DOOM 3 was released in 2004 to much fanfare. Faced with years of hype and expectations from rabid fans, it seemed that releasing something that could live up to them was an impossible task for id Software.
To take a much loved franchise and re-invent it for a new audience whilst simultaneously appealing to old fans is a gargantuan task — one I’m pleased to say has been successfully accomplished with DOOM 3 BFG Edition. id Software have re-released a title that has taken the essence of its predecessors, wrapped it in a terrifying new shell and in doing so, have brought DOOM back into the popular consciousness of gamers everywhere. Eight years afters after it’s initial release, DOOM 3 is back and set to scare the pants off a new generation of gamers… and old fans, all over again.
The DOOM 3 BFG Edition is the definitive and ultimate DOOM package. It includes DOOM 3 in enhanced HD, with its “Resurrection of Evil” expansion pack plus a brand new single player add-on titled “The Lost Mission.” Also on the disc are DOOM and DOOM 2, both of which are the “Ultimate” editions — including “The Flesh Consumed” for DOOM and “No Rest For The Living” for Doom 2. Needless to say, there is a whole lot of content on the disc.
DOOM 3 is the main attraction, and while DOOM 1 & 2 are nifty inclusions, I gave them merely a cursory glance before diving head first into DOOM 3. You start out as the newest transfer to the civilian outpost on Mars, run by the “Union Aerospace Corporation” – DOOM’s analogue of Weyland Yutani – and immediately feel overwhelmed by the foreboding sense of dread and imminent chaos about to be unleashed. DOOM 3’s first and most immediately apparent strength is in its ability to set the tone. Arriving at the facility is not a pleasant experience. The walls press in on you as you feel the deadly martian atmosphere straining to flood in and snuff you out. Security and science staff begrudgingly acknowledge your presence, but as more of a nuisance than anything else. Cheery voiced propaganda – thinly veiled as advertisements – are played through out the facility. In short, no sooner than you arrive at the station do you wish you could turn around and leave. But, before too long, things start to go wrong and what was before an unpleasant, claustrophobic place, literally becomes hell.
DOOM 3 is primarily played out in corridor after corridor, fighting your way thorough wave after wave of hellish demon-spawn. On paper this may sound dull, but in practice it’s a thrilling and constantly unnerving ride. Dead Space owes a lot to DOOM 3. While playing, I was on the edge of my seat more often than not. Never knowing what was around the next corner waiting to hack me to pieces. Eventually you do fall into a predictable rhythm of combat and the enemies become easier to avoid but, the scares remain intact for the duration, no matter how well prepared you are. In a generation where “horror” games have largely been reduced to “action” with “stuff popping out at you”, it’s refreshing to feel genuine fear while playing. Even if that refreshment comes from a game released almost 10 years ago.
“The Resurrection of Evil” and “The Lost Mission” expansions extend the proceedings somewhat, but play essentially identically to the main campaign. If you love the gameplay in DOOM 3, these add-ons will suit you just fine. If, on the other hand, DOOM 3 isn’t for you… well, they won’t change your mind. Multiplayer is intact but is fairly dated. Matches are limited to low numbers of players and only offer a handful of modes. If competitive multiplayer shooting is what you’re after, then you’ll likely want to look elsewhere.
Aside from the lackluster multiplayer, there are a few other frustrating flaws that hold DOOM 3 back. Chief among them are the incredibly long loading times — especially on the PS3 version — which break up the flow and pace of the game. Likewise are the mandatory auto-saves. Every once in a while, the entire game pauses as it saves, once again disrupting the flow. Other minor issues can be overlooked as remnants of the past even though they can sometimes frustrate. No quick selection for weapons means scrolling though every weapon until you find the one you want springs to mind. And while it’s great to have the original DOOM games included, they feel more like an afterthought. Presented in their original, unaltered format makes them feel even more dated and the letter-boxing is just ugly. Most frustrating though is once you’re playing DOOM 1 or 2 to get back to the game’s menu you need to quit completely and booth the disc again.
Issues aside, DOOM 3 is a great game and the BFG Edition is the definitive version. Whether you are a younger gamer, missed it the first time around or just want to take a terrifying walk down memory lane, DOOM 3 represents one of the greatest shooters of its type which are becoming increasingly rare. Packed with scares, thrills and action DOOM demands your attention.