Doom 3

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a game by Activision
Genre: Action
Platforms: XBox, PC
Editor Rating: 7.6/10, based on 4 reviews, 12 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 21 votes
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See also: Doom Games, First Person Shooter
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Despite its numbering, DOOM 3 is not a follow-up title to DOOM 2, but a reboot of the entire DOOM franchise. Developed by id Software and released in 2004, the game reintroduces players to the iconic story and world of the DOOM series. It's full of hellish demons, darkly lit levels, and gory gunplay. As literal Hell breaks loose on the planet of Mars, it's up to the player to repel the demonic threat and save humanity. With an assortment of overpowered weaponry, you'll take the role of a super soldier, ripping and tearing through hordes of otherworldly creatures.

The story in DOOM 3 is very similar to the original game, but with some modern trimmings. Like the first game, DOOM 3 takes place on the planet Mars. On Mars, dangerous science experiments have accidentally opened a portal to Hell, spilling demons out onto the red planet. DOOM 3 tells a similar story, but it does so in a more modern ways. As you explore the various levels in the game, you'll encounter characters who will provide you with information and narrative exposition. As the unnamed space marine, you'll meet a variety of characters (both good and bad) as you make your way through the game's creepy levels. Some characters give you directions and help by speaking to you via radio, while others taunt and scare you with their supernatural powers.

When it comes down to gameplay, DOOM 3 provides players with the same great bloody action the DOOM franchise is known for. The game is still broken up into levels, filled with hordes of enemies. In each stage, you must navigate through the darkly lit areas, blasting enemies with your weapons as they leap from the shadows. DOOM 3's focus on story makes the pacing feel a bit more deliberate and slow, which is a decent change from the surprisingly fast-paced original games. There's a bigger horror element in DOOM 3, with a handful of scripted scares. Generally speaking, the game is meant to utterly creep you out. When you're not hearing the sounds of gunshots, you'll likely hear the terrified screams of the trapped and dying scientists around the planet.

Although the game is a bit slower than other DOOM titles, things still feel visceral and fast thanks to the weapon offerings. There are ten different weapons to find and utilize, and they range in both power and utility. Fans of DOOM will enjoy the classic Chainsaw, Shotgun, and BFG-9000 weapon. The rest of your arsenal is filled out by other expected firearms, like sub-machine guns, assault rifles, pistols, and more. There's also a few fun experimental weapons, which vaporize your enemies and cause a ton of damage. In addition to the single player mode, you can also wield these weapons in the four-player multiplayer mode. There are four different types of competitive modes to try out, which nicely compliments the single player campaign.

Overall, DOOM 3 is an interesting and exciting reboot of the DOOM franchise. It's not as fast-paced as the original two games, but it provides the same amount of intensity and horror. The improved graphics make things even more terrifying, and the attention to storytelling fleshes out the world. The inclusion of multiplayer adds plenty of replay ability, and the lengthy single player campaign will surely please. If you're a fan of horror, mayhem, and fun gunplay, then DOOM 3 is a great pick.

Download Doom 3

XBox

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

It was a foregone conclusion really. A new game from FPS masters id Software, a new engine from the da Vinci of 3D rendering, sequel to one of the most influential and adored games of all time - only an act of GoD (or maybe Valve) could prevent Doom III from stealing the show in LA. What we didn’t know was that it would also snatch away, within a few frames of the in-game footage rolling across the demo screen, our hard-bitten journalistic scepticism, our carefully cultivated cynicism - not to mention our obscenely oversized American breakfasts - leaving us in a state of unseemly fanboy delirium.

You may have heard it a hundred times already, but Doom III really did eclipse everything else at E3 with its astonishing visual sophistication. Phrases we’ve heard bandied around by developers for the past couple of years - 'spectral lighting’, 'real-time shadows’, 'rag doll physics’ - suddenly dropped their sheen of hyperbole and took on a palpable reality. As id programmer Robert Duffy put it: 'Visually and aurally, everything that we’re doing is moving the genre forward.’

Lucky thing really, since the boys from Texas do seem content to continue polishing their winning formula when it comes to gameplay. Aside from being a tad slower and scarier than your average FPS, the gameplay in Doom III is as familiar as the WASD keys on your sweat-stained keyboard. However, Carmack and co have created a world so convincing, so immersive, that, as with Doom and Quake before it, the time-honoured forward-forward-shoot dynamic has been given a new lease of life.

