Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (Xbox) Review

Please note that I do not have Xbox Live, and thus I am unable to review the Multiplayer portion of Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil and will focus specifically on the Campaign and Extra content.

Doom 3 was released to the Xbox in early April at the same time that the PC version of the game received its expansion set, Resurrection of Evil. Now 6 months later, Xbox gamers have a chance to play the expansion as a stand alone title.

For those readers who are purely console gamers and thus unfamiliar with PC expansion sets, you must understand that Resurrection of Evil is not a new game, but rather an addition to Doom 3 of more levels, a few new weapons and enemies, and a continuation of the original game's story. If you have not yet played through Doom 3 you will want to go through it first, and I will assume for the basis of this review that you have indeed played the original game and know it's story, style, and gameplay.

Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil has the same graphics, sound mix, and action that made Doom 3 so much fun, which is to be expected from an expansion set. Sadly, its weakest aspect is actually the game's story. Not that Doom 3 was an amazing epic, but its story made sense within the confines of the universe.

Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil is set a bit under 2 years after the events of Doom 3. A strange beacon is detected coming from the ruins on Mars, and the UAC sends a team to investigate its source. You play as a Marine Combat Engineer who was with the part of the team that discovers the source of this beacon: what becomes one of your weapons called the Artifact. The Artifact is essentially an anchor for the forces of Hell here in our universe, and when you remove it from its resting place, you unwittingly unleesh Hell on Mars once more. Your team is wiped out instantly, and you're left armed only with your Fists, Pistol, and the Artifact trying to escape the ruins to safety.

Based on all the advertising for the expansion and the events of Doom 3, it makes sense to me that the UAC would send a small team to Mars, nothing too risky. A bunch of Marines with some Scientists would seem about right (think roughly the size of the team from Aliens); however that isn't the case here. It seems the UAC has re-occupied most of the research facility on Mars, and apparently the security force (consisting mostly of Marines instead of rent-a-cops this time around) is double that of the original game. While you spend most of the game in areas you haven't seen before, the whole concept of a massive re-occupation of the Mars facility simply doesn't seem very plausible to me. There are other aspects of the story that I wasn't big on at all, however I don't want to give them away.

Being an expansion for Doom 3, Resurrection of Evil uses the Doom 3 engine and looks every bit as beautiful as the original game does. In fact, it seems to me as though many character models, such as your Combat Engineer, are of higher quality than those found in Doom 3. This may explain why at several points in the game I noticed a frame rate drop during actual combat, something I only noticed once in Doom 3 in the opening, non-interactive in-game cinematic for a very brief instant. I also noted some graphical issues when opening and closing the PDA, with some art staying on screen or not appearing at all when the PDA was opened or closed, something I never saw in Doom 3. Still, Resurrection of Evil is hands down one of if not the most beautiful looking game for the Xbox. The use of lighting to create such realistic and foreboding environments is simply breathtaking.

Audio wise, the game features the same styled amazing sound mix that made Doom 3 so much more real. The prize here goes again to the game's music, or rather lack there of. Like Doom 3, Resurrection of Evil doesn't have any music in its levels; instead it uses ambient noise to give the different areas a sense of life. From the hum of machinery, to the grinding of presses, to the howls in Hell, the "music" in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil is very immersive. The weapon and monster sound effects are as you remember, and the voice acting is of similar quality; not always perfect and sometimes over the top, but it gets the job done well enough. One grave disappointment I have with Resurrection of Evil is with the audio logs of other facility member's PDAs, or the lack thereof. In Doom 3, many audio logs helped establish the flow of the story and provided another element to the game's unnerving atmosphere. In Resurrection of Evil, there are roughly 4 audio logs in the entire game out of dozens of PDAs. Even the e-mails seemed to have been toned down, with most of them having the same cut and paste message from Security giving a locker code. Sadly these PDAs don't have any of the real flare of the original. Some more Videos would have been nice as well, as there were only one or two as I recall.

Where Resurrection of Evil truly shines is in its simple, addictive gameplay and great level design. I also think that Resurrection of Evil is a more traditional port than Doom 3 was. Doom 3 has many of its levels modified, rearranged, and revised by Vicarious Visions for one reason or another, so there are many differences between its level design and those of its PC counterpart. While I can't be sure, I believe Resurrection of Evil is a straight port, with the exception of chopping up levels for load time's sake. There are many more outdoor areas in the game (Martian atmosphere), and a few of the areas you get to re-visit from the original game have certain different inter-connecting rooms. I believe this is because these rooms were connected this way in the PC version. Much of your time is spent around Site 1, the ruins where the Artifact is found, and the nearby part of the research facility, the Erebus Complex. These levels have a familiar feel to them, and the atmosphere, dread, and fear of the dark are back in full force. Pure Doom, and such strong level design makes it easy to overlook the shortcomings of the expansion's story.

Weapon wise, most of the weapons from Doom 3 are back, and they all seem to feature an increased amount of reserve ammo that you can carry. Since your Marine is a Combat Engineer, he's obviously smarter than the FNG from the original game, and thus figured out that he could attach his Flashlight to a weapon. You start the game with your Flashlight on your Pistol, and there is stays for the whole game. The Pistol is now mapped to the White Button on the Xbox Controller, and though the Pistol isn't the best weapon, at least it's something more to shoot with if you're surprised in the dark than simply hitting that Demon with your Flashlight.

