Doom 3 PC Review

[i]-Don’t worry; they’ll get their ‘product’…
-After how many accidents? Tell me, Dr Betruger, why are so many workers requesting transfers off Mars?
-They simply can’t handle life here. They’re exhausted and overworked. If I had a larger and more competent staff and bigger budget… even these few accidents… could’ve been avoided…
-I’m afraid you’ll get nothing more until my report is read by the Board. I’ll need full access doctor, Delta included. I won’t have any difficulties, will I?
-Only if you get lost, Swan. Just stay out of my way… Amazing things will happen here soon… you just wait.[/i]

This is one of the few moments you will have during the next 20 hours of gameplay, and sadly, it’s at the beginning of the game, when no demons are around.

After some years of silence, id Software returns with a sequel of the game that changed video games forever and started a new trend: first person shooters. Sure, Wolfenstein 3D was the first FPS ever made, but it was not until the original Doom came to our pc that the genre was really appreciated by players.

Until today, we can see the influence Doom has on gaming today: Quake and QuakeCon, Unreal Tournament, multiplayer death matches, capture the flag, even Halo for the Xbox. All of those couldn’t been there if it wasn’t for id’s greatest hit, and now, we’ve got a new version of it, with a shiny new 3d engine.

Graphics

As I said, featuring a new 3D engine, the graphics of Doom 3 are incredibly realistic. Lighting and shadows add a very impressive feeling of you being inside the UAC Mars base. At the beginning of the game, you can wander around and learn some of the basics of environment control (pushing buttons on screens to open doors and such). If you manage to get to the kitchen before hell breaks loose, there’s a panel with a button you can push to cover the windows of the kitchen with a metallic shielding (I presume it’s in case of emergency or something like that). As the shielding closes and red lighting ceases to illuminate the kitchen, white-neon bulbs turn on, changing the Mars-red outdoor lightning to something similar to an office in the building. I insist: you really get the feeling of being in Mars instead of sitting in front of your computer.

In some other part of the game, I almost jumped off my chair when I saw the shadow of a dead body hanged from the ceiling projected on the floor and walls of the corridor I was in. I’m sure that guy didn’t feel much better when he was killed, so you’ve got a nice idea of how scary was it for me. My point here is that the shadow effect was so real that I thought an Imp or Pinky Demon was there, trying to get a piece of me… but lucky me, it wasn’t. But as real as shadows can be, there’s something not so perfect about them. You see, when an object projects it’s shadow over a distant wall, the further the object is from the wall, the shadow is more blurred, and you won’t see this happening in Doom 3 as all of the shadows are projected perfectly.

Still, with so much power in the house, you can be sure those demons are benefited with so much detail. With the ability to display so much of it, characters, demons and weapons are really well done, with so many different textures that you’ll hardly see what was common in the old days: the same wall all over the level. Speaking about walls, would you be surprised if you opened a door and saw the words “DIE” “SUFFER” and “HELP” written in blood? Maybe not, but I’m sure you’ll be very, very scared when you see them while hearing hissing and roaming from somewhere beyond the next door (mwa ha ha ha!)

One last thing that’s really nice but not amazing is how steam and smoke are inside the game. There are many parts in the game where a pipe blows releasing steam, or you have to take some decontamination processes. All of these involve some kind of gas being around, lit by the game engine. The entire atmosphere turns red (or to some other colour, depending on where you are) except for some other “smaller” sources of light, such as buttons or the screens of your weapons, which melt with the illumination. Sweet.

Sound

Okay so blood-painted walls, realistic demons, guys hanging from the ceilings and broken pipes, and generally speaking visual effects, don’t scare you, right? How about a small pack of spiders behind you, as you hear each step they make over the steel stairs towards you? Then I’m sure what you heard really is a scientist from the base, asking for help, and what you hear behind the wall are natural sounds of the red planet. Right.

As important as it is to give a realistic feeling of suspense, sound plays a major role in Doom 3. As I said above, there are various effects that are added to the impressive visuals so you, as me, jump from your chair, moving the mouse pointer to the ceiling and shooting there, with the Imp in front of you, still alive.

In the second level of the game, when all of the action starts, you can hear via radio signals how your comrades are trying to defend themselves from an unknown enemy. Shooting, screams, fall-back orders are delivered to your speakers while you run to see what has happened. In this same level, I was astonished when I came close to a wall with some bullets in the floor and I heard some shooting. The amazing thing about this is that you can hear it as it is: from the other side of the wall. The sound was somehow clear, but not enough to be in the same room as you: there is a wall in between.

