Too bad they got rid of "IDBEHOLDL".
The original Doom is on my all time favorites list, as I suspect it is for millions of other people who have, say, touched a PC within the last decade or two. So needless to say that Doom 3 is (or rather, was) going to be a big hit no matter what anyone said about it. Of course, when ID Software has their mojo on (as opposed to Quake 1, where they didn't) you are in for a fine time, and quite fortunately they were in top form for Doom 3.
I rather like the "Episode 1" style of Classic Doom level, and though John Romero is long gone from ID, the braintrusts in Mesquite took that "Techbase" format (used for about 80% of the game) to the next level. While normally I would consider the persistent use of a certain theme or style repetitive, the architecture is so skillfully planned in Doom 3 that you really don't even notice that the textures are vigorously reused. Every area has a different feel, a different atmosphere, and looks suitably constructed and destroyed. Later on, Hell (sorry for ruining the "surprise", such as it was) takes things even further, and is one of the most effective depictions of that locality I've seen in a game. Certainly better than Episode 3 in the first game, at any rate.
The gameplay is pretty solid, about what I would expect from ID. Responsive controls, quick movement, and intuitive key placement. The difficulty isn't too bad, though the health sapping on Nightmare can lead to some tight situations at times (but hey, it's Nightmare). The arsenal, a combination of weapons from Quake 2 and the original Doom games, is quite varied although the lack of a double barreled shotgun is a conspicuous absence.
The storyline is actually pretty good, something ID put quite a bit of thought into for this release - a big step up from "blow up the Big Gun, plus some other things" from Quake 2, let alone the 'avenge your bunny' plot from the end of Ultimate Doom. Atmosphere is also a strong component in this release; while I personally was not scared by this game at all, I knew some people who had nightmares stemming from this title.
The graphics, amazing upon release, hold up to the test of time incredibly well half a decade later. The use of the hard (real-time) shadows really heightens the horror-themed experience. The sound production is also excellent. Though there isn't a whole lot of music, the title theme is appropriate for the series.
There's a lot to like about this game, but (and this will sound a little strange) Doom 3 isn't as "solid" or "legendary" as the title that spawned it. Don't get me wrong; it's been in my Top 10 favorite games, so it is by no means a bad title. But despite the fact that is an excellent game, it just feels a little...mechanically predictable, in a way. In the original games, while the AI perhaps was not as sophisticated, the action was fast and you were ambushed frequently. Outside of roughly knowing where the monsters were for the most part (if you were a veteran mapper), you could still get thrown a curveball every once in awhile. Here, when you get used to the tactics of a monster, opponents of that monster type generally start to present no challenge, even with inferior weaponry. Despite the big writeup, though, I really don't consider it a major problem, just a noteworthy thing to mention.
I also have some minor quibbles about plot sometime falling to cliche's and the aforementioned lack of music, but nothing I feel like writing at any length about presently. Although I will mention quickly that, in reference to the review title, that sometimes its a little too dark in some spots, making it harder to navigate through some areas (in normal situations where darkness shouldn't be a factor, mind you; I'm not complaining about the scenes where you have to follow a light source to a destination, those are generally fun).
The Bottom Line
I really can't think of any reason why you wouldn't buy a copy of this game. It's good fun from ID, with a lot of meat on the bones with which to chew. If you are looking for a classic swarming monsters experience then perhaps you would be better served by the Serious Sam series this time out, but if you want a nice solid game that you can cut through in a few days time, look no further.