Marty Stratton, director of business development at id, had this to say: "Doom III is more or less a retelling of Doom, though we’re doing many things different from a story perspective - and it is far and away the most story id has ever put into a title. But you’ll see a lot of hold-over from Doom in terms of monsters - imps, revenants, pinky demons - though you won’t necessarily recognise them as such." The weapon set too is familiar, with shotgun, pistol and maybe even BFG all returning in some guise. The action once again takes place on a futuristic Martian colony, where a gate into hell has unleashed the horrors of the demon world. The inhabitants of the colony have been transformed into a variety of demonic forms -shambling Resident Evil-style zombies, ex-marines with whip-like tentacle arms - and needless to say it’s your job to sort the mess out.

Admittedly, gameplay does promise to be a little more complex than the original Doom. "We're going to have a very advanced Al system, probably more advanced than we need for Doom III. But you know, these are demons, they’re not PhDs, and we’re not trying to emulate human behaviour or anything. But there's definitely going to be co-operative Al and things like that."

But when you get down to it, the only real departure in Doom III is the deeply horror-fuelled and discomforting atmosphere, which shifts the emphasis from rapid action and mass carnage to tense foreboding and scripted scare scenarios. "We're aiming for the most terrifying ultra-realistic single-player experience possible," says Duffy. "We’re trying to immerse people in a movie-like environment. From a speed perspective, it’s nothing like Quake III or even Quake II; the best word is 'deliberate’." The caveat that accompanies this is twofold - first and foremost, multiplayer will be restricted to very basic deathmatch. And slow deathmatch at that, as all the advanced graphics tech means that twitch-based gameplay and high frame-rates are not feasible. Secondly, the heavy reliance on scripted scenarios means it may be a once-only playthrough. As Marty Stratton admits: "Replayability isn’t a design goal for us. Our primary design goal is to basically terrify people the first time they play it."

Of course, id will be licensing the new Doom engine -indeed Raven is already working on Quake IV- so now that id has opened the gates of Hell, we can look forward to all sorts of equally trouser-fouling goodness from the rest of the FPS community at next year’s E3.

Like Steve With Fahrenheit, I'd never finished Doom 3, mostly because my computer took umbrage at having to play something technologically sophisticated. I also got bored of it and decided to play something more interesting. Nevertheless, I don't like leaving storyline-based games unfinished, so recently I've been ploughing through the plastic-y spawn of hell once more. Doom J's obvious quality still lies in its graphics, which have stood the test of time surprisingly well. However, its gameplay hasn't followed suit with the repetitive corridor-based tomfoolery even less appealing this time out.

If you try not to remember you've been playing more intellectually stimulating titles since it came out. Doom 3 can still provide a bit of visceral fun every now and then. Some of the set pieces are still quite nerve-jangling and any game that scared my younger sister so much that she refused to play it ever again lias to liave something going for it. Still, if you asked me | to pick one of the Doom games to play at random, I'd revisit the original. Let's just hope a fourth title comes along to stamp on the throat of the games industry once again.

Before I wrested control of my life away from my parents I was regularly subjected to acts of barbarity. "If you don't finish your greens, you won't get any ice cream," was the sort of abuse that was dished out on a daily basis - and they wonder why teens end up hating the world. Ever since I moved out into my luxury bedsit I vowed that I'd stand up for myself and never let people take the piss again -something I managed pretty successfully until a recent Activision press event. Called over to Dublin on the promise of free food and wine, I arrived at an extremely posh hotel to be faced with an itinerary that read like a convention for console fetishists. Right down at the bottom at 6pm, sandwiched between dinner and some Xbox muck, was the titbit I was after: a new Doom III presentation and the chance to interview top bods Tim Willits (designer on Doom III), and Todd Hollenshead (CEO), from id Software.

Looking back it was a pretty canny tactic because if I'd seen Doom III first I wouldn't have been interested in anything else. It looks that good. You know it looks that good because we started banging on about it after E3 and you've seen the screenshots. But in the two months between E3 and Activate 2002, I'd forgotten just how good. When Tim Willits fired up the demo and transported us back into the bowels of hell, I was as gobsmacked as I was the first time around. You might not have seen the video yet, and you might not believe that the game's going to look as good as these screenshots - but it does. It's time to believe the hype - Doom III is the next big thing.

It'sakinda Magic

And this time around we weren't just watching a static presentation. Sick of people (mainly the sort that populate chat forums on the Internet when they should be drinking in the real world) saying the game isn't going to look or play like the video, Tim and Todd have come armed with code this time around and they're ready to unleash it. Well almost.

