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Doom 3: BFG Edition

Doom

Doom‘s legacy as one of the pillars of the first-person shooter genre is unquestionably secured as it approaches its twentieth anniversary. Few games can claim to be so influential, and it comes as no surprise in the HD era there’s a new retail release commemorating the occasion. Doom 3 is an entirely different story. It isn’t such a fondly-remembered title, but instead quickly divided gamers between the camps that loved its dark, claustrophobic atmosphere and those that hated dealing with the darn flashlight. This edition isn’t going to change any of that.

While Ultimate Doom and Doom II are a part of the package, the bulk of it is made up of content from Doom 3. There’s the original campaign, the expansion pack Resurrection of Evil, and an additional filler campaign called The Lost Missions. All of this content adds up to be appreciably lengthy. Doom II has an additional campaign that was specifically added for the console release, making it finally available to PlayStation 3 owners. Fans practically have the entire series on disc, save for Doom 64 and Final Doom.

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Despite its moniker, Doom 3 is actually a remake of the original. Players are once again cast as the nameless, voiceless space marine with more guts than any chest cavity could reasonably expect to hold. Transferred to a station on Mars, things quickly go wrong when a scientific team accidentally unleashes the horrors of Hell with the majority of everyone being either killed or turned into mindless zombies. Still, there are plenty of demons to keep company with as they teleport into one room after the other. Doom 3 is best described as a corridor shooter mixed with the ultimate monster-in-the-closet gameplay.

There’s no question that there’s going to be a demonic imp jumping out at you from the shadows or teleporting in, but only once you’ve crossed that invisible threshold to trigger it. Not that other attempts aren’t made to be scary. Indeed, the entire space station is drenched in darkness with only the faintest of lights flickering to show the way. Malevolent voices whisper and bodies are strewn about. None it is particularly scary, but at least it’s clear the game’s trying.

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HD re-releases are the ultimate test of time, showing which games have aged gracefully and the ones with noticeable crow’s feet. Doom 3 is the latter. In 2004, for a brief period, Doom 3 was the pinnacle of what could be accomplished graphically on the PC. As is the nature of PC titles, it was quickly outshined as a number of developers had come up with their own graphics engines that surpassed id software’s. 2004 was the same year that gave gamers the Source engine, an engine that has continued to grow and get better with every passing year.

Sadly ,the graphics used in Doom 3 do not hold up. There’s hardly been any noticeable reworking of anything in the game. The heads of the characters are still oddly pointy and the dated visuals show how quickly graphics can age. Since the other two campaigns run on the same engine, don’t expect anything eye-catching.

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Doom 3 is still largely the game it was in 2004. Quick reflexes and carrying a big gun is what it takes to make it through the game, as is the patience necessary to find all the PDA scattered for access to the next area. The problem with so much searching is that every area looks exactly the same and it’s very easy to go in circles until you stumble on the needed PDA purely by accident.

There’s no deviance to the formula in either Resurrection of Evil nor The Lost Missions, though there are a few new guns to play with like the super shotgun. Strangely, the co-op option from the original Xbox version of Resurrection of Evil is missing, nor is there one in the main campaign or The Lost Missions. Considering The Lost Missions is just another two hours of slogging through dark corridors and putting down monsters, its omission is rather glaring. Beyond the three campaigns, online play is relegated to a handful of players running around in classic Doom fashion and trying to blow each other away.

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Doom and Doom II, on the other hand, shine as examples of timeless game design that are still incredibly fun to play. Four-player co-op has been thrown in to spice things up, but even playing solo is still just as enjoyable. It’s classic gameplay: running around at an insanely high speed and firing off rounds at Hell’s army, frantically looking for ammo and keys to get to the next level. It still has an appeal that resonates even after two decades have past since Doom first flickered into life on computer screens in 1993.

Doom 3: BFG Edition is advertising the wrong games in its collection. None of the Doom 3 content looks any better than it did in 2004, which is simply the kiss of death for any HD release, and the eight years since its release have not been kind to it. Doom and Doom II, which have not been available to PlayStation 3 owners until now, are still fun many years later. Had care and attention been given to those (not to mention some reworked visuals), it would’ve made for a far more compelling package instead of two classics saddled with three duds.

5 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

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