IntroductionDoom 3 is hands down the most intense, nerve-racking, and frightening experience ever created. The basic premise and story of the original Doom series has been developed and polished. The immersive environment created by id Software catapults the fear factor beyond rival forms of entertainment (including fellow "portal to Hell" work Event Horizon). The ability of the game to pull players deep under the Martian surface is due in no small part to John Carmack's latest graphics engine. The amazing use of light and shadow works wonders on the senses, and wreaks havoc on the nerves.
But along with the amazing depth of the visuals comes a down side. One of the most frustrating features of the game is the ease with which evil can creep up and start smashing one's brains in with a wrench while the player is left spinning in circles trying to divine from whence the threat is coming. The shadows (while visually stunning) make it easy for zombies, and Hell spawn alike to hide away and wait for the unsuspecting gamer to turn his or her back before attacking and intensely frustrating the game play. Armed only with an underpowered flashlight to combat the encroaching darkness, it can be disappointing to die before a shot can be fired in defense.
In real life, a crow bar to the back, or a gunshot wound to the right arm would probably be sufficient for getting the attention of an unsuspecting space marine. Of course, we currently lack this tactile feedback in games (thank goodness). But Carmack and company didn't leave us empty handed in our fight against spinning in circles and firing like crazy.
Doom 3 has built in support for 5.1 surround sound, and if ever there was a game that could benefit from surround living up to its potential, this would be the one. In the following pages of this review, we explore the impact of different audio setups and how they impact the world of Doom 3.