"The most important thing to mention at this point is that everything you see from this moment on, as of right now, is all being rendered in real time in the engine on that cream-coloured box right over there." And after a quick prodding Todd lets slip the fact that the cream-coloured box contains a GeForce 4. A card that's going to be available for very little money when the game finally ships in 2003. And that's if you want to play the game with full detail. Apparently the game will play with most detail turned off on a first-generation GeForce card.

With that, Tim Willits double-clicks on the Doom III icon and fires the action up. Moving around the dark, dank corridors he drops a couple of demons in to show off the ultra-realistic character animations. "In most games, characters are just like boxes," says Tim, "but not in Doom III"

Shooting a folically challenged and overweight bit of undead hellspawn, he shows how it reacts as your body would if you'd just been shot between the legs with a shotgun. I'm not talking OTT Soldier Of Fortune-stye dismemberments, but more subtle movements in the body and physical feedback that looks and feels real. You know how bodies in shooters act like they've been poked by David Copperfield? Like when you shoot someone at the top of a flight of stairs and they just float horizontally, held up by their toes, waiting for Debbie McGee to come and point at them in a dramatic fashion? Don't expect to see that in Doom III. In Doom III the body will crumple, slide off the stairs, pick up momentum and crash to the bottom where a limb might fold up behind the back. Or it might get wedged halfway down. Think realism.

The Real Thing

And this realism extends to objects in the world as well, which is a first for id. In previous games, they didn't bother with making the environments interactive. You wouldn't want to push a barrel around in Quake III for example, because you'd just get yourself shot. With Doom III however, it's a different story: it's slower, it's singleplayer and it's going to involve thinking laterally to get yourself through certain situations.

Most of what we've seen of the game so far is set in dark claustrophobic corridors deep in the bowels of Mars, and Todd Hollenshead points out that that's exactly where they want it to stay. "As far as rolling hills and landscapes, that's not what Doom III is about. It's more an intense atmospheric experience." And, where Doom and Doom II impressed you with the sheer number of creatures on screen at any one time, the new philosophy is very different.

"We're not going to try to overwhelm you with lots of stupid monsters," says Todd. "We're not going for 1,000 imps coming at you at once. They're going to be smarter and scary in their own right, as opposed to scary just because there's loads of them." The less is more approach applies to the new engine as well. In the past, engines were judged on the number of polygons they could throw around - the more polys, the more detail, and the better the end result - something which led to European journalists asking the same question: "Und, how many polys are in zis scene?"

In Doom III the emphasis isn't on polys but image fidelity, through the use of multiple texture maps. Stripping the engine down to wireframe mode, Tim Willits shows how a typical Doom III scene is constructed from basic geometry and multiple texture maps. "You take a plain piece of geometry and make it look like it's rusted or corroded or that it has depth and texture, as opposed to doing that with real polygons." It's the sort of stuff we've been banging on about in the Hardware section, but it's the first time we've seen the power of the new graphics chipsets in action. Todd Hollenshead elaborates even further: "It's the same with the characters as well. They appear to your eye as if they're 200 or 300,000 polygons but they're really 2,500 to 3,000.

Fear Factor

And this is what id has always done best. The coders they've got working in their offices are acknowledged as the best in the business, but what about the stuff that's not as quantifiable? What about the Fear Factor? How do they test something as ephemeral as that? Todd Hollenshead looks pleased: "We turn the lights off in our offices and play the game. If we have to go home and change pants then we know it's scary enough." Tim Willits sounds even more confident. "It's not that hard, it's just like making a scary movie." With full six-channel 5.1 Dolby Digital audio (with real-time in-engine mixing as opposed to a soundtrack that doesn't take account of the action in-game), the promise of a proper storyline, the aforementioned visuals and id's heritage -who'd bet against them?

Testimony

Will: This was quite fun for me. since I was the one hosting the game which meant I got exotic things like character animation m my co-op buddies and actually heard their gunfire. Unlike Prez and Jamie who did not. Doom 3's narrow corridors aren't really made for three players either - but ammo and guns are at least limited by the mod to ensure it's not a complete pushover. Monsters disintegrating into thin air while still walking towards you instead of keeling over and dying is another bugbear as well - the whole thing really does feel like a fan-made beta release. Which it is. However, the best moment came when fighting against the guardian in the hell levels. He got confused and instead of smiting our gallant team, just sat there looking grumpy and a lot like the depressed cat that needs baffling in Monty Python's Confuse-a-Cat' sketch. This obviously entailed lots of candid screenshot-takmg of us getting up close with the miffed dark lord of hell. Better than the usual tourist snaps anyway.

