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Doom 3
Released n/a
All hope abandon, who enter here.¯ Apt words that apply not only to Dante's trip to Hell in the classic poem The Divine Comedy but also to your adventure on Mars in DOOM 3. You are a marine sent to the inhospitable planet as part of a regular rotation of troops, an employee of the Union Aerospace Corporation whose contract allows your bosses to appoint volunteers¯ if no one is willing to step forward.

<b><big>Building on What Came Before </big></b>
Rather than serve as a sequel to the classic games that defined the first-person shooter, DOOM 3 retells the story of the first installment. The simple graphics of the original give way to high-end 3D images seeped in dark atmosphere that make this the scariest game on the Mac since Clive Barker's Undying. You will literally jump out of your seat on more than one occasion.

<b><big>The First Task</big></b>
Armed with technology that makes the computers of yesteryear seem like Model T Fords, the development team at id Software took advantage of the opportunity to flesh out the game world in ways not available more than a decade ago. Now your character carries with him not only an arsenal of high-powered weapons but also a PDA he uses to download important information from the computers he comes across. Some of the e-mails, voice recordings and video clips simply add color to the story, but others impart such vital information as supply locker access codes.

You soon learn the importance of that data when you're sent to locate a missing scientist. Finding him, however, simply sets up what's to come, for he has unwittingly taken part in an experiment that literally opens the gates to Hell. The maelstrom that follows not only turns many UAC employees, including your fellow marines, into bloodthirsty zombies but also unleashes all manner of hideous creatures.

<b><big>The Engine That Powers the Game That Guides a Genre</big></b>
Given that DOOM 3 is a technology-driven make-over of the original, id's team also took the environments and the characters light years beyond the pixelated previous games. The engine that drives the graphics represents a generational leap from id's Quake III engine, which powered not only the id title Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but also dozens of others that licensed its use. Expect to see the DOOM 3 engine employed in the next few iterations of high-powered first-person shooters and third-person adventure games, including id's forthcoming Quake IV.

DOOM 3 pushes your computer's abilities to the limit. Dynamic lighting casts realistic shadows that conceal monsters so life-like you may find yourself reflexively ducking when they lunge at you, as if they could burst through the front of your display.

The environment abounds with exquisite details, from the in-jokes buried in posters on the wall to objects you can push, punch and even shoot up.

And the sound: Hook a set of speakers to your Mac and experience a big budget movie-like aural landscape in the game. Realistic sound is the next frontier in video game development, and DOOM 3 leads the way by assaulting you from all directions with the rustle of footsteps, the grind of machinery, the cackling laughter of madmen and other creepy effects. Crank this one up and feel the bass boom in your chest while the high end rattles your windows.

<b><big>But By the Seat of My Pants Go I</big></b>
Despite the fact that games have become more complicated over the past decade, id went against the norm and left the basic gameplay mechanics of the original largely intact. While you now have goals, such as accessing specific areas of the base or meeting up with fellow soldiers who are (hopefully) not zombies, the classic mouse-and-keyboard control scheme remains the same. Your complement of weapons, which range from the basic pistol to the lethal-at-close-range shotgun to the demon-frying BFG 9000, also remains similar.

As before, DOOM 3 features its share of boss monsters intent on keeping you from reaching the next level of the game. They're the worst of the worst, the type who command legions of underlings bent on running interference while they unleash all manner of nasty attacks on you. Sometimes they even employ the same deadly weapons you carry around and one can only be harmed by a specific weapon. In short, they won't make your mission any easier.

But as anyone who played the first two DOOM games knows, easier means little to the developers at id, where even the lowest difficulty setting still translates into a by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience you won't soon forget.