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Talking of frame rates, you are going to want a reasonably beefy machine to show Doom3 off to its best effect. I’ve been playing it on an AMD Athlon 64 FX-51 machine with 1GB of RAM and a Radeon X800 XT graphics card, and it’s been smooth as silk at 1,280 x 1,024 with High Quality settings and 4x anti-aliasing. It does however seem that there is a definite performance benefit using an nVidia 6800 based card, but since Doom3 uses OpenGL, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
Sound is a very mixed bag. The ambient effects are excellent, and I’d say that this is the first game the really benefits from a full surround sound setup. If you’ve got speakers all around you, you can pick up exactly where enemies are coming from, even in pitch black darkness. However, the main sounds are somewhat disappointing. The machine gun for instance sounds like a ball bearing gun, and the shotgun doesn’t have the same addictive boom that it had in Doom. The plasma gun still sounds and looks great though.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the multiplayer game. The reason that I almost forgot is that it feels like it’s a complete afterthought by id. This is particularly strange considering that Quake III Arena was multiplayer only (OK you could play against bots, but you know what I mean). The multiplayer experience is disappointing to say the least, although this may well change when third party mods start to appear – look at what Counter Strike did for Half Life after all. But as it stands, I wouldn’t bother wasting time playing multiplayer since there are far better multiplayer titles out there.
So, the big question is – was Doom3 worth the wait? The simple answer is yes, because it is fun to play, it brings back some great memories, and the 3D engine is absolutely superb. However, Doom3 doesn’t really move the first person shooter genre on in terms of gameplay. Most gamers will consider Half Life to be the benchmark, and Doom3 hasn’t brought much to the table that wasn’t already there in Half Life. Even when Halo launched on the Xbox it brought with it some new innovations, best of which was the use of vehicles – something that was shamelessly copied in Unreal Tournament 2004.
Doom3 feels like it’s being torn in two directions. Part of it wants to appeal to the nostalgic element of our psyche that craves to recapture the original Doom experience, and part of it wants to take the next big step in 3D gaming. In truth, Doom3 succeeds in both areas, but fails to truly excel in either.
Doom3 looks amazing. The 3D engine is staggering and will no doubt spawn some amazing games in the future. But Doom3 itself doesn’t break the new ground that I thought it would. Yes I’ve loved playing it, but then I’ve loved playing every game that id has ever released. You definitely need to have Doom3 in your collection, just don’t expect it to redefine video gaming the way the original Doom did.