Prez: As Will mentioned, hosting Last Man Standing is infinitely preferable to merely joining a game. From the other side of the fence, everyone appeared to be moving on roller skates and their guns inactive, despite the constant hell creature explosions. The lack of gunfire cues made it hard to determine where best to put your own limited ammo supplies, although everyone seemed to be very susceptible to a good torch battering - especially team-mates. Also, a bug meant that the character models for teleporting bad guys would all be visible long before they activated, ruining most of the game's shocks and scares.

There was also an odd side effect with the hell guardian. Aside from remaining motionless, there were two of them. Which you don't see every day. Ultimately, it's an exercise in frustration.

Pissing About Potential: Jumping out of the shadows to try and scare Prez was an amusing aside, especially as the game wasn't very good on that front. Mostly though, nothing beats a good healthy torch fight should you find yourself on a deserted Mars base. The discovery that crouching and shooting a team-mate with the shotgun catapults them across the room also led to much hilarity and impromptu dumping in lava.

Rating: 2/5

When I played Doom 31 got much what I expected: a shooter that wasn't particularly clever or mould-breaking, but one that was hugely atmospheric, very dark, full of technological whizz-bangs and a hell of a lot of fun.

When I played Doom 3 multiplayer, however, I didn't. Id Software (the games company who broke my deathmatch virginity with such effusive grace back in the good old days of Quake) and its map-designing friends at Splash Damage (who were responsible for the excellent Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory) have cooked the books slightly.

Four's A Crowd

Four players, slow pace, five maps, darkened nooks and crannies, a slew of references to former id glories and one or two interesting features per level - far distant from the Arena frag-fests of recent years and with a focus on compact, quality-controlled blasting rather than a huge number of inconsequential maps and features. At first, as they say, it's all gravy. There's plenty of fun to be had, for example, flicking the switches in the Lights Out map, powering down the generator, pulling the shutters down on the windows and stalking around in the darkness. Indeed, hiding in the shadows and blasting a pursuer as he hurtles past is the greatest pleasure that Doom 3 deathmatch affords. Elsewhere there's a welcome return to the hub-trap style of map-making with the skin-shredding Frag Chamber, a few well-placed Berserk modes (hideous screaming included) and some nice features you won't notice instantly - like the power-up in the bowels of the Tomiko Reactor.

We're Doomed

After a while though, you hit a big bloodstained wall. Fun as the map gimmicks are, there's a finite amount of enjoyment that can be squeezed from them. You discover that you can join servers that are running with eight players, and that ups the ante somewhat, but before long it becomes painfully apparent that this is a hugely limited multiplayer package.

Over a LAN I'd say that this is a great game to stick on for an hour or so and shout abuse at each other, against faceless members of the internet community, but the fun ebbs away the more you play it. The future of Doom 3 multiplayer, however, does lie in the modding community. As I type all manner of tweaks are appeanng online offering 32 player insta-deathmatches and the like, and (with an engine this nifty) you can bank on some gems turning up one day or another.

For now, though, you play it much as it was developed - and that's as a side thought. It's fun for a while, but there are bigger, brighter and better things out there. It's not a total disaster, but it's still the most underwhelming multiplayer that we've seen attached to an id product.

Dallas, Texas - the jewel of the Lone Star State. What a godforsaken hellhole. Never before have I been shipped to a bleaker, more soulless place to report on a games event (and yes, that includes Slough and Milton Keynes). Like an antiquated videogame, the city is made of singlepolygon buildings, their mirrored veneers reflecting a sterile scene of deserted roads and too-neat hedges, the sidewalks occupied only by cops and the occasional blurry NPC -probably packing heat.

The sole distinguishing feature is the trademark Texan excess. Outside, temperatures routinely soar above 100°F, while the mercury inside ducks well below freezing in the ludicrously overzealous air-con. Shopping malls are like small cities. Steaks are the size of your average domestic pet. And everywhere is emblazoned the menacing motto of the USA's largest state: 'Don't Mess With Texas'. In a way though, this is what we love about America. The more barren, nasty and crime-ridden a city is, the more thriving the corresponding subcultures usually are. Just look at Washington DC, murder capital of the US, and home to the nation's finest punk-rock scene and some of the finest bands ever created.

In Dallas there are no bands (they're all in neighbouring Austin), but this bland metropolis has another, more relevant claim to fame: it's the world's undisputed capital of the first-person shooter.