The Soul Cube is gone, replaced by the Artifact. I'm not sure which I like better, both have their uses, though I miss the Soul Cube's healing ability. The Artifact can be charged three times by the souls found on corpses scattered all over the levels. Originally the Artifact doesn't do anything at all, but soon it gains the ability to grant you Hell (Bullet) Time for a short period, and it gains other very useful effects as the game goes on. Suffice it to say the Artifact isn't overly useful early on, but later in the game it's a real lifesaver.

However this brings us to the real lifesaver of the game, the Double Barrel Shotgun. This weapon is amazing, plain and simply. It kills things, and it kills them good. From Vulgars to Hell Knights, it makes things go boom now. The regular Shotgun becomes obsolete once you get it, as do most other weapons in the game. This is your tried and true best friend, especially when used in tandem with the Artifact. Just be careful you don't miss, as the reload time is a bit lengthy.

Resurrection of Evil also marks the first Doom game that I'm aware of that does not have a Chainsaw. While I greatly miss that ripper of fun, it's replaced by a weapon I found much more useful: The Grabber. Very similar to Half-Life 2's Gravity Gun (and for all you Half-Life 2 fans who complain about Doom stealing this weapon design, I say give us back our Pistol, Shotgun, Machine Gun, and Rocket Launcher, as you owe Half-Life 2's very existence and basic weapon design to the original Doom), the Grabber allows you to pick up and move many objects, from stones, to barrels (even the go-boom kind), and even enemy Fire/Plasma Balls and either drop them or hurl them at enemies. Grab an Imp's fireball mid-air and toss it back at him for a one hit kill. Grab a Forgotten One (new, lesser version of the Lost Soul) as it screams in at you and toss it away, killing it. The Grabber is one of the most useful weapons in the game, and is a great addition. You can even take down Hell Knights with it if you keep your distance and be careful.

Speaking of the Monsters, Resurrection of Evil adds a few new baddies to the mix. Replacing Lost Souls are Forgotten Ones, flying skulls that more resemble the classic Lost Souls, do less damage but tend to appear in packs. They often serve only to annoy you.

The mass amounts of Imps are all but gone, in there place is the new uber Imp, the Vulgar. These demons throw green plasma balls at you, can climb on walls, and are faster than Imps. They're much more deadly, and your best bet against them will be to use the Grabber and huck their plasma balls back at them, or introduce them to the Double Barrel. Either option is a one hit kill.

The new big tough monster is called the Bruiser, who is a large mechanical demon with a monitor for a mouth. He looks rather dumb, but has an attack akin to a Mancubus and the speed and size of a Hell Knight. I actually found them to be the most dangerous normal monster in the game, and thankfully they're few and far between.

The final new enemy is a new kind of Zombie, one I call the limper. They resemble flaming zombies that are not on fire, however they move very slowly and have one limp leg which makes a weird dragging sound. They weren't deadly at all but served as a visual intimidation. Dilapidated corpses are somewhat unnerving.

Most of the monsters from Doom 3 make a return appearance, however there are a few (aside from Bosses) that you won't see. These are the Z-Sec with a Pistol, the Chainsaw Zombies, Lost Souls, and the Living Dead (Zombies found in Hell). The expansion features all new bosses, most notably the Hunters, which I won't spoil here.

Finally, Resurrection of Evil also comes with some classic Doom titles: The Ultimate Doom, Doom II, and Master Levels for Doom II. For those who picked up the Doom 3: Limited Collector's Edition, you already have the Xbox versions of The Ultimate Doom and Doom II, however the Master Levels, an expansion to Doom II, are new.

While not ground breaking by today's standards, these are the titles that started it all, for without Doom there would be no Quake, Half-Life, Halo: Combat Evolved, etc. These are simply great additions to the package and are worth playing as the fast paced action of the 10+ year old classics holds up well. They also provide the only offline method for players to play either Deathmatch or Co-op, though the split screen is set up rather strange, like a full 4:3 ratio, and I'm not rather fond of it.

So long as you can get past the weak, implausible story, Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil is a great expansion set, and a worthy addition to Doom 3. The level design is simply brilliant, and the atmosphere that penetrated every aspect of Doom 3 is back and better than ever. With the inclusion of the Classic Doom titles, if you liked Doom 3, you owe it to yourself to pick up Resurrection of Evil, just make sure you've played through the original first.


clarksburg said...

Iv been looking around the internet for some good quality scart cables so far they have either been really cheap and rubbish or expensive and good but I don’t want to be forking out loads of money every time I need a scart cable. I have ordered a few 1 metre scart cable for my TV and consoles. i recently borrowed a projector off my uni and played pro evo on it! amazing

Juxtapose said...

Cool. We don't have scart cables in North America. For my Xbox, I originally used the composite cables that came with it, which I'm now using again, and for my Xbox 360 I'm using the component cables that came with it as well.