for these make you jump out of your skin with a new bump mapping technique. The personnel of the UAC are some of the most realistic people seen in games thus far. That’s not even the best part. The various demons and zombies make up the forces of evil in this game. They better look good, right? They are, trust me. They have some awesome looking skin and muscle models and are made for movement. Just don’t be surprised if one of the brilliantly designed models moves spryly towards you with the intent to kill. The animators make this movement possible by utilizing realistic movement galore. The graphical environment is a component of a game that can’t be overlooked. Id went the extra mile to show you that they care about the atmosphere. Red smoke is a prevailing theme in Doom 3 for obvious reasons folks. The industrial feel of Mars HQ really comes out all around you with the addition of machinery with moving parts into the levels. You also have the ability to interact with some computer screens in real time. They look great and could be compared to real life computers. Automatic doors, which are animated realistically, add to the feeling that you are in a futuristic base. Some other great effects in the game are the gallons of plasma "goo" you’ll find strewn around. There are also giant tentacles that use the same "goo" technique. They flow and glisten in some of the most un-holy areas of the game. The designers did more than a good job with the organic look; showing me the best slime I’ve seen in a game to date. I’m usually not impressed by slime too.

Gameplay

     The main thing about the gameplay in Doom 3 is that it has not been botched as it was transferred to the Xbox. The controller takes up the keyboard’s task of providing the functions of the game and passes with flying colors. Your weapons are easily accessible in a tight spot because you can hit the control pad to call them up. The left control stick is used for movement and the right is used for turning just like any other modern FPS. This works great for the shooter and makes it easy to aim the gun where it is needed. You will get better aiming control on the PC because of the mouse though. In fact, you don’t actually need better aiming control since there is an absence of the ability to head shot. Trying to fight the forces of Hell with your fists can be compared to sticking your hands in a meat grinder. That’s why the marine character you play as has been outfitted with some very powerful weapons. You’ll have the option of using the pistol, shotgun, machine gun, plasma rifle, rocket launcher and many more. You can easily keep track of how many bullets you have left by looking at the onscreen info. Your flashlight can be counted as a weapon because it can be used as a club but its main function is really to help you see enemies. Switching back and forth between the flashlight and the pistol frays your nerves and adds to the tension of the game. You don’t like switching but you know the game wouldn’t be as exciting without it. It was a great idea by the developers and I recognize that with a hypothetical medal. You can also easily keep track of how many bullets you have left by looking at the onscreen info. Your health is part of this info along with alerts from your PDA. The PDA is the equivalent of the pause menu in other games because it displays your mission objectives, item info and media files. You can find other PDA’s lost by "sadly" departed personal and download files into your own PDA. These files come in the form of emails, informative training videos and audio logs all playable on your PDA. The PDA screen is set up nicely and has a good interface with only one problem. No instant access like the PC version. You have about a 3 second loading time when you lower or raise your PDA. This squandered time is made up for when you quick save in Doom 3 though. Hit the back button on your controller and you are treated to a 1 second save into the quick save slot. You can also save files into multiple slots in the normal save fashion by hitting start and taking a long time. It varies how often you need to save in Doom 3 depending on which difficulty you play it on. There are three difficulty settings in Doom 3, consisting of "Recruit", (easy) "Marine", (normal), and "Veteran", (expert). There is also a "Nightmare" difficulty that is unlocked by beating the game on any difficulty. The enemies have the same A.I. on each difficulty level but are increasingly stronger meaning that it takes more shots to kill. The level design of Doom 3 is a mixed bag. You get nonstop action in areas when you fight enemies with some puzzles thrown in for good measure. The pacing of the game is great with some scripted parts as beasts jump out of the dark to feast on your flesh. You’ll also listen to allied characters or watch demons in small movie clips scattered throughout the game. (Your character is totally silent) If you have played the PC version of Doom 3 you’ll notice that some level parts have been cut out or mixed around. Nothing drastic has been removed so you won’t notice any holes if you haven’t played Doom 3 on the PC. One outdoor mars part is missing but the others are still intact. The levels are set up in a linear fashion with minimal loading times that give you the maximum amount of fighting per level. The only problem with the gameplay is the enemy A.I. The way the creatures attack you gets repetitive and resembles the FPS’s of old. While I think it never gets old because of the great looking "imps of Satan" and the shooting bonanza, other people might if they wanted a "thinkers’ FPS". This game really boils down to mindlessly blasting demons, trying to survive and taking in the scary atmosphere of the game.

