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Doom 3 Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Doom 3 box
PC gamers have already played Doom 3 to death, but Xbox owners get arguably the best version of the game so the eight month wait has definitely been worth it. The gorgeous graphics and creepy atmosphere of the single player game have been retained and there are also co-op and multiplayer deathmatch modes available. There are a few hiccups along the way, but Doom 3 is still a great game that is among the must-own titles on the Xbox.

Story and Setting

The storyline in Doom 3 is a sort of retelling of what happened in the original Doom. As far as Doom 3 is concerned, the first two games never happened and this is actually where everything starts. You play as a nameless, voiceless marine that has been sent to assist the Union Aerospace Corporation at its Mars research facility. Strange things are happening at the facility and people are dying and you are sent there to help sort things out. All hell breaks loose (literally) soon after your arrival and you quickly learn of the UAC’s hidden agenda with the Mars facility. They have been working on teleportation technology using some ancient artifacts and just so happened to accidentally open a portal to hell. Demons start pouring out of the portal and it is up to you to stop them. There are some other people still alive in the base and you’ll come across them every once in a while, but most of your time is spent wandering around alone. You will find PDAs that belonged to people at the base and they shed some light on what has happened before your arrival but a lot of their e-mails and voice recordings are pretty dry. Storytelling definitely isn’t Doom 3’s strong point.

Gameplay

Doom 3 screen
The gameplay in Doom 3 is solid but it feels outdated compared to other FPS on the Xbox. The combat in Doom 3 is fun and satisfying and you have a large number of weapons to use including a shotgun, rocket launcher, chainsaw, and the infamous BFG among others. Chopping demons up with a chainsaw is a lot of fun for sure. No, the problem with the gameplay doesn’t have to do with the shooting or the weapons. The problem with Doom 3 is with how the levels are laid out and a simple pattern that repeats throughout the game. The levels are put together in such a way that you are always presented with two paths. One path is open and one path is locked and the key to the locked door is always down the open path. This is how the game plays the entire time. You are constantly on a fetch quest for the next PDA or other item that will open the next door to another fetch quest. This gameplay style works fine for a while, but you are never given anything more interesting to do and the game starts feeling pretty repetitive. Doom 3 takes 15-20 hours to play through, which is about five hours too long if you ask me.
Some other design choices have a slightly negative impact on the game. For example, most of the game is very dark so you have to rely on a flashlight to get around. You can’t use a gun and a flashlight at the same time, though, so you are constantly switching back and forth. Why the heck can Master Chief use a gun and a flashlight at the same time but the “Doom Guy” can’t? It doesn’t make any sense!

The gameplay isn’t all bad in Doom 3, though, and there are actually quite a few really nice things about it. There are a lot of keypads and computers that you can interact with and your targeting reticule will change to a mouse pointer so you can click things on the screen. Throughout the base you’ll find locked cabinets with keypads and the codes for these cabinets are found in the PDAs you find which is a nice touch because it takes a little detective work to open them up. Like I said above, another positive aspect of the gameplay is that the combat is fast and satisfying. Enemies jump out at you from all over the place and mowing them down is a lot of fun.

Scary = Good

Something that Doom 3 does a great job with is that it is dark and claustrophobic and quite creepy. The first few hours of the game are rather scary as you creep along and rapidly switch between gun and flashlight as enemies jump out at you from every dark corner. Once you get to the more powerful weaponry, however, the game stops being scary since you are more of a threat to the demons than they are to you. At this point, the game switches to psychological horror and this is where it really picks up. You’ll come across rooms smeared with blood and the floors are littered with human remains. You’ll hear whispering voices that lead you into ambushes, people calling for help, and strange chanting. There will also be times where you’ll have hallucinations and see demons and things that aren’t really there. Doom 3 does everything it can to creep you out and disturb you and this is 100% of the reason why it is a must-play title. The gameplay is a little repetitive and predictable but the sick and twisted images and sounds you’ll experience in Doom 3 more than make up for it.
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