Curious how your next-generation card performs in Doom 3? Read Brandon's high-end card Doom 3 performance preview
Warning: if you haven't played Doom 3 yet, and are sure you're going to pick it up and want to enjoy it, don't read the following review… or any others, for that matter. The last thing you want to do is think about this game. Otherwise, go ahead.
Now, keep in mind that I've always admitted that id has never been a master of game design, so I never expected another Deus Ex or Half-Life. While I disagree that their games are nothing but tech demos, I do expect a great action sequence. Wolfenstein 3D had it, Doom I and II had it, and the Quake games sorta had it - but they made up for that with multiplayer. Doom III?surprise! revenant teleports in!
Before I get to that, let me say that if I'd written this review yesterday, it would be an orgasmic gushfest. Maybe it'd still be completely gushing rather than merely positive today if I hadn't gone back to earlier save games yesterday trying to string a sequence of fights for a benchmarking demo. Perhaps the early re-exposure to parts I just fought through hours ago killed my enthusiasm.
…but I doubt it. The seed was planted when Brandon and I were talking about getting a custom benchmark demo ready. Since multiplayer is a joke with only 4 players, we're not likely to get that kind of action in a multiplayer match. So the plan was to find a big fight in a fancy room with a lot of special effects. The problem is that the big fight never materialized. An id game without big fights? Yeah. Think about it.
So, I decided to do the next best thing: save often, remember sequences and hope I can go back to string smaller fights together to make that benchmark demo. Now not only does that sound wrong when you think about it, but it also introduced some interesting thought processes into my brain that normally wouldn't be there.
"OK, I start here, run through that door which triggers a revenant teleporting in behind me, and I'm supposed to hear that so I turn around so the zombie chaingunners can emerge from their closets and start shooting me in the back. Then I sprint to the next room, kill the guard conveniently placed behind some covering crates with the pistol, switch to shotgun, run through that door and shoot immediately to kill the imp that's going to jump at me, before switching to grenades to kill the whip arm dude and then back to plasma to deal with the shield zombie, switch to shotgun again to kill the cacodemon that drops in behind me before switching to grenades to kill with the two shield guards that come up behind me."
That, my friends, is Doom III's heart in two sentences. The monsters may change, the locations might change, but the formula always stays the same. Actually, I'm lying, there is more, but we'll get to the good stuff later. First we'll deal with the problematic gameplay I mentioned above.