Surrounded in waves of hype and anticipation, the release of Doom 3 by ID Software arrived with fanfare rarely seen. Stores opened at Midnight to begin issuing the hotly desired software and newspapers ran front-page stories covering the release of the game that many believe will set the new standards for future games due to its groundbreaking new graphics.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, Doom 3 is a retelling of the classing Doom game where lone Marine battles never-ending hordes of demons and other creatures on that emerge from a portal that has been opened into another dimension.

In the new version, the linear gameplay of find a weapon and blast your way to the exit has been altered in favor of a far more dynamic and interactive story and gaming experience. Players now have to interact with other characters that survive a mysterious shockwave that has disabled the base and unleashed deadly creatures bent on mayhem.

As the new guy on the job, your character was investigating a report when the incident occurs forcing you to make your way back to the base amidst all the chaos.
Players are guided by the voice of the station commander, and the eerie screams and noises that come over the headset are truly unnerving and lend an ominous tone to the game.

Players do have technology available that can assist in their quest as everything from medical stations to security displays are available to allow players to heal and gain access to new areas and technologies. One such is your PDA unit that allows you to access logs that you encounter during the games. The logs are very valuable as they contain information as to what has been going on at the base prior to your arrival such as large power demands in one sector, safety issues, and unhappy workers and so on. While some may think this is fluff, it actually helps build the storyline of the game as it evolves as the gameplay progresses. A valuable asset in the logs are the security codes that can allow players to open secure lockers to obtain new weapons and armor.

The weapons in the game will be very familiar to most gamers as the standard pistol, shotgun, and chaingun are present as is the rocket launcher, plasma gun and BFG, which set the standards for all future 3D shooters after they appeared in the first Doom. A new weapon called a Soul Cube is included and it allows players to defeat all creatures in a given area when it is charged. It is a fantastic fall back for when things get tough, but the one shot nature of it forces players to make good use of it, as the recharge time can be lengthy.

Graphically the game is amazing as the detail level on the creatures and characters is by far the best ever seen in a computer game to date, as the facial features and detail levels of the characters and locations are outstanding. On more than one instance I found myself in awe of the graphics and wanted to linger in an area rather than move on.

The creatures are a deadly and motley bunch ranging from the zombies to the fireball spewing imps, the Pinkys and the eventual demons. The variety of creatures is solid and players will find sheer terror and delight in battling the amazingly detailed creatures in the dark recess of the Mars base.

The game designers have set the game in a mostly dark and gloomy setting as the flashlight is an absolute must to navigate the dark settings as many of the maps are in shadow or partial shadow and are very close to natural lighting. The eerie contrast between dark areas of a room and sections lit by still functioning lights is a gem as this is not a bright game, it is a dark and moody atmosphere where lighting often only serves to show you new examples of carnage. Like the classic game Half Life, Doom 3 has scripted events such as bizarre sounds, falling catwalks, random displayed, bodies and the occasional NPC to add to the story. What it does not have is great A.I. as creatures generally charge blindly at you forcing players to go toe to claw in combat. I also noticed lip synch errors in the game, as many characters did not match with the spoken word.

The level design of the game is solid though I become bored at points as one area tends to look a lot like the next as aside from main areas, the corridors, and surrounding areas all have the same look.

The sound of the game is amazing as the surround sound features allow players to really get a sense of dread as evil and danger are all around and the ominous laughter that emerges at random intervals will put a chill down your spine.

Doom 3 is very solid on the multiplay front as deathmatch and last man standing are a lot of fun. I do have to take serious issue with the 4-player limit as homage issues aside, this is a 2004 and 4 player limit were pre-internet when players had to team up via a local board. If the designers were so concerned with homage’s to the original where is the much needed co-op play format that has largely been ignored by game makers despite repeated requests for it from the gaming community. ID is convinced that the mod community will address this issue, but my point is that they should not have to, as this should have been dealt with out of the box.

Doom 3 is a wild ride that is as amazing to play, as it is stunning to look at. The graphics are amazing as is the detail level of the characters. The game is not perfect though as once you get past the eye candy, the limited multiplay, the weak A.I. and the repetitive level design does tend to become tedious after a while.
That being said, I cant wait to see what games we will see down the line using this technology such as Quake 4, as with more attention paid to the issues I drew fault with, the game would be a true classic for all time instead of a new standard for game graphics.

4 stars out of 5