Respect The Architect

Ten-some odd years ago, to coin a Texanism, a revolution occurred in games that you may be familiar with. In Mesquite, 20 minutes from Dallas, a bunch of geeks got bored with the primary culture of incest, rodeos and meat drinks and created Wolfenstein 3D, the world's first true FPS. The genre has since held the PC gaming population in thrall for over 10 years, and its godfathers at id Software have remained at the centre of the scene throughout. Other high-profile companies like 3D Realms, Ion Storm, Gearbox and Origin all have their roots in Dallas or nearby Austin, but only id Software creates a fan frenzy big enough to bring thousands of sweaty gamers to Texas every year, 40kg PCs on their backs, to join in a four-day blowout of gaming mayhem.

If you hadn't guessed, the event is QuakeCon, America s biggest LAN party, games convention and prize tournament; a by-the-fans, for-the-fans affair dedicated to the games of the id stable. The event once again took place in Dallas this August, continuing an eight-year tradition of free fragging, partying and sleeping on floors.

As ever, the focus of the show I was the four-day round-the-clock LAN party, or BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer), which took place in a huge ballroom in the sprawling Adam's Mark Hotel. It's unknown if anyone lasted the full 96 hours, though there were certainly a few freakish characters who were keen to try.

Numbers in the BYOC are estimated to have topped 2,000 at peak, the full logistical and hygienic considerations of which are impossible to calculate. Needless to say, the fact that the event coincided with the New York blackout did not escape the attention of worried-looking hotel staff.

Geek Chic

However, as a proud affirmation of geek culture, QuakeCon is unrivalled. Where else could one wear a T-shirt bearing the slogan Will Frag For Sex' and still hold one's head high? Respect is key, and it's not just earned on the virtual battlefield.

Case-modding is de rigueur, and if you don't have a neon light shining out the side of yours then you might as well go home. Extra points are given for doing away with the case altogether, to be replaced with a common industrial or laboratory item, ideally combined with a T-shirt that shows your commitment to the cause. Jokes about Linux are good, or for the true hardcore OG gangsterplayer, you can't go past a QuakeCon 2002 T-Shirt. Anything pre-millennium and you're a goddamned Jedi.

But the real reason we were there was not to enjoy the delights of a 2,000-strong man-fest, but to play Doom 3 and collar the boys from id. We managed both, even sneaking in a few hours playing Call Of Duty (genius). The fruits of our labour can be found on the following pages, so saddle up, strap on some chaps and bathe in the 'adrenalinpumping atmosphere' of the hottest event on the Texan social calendar.

There's No doubting that in terms of pre-release hyperbole, Doom III is currently the biggest game in development, something which has made id Software worried about overexposure. So, to ensure the world wasn't swamped with Doom III material, id released a handful of screenshots with the official word that no more were going to be available until after the New Year. Ironically, a few days later an early version of the code was leaked onto the Internet and downloaded by just about everyone with a fast enough connection.

The illegal alpha contained three levels and is the same demo that was shown off at May's E3. You can wander around Doom's trademark pipe-infested corridors, play with a few of the weapons, shoot a few of the monsters that are scattered around and witness some of the physics and scripting that should lift Doom III above being just another shadowy corridor shooter, but of course it was designed specifically to show off key graphical features rather than be indicative of gameplay itself.

As id's John Carmack himself now famously stated: "Making any judgements from a snapshot intended for a non-interactive demo is ill-advised." Indeed, but it has given the world a slightly better idea of the direction the game is taking. Spooky, claustrophobic, spiked with scripted shock mechanisms, and generally looking - not to mention moving - better than pretty much anything that's gone before. Bring it on.

Gently Now, don't rupture anything, but let out that breath you've been holding for the last three years: Doom 3 is here and it's magnificently, hellishly great.

Before I start up on how and why it's going to blow you away though, we need to spin back three weeks to when I was playing through the original 1993 incarnation of Doom in preparation for this review. At that time, a quizzical young work-expenence lad was sitting to my left with a look of undisguised derision on his face. What do you mean it doesn't look scary?" I screamed. You weren't there! You weren't with us at the start! Didn't you just see those lights going out and those... Those Imps! Jesus! Get out of my sight!"

But how could he ever know? That ball of adrenalin that used to plunge into your diaphragm every time you opened a door, the spawn-twitch' that would kick in every time a light flickered, the suspicion that arose with every casually strewn key or weapon - it may look ropey by today's standards, but while Wolfenstein laid the foundations for first-person gaming. Doom created the blueprint for everything that would follow in its giant cyber-demonic footprints. I was so riled by this kid's innocent id-bashing that I didn't stop shaking and muttering until about three days ago - because three days ago I started to play Doom 3. And I discovered that parts of it are going to eat his ignorant little soul.

