Doom 3 Xbox Review

If there’s one thing that makes Doom 3 stand out from all other games, it is the atmosphere it creates. It’s the best seen, and heard, in any game on the market at the present time. The futuristic world on Mars, that you play in, looks and feels real, thanks to the slightly toned down, but brilliant, graphics of the Xbox version. The sound is also excellent, with every noise making you alert of your surroundings, just in case something jumps out at you from the darkness. But before I go into more detail, let me describe the story of the game.

You play as a non-named space marine, sent to a UAC science facility on the surface of Mars in the year 2145. Following a short dose of exploration around the base, things go terribly wrong, as the people working there accidentally bring the forces of hell to the base. Basically, they kill everyone. Your mission is to fight off the many different types of creatures and, ultimately, to travel to hell and back again, in order to get the hell out of there.

As mentioned above, the atmosphere this game creates is the best in any game. You really feel like you’re stuck on Mars, in the UAC facility, fighting off the forces of hell that have been unleashed. The base almost seems real, especially at the start when you are exploring, and watching the workers get on with life; it feels depressing at times, and you wonder how people could work there. The parts of Mars you see look excellent and really make you feel like you’re trapped on another planet. The lighting in the game is brilliant and rivals that of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Of course, the graphics aren’t up to the standard of the PC version, but they are still the best you are going to see on this generation of consoles. The character models are excellent, looking very lifelike, and the creatures you encounter will make you need a new pair of undies, because they look so real and scary. There is a lot of detail put into them, and you can tell that the artists worked really hard, particularly with many of the creatures from the original Doom, as they make a reappearance (the Imp’s and the Pinky’s, for example). The boss characters are best of all. I don’t remember the Cyberdemon being a huge towering 50 foot high monster in the original Doom, but times change, and monsters become bigger, and harder to defeat, as is the case here. Doom fans should be pleased to see some old bosses return in Doom 3, but I won’t say which ones do, so you’ll have to find out for yourself. The guns also look brilliant, although sometimes appear a bit sloppy in the cutscenes.

The dark corridors used throughout the game create an intense atmosphere. That’s the best thing about the game, the atmosphere that the darkness creates. Some people have said that not being able to use the flashlight at the same time as a gun is gimmicky. But it is a very good way to play; it makes everything seem scarier, because you will want to look into dark areas before moving on, just checking that no surprises wait in the darkness. Unfortunately, most of the time something will jump out of the darkness, and attempt to gnaw you into pieces. Thankfully, you have a massive arsenal to fend off the minions of hell. This is no Halo where you can only hold two guns at a time; no, this is a classic first-person shooter where you can hold guns to your hearts content. The weapons range from shotguns and machine guns, to plasma guns and the all powerful BFG (although it doesn’t work very well in confined spaces). All of the guns from the original Doom are here (minus the super shotgun), however, none of them seem to be that much fun to use. Most people have said that the guns don’t have that extra “oomph” and I would have to agree with them. Even using the mighty chainsaw has drawbacks. It is very fun to use but it spoils the atmosphere. Even when you’re not holding down the trigger, it continues to make a rumbling noise and this makes the game less scary because you can’t hear all the spooky noises. The chainsaw also makes the game a bit too easy, as it’s so powerful. Obviously, it’s a handy weapon to use, but I try to only use it in desperate circumstances.

The sound in the game is every bit as good as the graphics. When you enter a new area you will hear the sound of moaning zombies, and the various sounds that the hell creatures make, which will sometimes freak you out, especially when you can hear them but can’t see them. Although this is a remake of the original Doom, I don’t remember the original talking to you in demonic voices, which is what this game does very well. (Well, I assume it’s the game talking to me, otherwise I have problems.) As well as the demonic voices, there are other freaky things that happen on the base; in one blood-drenched toilet you can look into a mirror, and, as the camera zooms in, flames appear behind your reflected image. These freaky little touches help to make the game chilling and frightening.

Now, on to the gameplay, which is like going back to the old days of first-person shooters. There is no special shield that recharges your health, as in Halo and other futuristic shooters. Instead we have basic health packs that are to be found lying around the base. There is also no leaning around corners, or other such moves, as found in the more advanced first-person shooters, like Half-Life 2 and Halo. But, ID have accopmplished what they set out to do, and that was to make a remake of Doom and use the same style of old-fashioned gameplay. Although the gameplay is simple it is still very good. The basic ‘running through corridors and blasting at everything you see’ is fun and enjoyable. Unfortunately, the AI isn’t the best, and most enemy behaviours are very easily learned after just 30 minutes of play. The majority will merely stand there and launch blasts at you, or just charge and attack, so it’s generally very easy to avoid their attacks, and then to pump them full of lead. It can also be very predictable when they jump out of the darkness. Any player worth his salt will be ready for them to jump out and attack before they actually do, and this allows you to be ready to blast them. Although, sometimes they can be very unpredictable and make you jump.

Overall, this game is a technical masterpiece, although it doesn’t bring anything new to the first-person shooters genre. My advice would be to sit on your own, close the door, turn the lights off, put on some headphones and prepare to give hell a visit.

9 out of 10