Doom 3 Hands-On & Huge Media Blowout

Finally the gateway to hell is open! Drool over 150 screens and 18 hi-res videos, plus our full impressions.

The release of Doom 3 in America yesterday defined what has to be the most frenzied game launch in recent years. With some retailers selling the game as early as a week ago, Doom 3 became perhaps the most rapidly pirated game of all time - but it all became trivial as midnight struck on Tuesday morning - with several stores selling the game the moment Tuesday arrived, including the flagship launch in id's Texas homeland.

Kikizo was lucky enough to get a copy of the game on Monday, without a download program in sight. Installing Doom 3 is an interesting experience; we encountered a couple of hitches but nothing too problematic, but the feeling of knowing that we'd finally be playing the game that this high-spec PC was built for, of anticipation and high hope - it was almost too much for our feeble heads to handle.

A year ago, the PC we're using to play Doom 3 was pretty state-of-the-art - now, at 2.8Ghz with 512 RAM and a boasting Radeon's 9700 Pro, it's relatively humble compared to the latest top models. But as a fussy bunch of gamers, we're still more than happy with the performance here.

To keep things running smoothly and for the purpose of taking these videos (which you can watch right now in high quality 640x480) we were running at 800x600 with no anti-aliasing and all effects turned on - and getting around sixty frames per second throughout most of the experience. As traditionally console gamers, this was visually more than enough to blow us away.

After having seen so many screenshots, trailers and demonstrations of the game - including the most memorable one of the game's debut ten-minute demonstration at E3 2002 - we had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but on reflection, Doom 3 has surpassed all these initial expectations.

It's not just about the high technical standard of visuals on offer, it's the attention to detail, the highly stylised, artistic look and feel, and the gorgeous environments, characters and enemies - combined with insane production values, that make this something Hollywood will sit up and pay attention to. Every texture, every bump-map and every shadow would be a waste of power without artistic style, and after so much hard work, Doom 3 has it all by the bucketload.

And although the novelty of such astoundingly high quality visuals and sound has not yet subsided, the Doom 3 experience quickly becomes all about captivation, about you and your role in the world. It's surprisingly story-driven from the start, with the recent trailers providing a foretaste of the themes and ideas to expect, but what's really impressive is how well this all comes together.

The story, which has been written by unadulterated sci-fi heads, is comparable to top blockbuster movies in terms of execution; we've not seen all of it yet, but what we have seen as the game begins and as it progresses - is extremely authentic. The characters are full of life and as soon as the game begins, interesting conflicts are noticeable. The voice acting is high quality and the music creates a sense of sci-fi believability normally associated with the best Hollywood flicks - while obviously the visual quality makes the whole thing even more impactful.

But this is more than just an awesome-looking sci-fi movie, remember? Before the shooting even begins, as soon as the introduction cut-scene transforms into first-person view, you're totally immersed in a living, breathing research and development base on Mars, where people go about their daily tasks regardless of what you're up to - but you can interact with anyone, and get a sense of different personalities. The world is pretty interactive - you can knock stuff about, move hanging lights around, play a basic arcade game or shoot your comrades if you like - but it all helps to create a feeling of genuine connection in a dynamic game world.

The mission-based game structure is instantly accessible, with your arrival on Mars soon followed by your first mission to bring back a missing scientist to your chief at mission command - on the way, you hear rumours and disturbing gossip of "strange things" from the workers, and inevitably, things start to go wrong. You're equipped with your PDA, essentially your digital identity that allows access to areas with certain levels of clearance, and also acts as your itinerary and options menu - although you can collect multiple PDAs from fallen co-workers to allow higher level access.

Once the monkey has well and truly hit the fan and the demons are unleashed, things only get better. An always-familiar control system poses no learning problems at all, while a fair learning curve, combined with three initially available difficulty levels, ensures achievable progress from mission to mission - a good thing since you're always eager to see what's coming next.

Your radio delivers voice signals from other people on Mars, which is an incredibly effective tool not just to keep the player informed but in creating huge tension as distressed workers are heard screaming down the signal as things start to get nasty.

The early stages of the game are all quite comparable to each other but things are seldom repetitive. A compulsory stint out in the open air of Mars, which looks incredible, is an example of how sections are broken up, while cut-scenes and the continually unfolding story provides all the momentum an FSP needs.

We're but a fraction of the way into the game but we've already seen a multitude of amazing enemies, some of which we've been waiting to shoot the shizzle out of ever since we saw their badasses over two years ago. In a sense, these guys are the stars of the show; they all look the part and attack in different ways, and come in human, zombified, deformed, decapitated, arachnid, mutant, demon and downright disturbing varieties.

Knowing that there's so much more to go, with many more levels to see and more enemies to be encountered, makes the experience all the more gripping. But for us - although first signs are good - only time will tell how effectively Doom 3 sustains the pace, variety and originality it's established so far.

Doom 3 will hit the UK on 13th August. Click here for our previous coverage incouding all the trailers (the newest one released last week is included below). Enjoy the gameplay vids!

Adam Doree
Editorial Director,

Additional new screens: [Page 1] [Page 2] [Page 3]

Video Coverage
(See Latest Videos & Video FAQ Here)
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
The amazing entire intro sequence (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.34m 29.4 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Getting started - entering UAC facility and collecting PDA from receptionist (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.37m 32.0 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Another cut scene, hearing rumours... the meet the boss! (640x480, 2Mbps)
3.38m 42.4 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Following a cute robot thing to find a lift... (640x480, 2Mbps)
1.44m 22.8 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Entering Mars City Underground (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.45m 35.8 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Going outside! (640x480, 2Mbps)
1.24m 18.2 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
It begins... (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.54m 38.2 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Escape the underground! (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.23m 31.8 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Monsters in the labs... (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.03m 27.3 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Voice message, more action... (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.17m 27.5 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Familiar looking cut scene, more shooting (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.17m 29.9 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Don't mess with this sucker (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.31m 33.6 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
A strange growth (640x480, 2Mbps)
1.57m 26.0 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Getting more ferocious (640x480, 2Mbps)
1.36m 20.8 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Heavy weaponary in effect (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.02m 27.0 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
It's... the bathroom! (640x480, 2Mbps)
1.56m 25.5 MB WMV
Doom 3: In-Game Direct feed
Some action and a view outside (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.46m 36.8 MB WMV
The final (and best) Doom 3 trailer, as released last week (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.28m 26.1 MB WMV

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