Doom III - PC

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Also for: Power Mac, Xbox
Viewed: 3D First-person Genre:
Shoot 'Em Up
Media: CD Arcade origin:No
Developer: id Software Soft. Co.: id Software
Publishers: Activision (GB/US/GB/GB)
Released: 5 Aug 2004 (US)
Jun 2006 (GB)
21 Jul 2006 (GB)
13 Aug 2004 (GB)
Ratings: BBFC 18
No Accessories: No Accessories


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With its 1993 debut, iD Software's Doom quickly became a classic - a legend even. And though relatively straightforward in comparison to what is on offer today, Doom's simple puzzles and first-person action were second to none, and the same is true of Doom II, Final Doom and any other family members of the iD franchise.

But perhaps what is more surprising is that this also applies to Doom III - a game in development for several years, carrying with it remarkable levels of hype and media interest. But by no means is this a result of any development issues. On the contrary, it's a conscious effort from the Texan developer to make Doom III as authentic to its predecessors as it possibly could. Visually speaking, it's state-of-the-art, but as a game, it's deliberately old-school.

In the latest chapter of a terrifying war with the forces of Hell, a massive demonic invasion has overwhelmed the UAC's Mars Research Facility, leaving only chaos and horror in its wake. As one of only a few survivors, players must struggle with shock, fear, and an all-out assault on their senses as they fight their way to Hell and back in an epic clash against the purest of evil.

Primarily a solo adventure, and lasting in the region of 20 hours, Doom III is fundamentally the same as the decade-old original. In fact there are even a few direct references to the series' previous encounters with the forces of Hell. Many in Doom III's demonic bestiary of enemies are updated versions of those seen in previous outings, equally lacking in intelligence, but that too is deliberate. iD could have easily a produced a strategy-heavy adventure with cunning AI to match, but that's not the point here. Afterall, you are dealing with the forces of Hell, and they're brutal, not brainy.

Some of the series' best-loved weapons make a welcome return too. The shotgun and rocket launcher are among the most popular, but the chainsaw, even after all these years, is still the most fun.

Level design is also as it was when the series first appeared. Levels mostly consist of linear paths, locked doors and a number of switches and codes that need to be found in order to carry on. The only real addition to the formula is the player's ability to discover emails or voice recordings that contain further details of the events that transpired before your arrival. To a degree, these nuggets of information are optional, but in some cases you'll find they hold valuable access codes needed to progress. Don't ignore them.

It may be a standard FPS, but when all of the above is compounded with such a technically advanced game engine, Doom III is transformed into what is arguably the scariest, most atmospheric FPS experience to ever grace the PC platform. Environments are claustrophobic, and many of the levels are shrouded in shadow. Surprises are in plentiful supply, and more often than not you'll be caught unawares by lurking demonic forces. Overall, the visual style and graphical effects are demanding of PC hardware, but with the right set-up, players are rewarded with some of the smoothest, glitch-free visuals ever seen.

On to multi-player, Doom III doesn't offer a wealth of multi-player skirmishes out of the box - it's not that kind of game - but it does offer the obligatory 1-4 player Deathmatch options and several maps, and they're great fun too. Of course new maps and rules will make their way onto the Net as time progresses, preventing four-way Deathmatches from becoming all too predictable.

Doom III, though not advanced in its single-player adventure, raises the benchmark in so many ways. It set out to be pure, unadulterated old-school FPS action, and that's exactly what it is.