Super Shiny

Fact: Doom 3 is the most polished game ever to be released on the PC. It's so well fabricated that you simply cannot see the seams. But despite the incredible graphical technology, sound effects that will thrill and amaze you, scripting that will chill your spine and the most beautifully animated monsters ever seen, this is a marvel that resolutely looks back to the past of PC gaming. Doom 3 is id looking back to its roots and saying: What would we have made back then if we had access to the technology, skills and unlimited piles of cash we have now?" It's a stripped down, no-nonsense shooter that doesn't so much ignore modem gaming conventions as scorns the fact that they even exist. So there's no stealth, no leaning round corners, no sniping and no inventory; no RPG elements, no pretend-clever enemy Al, no complicated, open-ended objectives, no alternate firing modes, no drivable vehicles and no mock realism. Of course, there's story, characters, events and environments that have all the hallmarks of a great contemporary shooter. However, in terms of basic gameplay, the only extra keys added since Quake II are for getting out your torch and frantically jabbing at the sprint button. This is back to basics stuff, but they're basics that still work well.

Calm Down

So then, plot. The UAC is a nasty global corporation that wields so much power that the boundaries of morality no longer act as a barrier to its machinations, with a wipe-clean sheen of rules, regulations, no-smoking areas and safety procedures to protect its image. Its Mars base is an isolated outpost where the UAC's most brilliant - and most notorious - scientist Doctor Betruga can research whatever he pleases: be it teleportation, strange emanations coming from the depths of the facility or an intriguing mixture of both. You are a raw marine employed by the UAC, and your first 15 minutes on the base sees you wandering around Freeman-style, gawking at the stunningly presented (and realistically grimy) military outpost, before being sent off on the trail of a missing scientist.

Unfortunately, Betruga has been dabbling in things he shouldn't, and once the game's roaming preamble comes to a close, guess what: all hell breaks loose. (And yes - in the grand tradition of Doom reviews through the ages - we do mean literally.) Lost Souls dive in and out of computer screens, your radio becomes jammed with cries of pain and shouts for help, the outpost becomes shrouded in darkness and the civilians and soldiers of the Mars base become mindless automatons who live only to serve the will of hell. Oh, and to eat your brain.

Thrills And Spills

Doom 3's action starts as it means to go on - it's brutal, intensely scary and plays with all manner of lighting effects and sound trickery to shock you into a sense of total insecunty. These opening chapters are as tense as they are technologically dazzling. They set you up as some sort of sci-fi John McLean, with your gruff sergeant barking in your ear while zombies lurch out of the shadows as you get to grips with the amazing interface.

When I say that Doom 3 is polished, I don't just mean the lush visuals, id's massive clout means that its come under none of the publisher pressure that usually forces developers to throw barely-working code into the wilderness with a promise that it'll patch the invisible shotgun bug in a month or two.

Five years of tweaking have paid off: Doom 3 not only plays flawlessly, but the way the interface system binds it all together is an absolute triumph. Bear witness to the way in which walking up to a computer console sees your gun lowered and leaves you free to click around the screen in the way that you'd use a real computer. It's a simple, yet devastatingly effective advance on the normal tap E to turn off nuclear reactor approach.

Meanwhile, your PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) does the job of your normal Tab-located objective screen, but also downloads all the data available on the PDAs of the base's dead and undead. So, where you once picked up keys, you now download security access passes, as well as viewing UAC infommercials and browsing through personal emails. This may sound strange in a no-holds-barred shooter like Doom, but these emails add a lot of back-story to the locations you're battling in and contain a convenient amount of highly useful codes that help you open lockers of ammunition.

Chuckle Bunny

There's also some hit-and-miss laughs to be had lurking in the personal notes of the deceased, and you might even spot a thinly veiled reference to The Office when one Brent Davis gets an email from Finchy concerning an upcoming quiz night. More seriously though, the cleverness of Carmack's code enables you to listen to victims' private Star Trek-style audio logs, and (instead of forcing you to stare at a menu screen while you do this), keeps them running in the background while you explore the local vicinity and riddle Satan's minions with bullets.

Jeepers Creepers

Doom 3 also holds the record for making me jump out of my seat the most: five jumps, as opposed to Far Cry's three and Thief: Deadly Shadow's two. This included one absolutely text-book is it dead?' moment where I near had a coronary. It's fair to say, however, that this scary ambience ebbs and flows, perhaps because continued exposure to hell numbs you somewhat.

Personally, I reckon this is a game where you have to give to receive; and whenever I found that I was just going through the motions of running and shooting, I made a policy of saving my game and giving myself a cool-off period. If you're not in the right frame of mind to play Doom 3, you won't get the best of it - it's a game that must be played alone, in the dark, with the sound turned up and with your full attention.