I wish I had a 6.1 channel sound card and speakers to plug into it so I can enjoy at 100% the power of the sound engine of Doom 3. If you are stuck with sound as I am, plug in your headphones to maximize your gaming experience. Believe me, you’ll want to hear where the spiders are coming from. Eventually.

My only complaints here are the sound effects of your weapons and explosions. Some reloading effects simply aren’t real. For instance, take the one when you reload your normal pistol. I think that one is more like a sword drawing sound than one of reloading automatics. Rockets don’t sound (and look) as powerful as they are and the plasma gun just didn’t quite do it. Well, that’s my opinion about it. Some like the sound, some don’t. That’s up to you whether you like sound effects or not.

Gameplay

With such graphics and sound, you should have a good game, shouldn’t you? Doom 3 is an excellent game, it’s just not really innovative when it comes to gameplay. Run, shoot, jump, open doors, find PDA’s and ammo, click the exit button or kill the boss. That’s it.

Old school Doom’ers will feel really disappointed then whey see that the levels are incredibly linear and simple (in comparison, that is). I think the most complex part of this is that you must read all of the PDA’s you find in your way to look for codes to open cabinets and doors and get weapons, medikits and armour. No more red/blue/yellow keys/skull keys, teleporting back and forth nor switch pushing and secret areas. Sure, there are some parts when you must look for a particular item and take it to some other place to continue, but it’s not as in the old Doom games. Not that it is bad, but I’ve read on some forums that some people complain about this particular aspect of Doom 3 so I feel that I have to mention it. Anyway, if you are a young player and you’ve never played a Doom game before (or if you just like more action than puzzles) it’s not something you should care about.

Now that I mention it, PDA’s play a major role in the game. “It’s important, so don’t lose it” the receptionist says. You won’t lose it, but most of the workers at the UAC base do, and you can take advantage of it, so you can get more items to help you in your way. Once you pick one up, you download the data to your own PDA, so you can read what the guy had in it, including personal email and audio logs. It pays to listen to them and read emails, so be sure to write down important info you hear or read. For instance: there’s a part when you see a BFG-9000 in a office, but if you didn’t hear the code in an audio log that is in a PDA you’re supposed to pick up long before that, you can kiss the gun goodbye (that or you can try the 504 possible combinations) Emailing in the base is heavily used, from memos to other scientist and security updates to role-playing fans, scheduling late night sessions.

One reviewer of a popular pc gaming magazine thinks that these kind of “jokes” (as he calls them) break the suspenseful atmosphere of the game with a lame joke about role-playing or spam email. I think it’s not some kind of odd humour added to the game, but it’s another way to improve the realistic feeling of it. The people that were here had somehow real lives, just as you and me have.

What makes Doom 3 one of the best games of the second half of 2004 (if not one of the best games of the year) is the atmosphere. The last time I was scared of every sound I heard was when I played the Marine campaign of Alien vs. Predator 2. Believe me, there’s a point when you yell the F word if someone knocks at your door. Hell, I’ve even yelled that word when my cat jumped over me and started purring. What other game makes you feel this way?

Lifespan

Even when it has a great atmosphere, once you beat it in Nightmare difficulty, besides the somehow boring multiplayer mode, there are not many reasons to keep Doom 3 installed in your computer, eating 2.2 GB of HD.

Sure, multiplayer mode adds some months of lifespan to the game, but there’s a little restriction I complain about: maximum players allowed are four. No more.

Truly, if you want to frag some people in the servers, look for another game. I’d like to recommend UT 2004.

Maybe you can try a mod or try to beat the game with some other scope (like, finish it without opening any cabinets) but besides that, Doom 3 it’s not a game that will be in your HD for a long time

Overall

Awesome game, short but awesome game, I’m pretty sure this is the scariest game I’ve ever played.

Minimum requirements:
OS: Windows® 98/Me/2000/XP
Proc: Intel or AMD 1.5GHz
RAM: 384 MB
Hard Drive: 2.2GB (plus 400MB for swap file)
Video: 64MB 3D accelerator with latest drivers
Audio: DirectX 9.0 compatible audio card
Other: TCP/IP Internet connection for multiplayer mode

System Specs for the review:
OS: Windows XP Pro
Proc: PVI @ 2GHz
RAM: 512MB
Video: 128MB NVidia GeForce TI4200
Sound: MOBO Built in sound and 2 speakers (lamest of the lamest…)
Other: DX 9.0c, ADSL @ 512up/256dwn Kbps

Deus Ith Recommends for optimum gameplay and budget:
Proc: AMD or Intel @ 2.2GHz
RAM: 1GB
Video: All-in-wonder ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
Sound: Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum (and of course, 6 speakers and subwoofer)
Other: DX 9.0c, Broadband connection (for multiplayer)

8.2/10

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Version tested: PC