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At the risk of being unpopular, especially among a generation of computer gamers who consider "Doom" the quintessential action game of our time, the latest chapter in the best-selling series doesn't offer anything new to the "3-D shooter" genre.
That is, while it is without a doubt one of the best-looking and most aurally advanced games out there, the game-play is basically 1993's "Doom" all over again – not that this is a bad thing, mind you.
The end result is a wonderfully intense, atmospheric and violent action experience that is above all else, technically groundbreaking. Problem is, your computer may not be able to run it. More on this in a moment.
In "Doom 3," players are a nameless marine reporting for duty on Mars at the United Aerospace Corporation's research facility. Shortly after arrival, however, you discover a scientist has opened a portal to a hell-like dimension, causing a massive demonic invasion. These teleportation tests also transformed the base's personnel into zombie-like killers. The goal of the game is to stay alive long enough to find out why these experiments were being conducted and to close the portal to avoid further carnage.
For those (few) who haven't played "Doom" or "Doom II," these games are played from a first-person perspective, therefore all the action is seen out of the "eyes" of the main character. Game-play involves navigating though primarily indoor areas, finding weapons of mass destruction and unleashing them against wave after wave of enemy attacks. Players must also locate med kits, armor and ammunition littered throughout the game.
"Doom 3" plays out much the same way, but with two main exceptions. First, players carry around a handy Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) that can be accessed by tapping the TAB key. This brings up information such as important story elements or numeric passwords used to unlock new areas of the base. The PDA contains email messages, audio logs from other characters and video clips.
Also new to this series is a flashlight – a good idea considering "Doom 3" is one of the darkest adventures around, which contributes to the game's suspense and atmosphere. Too bad you can't carry both a flashlight and a weapon at the same time as players must toggle between the two when a creature is spotted.
"Doom 3" is one scary game. Throughout the game's more than two-dozen single-player levels, demons and transformed humans will hunt you down in claustrophobic corridors; they'll drop from the ceiling, tear through a staircase underneath you or jump through air vents on the wall.
Artistically speaking, "Doom 3" is unprecedented. Even on the low or medium graphic settings (which may be required, depending on the PC's power), the characters, enemies and environments are superbly detailed – so much that the game resembles a computer-animated feature film.
And because it's a "Doom" game, players can expect plenty of violence and gore. Shooting creatures at close range with a shotgun or rocket launcher will cause their body parts to fly off, leaving the remains in a pile of red, steaming mush. Parents should be aware the game is rated "Mature" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (www.esrb.com), therefore not recommended for players under 17 years of age because of its "Intense Violence" and "Blood and Gore," as indicated on the back of the box.
The audio is equally as impressive. Moans, grunts, screams and cries can be heard, seemingly from all around – even with only two speakers or headphones. The game does offer true 5.1 surround sound if the player has a supported sound card and proper speaker setup.
"Doom 3" offers a few multiplayer modes playable over the Xbox Live, such as the classic "Deathmatch" (every player for himself) and "Team Deathmatch" (the team with the most "frags," or kills, wins). It is a breeze to find and launch a head-to-head match from the game's main multiplayer menu.
In all, despite the fact "Doom 3" is essentially a throwback to classic "3-D shooters" but with remarkable graphics and atmosphere, it is still one of the best computer games of 2004. Just be sure your computer can play the game before bringing it home so you can experience "Doom" instead of gloom.
Kid Factor: Doom III is surprisingly conservative. Sure, it's always going to be controversial when you pit the player against the forces of hell, litter rooms with blood stains and dead bodies, and render zombies out to tear flesh but, well, Id Software didn't really use inverted crosses this time and you aren't rewarded for killing innocent people (like in Quake 2). Id is growing up and obviously imitating Valve and Half-Life here and the maturity helps the game feel more cohesive.
Doom III looks fantastic, is filled with demons and demonic imagery, features the voice of the Devil himself and a quick trip to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks as a setting, but the fear-factor and the scares are pure "what's that in the closet!"
The game is very bloody. Zombies explode into chunks and the walls, floor, and ceiling drip and ooze with fresh and dried blood. Each scene is macabre, gore-filled, and poorly lit. It's a charnel house on Mars and people get killed – killed a lot here.
So, yes, timid and sensitive kids shouldn't be allowed anywhere near this game, but older kids will really enjoy the almost wholesome zombie and demon bashing offered. Kid Factor by GamerDad
Kid Factor by Andrew Bub
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