Your first thought is probably ‘why is she reviewing Doom 3? Wasn’t that out years ago? Isn’t it old?’ And you’d be right to think that, if this was a review of Doom 3, but this is a review of the new rerelease, Doom 3 BFG Edition. Packed with remastered visuals, stereoscopic 3D optimised for the 360 (for the 360 version), an exclusive expansion pack, The Lost Mission, as well as both Doom and Doom 2, this is the definitive collection of Doom. But there’s more to this than that, so think of this as a history lesson as well as review.
A while ago I looked into the history of Doom for a retro games podcast and found out a lot things about it. Wolfenstein 3D was the first ever FPS and it’s a classic game of Nazi killing fun, but Doom was the first FPS to seriously change the genre. It’s the first game to have non-uniform level height where they had been flat before, and non-uniform lighting with dark areas and such where levels had been uniformly lit before. With all the new things that later defined the genre, there’s no wonder that ‘Doom clone’ became the phrase of choice for the genre until ‘FPS’ was coined much later.
So, now you know a little history, let’s get on with the review for the BFG Edition.
Doom 3 was a great game when it came out, getting aggregated scores of 87 and 88 as well as selling over 3.5 million copies by the beginning of 2007. It wasn’t without flaws though, and one thing that stood out was the lack of a torch attached to any of the weapons. Quake 4 used the same engine and it had a torch on two of its guns, the pistol and the rifle. Both of which were actually pretty decent in a pinch so even if it was dark you could still see and shoot. The BFG Edition has fixed this and has added a small light to the left shoulder of the armour. This means it can be used with all weapons but it’s slightly more atmospheric as the light shines off centre. The short battery life means you can’t keep it on all the time, so it’s just for the darkest places and it could go out during a fight too.
One thing I like about it is that it’s simple, ish. It’s refreshing to just point a gun at something and kill it without worrying about cover systems or aiming or anything else like that. Just point and click. Simples. Don’t get me wrong, those things have their place and they can be great sometimes, but I just like to kick it back to the old school sometimes. It’s not sophisticated but that’s a good thing in a world where everything is these days. It goes back when you had a basic spread of weapons: the pistol, the smg, the shotgun, the machine gun, and so on. It’s not a bad thing to have a hundred different rifles which a thousand combinations of accessories and options, but sometimes it’s more fun to just grab a shotgun and shoot stuff without any of the frills.
Having never played the original Xbox release, I can’t really say if they’ve changed or not, but they seem easy to use. Entering codes on locked doors and storage lockers is just a simple case of looking at the right number and pressing ‘Y’. Sprint and crouch aren’t toggled, so you’ll have to hold down the sticks to keep doing it. It’s not the easiest thing to do but it’s not hard either. The shoulder buttons switch weapons in much the same way as the scroll wheel on a mouse
Also new is the addition of achievements/trophies. At first I thought they were only for Doom 3, but it turns out that Doom and Doom 2 have their own achievements, which makes sense now that I think about it, as both games are available on XBL already. There are some good ones in there, like getting a score of 25,000 in Super Turkey Punch 3 for 5G or killing 20 enemies with a chainsaw. It’s not a big addition or one that changes anything, but I like my achievements.
It’s not all great though. Some of the character models show their age a little and look vaguely like Kryten for the BBC show ‘Red Dwarf’. Not exactly a game breaker but it does show its age sometimes. One thing that I don’t like is the auto-save. Every other game I’ve played that has this has a little icon that pops up somewhere out of the main field of view. It’s there but it’s not in the way. Unfortunately, Doom 3 BFG is a little more intrusive and it pauses the game while it saves. It’s not a huge problem but it breaks up the flow. If you can get over that then it’s still a great game.
Overall, I’m very pleased I got this. I haven’t been into my PC gaming as much as I’d like to and I never did get the expansions for Doom 3 on my PC. I think it was definitely worth it for me, not only for the expansions but also for Doom and Doom 2.
For those interested in how the graphics stack up, this is a great comparison using the cutscenes for a side by side comparison.