Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil

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Published by Activision
Developed by Nerve Software
Platform: Xbox, PC (reviewed on Xbox)
ESRB Rating: Mature

When I first heard that id Software was resurrecting the Doom franchise, I was ecstatic. The original Doom game was a defining moment in PC gaming, and brought the first-person shooter genre to full legitimacy. What new ground could they break now, in a world where shooters are pretty much the defining genre of video gaming, and where advances in the genre came on a fairly regular basis?

Alas, not much. The problem with Doom 3 was, basically, that it was too much like the original. In a gaming era post-Halflife and post-Halo, you've got to bring some serious coolness to register on the average player's radar screen. Doom 3 played like its grandfather, only darker and with prettier graphics. Of course, there's the well-registered complaining about not actually being able to see any of those bloody graphics thanks to the stupid light situation (tac-lights, fellas...come on). Despite these problems and complaints, the game sold rather robustly, and an expansion pack was in the making before the cash registers had even cooled down. That brings us to Resurrection of Evil, wherein we return to the Mars base some time after the events of the original game to run around in the dark again and blow up demons. The whole "gateway to Hell" thing is made much more explicit up front, and Our Hero starts the game off by snatching up a demonic artifact.

Other than some minor setup differences in the opening animation, this is basically just another pack of maps. The "story" isn't robust enough to even really deserve the word, and the maps only add up to another few hours of shooty goodness. There are a few new weapons (including the notoriously ripped-off-from-HL2 gravity gun), a half-assed stab at fixing the light problem (though only while wielding the pistol, strangely), and the same batch of creatures that you were sick of after four hours of the original game. Oh, and the magical monster closets, wherein tactically approaching situations proves useless because the solid wall behind you drops to reveal hordes of demons. Whoopee.

If you thought Doom 3 was the best shooter since, well, Doom 2, then this is gonna be right up your alley. Alas, I suspect folks that feel that way are in the overwhelming minority in the land of shooter fandom, so I'm guessing this is just going to look like another dropped ball for the folks at id. It's a shame, really, as the whole "portal to Hell" conceit has amazingly cool story potential, but the games have failed to realize it. Half-life and Halo, as two shining examples, manage to tell fantastic engaging stories while still being some of the nastiest, most entertaining shooters on the market. The fact that the guys designing Doom are still just slapping levels together and glossing story over is a shame.

That said, the game is gorgeous, and this time around you actually get to see most of the backgrounds and monsters. The whole "oooh, scary darkness" schtick got overplayed in the core game, so I'm glad they backed away even just a little bit this time around. Why pay badass texture designers and painters when you're going to make the player run through the whole game blind in the dark. The voice acting is pretty uniformly atrocious, the monster noises are only marginally better than in the very first Doom, and the music is eminently forgettable.

For the die-hards, this one probably merits a rental, as it won't take long to blow through the expansion's levels. And for those that didn't pick up the Collector's Edition of Doom 3, this is also your best way to get your hands on the previous Doom games, as they are bonus features on this disc as well. It's a testament to how tedious and repetitive I found both games that I had more fun going back and playing old-school Ultimate Doom and Doom 2 than I did playing the new stuff.

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