but that doesn't mean that their engines aren't the absolute finest in the industry (and I'm sure I'll get a lot of Unreal fan flames for this).
I won't flame you but I don't think I agree with you. It depends on your definition of finest. id has always made engines designed around a specific game. Take a peak at the now-public source code for Quake and Quake 2 sometime to see what I mean. It's pretty interesting just looking through the header files. If you include flexibility in your definition of finest, I don't think you can apply that id engines. Their engines are notoriously difficult for licensees to adapt. Even if you're thinking solely of visual quality, well remember that Doom3 is being meticulously designed to show off the engine at its very best. Monsters are placed and move where the shadows and light look the most spectacular on their bump-mapped little skins. Levels will tend to be much more confined with relatively short lines of sight so that PCs don't crawl to a stop trying to dynamically light them. No doubt the Doom3 engine will be light years ahead of any other when it comes to the visual quality of Doom3, but try and apply it to other games ... I dunno.
Personally, I'd prefer to have monsters placed where they do the most for gameplay
and not where they look
the best. I like wide-open outdoor levels with lots of foliage, town squares, aircraft hangars, etc., that are more than just a few feet across, when the game calls for things like that.
Still, I'm looking forward to Doom 3. It's been a LONG time since I played a scary game and Doom 3 is sounding pretty scary to me.