This review caused some controversy back when I wrote it, frankly I don't care to discuss it anymore. So just read:
Doom needs no introduction. Why? Well, because itís Doom! Arguably the most influential FPS of all time, it wasnít the first, but it did pretty much propel the genre ahead like no other. Doom was not only an exceptional game, but was also infamous because of the excessive gore and satanic backdrops. Doom then spawned Doom II, Ultimate Doom and then Final Doom, which was the last Doom game until a Macworld demo in 2001 shocked the world and let us all know that Doom was back. From the moment I saw Doom 3 and the gameís emphasis on horror, I couldn't help but think, "This isnít Doom, not the Doom I knowĒ. However, I had faith in id, but was my faith misguided?
Doom, and id games in general, never placed much emphasis on a story, and Doom 3 is no different. Doom 3 is actually supposed to be a remake of the first Doom game with more of an emphasis placed on story this time around, but itís still very simple and very forgettable, albeit a bit more fleshed out now. Youíre still a space marine on Mars and you still kill anything thatís not human, as well as things that used to be human. In Doom 3, there is a brief introduction and on your first mission, all hell breaks loose, literally.
Well, for the Xbox version, id and Vicarious Visions decided to make Doom a turn based card battle game, just kidding. Doomís still an FPS game and you still kill a lot of demons. One of the main things youíll notice is that the game is a lot slower than it used to be. The emphasis is now placed on trying (emphasis on ďtryingĒ) to scare you. There may have been some disturbing imagery used in Doom, back in the day, but I wouldnít consider it a horror game, like I would with Doom 3. The overall gameplay is somewhat similar to the original Doom, you go around shooting demons and unlocking doors, although you use a PDA instead of card keys. The story progresses through PDA information you pick up, which can also give you clues on how to open storage lockers and other various things. Your PDA will also inform you about various notes and keypad numbers as you progress. You can also read more on the story if you want, but really, the main thing it does is break up the action. You face a great deal of Hellís minions, including some who are from the original game, such as imps, possessed soldiers, hell-knights and cacodemons. While Doom 3 has the atmosphere for a great, horrific game, it unfortunately falls flat in many categories.
I knew placing the bulk of the gameplay on horror was a bad idea from the start, but it really doesnít help Doom 3 in any way. I honestly didnít find Doom 3 scary in the slightest, playing in the dark, adding to the mood did nothing for me, yet I was scared playing Fatal Frame II on a sunny day. I was slightly startled when the first imp jumped out at me, got right in my face and started slashing me, but after that, it just became tedious. The entire gameplay is literally walking down a poorly lit corridor (more on this later), seeing enemies that spawn in or jump out and then shooting them, thatís it. About halfway through the game, there was no change, I was just walking down and shooting whatever lame enemy jumped out at me, until I got to an escort mission, where I had to walk with someone and shoot the lame enemies that spawned in. The gameplay is incredibly stale and lacks any sense of variation. All of the enemies are a lot like the level design, flat-out boring. Not only do the enemies lack any unique or distinct features, but theyíre all pretty much a dull grey color, like the levels. For most of the game, youíre in small, cramped corridors, that do have a distinct industrial feel, but it gets old, very, very fast. Itís really hard to write much about the gameplay, when itís all basically the same stuff over and over again. The first hour barely differs from the next few hours, youíre still walking slowly and shooting the same boring enemies that pop out at you with the same boring weapons. One thing I really didnít like was that many times itís hard to find out where youíre being shot from. The guns, as a whole, lack a much needed ďoomphĒ, which couldíve immensely helped the immersion factor. You do get some cooler weapons later on, such as the awesome chainsaw and others that I wonít spoil, but itís really too little, too late. It also doesnít help that the combat further takes you out of the experience, as itís not very engaging or immersive. It doesnít feel as if youíre shooting anything, because the guns feel weak and disassociate you from the experience.
I mentioned earlier that Doom 3 has poorly lit corridors, which leads to one of the biggest complaints that people had with Doom 3, the lighting. Sure, the lighting is technically great and looks nice, but the levels are dark nearly all the time, which is where your flashlight comes in. Now, youíd think a rugged space marine, who has to save the universe would be able to get a gun with a flashlight on it, or have one on his uniform, but nope. In one of the worst decisions known to man, you have to switch between the flashlight and the gun, and if youíre wondering why this isnít in any other game, play Doom 3 and youíll quickly realize why. It was stated that the switching between the flashlight to the gun was made to add tension, but all it really does is irritate you. Itís not scary when something in the pitch black is attacking you, while you fumble to put your flashlight away (you can hit them with it, but itís just as useless as the pistol), because all it will do is annoy you. Itís bad enough that your character walks like heís stuck in molasses, but to not be able to see anything just serves to further aggravate you. Since this is on the Xbox, thereís no quick mod to download to add a flashlight to the gun, so you can either endure, or play in co-op and force a buddy to hold the light for you. Sounds like fun, doesnít it?