Sound

     The sound in Doom 3 has been tailored in a way that adds to the way you play. You’ll hear screams and the bone crunching sounds of demons on the warpath. The sound also makes you jump when something pops out and think about what lurks around the next corner after you have heard strange noises. You get six-channel sound that goes into effect with Dolby Digital surround sound. This sound feature enables you to hear demons creeping up behind you or from the side. You can turn around in the direction of the attacker just by listening to the effects. The small amount of voice acting in the game is great. The audio and video logs exhibit the acting talent to a point where it’s almost scarier than the game.

Multiplayer and Coop

     Doom co-op and multiplayer return in Doom 3 and blow your shoes off in a Hell-ish fashion. To make this clear right off the bat, (which other reviewers never do) I’ll let you know what the game is capable of in these various modes. If you have Xbox Live Doom 3 becomes your new best buddy. You are able to play co-op online with a friend or multyplayer with up to four people. Multiplayer pits up to four players against each other on a limited amount of maps. This isn’t your Halo 2 multiplayer but it still cuts the mustard. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing and Tournament are the modes you can play in multiplayer. But still, if you don’t have Xbox Live you miss the train. The painful reality of no split screen means that you’ll have to obtain multiple Xboxs to play the multyplayer and co-op modes. You’ll need a system link, 2 TV’s, 2 Xboxs and 2 copies of the game. That’s not even enough for multyplayer, which requires 4 of everything that I mentioned. Split-screen probably could have become a reality on Xbox 360 if Doom 3 had been released 8 months later. But I’m not saying I wanted it to be! Doom 3 multiplayer isn’t a huge, 16 player focused game but a small, 4 player thriller. In the end you get your basic archaic four player multiplayer frag package. Co-op, on the other hand is a whole different beast that makes for a good play. You get to play with a friend on Xbox Live or through system link as I mentioned. Your two Marines must work together to fight your way through a shortened version of the main game. The co-op mode is on the short side by being only about 4 hours long. But still, it’s one of the many fun ways to cooperate in.

Collector’s Edition Bonus Coverage

     I personally recommend the Collector’s Edition because you really do get your money’s worth. It comes to 60 bucks so it’s $10 more than the normal version. The CE comes packed with features like an art gallery, interview of developers, a special on the history of Doom from VH1 and last but not least, full versions of Ultimate Doom and Doom 2. Both of these classic games come with multiplayer and co-op so be prepared to relive the past. You have been warned though; if you don’t like playing classic games its pointless to get the CE. You’ll just be disappointed by the outdated graphics and gameplay from 1995. The $50 standard Doom 3 still has co-op and Deathmatch without the classic games in case you’re confused. The presentation of the CE is decent but not top notch. I’m comparing it to the Halo 2 Collector’s Edition in this review being that it’s the best CE I’ve yet seen. The good news about Doom 3 CE is that it’s condensed on a single DVD as opposed to the 2 disc Halo 2 CE. The bad news about Doom 3 CE is that the case is extremely flimsy. I pushed on the metallic painted, plastic cover and it bent in my hands. The Halo 2 CE at least presents the case in a way that makes it look and feel like metal even though it really is plastic. But who am I kidding? The case doesn’t matter, it’s just a technical detail! It really is almost like you have to get this CE if you are a true and loyal fan of the series.

PC Bonus Coverage

     I’ll be brief about Doom 3 for the PC. You will get marginally better graphics then the Xbox version. You get to use your existing online connection to play Deathmatch instead of paying for Xbox live. You also have the ability to headshot monsters in the game. The only problem is that Doom 3 for the PC has no co-op. It was originally planned but scrapped at the last second to use on the Xbox port. It’s not that big of a deal but I’m sure it was missed by PC-only Doom 3 owners.

Bottom Line

     You asked for a remade Doom game and Id Software delivered. With superior graphics and sound, the single player experience makes you feel like you are a grizzled, veteran marine fighting to stay alive on a futuristic roller coaster. This isn’t some cedar point derivative; it’s a roller coaster with no end headed straight into the bowels of Hell itself. The multiplayer and co-op serve their propose and should hopefully satisfy any Doom fan. While some will complain about how Doom 3 is just a horror game that is just like any other FPS; I think it hits that nail right on the head. You get what you want, the way you wanted it for Doom 3 with the same core ideas from the classic Doom. The only difference is the lighting and the horror twist which only add to the game.

-Reviewed by V.G. Hut contributor Dobro

Official Score

(out of 10)

Graphics- 9

Gameplay- 8

Sound- 10

Multiplayer- 8*

*Mutiplayer score becomes a 9 if you interchange the standard version with the Collector’s Edition because of classic Doom co-op and multiplayer.

V.G. Hut Rating:

9.0

not an average

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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