Extremely impressive from a technical standpoint yet behind the times from a first-person-shooter design standpoint: This is the dichotomy that is Doom 3, the long-awaited sequel from well-known Texas-based developer id Software. Doom 3 is quite possibly the best-looking game ever, thanks to the brand-new 3D graphics engine used to generate its convincingly lifelike, densely atmospheric, and surprisingly expansive environments. At the same time, when you look past the spectacular appearance, you'll find a conventional, derivative shooter. In fact, if you played the original Doom or its sequel back in the mid '90s (or any popular '90s-era shooter, for that matter), you may be shocked by how similarly Doom 3 plays to those games. The legions of id Software's true believers will celebrate this straightforwardness as being deliberately "old school," especially since Doom 3 is packed with direct references to its classic predecessors. However, the truth of the matter is that Doom 3's game-play structure and level design are behind the times and very much at odds with the game's cutting-edge, ultra-realistic looks. Yet the quality of the presentation truly is remarkable--enough so that it overwhelms Doom 3's occasional problems.
There's no debating one thing about Doom 3: It looks absolutely, positively phenomenal.
Doom 3 is essentially a remake of the original Doom, though series fans will find re-imagined versions of almost every monster from both Doom and Doom II in the new sequel. You play as a nameless, voiceless 22nd-century space marine called by the Union Aerospace Corporation to its Mars research facility beset with mysterious problems--the forces of hell, to be exact. You'll end up single-handed fighting back legions of hell-spawn using weapons like shotguns, machine guns, and rocket launchers. As in the classic Doom games, your foes here are liable to strike at any time--often just as you round a corner, grab a much-needed power-up, or set foot into a new area. So, while your enemies will materialize without notice, and may occasionally startle you as they leap out of the darkness, Doom 3 cannot easily be described as scary or suspenseful. On the contrary, it's very predictable, and more or less it just goes through the same types of paces that you've probably gone through before in any number of other similar games.
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