Review by loosifur

Reviewed: 08/05/04

Solid eye-candy for casual FPS gamers

Let me first say that I've been following Doom 3 for a while now, and have been pretty eager for it to be released. I played Doom when it came out, the Aliens TC for it, and Doom 2. I've never been that good at jumpy FPS's such as Unreal, but I've had fun playing them, and I generally look for a plot to make me want to move through the game, or as in the case of Unreal Tournament 2004 solid gameplay and a reasonably decent single player experience. Also, nowadays I tend to judge PC games based on whether or not I'd buy them for my Xbox as well. Keep this in mind as you read this review.

We'll start with graphics. I cannot emphasize how incredible the graphics are in this game. I've played Far Cry, which was supposed to be the FPS to revolutionize all FPS's, and it may have, but in Doom 3 you can see the facial expressions of people you talk to or things that you shoot in detail that reminds me of cutscenes from recent games. On my middle quality rig I am continually stunned by the detail. I remember being in a firefight with zombie marines while seeing FMV on a computer screen in the corner. I can honestly say I have never seen better graphics on a PC game prior to this. That's the technical end. The game is very dark, which might annoy some people, but I'm assuming it's a design decision in keeping with the survival-horror theme. On the positive side, shining a flashlight in to a dark corner to see if anything's lurking or firing at glowing eyes in a dark room adds to the suspense, but on the negative side, darkness is in my opinion overused both in this game and in general, and it can get very old and feel very cheap when you're getting mauled by something you can't see.

The sound is decent. Nothing especially impressive. Because of the darkness you'll find yourself listening for monsters, but because of the fact that they often won't appear until you're right in the middle of a room it's of limited use. Still, the monsters sound appropriately monstery even if the guns can sound a bit anemic. The radio chatter is a nice touch, and the voice acting is I think pretty well done. Not over the top, but not sounding like interns on a lunch break either.

Gameplay. Nothing new. If you've played any previous Doom games, expect similar controls. There's a tendency to get stuck on things, which can be annoying but is infrequent enough to not really be a problem. Because of the level designs, which tend to heavily favor narrow corridors and cramped rooms, don't expect drawn out gunfights. Oftentimes I find myself going slug for slug with monsters rather than trying to find cover just because there's not enough room to maneuver. The AI is very basic, and I've found myself in some very cartoonish moment where I've been running around a pillar chasing and being chased by a monster for a while. This might be the weakest part of the game. It tends to rely on monsters spawning behind you at set points or being right around a corner rather than any kind of tactical finesse. It keeps with the basic FPS run-and-gun philosophy, but the dearth of ammo and the atmosphere doesn't follow suit. For the first few boo-scary moments I genuinely jumped, but I quickly found myself talking trash after double-tapping zombies in the forehead. The fact that you can save at any time helps alleviate some of the tension they seem to have been going for.

Multiplayer is there, but I could care less, so I won't talk about it.

My final verdict; if you want an FPS that is going to look pretty and be easy enough to play casually, or if you want Doom with a decent plot, pick this up. I intend to get it for my Xbox when it comes out for it. If you're looking for something that's going to be a revolutionary game, or that's going to change the FPS genre, I would look elsewhere. This game has a lot of ambience, and graphically is beautiful, but at it's heart it's an old FPS trying to learn some new tricks.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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