Economy of Effort

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Doom Iii (Xbox)

I finished DOOM III on the Xbox, and I enjoyed it immensely. No apologies offered.

DOOM III took a lot of heat as being a massively hyped game that “didn’t deliver”. I played a bit on PC and I too was not really impressed. But something made me get the game on Xbox (partly for the ports of DOOM and DOOM II included in the Collector’s Edition, which apparently outsold the “regular” version).

The simplicity of the straightforward throwback DOOM gameplay translated extremely well to a console experience, IMO. I think it works better as a console game than it does on the PC. It works really well as a pick-up-and-play, living room couch blast-fest. The gameplay is very horizontal - not a lot of aiming high or low, so even those that hate gamepads for first-person shooters can swing it.

The graphics hold up really well. You can’t make it look as good as it does on a high-end PC, but it looked very similar to how it ran for me on a more modest PC. I was floored when I saw how good it looked on the Xbox. I couldn’t have imagined that the transition was going to go so well, but when I read reviews insisting that it was the case, I decided to give it a shot.

What DOOM does better than almost anyone is toying with the player’s psyche. The game knows NOT to ambush players at every possible opportunity. It sets up rooms that just smell like ambush, cuts the lights, lets you hear growls through the walls, and then….. nothing. The game builds anticipation and fear with what you don’t see. Some quick sequences put you in a weird stasis, in which your gun and screen interface disappear, and the room around you changes in a flash of insanity. [Minor spoiler to follow, though it’s just a little side sequence that you could easily miss] One freaky one involved a bathroom in which you may notice that the image in the mirror is actually the opposite of what it should be (ie, the stalls show up on the wrong side, everything’s backwards). When you take the time to get up close and really LOOK at the mirror, you’re gripped with a vision in which your image turns into a sort of zombie, and the room turns red and your ears are filled with the screams of Hell. [End spoiler section] The non-combat scare sequences like this are the most unnerving. When you’re not being attacked physically by demons, you’re being attacked psychologically by the sounds and tense pacing. DOOM has a reputation for the “wave of baddies” type of gameplay, but the game is very selective about when and how often it ambushes you. It also does a great job of making the player THINK he is in more danger than he actually is. One thing I noticed is that, in a lot of ambushes, I felt like I got thrashed six ways to Sunday, but in reality, I didn’t take nearly as much damage as I perceived. A very fantastic job.

Also, a nod must be given to the game’s representation of Hell. If Hell exists in any manner in your belief system, then the section may well disturbe you. I exited Hell with one sole thought: I do not want to go there ever again.

Multiplayer isn’t worth your time, except perhaps the highly praised co-op version. I haven’t tried co-op yet, but Logan and I might at some point.