HBK619's Doom 3 Review
+ Scary Moments
+ Atmosphere / Music
+ Difficulty Levels
- Easy Objectives
- Scare Tactics
- Level Design
- Game play
I'll start by saying that D00M III on Xbox is much different to the PC version. The game is similar, although certain levels have been redesigned to eliminate tiresome backtracking. However, the key aspects of difference are the co-op which is available online and offline, and the Collector's Edition. The Collector's Edition is where the game really begins to pack some value. The additional features, for just a few dollars more are Ultimate D00M and D00M II, in all their glory, single player, co-op and death match. Furthermore, concept art and a small documentary on D00M III is also thrown in. This as a whole makes the entire package much more complete, as you can play through the entire series, and learn a bit about the history of the franchise. So, if you are thinking of purchasing D00M III on Xbox, Collector's Edition is undeniably the only way to go. Although it would have been nice if they threw in the D00M III expansion pack, I'm quite satisfied with what they did add in.
Much controversy has arisen from this game as it dared to be different. Most FPS fans will know that in dark areas you need a flashlight, but of course, you can't release the safety of your firearm. Games such as Halo and Half Life 2 allow you to have a flashlight on any weapon, but here is where the controversy begins. In D00M III, you have to make a choice - use the flashlight to see your path and know where the enemies are, or hold on tightly to your weapon and fight blind. Many people have criticised this as you need to constantly swap between the two, but I think it's pure genius. The scare factor is much higher when you know anything could be lurking in the dark. You'll become so anxious and paranoid; you'll switch to your flashlight to survey the area. Then BOOM! An imp appears from no where and starts hurling fireballs at you. They strike you and nearly send you flying into the wall. You'll fumble with your flashlight, looking around to find your attacker, and once spotted; you pull out your shotgun and give it a shell right between the eyes. This creates a huge amount of tension, and creates two camps of players. Those who want to see quickly, and those who want to be able to fire their weapons quickly. You may not agree with me, but you have to come to the game with an open mind to the concept, and you'll find it much better than you may have initially feared. To compensate somewhat, your torch can always be on without ever having to wait for it to recharge, and it in itself is a powerful mêlée weapon when you are all out of ammo.
Speaking of weapons, they are superb in this game. While there's no genre defining weapons like there was in the previous iterations of the D00M franchise, every weapon handles differently, and every weapon sounds well and has a time and place to use it. The only downside is that the weapons have been created for a wide array of different environments, but as almost every fire fight is in a dark room or hallway, you can quite easily run through the game with just the shotgun. However, there's the freedom to use a variety of great weapons if you want to, so the game must be given credit for that. Grenades have their own weapon slot, which you may either love or hate. Personally, I'd rather they could be mapped to the left trigger, so you can pull one out while you're still holding a weapon, blow up a hoard of enemies, and then quickly shoot a straggler without having to do too much weapon swapping. The controls for weapon swapping have been handled well - the four directions of the d-pad is where you store your four favourite weapons for quick access, and the action buttons can be used to cycle through your entire inventory of weapons.
Although not new, a nice weapon is one of the oldest but still the greatest mêlée weapons of all time - the chainsaw. Whether the sound of the chain blade searing flesh, or grinding against a wall, with sparks flying in every direction, this weapon is great for conserving ammo and decimating slow moving targets to ultimate satisfaction. I will never get tired of walking through a wave of enemies clawing at my face, standing tall and brandishing a chainsaw, with no care at all of my personal safety. Yes this weapon does deserve a special mention, simply because of how great it is.
The game was designed to make you wet yourself, and at some moments in nearly will. Walking through a dark and what you thought was empty hallway, quivering with a flashlight in your hand, as your try hard to keep it still, and listening to groans and cackling laughs from all around you with 5.1 surround sound throws you head first into a horror movie scene, and sets you up to scare you without mercy. Then, you'll hear the floorboards creak, spin around to see one of the tiles of the floor slide across, you'll then equip your shotgun and aim at the opening of the hole, only to be mauled from behind at a rapidly charging and fierce monster. These are the moments which will give you nightmares and scare you to no end. That being said, most of the scare tactics involve imps spawning behind you, things charging right at you, or other enemies coming out of the darkness. Sure, it's great to start with, but when these tactics are still the same at the end of the game, it becomes quite tiresome rather than scary. Another annoying little aspect this creates are a whole series of small alcoves throughout the maps where the demons lay, and spring from when you cross an invisible trip wire. Then, after you have cleared a room, you check each one, as it looks like a passageway, only to find a small empty area. However, credit must be paid to the developers for occasionally leaving some supplies in these, making you want to check every one instinctively, and one out of fifty will have a static demon there, who stares at you just as you turn around into the alcove, then dives straight at your face while you are changing from flashlight to shotgun. However, these superbly crafted moments are rare, but would have helped to make the game a few notches higher on the scare scale if they had of been implemented with more variety and dispersed better across the course of the campaign mode.
