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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Vicarious Visions
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-4
April 04, 2005
Doom 4

Doom 4

Doom 4

Doom II


More in this Series
 Written by Nick Doukas  on May 02, 2005

Second Opinion: In space, no one can hear you scream ? Mommy!!

fear, n.

1.) A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
2.) A reason for dread or apprehension

Doom 3 for Xbox has arrived. The stellar PC update to Id's flagship title is absolutely spot-on in its console debut, as developer Vicarious Visions has created something far greater than a mere port here, and instead crafted a seamless, smoothly flowing adventure full of insane visuals and audio that simply drips with frightening atmosphere. Crank up the HDTV, turn up the 5.1, turn out the lights, and get ready for pants wetting terror?

Doom 3 follows the basic plot from the original game, though this modern retelling is certainly more substantial than that. As a nameless marine, you arrive at a Mars research facility run by a conglomerate known as the Union Aerospace Corporation. Things are not well here, as scores of workers and other inhabitants of the base are exhibiting signs of strange behavior, and illness runs rampant. It's subtle, but the feeling that all Hell (no pun intended) is about to break loose here is captured nicely in the opening moments of D3. As the intro rolls, you'll get geared up (just a pistol at first, but there's plenty more firepower coming) meet with your superiors, and prepare to take on your first assignment ? locating a missing scientist down in the sub-tunnels running under the base. Yea ? if this sounds like a recipe for disaster, you'd be right!! Seems the research here has been ethically questionable at best, and in fact a portal that leads directly to Hell has been inadvertently opened by the meddling staff. Obviously, it doesn't go well from this point forth.

Doom 3 is a throwback to the original corridor-crawl, all spruced up in new millennium technology. It's a carnival funhouse, a haunted mansion, and the thrills found within are mostly high shock value spook-show material, equal parts Evil Dead and Alien, with a smattering of HellRaiser thrown in for good measure. As the hero Marine, you'll make your way through the overrun base with a healthy assortment of cool guns in tow. The shotgun is a great close quarters weapon (and a lot of the fighting will be done close enough to smell the fetid breath of the truly repulsive demons and other assorted beasties) but there are situations that call for arms with greater range. You're covered there as well, with everything from a cool plasma rifle to a machinegun available for busting the asses of Hell's legions. Chaingun, pistol, chainsaw (yea, that's fun)?it's all there, including the infamous BFG. Collecting health and armor is standard here as well. Other interactive elements in the dark, claustrophobic environments create a sense of immersion, such as the PDA's of fallen scientists and security officers that you'll find scattered about. These are primary sources of information on everything from door & locker codes to base operations, and they're extremely well implemented, seamlessly working into the storyline.

Once things truly get under way, you'll be attacked by all manner of hellish denizens, and the eerie sounds, dark and constricted environments, and surprise attacks from every angle will have you on the edge of your seat throughout the roughly 15 hour adventure. The character models of the monsters look fantastic, lovingly rendered with perfect attention to detail, and their animations are frighteningly realistic. Witness the first time an Imp rips a steel door off its frame and charges at you hissing and screeching ? good stuff to be sure, and quite possibly a pants changing experience ( as I advised earlier -Doom 3 is best enjoyed alone, in the dark, on a big screen HDTV with the surround sound filling every corner of the room). As you continue through the base, you'll come upon areas where Hell has literally broken through the actual structure itself, with deep, molten pits below, and disgusting, H.P Lovecraft style ?Ancient Ones? - huge tentacles oozing up and pulsing through the cracks in the walls and floors. You'll face the aforementioned Imps, as well as Zombies, CacoDemons, HellKnights, Revenants (watch out for those rockets launchers) and the half cybernetic Pinky-Demon ? plus several other agents of Satan as you progress further into the facility ? eventually taking the fight straight into Hell itself. And?.that's about the size of it. Make no mistake, Doom 3 is all about the atmosphere, and one shouldn't expect it to be a tactical shooter like Halo. It's designed to be a dark, creepy trip through the underworld, and the battles are mostly all brutal, visceral in your face fights against vicious monsters that jump out and scream boo, and then try to tear you wide open. As I stated earlier ? Doom 3 is a funhouse ? nothing more, nothing less. However, what it does present is very, very well executed. As a game of pure horror, it fires on all cylinders.

Visually, Doom 3 is almost without equal. Despite lower resolutions than the ultimate PC rig, on an HDTV running in 480p, the game looks simply stunning. The lighting and shadow effects are absolutely mind-boggling, and every texture and model found throughout the game is razor sharp and ultra-detailed. As well the aural presentation is unparalled, with incredible clarity and perfectly placed effects helping to create the awesome atmosphere and complimenting the superb visuals with equally perfect sound. The voice acting hits a similar highpoint, and the music is appropriate, if somewhat unremarkable. As part of its fear factor, Doom 3 forces you to switch between your currently equipped weapon and your flashlight (accomplished with a simple button press) ? in other words, in the particularly dark areas, you'll be momentarily unarmed as you sweep your lantern into corners and under desks. This is a phenomenal gameplay mechanic that ratchets up the tension even more, and the first time you fumble from light to gun and hastily blow away some freak you'll be hooked. There were complaints from PC gamers regarding this (leading to the now well known Duct Tape mod); however since Doom 3 for Xbox has been lightened up a bit it's less of a constant issue here. In addition, the developers have streamlined some of the game to create better balance for a console shooter, and the inclusion of co-op mode (where you can fight through a modified version of the single player campaign with a friend via Live or LAN) really improves the experience, and effectively illustrates the level of dedication that was lavished on this version of the game.

The multiplayer mode is fun, but nothing to write home about. It's a simple 4 player DM scenario, and while the maps are cool and the action frenetic, it's really not very ornate or detailed, and there's no kind of depth that will keep it in your drive like Halo 2. That said, it's an interesting and enjoyable distraction, but don't expect much more.

The collector's edition of D3 contains behind the scenes footage and a making of vignette, as well as developer interviews and concept art. However, the serious extras here are fully playable versions of Ultimate Doom and Doom 2, reproduced in all of their horribly pixilated glory. They're great fun to run through again, and should hit gamers right in the ?ole nostalgia bone.

Bottom Line
Doom 3 is a consummate single player experience that shouldn't be missed by FPS or action/horror fans. The mood is captured exquisitely and the cutting-edge technology really sells the experience like never before. Without hesitation I can say it's one of the best looking and sounding Xbox games to date, and virtually nothing has been lost in the translation from PC. It's creepy, immersive, dark - and features a style that really gets into your head. Weapons fire carries appropriate weight, and blasting monsters is both visually pleasing and immensely satisfying. The quirky, unnerving realism of the creature's animations, combined with the oppressive and bleak sci-fi setting make Doom 3 one of the most effective horror titles in the history of gaming, even if the point and shoot simplicity is a bit repetitive. It may be just that, but it still manages to slam you in the gut like a freight train. No matter, Carmack and Romero wouldn't have it any other way.

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