Doom 3 is the second Xbox game to feature online and system linked co-op play (after the very recent Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory), mainly because the game was too technically demanding for splitscreen co-op. For Xbox users, the main draw of the game is the co-op play, which is pretty good, I mean, not only can you be bored, but you can share the boredom with a friend! Co-op is just as you imagine it, instead of one person walking around poorly lit corridors, shooting enemies that pop out, you have two people doing it. With the co-op, you can select any level and start from there, but since most levels are pretty much the same, it doesnít really matter where you start. One nice thing is that the loading isnít very long, nor is it very frequent, which keeps the ďactionĒ going at a good pace. There is also the easily forgettable four player multiplayer on the PC version that made the transition to Xbox. The real question is why would you even want to play this gameís multiplayer? Even though you do move faster, the multiplayer offers nothing innovative to drag you away from much better multiplayer experiences, it just seems like an afterthought in this game.
Iím really amazed that the Xbox version sports graphics that are comparable to the PC version. This is a great looking title, but itís most likely because youíre indoors nearly all the time. Doom 3 looks great, plain and simple. The environments are highly detailed, purveying a dark, dirty, industrial feel. The game looks terrific, but the reason it can look so great is that youíre in small cramped arenas for most of the experience, which is nowhere near as technically demanding or as entertaining as a large outdoor level. Most of the levels look the same and the character and enemy models stop being impressive pretty quickly, as theyíre all quite generic. The satanic imagery has returned as well in full force, so if youíre sensitive you should know that there are quite a few pentagrams; one is even used as a loading icon. The levels, as boring as they may be, do look very impressive and this is still one of the best looking games on the Xbox. You can really see what the Xbox is capable of with this game, and the Hell based levels look the most impressive, thanks to all the fire and lighting effects.
The audio is easily one of the best parts of Doom 3, as the atmosphere and immersion is owed almost entirely to it. Hearing screams or growls around you and not knowing where theyíre coming from is great, and adds quite a bit to a game that needs all the help it can get. The ambient sound effects really help purvey the scary atmosphere that the game wants to provide. On the music side of things, you get some decent rock tunes that seem to improve the action and make things seem faster and more intense. Voice acting is also well done, and the gruff marines sound like one would expect them too. It helps create a believable experience. The sound effects of Doom 3 are some of the best out there.
I was truly surprised that Doom 3 controlled so well on the Xbox. Its slow nature works in its favor here, making dual thumbsticks just as good as a mouse and keyboard. Itís very easy to aim in this game and aim precisely for that matter, much easier than many other games as a matter of fact. Like you probably expected, Doom 3 controls just like Halo, and consequently, like every other Xbox FPS. You can assign weapons to the d-pad, for quick access (especially good after having the flashlight out) and Y and B will switch to your previous and next weapons respectively. White is the annoying flashlight while Black is the PDA, which youíll be using frequently since much of the game is based around it.
I can honestly say that Iím not going to touch the single player of this game again. If this was the PC version, itíd be marked down a lot in this category, but this isnít the PC version and there is co-op play. The four player multiplayer is nothing special and probably wonít take much time from you, especially with so many superior online games out there. So, the biggest feature and probably the gameís only real saving grace is the co-op, since it makes the game a bit more fun than trudging through the game by yourself. Granted, there are much better co-op games out there, like Halo, Serious Sam and TimeSplitters, but Doom 3 being online or system linked can either help or hurt it, depending on the player mainly. It really doesnít make all that great of a co-op game anyway, because there arenít a ton of enemies thrown at you simultaneously, itís just a couple of guys that pop out. Still, the co-op means that you have to play the mediocre story mode again and thatís not really something on the top of my ďto doĒ list. Despite all the (average) online features, your likelihood of replaying Doom 3 is pretty low.
The best way to sum up this game is that itís very disappointing. With games such as Halo, Far Cry, Brothers in Arms, Riddick, and especially Half-Life 2 pushing an otherwise stagnant genre forward, it just plain sucks when big name games like Doom 3 come out and are nothing but a huge letdown. Sure, Doom 3 looks, sounds, and controls great, but all those things canít help when the main game is a chore to play. The player and enemy models look good graphically, but theyíre also boring and generic, offering nothing in the way of innovation. Why do I need to hold the flashlight? Isnít there any duct tape on Mars? I really, really hated having to hold the flashlight separately, because you canít even hold the pistol when your flashlightís out. id Software placed the emphasis on horror, but I didnít find the game scary at all as their version of "horror" is repeatedly throwing the same old stuff at you. Doom 3 is not intense, nor is it immersive. Once youíve shot one boring demon, youíve shot them all. If you decide not to heed this warning and absolutely must have this game, at least get the Collectorís Edition because the original Doom and Doom II are included with co-op and splitscreen deathmatch. At least then you might have some fun with your game. If youíre morbidly curious, you can rent this game and beat it within a rental period, as itís really not all that long.
I can 100% guarantee that if the Doom name was not attached to this game, no one would pay this repetitive game any attention and it would hit the bargain bin like it deserves. Doom 3 is not a terrible game, Iíve played many worse FPS games before, but itís not a good game either. Itís a boring and tedious game that has nice graphics. So, unless youíre out of sleeping medication, Iíd advise you to skip this one. In all seriousness, Doom 3 is essentially walking down poorly lit, cramped corridors, shooting whatever pops out at you, rinse and repeat, and thatís it. Variation must not be in the dictionary over at id, because unless you have the attention span of a goldfish this sub-par game will seem awfully repetitive awfully quick.
Gameplay - 6.8
Graphics - 9.6
Audio - 9.4
Control - 9.5
Reply - 7.4
Overall - 7.3