Y'know, going to Hell doesn't sound all that bad.
I don't have a powerful desktop computer, I never have, which means when it comes to PC gaming I've always been years behind. Because of this, I wasn't really able to get my hands on a decent first person shooter until GoldenEye 007 came out on the Nintendo 64. Once I finally got a taste of good, solid FPS gaming I was hooked. I had been growing tired of RPGs and needed something other than fighting games to provide me with a more visceral gaming experience and first-person shooters fit the bill. Fast forward to 2006, I was thrilled to learn that Doom 3 was coming to the Xbox with minimal compromise and couldn't wait to play.
I had read through various sites and magazines that Doom 3 was essentially a no-frills shooter, only with insane graphics. This turned a lot of people off, resulting in many disappointed die-hard FPS fans around the world declaring it a failure, albeit a nice looking one. Well, to me at least, this simplistic approach wasn't seen as a negative. I had been playing lots of squad-based titles and of course Halo, which boasted phenomenal enemy AI, and an old-school style shooter actually sounded like a refreshing change of pace. And for the most part I was right.
Doom 3, while being about as basic as an FPS gets these days, is exceedingly immersive and atmospheric. The mostly despised black-out approach to the levels was something I thought was cool. While I wouldn't want this to be a main gameplay focus of too many other shooters, I felt it was done just fine here. And no, you can't use a flashlight and a gun at the same time (which does seem stupid I admit), but I thought that it added to the tension myself. I'd walk into a room aiming the light everywhere, darting it back & forth as the ambient noises messed with me and played off not being able to see more than a fraction of the immediate area at a time. And once a demon popped up to attack, I'd be frantically running backwards, putting away my light and reaching for my gun trying to keep from taking too much damage. Now, while I wouldn't really say I was scared at all through the game, I was nonetheless a bit more careful and on edge than in most other games of this kind. So in all, I'd say id pulled off this effect surprisingly well.
As you would expect based on its gameplay, Doom 3 is a very linear and straightforward title. You, as a generic space-marine (wouldn't be Doom without one), show up to a Mars research facility ran by the Union Aerospace Corporation (A corporation? I sense evil!) to start your job as a glorified security guard. Soon after, you're sent to check on an employee and wouldn't you know it? All Hell breaks loose, quite literally in fact. From then on it's a mad dash for survival and escape from the facility, as you try to find out just what exactly is going on and why this is all happening. It's simple, old-school, and a rewrite much like most Zelda storylines, and I wouldn't have it any other way. There's just something about the Doom franchise that makes me not care that they're just doing the same old things over and over again with enhanced presentation.
And what a presentation it is. As anyone who is at least mildly into gaming can tell you, Doom 3 was hyped to the ends of the Earth as a graphical showcase, and it most certainly didn't disappoint there. I've seen Doom 3 running on super high-end PC hardware before, and though the Xbox version here doesn't look quite as crisp, it still looks better than any other console title that came before it. No joke, I was really surprised that the Xbox was running this game as smoothly as it did. Now, while I agree with the old gamer-cliche that "graphics aren't everything," I have to say that in certain cases, they can make or break a game. Doom 3 is one of those cases where it is made by them. Even though I think the actual game itself is fun enough to play, I've got to say that the visuals made this an absolute joy to play through. I don't need to describe too much of it in detail mainly because: A. A lot of the game is spent in the dark, and B. You should already be familiar with what this game looks like by now. I will say, however, that the few levels of this game that take place in Hell are freakin' gorgeous! Sweet merciful ass... I mean, I've never wanted to go to Hell before, but Doom 3 damn near made me want to start sinning like a mad man in order to assure my spot in the VIP section.
When it comes down to it, you'll either love this game, or think it's insanely overrated by those who do. There's no real getting around it. There seem to be very few people who are on the middle-ground when it comes to this game, but if you're unsure as to whether or not you'll enjoy it then give it a rental. Me, personally? Having sat here and written this review out, the memories are making me want to go and play it again. The numerical score I've given this game may not be great, but don't let that fool you, Doom 3 is simple, old-school meets new-school demon-slaughtering fun. Grab a copy, and have fun while pissing off anal-retentive religious folks while you're at it. If that ain't a nice bonus, what is?