Introduction

Doom 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.

Sound Experience Tests
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  • joldershaw - Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - link

    I have had the same problem. It seems that unless the program used is compatible with AC3 or Dolby Digital/Prologic, then Windows relies on the 6 speaker outputs on the sound device.

    It only gives a basic stereo on the two front speakers, and all other channels are silent.

    If you hear of anything else, please reply.

    Config:
    Nforce2 MOBO with Realtek ALC650 sound and SPDIF output going to digital input on amp.

    PowerDVD works OK, but nothing else in Windows takes advantage.
    Reply
  • joldershaw - Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • mareksteele - Saturday, August 14, 2004 - link

    I'd like to comment just one thing about this review. There was no reference to how game settings (high/med/low) affect sound diversity for this game, I haven't seen yet a concrete explaination anywere for this issue (if it only affects low or slightly medium too). Thanks for your time. Reply
  • vhato - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    I have a 5.1 setup with an Audigy 2 ZS and Doom 3 did not support 5.1. The Surround was there, but all voice was played on the front speakers and not the center channel. Definately not a problem though. Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - link

    #16 - this is an issue I have heard many people talk about on various sound setups. I myself experience it using an Asus K7N8X-E Deluxe with SoundStorm audio, but I have also heard of other onboard solutions and Audigy 2 ZS users having the same problem. As far as I can tell, id/Activision is aware of the problem, and hopefully they will fix it. In the meantime, there is something of a hack workaround. Open the console (Ctrl+Shift+~ or something like that) and type the following:

    bind m "s_restart"

    You can use whatever you want for m, but the idea is to bind a key to the audio reset function. I generally hit my M key every three or four minutes, and sound keeps going. Otherwise, about every 5 to 10 minutes it will start cutting out. Very annoying.

    The alternative solution is to open up DxDiag and turn down the hardware acceleration on your audio. It doesn't seem to affect things *too* much in Doom 3, but it will likely affect other games. I prefer the bind key solution as it's a Doom 3 specific problem and workaround.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    I'd still like to know if anyone else is experiencing the same problems I am with the sound... when I have "Surround Speakers" enabled the audio cuts out at what seems like random points. It must have something to do with a specific (or multiple specific) EAX effects because it doesn't do it when I turn Surround Speakers off. I have an Audigy 2 ZS and I'm using all the latest drivers for it... it's really a pain in the ass when you're fighting and all of a sudden the audio cuts out.

    I have to hit ESC and go to the options, turn Surround off, then back on, and it works again until the next event that causes it to lose the audio. I don't think it's a problem with my sound card because no other game has problems like that. Has anyone heard anything about this problem?
    Reply
  • magnusr - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Where is spdif support out enabled? Doom3 dosen`t seem to support ac3 audio.....

    I have a sony ac3 amplifter. an optical cable from my audigy 2 card to it. Also using a projector (good picture at least)

    I have a lot of friends with similar configs.

    None of us can seem to get ac3 audio over the optical link.

    So much talk about sorround sound when it`s dosen`t even seem to support ac3 sound. Only a bunch of cables on small sound systems...... Where is the joy in that?
    Reply
  • Aquila76 - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Warden - you got it exactly right. Doom3 only looks to whatever the Windows Control Panel is set to and takes it from there. It doesn't know/care about soundcard type. Reply
  • Aquila76 - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Warden - you got it exactly right. Doom3 only looks to whatever the Windows Control Panel is set to and takes it from there. It doesn't know/care about soundcard type. Reply
  • TheWarden - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    For those of you asking about the performance differences between Audigy/onboard/nForce, etc... the performance is likely identical. As the first poster alluded to, Doom 3 does not use the fancy hardware of an Audigy or nForce to process any sound; it's all done by the CPU no matter what sound solution you are using. I got this information out of an interview in the latest PC Gamer, but I'm sure it's available on the web, too.

    Cheers,
    Warden
    Reply

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