As much flak as id Software received for creating little more than a “graphical tech demo” with Doom 3, the studio got revenge by delivering one of the scariest games around and one of the best-received PC games of 2004 (read DailyGame’s review of Doom 3 on PC). True, the straightforward gameplay was excruciatingly linear, but the experience and ambience of Doom 3 could not be denied.
When id and Activision announced they still planned to bring the first-person shooter to Xbox, many gamers wondered whether it could truly be done. After all, Doom 3 made even the highest-end PCs shudder with its technical requirements, so how could an arguably less-powerful console do the game justice? Well rest assured: it does. The fright, the sound and even the graphics have translated to Xbox almost flawlessly. If you missed Doom 3 the first time around or your PC choked while trying to run it, Doom 3 on Xbox will provide all the Doom-iness you can handle.
Truly, the translation of Doom 3 from PC to Xbox is incredible. Other than a few moments in the Xbox version shown via cinematic rather than being playable, the game is essentially identical. The gameplay is still as old-school shooter as you can find, the graphics are still outstanding, the sound will have you downright cuddled into the sofa, and the multiplayer options are good but not awe-inspiring. In fact, since so much of the game is identical, particularly where gameplay is concerned, we’ll refer you to our review of the PC version for our “big picture” impressions (read it here). Suffice it to say, if you like straightforward shooters with a plot so bland you may as well overlook it, Doom 3 on Xbox is right up your Hell-bound alley.
Three elements deserve specific mention with the Xbox version of Doom 3: the graphics, the sound and the multiplayer components. I confess that I was one of the biggest skeptics about Vicarious Visions being able to translate the graphics’ integrity, but the studio proved me wrong. A few scattered textures are lower in resolution, and the heat blur from flames seems a bit less impressive, but nearly every other aspect that made Doom 3 a graphical standard bearer has made it to Microsoft’s console. Several Hell-spawned enemies look identical to their PC counterparts, and even the few that look slightly less detailed are easy to overlook, given the game’s brooding environments. As in the PC version, the levels always feel on the move, and the way light meanders and filters through the environments sets a horrific tone unlike any console-based horror game to date.
The audio somehow sounds even better than it did on the PC, but it may be that certain environmental sounds have been increased in volume. Like the “original” Doom 3 (and any great Hollywood horror film, for that matter), the sound is what sets the stage for some truly scary moments. The screen goes red. Your vision is blurred. The lights start to flicker. A shadow moves. But it’s not until you hear the laugh of the devil surround you and discern the faint dragging of a leg behind you that you feel truly endangered. Without the audio, Doom 3 would be merely a boring shooter with fantastic visuals. With its Dolby Digital support, the game transforms into a beautifully frightening experience, more of a psychological art than a simple videogame.
The multiplayer aspects, on the other hand, remind you that Doom 3 is, indeed, just a game. The multiplayer components on the PC version, as we said in our review, were clearly an afterthought. With the Xbox version, id Software and Activision had time to think more in-depth about what gamers would want to see. And for the most part, they knew exactly what to deliver. The online cooperative play is perhaps the best addition, because far too few games support the feature. It’s one thing to be scared out of your mind when you’re alone; it’s something else entirely to share gasps (and worse) through the Xbox Live Communicator with a friend. And with 10 different levels available to play through cooperatively, there are plenty of gasps to go around.
The versus multiplayer mode is once again simply average, with deathmatch, team deathmatch, tournament and last-man modes available on five different maps. There are certainly more-comprehensive games to decimate one another online, but if you’re looking to Doom 3 more for the single-player experience than the multiplayer, these versus options are simply icing on an already devilishly delicious cake.
Vicarious Visions and id Software have achieved a technological feat, one that ensures Doom 3 fans who just happen to own an Xbox can have that devilishly delicious cake and eat it too. Translating the PC game’s graphics and audio, plus adding an online cooperative mode, may in the end make Doom 3 on Xbox the Doom of choice for most gamers. Considering the PC version required a supercomputer to run, Doom 3 on Xbox is more approachable, more robust and, ultimately, a more-complete game. If you missed out on Doom 3 the first time around, and if The Ring 2 didn’t give you quite the scare you were looking for, Doom 3 is calling your name.
- Gameplay: 8.5
- Like the PC version, it’s as straightforward a shooter as ever.
- Graphics: 9.4
- It’s amazing what they’ve translated to Xbox. Great attention to detail.
- Sound: 9.5
- The use of environmental surround sound single-handedly makes this game the scariest title on Xbox.
- Replay: 8.5
- Co-op is a great addition, but it’s all scripted, so once is all you need. The versus modes are decent.
- Overall: 9.1
- Gameplay-wise it’s pretty standard, but for the sheer fright and experience, this is a Doom fan’s dream.
— Jonas Allen