Another aspect which may just make you mess your pants in a different manner is the visuals. These, on a standard definition TV in the era of High Def, will blow your mind. Ever texture is crisp, each weapon is beautifully moulded, blood splattered on walls will leave carnage even after the zombies and demons have been vaporised. That, combined with the great atmospheric music and sound effects really makes this game shine out above other generic first person shooters. While the game play revolves around basically a 10 year old concept of following a path, finding keys to open doors, killing anything you can see with any weapon you can find, and then moving forward, it really feels satisfying to do so in such great visuals, conveniently disguising the fact that you're playing through a game you've played through so many other times, all by different names, but which you know the feel of all too well. Every environment feels the same, each hallway and each dark corner feels like the one you just walked away from. Not only can this lead to confusion; but subsequent boredom. However, great visuals and weapons ease the plain and monotony.
This brings me to another major downer of the game; the storyline. Sure, it's never really important during an action packed game like this, as it resembles a porno: who cares why it's happening, as long as the action is good. Small titbits of information are thrown at you from all the PDAs you are forced to find, often simply for an access clearance to the next area. These PDAs often contain useless rubbish such as a report that there have been some freak outs, but reading this in text doesn't quite do the same as seeing it in a cut-scene or in real time. The audio logs all lack fluency, and sound like a bad actor reading straight off a sheet in a recording booth. The only thing useful you may ever receive is the access codes for a storage cabinet. Another unfortunate aspect on feeling forced upon to read through personal messages, irrelevant messages and spam messages is how you have to constantly pause your game to access your PDA, and use it's clumsy navigation to find your way through your messages and assorted basic functions. Another thing the PDA tells you are your objectives. However, you never really need to look at these as they are all pointless and frighteningly easy. Most simply instruct you to arrive at some area, which you can do by following the set out linear path and killing all that comes between you and the next door, even if the objective mentions something else, heading in a straight direction and clearing out each area as you approach it usually gets the objective completed easily without your knowledge.
There are things which D00M III does right. There are a variety of different difficulty levels, each unique and providing it's own challenges. The A.I of mindless zombies is identical to how a real life zombie would behave, and vicious demons will charge at you if only for the scare factor. Marines will demonstrate some clever behaviour, taking cover, approaching you from behind and in the dark, which is nice to see. Saving has also been taken care of well, there are no checkpoints, you simply save when you feel like it. This caters for all tastes, those who want to play, and save their progress come what may at the end of each gaming session, as well as those nervous chaps who like to save every 30 seconds to ensure they won't have to repeat any section of the game.
The game will take approximately 20 hours to complete, but you probably won't feel like playing through it again, or at least; not by yourself. No one's claiming these 20 hours are enjoyable or well varied, but at least there is some meat to the campaign, and it's not all over before you can even blink.
Then, you'll head to the multiplayer action. Yes, while it's here; there's not much to see which hasn't already been done much better by other games. If you haven't played FPS games online much, you may find it a treat, but if you've played any amount of them, it's nothing more than some short lived amusement. Online co-op is probably the best part of online, as you can socialise with a stranger, while playing through a modified campaign with them. This is a campaign with twice the amount of enemies, dual security clearances, wider hallways and dual supplies - in short, co-operative play done right.
Looking at the core elements and game play makes it hard to really recommend this game when it's competing with games like Halo 2's online and Half-Life 2's single player campaign, but this game is a great thrill to play, with superb sound and visuals, co-op, some online play, a reasonable campaign, and a bundle of extra goodies if you pick up the collector's edition. The ambiance is an acquired taste which will ultimately determine how much you like the game; so rent first, then decide.
4.5 - Presentation
5.0 - Graphics
5.0 - Sound
3.0 - Gameplay
3.5 - Lasting Appeal
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