2005-05-12 / Arts & Entertainment

Reworked Video Game Has Even More Carnage

By Matt Slagle AP Technology Writer

By Matt SlagleAP Technology Writer

If your bloodlust somehow wasn’t satisfied after vaporizing the ump-teenth demon in last year’s PC version of “Doom 3,” id Software Inc. has released a reworked Xbox version and an expansion pack for the PC with even more carnage.

In many respects, the Xbox version ($50, M-rated) is superior to the PC edition of this first-person shooter.

The stunning graphics remain largely intact, as do the hair-raising shrieks and moans of the zombies and hellish minions.

The overall sound design is excellent, with low-pitch reverberations of machinery, hissing steam vents and muffled, distant whispers perfectly complementing the already gruesome, unsettling visuals.

The story occurs on a Martian base where high-tech experiments have opened a portal to hell. Of course, you’re the only gunslinging space marine with enough firepower to send the baddies back where they came from.

You’ll spend much of your time running from one pitch black chamber to another, searching for access codes and levers to open doors and advance to the next level. At regular intervals, a cast of demons and zombies spawn before you in a flash of lava-red light or leap from janitor closets and other dark recesses.

After an hour, you know what to expect. Yet it’s a horror formula that never fails to deliver. I’ve played through “Doom 3’’ many times now – and it still gives me the creeps.

Its gameplay is a bit behind the times in some respects. For example, you can’t peek around corners or dually wield a weapon and a flashlight to see what’s lurking in the dark distance. The best strategy: run into the fray, shoot anything that moves and pray you don’t run out of ammo (or life).

By far the best addition in the Xbox version is cooperative multiplayer, a feature not available on the PC.

Not only is it just plain fun to play with a buddy over Xbox Live, it’s somehow reassuring to know I’ll never have to traipse through monster-filled chambers alone again. This feature alone makes it worth owning both versions of the game.

For the PC, the “Resurrection of Evil” ($30, M-rated) expansion pack adds more of what fans want: more weapons, more monsters and more terrifying levels, including some much- needed multiplayer extras. Note: You must have the full version of “Doom 3’’ to play “Resurrection.’’

It’s been awhile since the events in “Doom 3.’’

This time around, your cache of available weapons is expanded to included a powerful double-barrel shotgun and a grabber gun that lets you snag debris and fireballs, then shoot them at enemies. “Half-Life 2’’ used an uncannily similar gravity gun, but to much greater effect.

Another nifty gadget is a heart-shaped artifact that slows down time, makes you invincible for short periods and generally helps you tear through enemies with ease.

One of the biggest problems with the original “Doom 3’’ was its mediocre multiplayer ability, where friends and strangers could gather online and fight each other. The shortcomings have been partially addressed in “Resurrection,’’ though I doubt it will be enough to pry online shooter fans away from existing games like “Unreal Tournament 2004.’’

What “Resurrection’’ offers is a more strategic capture-the-flag mode besides the kill-or-be-killed death-match mode. And though still a bit on the small side, “Resurrection’’ allows up to eight players – still a pittance compared to the multiplayer offerings found in most first-person shooters.

Three and a half stars out of four for the Xbox version of Doom 3, two and half stars for “Resurrection of Evil.’’

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