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Doom 3 Collectors Edition
on 9 April 2005
My partner has just bought this for me as a gift. Its fair to say I have been waiting for this game for over 10 years, having been a big fan of the original PC versions of Doom and Doom II. In-fact the potential prospect of playing Doom 3 is why I chose an Xbox over a PS2 a few years back. Well, now its here and having played about half of the single player mission I think I can offer some kind of review.
First off, the graphics. There has been much hype about this aspect of the game and its fair to say they are very good for the Xbox, much better than Halo 1 or 2. Having played the PC version of Doom 3 I'd say the Xbox really doesn't do the graphics thing in the same way, then again it is really a 3yr old PC in a black box. The bump mapping is a similar quality to the textures seen in Halo and Riddick, but unlike those games is on absolutely everything. Whilst this looks very good objects and walls only emulate the solidity of the PC version and therefore if you've seen both will not give you the same sense of reality. However, if you're a console kid you'll be blown away as graphics wise Doom 3 absolutely destroys anything on the PS2 for example. The much hyped lighting effects are impressive but having played the likes of Splinter Cell and The Chronicles of Riddick since this Doom 3 was first announced they are no longer mind blowing. Although the game has been critised on the PC for being too dark the Xbox version seems a bit brighter which to be honest detracts slightly from the scary atmosphere of the PC version. At least it makes it easier to see where you are going though. The animation is top notch and is easily the best on any console game. The close up facial animations in particular remind me of the groundbreaking Half Life 2 on the PC, a mean feat for a console.
On to Gameplay: This is where the PC version was really hammered in reviews. In a lot of ways this game is a re-telling of the original Doom and in terms of gameplay is the same too. It is your basic shoot monster, get code, open door, go down corridor, shoot monster, trigger flashing lights, shoot monster... stuff. Could be deemed as boring but I think people who knock this type of game are missing the point though, isn't this what Doom is. (You already know what is going to happen when you open that locked door but you go through anyway.) One things for sure this game genuinely scares you! So if you like corny but scary horror movies such as The Omen, you'll love Doom 3. One big change over the original Doom games is the interaction with other characters in the game and the voice messages they leave for you to find. Whilst you can't really have conversations with NPC characters as such you get a sense you are in a working Space Station populated by real people, not unlike the way you talk to characters in the original Half Life game in fact. ID have also added a PDA for you to carry around in game. This electronic device collects the above mentioned voice mails and other things such as door codes etc for you. I found the PDA thing a bit annoying as it took me away from the game and paused the action when I used it. Doom 3 is all about seat of the pants survival and in game pauses detract slightly from the pace of the action.
Multiplayer: Word of warning here, those of you who were expecting a split screen co-op campaign game as featured in Halo 1 & 2 will be severely disappointed. You can only play Doom 3 itself in multiplayer or co-op on Xbox Live or via system link. The split screen co-op game is ONLY available in the Doom and Doom II conversions also included on the Collectors pack. These really are the opriginal games though with 1993 blocky psuedo 3D environments and 2D monsters, no attempt has been made to update the graphics or sound which is slightly disappointing. That said you can play up to 4 players on screen at once and the gameplay of the originals really does begin to shine in co-operative mode after a few levels have been played. You start to see why Doom was as popular as it was back in the day. I recommend buyers play these bundled extras with an open mind as you will enjoy them almost as much as the full Doom 3 game itself.
Over all review: Vicarious Visions and ID have done an amazing job fitting Doom 3 onto the Xbox and there have been few compromises in doing so. It isn't the re-invention of Doom we were hoping for but is still a great game. Plus these are the best graphics you'll ever see on the Xbox. The extras in the Collectors edition are superb and are worth the extra money easily. Buy it? Damn right!