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Doom 3

Well, Doom 3 is out. The reviews appear to be positive.

I found this review by Tom Chick through Robin's blog. It's different from the usual review, describing not just the game, but also the whole hype around the game, and how it affects one player's experience. It's definitely a good read.

Mr. Chick doesn't have a very positive opinion of the game:

"Okay, maybe it's a good game. But just barely. I could think of ten other PC games this year that are way better than Doom 3. It's overlong, repetitive, derivative, uninspired. It's full of fucking monster closets, for Christ's sake. Monster closets! There's a monster just sitting in a closet that won't open until you walk past it. What's up with that?"
The Gamespot review makes similar points:
The game's structure will undoubtedly remind many players of Half-Life.

When all is said and done, it's still a pretty basic sci-fi story, but in DOOM 3, presentation is everything.

[...] your objectives are usually tried-and-true FPS conventions, like finding Key X and hitting Switch Y so you can get to Area Z.

While the simplistic AI isn't the worst thing in the world, I suspect a lot of gamers will take some offense at the gimmicky way enemies spawn in, for reasons visible only within lines of the game's code. Most rooms are devoid of enemies until you set off some invisible trigger or grab a powerup, which at which point demons will teleport in to attack you.

Although in the end their verdict is positive:
For maybe the first time, id Software has made a game where pace and presentation are among its strongest points, instead of an afterthought.

[...] there simply haven't been many shooters in the past few years that have molded story, pacing, atmosphere, gameplay and technology as well as DOOM 3.

Much more than for pretty much any other game in the Western world, including Half-Life 2, any discussion surrounding Doom 3 will be distorted by the hype and the legacy and the emotions related to them. We'll get people loving it because it's Doom, people hating it because it's not the Doom they remembered, people hating it because everybody loves it, people hating or loving (or neutrally reporting on) other people loving or hating it, etc. I predict that the majority of the reporting and discussion on the game will really be about arguing whether the story of id Software is an inspiring tale of heroism, or a tragedy. Are John Carmack and his sidekicks taking the gaming industry to the next level? Or do they no longer have what it takes to excite the masses?

That whole discussion will be magnified and intensified by Doom 3's status as one of the games that can either revive or spell, aha, doom for the PC games and related markets, as can be seen in the reporting by mainstream and financial news sources:

CNN Money:

"The releases of 'Doom 3' and 'Half-Life 2' may be more responsible for more computer upgrades than any other factor in the past several years," said [Gary Cooper, an analyst with Banc of America Securities]. "This could revive a PC games sales environment that has not seen a year-over-year weekly sales increase in units or dollars since the end of February 2003."

USA Today:

Together [with Half-Life 2], the games could amount to a renaissance for a PC industry desperate to reclaim some of the glamour from console video games, which have been responsible for the bulk of the $10 billion video-game market.

Yahoo! Finance, quoting NVidia's operating results for second quarter fiscal year 2005:

NVIDIA launched volume production of its desktop GeForce 6800 family, which includes the 6800 Ultra, 6800 GT and 6800. The GeForce 6800 Ultra and GT were recently named the recommended GPUs for id Software's Doom 3(TM), regarded as one of the most highly-anticipated PC games in history.

BBC news:

The eagerly awaited blockbuster computer game, Doom 3, has been leaked on the internet. Copies of the game on file-sharing networks and newsgroups are being downloaded by thousands of people. The cost to the game's makers, id Software, could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost sales.

The stories on piracy are particularly puzzling. Every PC game gets pirated, and I found it surprising it took that long, not that it happened at all.

But anyway. I still haven't played Doom 3, and since I am a proud non-PC-owner and don't like to play at work, I probably won't play it for a while, at least until the Xbox version comes out.

From what I've seen and read so far, I get the impression that, arguably for the first time, id has done a great job on making a game that tells a story (i.e. unlike Quake 3) and that has modern, AAA production values - "pace and presentation are among its strongest points, instead of an afterthought". At the same time, several aspects of the game appear to be derivative or simplistic. One can ask whether those were intentional artistic choices, perhaps motivated by the game's predecessors, or signs of creative weakness. But I cannot see much real interest in asking that question, apart from preparing for that inevitable moment when Doom 3 is used as an argument for or against a decision in some other project.