Then again, even the more cynically minded will at some point come across a corridor that, well, just bodes badly. The background noise subtly changes, the lighting looks slightly different and the walls seem more penned in. These . are all efforts to put you on edge, made all the more worrying by the growls of a nearby pinky demon. It's at these points that Doom 3 hits its peaks, aided and abetted by the worrying fact that you can't hold your torch and gun at the same time - and delivering a demon a quick blow to the head from a plastic light source won't have the same effect as a shotgun blast to the face.

Sitting Pretty

In terms of baddies, let's just say the gang's all here: Imps, ArchViles, Revenants, Lost Souls - it's like we never left! Or rather: it's like we left, watched technology progress for 11 years, came back and then scooped our jaw from the ground before it got eaten by a huge, slavering pinky demon whose animation is the most amazing thing I've ever seen in a PC game. Call me a fanboy, but seeing Doom's flat poo-brown Imp turned into a wall-crawling, chasm-leaping, fireball hurling 3D works of art is a dream come true.

Fundead!

Lost Souls meanwhile, previously the most rubbish monsters in Doom, have become open-mouthed heads of fire that hurtle towards you screaming at frightening speeds. And as for the new boys - well, the weird spiderhead things are cool - but when you see the Cherubs in action... Jesus Christ! Halfmoth, half-baby: all good. Then you've got your bosses, which I won't ruin for you, but suffice to say that by the time you've gone to hell and back, your competition has grown to some quite colossal sizes.

My only complaint here is perhaps that some of the children of hell are a tad too easy to kill on the default difficulty setting, specifically a few of the bosses and the pinky demon. However, when you're also trying to fend off five headspiders who're trying to bite off your kneecaps, it's not something you worry about.

My main issue about the game however, is the old chestnut of variety. Doom 3 took me around 17 hours to complete - although you could stretch it to 20. Within this, id operates a well-paced dripfeed of monsters and weapons - just as your attention is about to flag, it throws in something new and amazing for you to kill. This could be a rocket-toting Revenant perhaps or a terrifying Spider Queen; or it could also draft in a collection of badness from earlier in the game that's even more fun to kill with your recently-acquired heavy-duty armaments.

This all works well, but the locations you fight in can get pretty samey - it's fascinating to watch the outpost slowly becoming more infected by the tendrils of hell, but the environments you fight in often blur into one another. Reactors, laboratories, teleportation centres, engineering levels, communication turrets: they all sound different, but I did get lost a few times. Whereas in a game like Far Cry you can boot up a level and instantly know where you are, Doom 3 has so many areas comprised simply of Generic Sci-Fi Corridor and Ducts: model A' that you can grow tired of them.

Play It Again

I'd also question how much replay value there is, because Doom 3 couldn't be much more linear or reliant on clever scripting if it tried. Every now and then you're given a decision to make that shifts the goalposts of the story for a half-hour or so, but any indication of player power on the game is shallow and illusory. As for Al, well, as I've explained, clever-clever hunting and demonic teamwork isn't really what Doom 3 is aiming for. So, despite delivering thrilling firefights, one bout of violence pans out much like another, and a few villains (namely gun-toting zombies) aren't half as much fun to fight as you might have hoped.

These moans are what make Doom 3, for me, lag just slightly behind Far Cry, a game that offers consistently exhilarating experiences and provides for more variety of gameplay styles. That said, Doom 3 remains a ground-breaking and amazing piece of work. It's a game that recognises just how many amazing technologies it's running beneath its bonnet, yet refuses to jam any of them in the spotlight. Instead, it meshes them together into an amazingly cohesive whole that reels you in further than you ever thought possible.

Occasionally, you just stop the mayhem and stare at the distorted body of a bloody zombie refracted through a bent pane of glass, or listen to the baleful screams of a tortured soul reverberating around the complex. Sometimes, you just stand open-mouthed over a glistening tentacle while you listen to it oozing through a metal grate: I guarantee you'll have trouble believing that a machine that you own is capable of something so astounding. And when you get to hell itself, here's a tip - look up and watch the swirling skies, then tell me that Doom 3 isn't something special.

Back To The Future

To be honest, some people may not get' Doom 3 as I did -an awareness of the heritage of PC gaming and an element of fanboyism helps in its appreciation. The Xbox crowd, for example, may be confused by Imps hiding in unrealistic hidden compartments right next to conveniently placed racks of ammunition, while the cultural significance of the inclusion of the chainsaw may bypass more recent converts to the halls of PC gaming.

