Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: DOOM 3: BFG Edition

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Pause for thought: DOOM 3 is nearly a decade old. That time when we were all astounded by id Software’s decision to change direction with one of the most well established adult franchises in videogames happened nearly ten years ago. When we all had to upgrade our graphics cards to support normal maps with little-or-no compression. When big guns and bigger aliens were all we needed to be impressed. When we all laughed heartily at the lack of duct tape on a research facility on Mars. These fondly remembered times mark an era of gaming that has long since past, and if they do not ring true for you then DOOM 3: BFG Edition is probably not going to sit well in your videogames collection.

DOOM 3: BFG Edition includes the original DOOM 3, the expansion pack DOOM 3: Resurrection of Evil and the not previously released Lost Mission package. Each of these three pieces of software is selectable from a content menu that is presented after choosing whether to continue form previous save data or begin anew, allowing players who have already experienced DOOM 3 to jump straight into new terrain without having to complete the original experience once again. This is unquestionably a good design decision, as while DOOM 3 could still be considered a ‘classic,’ there’s no denying it’s value has grown thin over the years.

Electronic Theatre has long been in support of the now old fashioned gunslinger first-person shooter (FPS) design. Not every FPS experience has to be Call of Duty or Half-Life; there’s plenty of room for something in between. The brainless slaughter of Bodycount taught us that it is possible to have fun in a shallow environment that isn’t propped up by Hollywood production values so long as the weaponry is interesting and the enemies act with some degree of observable intelligence. DOOM 3 most certainly has the weaponry down, though the enemies are less convincing.

Starting off well, the zombified humans act with a purposeful dragging of their dead limbs as they maintain typical bi-peddle limitations. It’s when the real enemies are found that things become a little less enjoyable as the limitations of yesteryears technology are far less forgivable. Those times in which enemy movement is so erratic that you’re not sure whether the table directly in front of them will limit their movement as intended or simply allow them to pop up onto higher ground without penalty can be infuriating. It’s a minor occurrence, but still one which can have dire consequences on your experience.

Visually DOOM 3 – and thus DOOM 3: Resurrection of Evil also – has received a significant makeover. More concerned with textures than polygon count, there’s no denying that DOOM 3 still looks like a videogame from yesteryear, with sparsely detailed corridors and a few too many obvious angles on characters’ head, but what is there does look significantly better than with the original release. This is never more prevalent than in cutscenes, where the characters are far more lifelike than they previously were, and as such more relatable in their causes.

Despite the fact that both DOOM and DOOM II are 2D interpretations of a 3D world, limited in both scope and depth, it’s DOOM 3 that has aged most aggressively. The original titles stand as a testament to an era, a time that is considered the birth of the genre as we know it and are enjoyable for the youthful, uncomplicated escapism that they offer. DOOM 3 arrived at a time when videogame were becoming exponentially more complex and have since continued to do so, allowing for fewer acceptances of it’s flaws and an immediate dislike of it’s lack of technical prowess. A modern wolfskin applied to an aging sheep does not make for an exciting time, no matter how well respect the host franchise may be.

The included versions of DOOM and DOOM II are in fact the Xbox LIVE Arcade editions bundled on to the same disc (on Xbox 360 at least), including the original Achievements and leaderboard structure and even allowing you to use any existing save data you may have. So lacking in adaptation are they that exiting either videogame via the option on the main menu will boot the gamer back to the dashboard as opposed to the disc’s own videogame selection screen. These renditions are arguably the definitive renditions of their predecessors, and as such are wholly welcomed as part of this budget priced retail package.

That said, these new editions of the 90s titles do lack in the upgrades that DOOM 3 benefits from (aside form the use of modern server technology for online play). No surround sound, no stereoscopic 3D visuals and no redrawing of textures. Of course you could say that these additions are not needed, that DOOM and DOOM II are perfect representations of their era as they are, but the fact that DOOM 3 covets them only further proves that time has stripped it of it’s accolades, and that it’s not the landmark videogame it once was.

As a remake of a videogame that marked a significant turning point in videogame development, it’s a shame that DOOM 3 doesn’t live up to the standard it once set. The port is fantastic, it’s simply a case of a genre leaving one of it’s milestones behind, as is evidenced when returning to the original release. Given the wealth of extra content and the fantastic renditions of two of the purest examples of action-orientated FPS gaming ever creates, DOOM 3: BFG Edition is a fantastic compilation of the series thus far and should be immediately adopted by anyone who has at one point considered themselves a fan of the genre defining franchise; it’s just a shame that DOOM 3 is arguably the weakest part of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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