Even more revolutionary than Doom 3s graphics engine is its solid delivery of a spectacular multiplayer experience
In a time when increasingly realistic worlds are crafted for computer and video games, it seems that some gamers try to find flaws, even though there really are very few. This particular plight seems to have befallen Doom 3. Some say that the tight-lipped nature of id proved to be more hype than the game could live up to, though this is certainly arguable. The single player game was said to have been the focus of Doom 3, with the use of immersive, believable environments, realistic lighting and physics; a riveting retelling of Doom. And this is definitely the case, though after all the in-game cinematics have been viewed, all the secrets found and all the demons destroyed, the multiplayer game remains eminently replayable. This is often one of the more overlooked and over-criticized aspects of Doom 3. All of the story's gaps or leaps in logic mean nothing when playing barrel-to-barrel against other Doomers. The lighting, the sound and the atmospheric touches that were meant to enhance the scare factor of the single player game serve a greater purpose of making the multiplay facet of Doom 3 nothing short of innovative, unique and refreshing.
Every environmental detail is a factor in your victory or defeat. The lighting plays a key factor in ambushes and stealth kills, or it can also hide your escape. Toggling a light switch on or off can hide your presence as well as reveal an adversary. Each player casts a shadow and should be wary of it at all times. Also, the HUDs on your weapons can clue an opponent off as to where you may be hiding, so a player has to carefully consider their choice in weaponry for the given environment. The shadows are used to perfection by well seasoned players. I myself have been saved numerous times by rounding a corner and crouching in the darkness with no weapon drawn. You can even shoot out some ceiling-mounted light fixtures to darken a room to your advantage (though this can be done in single player too, it's more advantageous in multiplayer). There is also haze to be found in some areas of particular levels, and it serves as more than eye-candy, but yet another key to victory if employed strategically. Overall, the world created is very immersive and the infrequent respawning due to Doom 3's unique gameplay makes that world appear even more genuine.
The sounds made by simply cocking, reloading or even switching weapons can be used to the advantage of conscientious players. This will probably lead you to choose your shots carefully, so as to keep reloading to a minimum. Every action and thought have to be well-made if you wish to survive, much less win. Even though there are player mods out there to allow server caps far exceeding the default number of four, games are usually slow and even-paced, but even so, the intervals of silence and firefighting serve to create a refreshingly intense atmosphere. There are several game modes to choose from: deathmatch, team deathmatch, last man standing and tourney; all of which are self-explanatory. Another thing worth taking into consideration are the altered armor and ammo capacities. These were changed from the single player game in order to balance gameplay. Most servers choose a maximum frag (kill) count of ten, though the maximum is fifty, whereas most online FPS games have score counts of fifty at the minimum, ranging upwards to one-hundred. That alone serves to help describe the new flavor of online deathmatch offered by Doom 3.
However, the online aspect of this game isn't without it's drawbacks. With the typically slower-paced deathmatches, there may also be long periods of waiting (depending on your playing style) from time to time. Also, if you choose not to download any server cap mods, you will be forced to choose between having one and three opponents. While the default maps aren't necessarily epic in size, you may spend more time hunting than killing. This may prove to be irritating to some gamers though it will certainly appeal to others. Also, the stealth that each player needs in order to win is shattered upon being respawned. The teleportation sequence used for the demons in single play marks each player's entry or reentry into the level. This is extra incentive to avoid being killed, as it's very easy to find a player who's just returned from death. If the blazing red lightning isn't a tip-off as to his whereabouts, the sound itself will alert anyone in a wide area. Lastly, while it's great to see that the online gaming community for Doom 3 is growing, the massive volume of clans means there's a lot of game servers that require passwords. This means that the number of servers that can actually be played without a password, as well as have a decent ping, is fairly low.
All things considered, Doom 3 is a fantastic game. However, multiplay is where the game's physics and lighting and sound really begin to serve as more than just atmospheric details. One of the best moves on id's behalf, was perhaps to restrict online gaming only to those who have broadband connections in order to maintain an acceptable speed and help eliminate lag. Dialup users who feel left out, though, will have their own opportunity when the Xbox port of the game comes out, touting both single-console cooperative play (which, short of a mod, was noticeably missing from the PC version) as well as deathmatch via Xbox Live. Though many people have argued that Doom 3's online gaming was merely an afterthought, as opposed to the single player experience, it becomes evident fairly quickly that this is not the case. The strategic value and expertly-devised use of real-time lighting effects, rich sound effects and other bells and whistles is what really makes Doom 3 shine, especially for those who enjoy multiplayer.
|Reviewed August 30, 2004 by Adrien Rilles|