id Software are known for taking their time with delivering new software titles, with the widely underappreciated Rage being the only title the studio has delivered in the three years since it’s acquisition by Bethesda Softworks parent company, Zenimax Media. Whether the forthcoming DOOM 3: BFG Edition is a product born of developer passion or moneymen pressure may never be revealed, but in truth the videogame is a mixed bag of fantastic revisions and dog-eared design.
DOOM 3: BFG Edition is more than a simple increase in resolution and repackaging of an eight year old videogame. It’s a revision of the original experience brought into the modern era with high-definition (HD) visuals, stereoscopic 3D compatibility and improved surround sound capability. A much more generous checkpoint system has also been included and both the Resurrection of Evil expansion pack and the previously unreleased level known as The Lost Mission are also included. But as impressive as all of this is – and it is very impressive when experienced first-hand – this is just the checklist on the back of the retail packaging designed to persuade fans to reinvest in a product they’ve already played. The gameplay experience is an altogether different matter.
Being eight years old, there’s no denying that videogames have moved on since the release of DOOM 3. A new console hardware generation and the constant advancement of PC technology has meant that videogames of all types have grown in complexity as well as graphical fidelity, none more so than the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. Arguably the most popular genre in today’s industry, FPS videogames are now an entirely different beast to that which they once were. DOOM 3: BFG Edition harks back to yesteryear, a time when cautiously making your way down a linear corridor under the pressure of the inevitable arrival of overpowered enemies was still passable given that the visual quality of the production pushed beyond that which was seen before.
The animation in DOOM 3: BFG Edition is poor to say the least, and the enemy artificial intelligence (AI) is frankly appalling. Heading straight into an enemy nest should be terrifying enough, but when the interactions are so erratic by today’s standards that you simply cannot tell whether the stunted animation sequences will have an enemy charge unhindered over scenery of have them stop dead behind it, the experience isn’t so much a test of skill as it is one of endurance. Whether or not these issues will be tidied up prior to release is not yet known, but given the basis of the production as a revision of a videogame developed for inferior hardware, the signs aren’t particularly positive.
Thankfully, one of the biggest issues players had with the original DOOM 3 has been addressed. No longer are players restricted to using either the torch or weapon, as the light source is now available with a simple press of the D-Pad and limited in use by an aptly restrictive meter. Some may argue that this alteration could damage the experience, significantly altering many of the encounters players will face, but in the portion of DOOM 3: BFG Edition that Electronic Theatre experienced this simply isn’t the case.
As many readers will be aware, Electronic Theatre regularly welcomes videogames which play upon bygone videogame traditions. The run-and-gun FPS may have decreased in popularity significantly, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place in the modern marketplace. Despite DOOM 3: BFG Edition’s obvious flaws inherited from the original template, hopes remain high that id Software will deliver an experience that as a whole is just as praiseworthy as DOOM 3 was back in 2004.