Much to our surprise, Vicarious Visions CEO Karthik Bala has revealed that one of the major additions to the Xbox port of DOOM III will be a co-operative mode for two players, scuppering any hopes we had for similar antics in the less technically compromised PC version.
"Our biggest addition for the Xbox is the ability to play the single player game with a friend in co-op mode," he told GamePro in the US, although in more positive news he also confirmed that the Xbox port of the game would feature Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, and that it would be "a showcase title for Xbox Live, with a number of features and additions that make playing against others online a fantastic experience." Sadly he did not clarify whether co-op would feature on Live.
The implication that co-operative play will not feature in the PC version of DOOM III will certainly come as a major blow to fans of Id's bloodthirsty FPS series. Around here it's certainly one of our fondest memories of the game's influential progenitor, and PC fans are bound to be up in arms about this, particularly given the presence of such an option in the Xbox version. Once again, some commentators will argue, early adopters on the PC will be given short shrift compared to their console cousins, who will also perhaps benefit from a smoother ride following the traditional "open beta" approach we see from off-the-shelf FPS releases.
On the other hand though, Id has already made it clear that this is an ostensibly single-player experience. That's the bit the Dallas developer is most bothered about. The game's multiplayer mode, which was exposed late last year at QuakeCon, has only been seen with a maximum of four players thus far, and the maps will be designed by UK-based Splash Damage rather than Id Software's own level designers. Perhaps, once the initial disappointment dies down, we'll take solace from the fact that in the eyes of its creators multiplayer is secondary - that it's not actually meant to have a co-op mode - and that this is just a degree of artistic licence Vicarious Visions is taking. Perhaps it isn't a big deal at all?
Indeed, Karthik notably takes issue with the labelling of his firm's DOOM III as a mere "port". Although Vicarious Visions is more renowned for its handling of other people's games (Jedi Knight II, Jedi Academy, Tony Hawk GBA, etc) than it is for its own original concoctions (like Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro), the process here differs to that of, say, Jedi Knight II, because in this case development of the Xbox and PC versions is going on simultaneously at Vicarious Visions and Id Software. In other words, they're separate games that draw on the same base content. This is a co-op mode designed by Vicarious Visions, not a co-op mode designed exclusively for Xbox by Id Software. If you ask me, there's some comfort in that.
Whether the PC version ought to have a co-op mode, of course, is an entirely separate issue...
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