‘Doom 3’ more of the same hellish nightmare

When “Doom” was first released by Id Software in the early ’90s, it set a new benchmark for first-person shooters with stellar graphics, gameplay and dark settings. After four years in development, “Doom 3” is finally available.

The technology powering “Doom 3” is absolutely remarkable, making it arguably the best-looking game available today. However, gameplay stays faithful to the Doom series, which may be both a good and bad thing.

“Doom 3” starts over with the storyline. The United Aerospace Corp. has a base on Mars where it conducts several cutting-edge technological experiments. While testing transporter technology, the company accidentally opens a gate to hell itself, allowing demons to spill out into the real world.

The player, an unnamed Marine, arrives at the Mars base shortly before this breaks out and then has to battle the forces of hell.

Id Software has a knack (and a reputation) for producing some truly remarkable software. Their “Quake III” engine served as a milestone in computer graphics, and “Doom 3” is no exception.

Lighting is the most impressive feature of the new engine. When a demon is lit up, every wrinkle on its skin can be seen, and light glints off its eyes (which may consist of multiple pairs). Level design is at times jaw-droppingly complex, with pipes and wires snaking everywhere.

While not as astonishing a leap forward as the graphics, the sound in “Doom 3” is impressive as well. True surround sound is in full effect. While walking down a corridor, the player can hear whispers behind him, only to turn around and find nothing there. It’s used very well to enhance some of the scares the game offers.

However, behind all the glitz of graphics and sound, the game is still “Doom”, and it plays like it. The entire game consists of shooting demons, finding keys and opening doors. This time around, keys come in the form of three digit pass codes found on PDAs or just security clearances. This makes “Doom” ahead of its time in graphics, but behind the times in gameplay.

The first quarter of the game plays out much differently than the usual “Doom,” though. By limiting ammunition and using scripted events to frighten the player, the first part of the game has a much slower pace, mimicking the atmosphere of a survival horror game. Once the player becomes accustomed to mowing through waves of demons, though, the game returns to its original run and gun pace.

For me, the basic level of gameplay wasn’t a problem. Some gamers expect a nostalgic gaming experience. For others that expect “Doom 3” to be more than it is, gameplay might be a bit of a disappointment.

A final word of caution – since the game is so graphically intensive, it will require a hefty computer to run properly. The computer will need at least a 1.5 GHz processor, a GeForce 3, and 384 MB of memory. To play the game as it was intended, the specs will have to exceed those requirements.

While it may not be a revolution in terms of gameplay, “Doom 3” is still very fun and a technical marvel that’s definitely worth a look.

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