If you've bought this magazine though, it's a fair bet that you, like me, are going to love it. And even if you wouldn't know a shotgun from a BFG (which makes a more than welcome reappearance), any idiot can see the appeal of Imps leaping out of staircases, standing silhouetted by a blinding light before bounding into the shadows to wait for you around the corner, or diving through just-opened doors intent on opening your stomach.

As the News Of The World might say, Doom 3 is a stunning roller coaster ride to hell and back. Its pleasures are tempered only by a few lapses in variety as the game progresses, thereby being pipped to the post by the exhilaration and exploration of Far Cry - but this is still gaming at its most vital.

Of course, two of the holy shooter trinity have now materialised and turned up trumps, so what's next? The curtain's up, the knives are drawn and, as of right now, the cards are on the table. Gordon Freeman, it's time to see if you can dance.

It's surprising exactly how much enjoyment you can get out of a game that doesn't seem to offer much in the way of good gameplay. To put it at its most simple, Doom 3 is a good game for the Xbox, even in light of an overworked, repetitive feel, that at times can come off as a fancy technology demo.

You're a Marine. On Mars. It's going to Hell. That's basically it, and even if you don't know the rest, there's nothing much more to tell than that. Along the way you'll use a series of weapons that are standard fare and mostly boring, and levels that are a slog through linear land. Multiplayer is small and not so great, but at least the game comes with an online co-op feature, which is something even the great Halo 2 didn't have. That said, at least it can be frightening, and that's mostly thanks to how pretty it looks.

Fight demons, get the big guns, and watch some of the prettiest graphics on the Xbox delight and fright. In particular, Doom 3 has been lauded and criticized for its choice of lighting effects. On one hand, the game is so dark that you've got to wonder how much in the way of graphical flaws that covers up, not to mention how frustrating it can be to switch between weapon and flashlight. With the other hand, you can marvel at how outstandingly creepy this game is, with dark spaces, strobiscopic effects, and monsters that come out of the walls to eat you.

The audio only helps build the chilling atmosphere, and in the end, helps give it some of the frightening body that most people want from a more horror driven title. I haven't had as good of a scare since I played Clive Barker's Undying for the PC. All in all, this is a good title, but it does suffer in that it isn't the gameplay you're paying attention to, it's the scuttling thing in the dark. Enjoy.

Set a course for hell, space marine--the Satan-obsessed shooter that started it all is about to plunge back into the pit. Doom 3 ditches the pentagrams and tacky bogeymen of past installments for a date with true terror. This time, the tension is palpable as you confront critters in claustrophobic corridors--walking cadavers clutching their exposed bowels and burst eyeballs, imps skittering through ventilation shafts, and hulking hellknights out to tear you in two are among the game's demonic menagerie. Along with more gruesome monsters, slower, less-predictable pacing heightens Doom's fear factor. In the dark, sometimes your own shadow is all it takes to scare you.

Doom 3 is a study in duality: dark and light, demons and hero, good game and bad one. Taken strictly as a cinematic experience, the remake of the original Doom excels. It grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until you're through the game. It's a terror ride of frighteningly realistic visual effects, stunning lighting and ambient noise piped straight from hell. But if you manage to look beneath the skin of this frightener you'll find sub par artificial intelligence, a laughable plot, and the same play mechanics found in the now very dated original.

The devil isn't just in this game, it's also in the details and id seems to have forgotten that fact. For instance, there's no peeking in Doom 3. You also can't seem to manage holding a flashlight and gun at the same time. In addition, the game sends you back and forth through the labyrinth-like corridors of Doom so many times you actually come close to being able to find way around. I know it sounds like I'm nitpicking, but all of these little annoyances start to add up and by the middle of the game you start to ponder them as you blast the hyper-realistic beasties that assail you.

My biggest complaint with Doom 3 is in the multiplayer. id created multiplayer first-person shooters and through the years have advanced it considerably, what's been included in this game is almost insulting. You can play deathmatch, you can play team deathmatch, you can play free for all. In other words you can run around blasting each other and that's it. Worse still - you can only do this with 8 people. No I'm not talking about the console version; Doom 3 the pc game has an 8-person limit.

Don't get me wrong, Doom 3 is a masterfully created experience, a virtual haunted house of scares and boogiemen, just don't expect anything deeper. This review may come off as a bit harsh, but Doom 3 truly is a fantastic game to play in the single player mode ' offering up enough scares for a month of sleepless nights. The multiplayer mode, while flawed, is still quite enough to keep you busy until someone comes out with a capture the flag mod.

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