17 April 2005

Xbox Fever

Back in the day, I was a huge, no huge, no, make that HUGE fan of Doom and DoomII. An old girlfriend bought a PC in '96 and she generously told me that if there was any software I'd like to use on her new toy, she was more than happy to let me. A friend of mine who was a hardcore computer gamer told me about Doom and the rest is history.

Recently, id Software released Doom 3, which was billed as the biggest, baddest Doom ever in the history of the know and unknown universes. Unfortunately, to play this megagame at its highest potential, one's PC needs to be up to NORAD capabilities. Our crappy Gateway can barely handle it when I run MS Word and an internet browser simultaneously, so it looked as if Doom 3 was out of my reach until we got around to upgrading the hardware. Naturally, I started hinting to my wife that a new PC might be in order. For doing our taxes or something.

My wife, well aware of my tactics, figured out that I wanted a new game and offered a clever solution: She told me to just buy a game console. And since id had just recently dropped the Xbox version of Doom 3, I was all set. I bought the box and the game yesterday. Set up was quick and painless. I cracked open a Woodpecker, sat back and prepared to start blowing shit up.

Silly me. Have you seen the Xbox controllers? Jesus wept. I've seen commercial aircraft with more streamlined control panels. One lever moves your characters head, another moves his legs, then there's the D-pad, the four colored buttons (A, B, X and Y) and the two little ones that operate the PDA (see below) and the flashlinght, not to mention the triggers on the underside. Right off the bat, I'm at a serious disadvantage -- you see, I only have two hands. But I figure practice makes perfect and that with three or four hours a day of serious gameplay, heh heh, I'll be just as good as members of the Xbox's target demographic, i.e., 15-year-old cretins.

But then there's the game itself: In the first two Dooms, you shot at everything that moved and picked up any stray weapons, ammo packs, medical supplies and keys that you saw lying around. For the most part, it's mindless entertainment, but you do have to remember where certain doors and elevators and what not are to get to the next level. In the new Doom, there's 20 minutes of exposition and backstory that you have to wade through at the start of the game, which kills the momentum before it's even begun. Furthermore, your character is issued a PDA that you have to keep checking for clues, e-mails and other information, which is a pain in the ass. Finally, the game is fucking dark. Now, I know all about versimilitude and all that shit, but you need to be able to see what the fuck you're doing. Add all that up, and this "game" has turned into serious work, which pretty much removes all of the fun from the equation.

So after two hours of stumbling aimlessly, I gave up. I'm going to search for cheat codes on the web and see if I can "customize" this bitch so it's playable. And if I can't get the hang of Doom-fucking-3, there's always Red Dead Revolver or Manhunt.

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