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DOOM³ (Windows)

84
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Paranoid Opressor (167)
Written on  :  Sep 01, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.14 Stars3.14 Stars3.14 Stars3.14 Stars3.14 Stars

17 out of 23 people found this review helpful

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Summary

A very problematic game

The Good

Doom 3 has great sound. Even though there is no music, the environmental sounds are of good quality and positioning is excellent. If I had to name one area where the game succeeded that would be sound. It's not without its problems, though. The weapon sounds are widely agreed to be crappily weak and need to be replaced by one of the mod packs. The scary noises are quite pointless really, especially in a room where you just killed everyone.

Speaking of graphics, there actually is one great aspect - the modelling and animation of the monsters. It's probably good - probably because you don't have a chance to see them - monsters are either in the darkness or disappear after their deaths.

A nice feature is the interactive displays - I was happy to finally see decent quality video and interfaces on the ingame displays. Unfortunately, it is not used to its full potential by id.

The Bad

Once the initial aural excitement is over, the problems rear their ugly heads. And there are lots of them.

First, graphics in Doom 3 are overrated. The technologies are not really revolutionary - polibump was done before, physics was done before and even stencil shadows were done before, even in budget titles (Secret Service from Activision). Perhaps, when the game is run on X800 or another top-of-the line card the engine would shine, but on everything else it looks like crap. No, the picture is somewhat nice, but only before you consider the quality of other games such as Far Cry and Painkiller. Those games managed to create extremely beautiful and detailed environments while still running at acceptable framerates at high quality settings and in hi-res. Another fault of Doom 3 is that it uses very low-res textures for no apparent reason. The sad thing is that 95% of what Doom 3 shows us could have been reproduced on CryEngine or any other recent game engine much better. The unified lighting is great, but the same scary atmosphere could have been done with traditional lightmaps and individual character shadows.

This leads us to the second problem. Doom 3 atmosphere is not a result of good lighting, but lack thereof. Levels are very poorly lit, leading to many jokes about the most powerful corporation in the world failing to install adequate lighting on its base. You also can't use the flashlight with your weapons, adding to both scariness and annoyance, and leading to another joke about duct tape missing on Mars.

The gameplay is very boring after some time. Yes, it's scary, but in a very bad sense, like when playing an old console platform arcade where you need to repeatedly execute pixel-precise jumps or risk falling to lava and starting over the level. Monsters are constantly teleporting in around you and jumping from secret rooms. Coupled with the pitch black darkness that makes your heart beat faster, but after a few hours you start questioning whether it's worth it and whether it's actually fun.

All levels are completely linear and your missions are too. Very often you don't really understand why you are going somewhere and need to "use interactive controls" (press buttons) to do seemingly random things, because the level designers failed to introduce you to the problem first (such as having you close a valve before you realise there is a leak somewhere). The world is completely non-interactive and there are almost no objects that have physics enabled. All other modern FPS games, including Max Payne 2, Far Cry and Painkiller (presumably Half-Life 2 too) used physics much more extensively and creatively.

There is no AI in the game to speak of. The monsters are completely stupid and rely on spawning behind you and quickly jumping on you. They do not walk or do anything else on their own - you come only to find them waiting for the scripted event to start. The NPCs are almost non existent and the only thing they usually do is die right after you find them. This is extremely annoying and you quickly stop caring about "the rest of the team", despite constant radio updates. Alien vs. Predator 2 did it much much much better.

There is some story in Doom 3, but it's quite boring and the designers didn't really make an effort to make you care about it (unlike Half-Life, for example). Because of this, they had to lure you into reading the e-mails and listening to audio logs by inserting there codes unlocking ammo cabinets. Quite stupid, actually. Speaking about ammo, another annoying practice is throwing some ammo beside your path and scripting an enemy appearance when you pick the ammo up. Stupid and utterly predictable, because the element of surprise is taken away after the first 30 minutes or so.

The Bottom Line

Get this game if you have the latest video-card and need to justify the money spent on it. Get this game if everyone around you plays it and you want to fit in. Get this game if you are just curious and want to see for yourself how bad/good it is (but you better rent, download or copy it, to not be disappointed later). But don't get it expecting to see a masterpiece. It's quite average, actually.