Doom 3 BFG Edition review

Doom 3 first graced PC and the original Xbox way back in 2004, and it’s now emerged from the depths of hell some 8 years later in what should be the definitive Doom collection. The BFG Edition contains the complete Doom experience from the pixellated classics in Doom I and II, to of course the remastering and refinement of Doom 3 BFG, which includes the add-on Resurrection of Evil, and for the first time the cut content known as The Lost Mission.

Truth be told, if you had a grand to invest in PC gaming in 2004, then you may have already experienced Doom 3 in all its nightmarishly-delicious glory. The real jump and remastering efforts are more apparent for the console gamer in comparison to the Xbox classic, though for its time the Doom 3 original was certainly cutting edge on Microsoft’s old black box, and furthermore it frankly was the definitive co-op experience to push the Xbox Live service in the direction that we’re all too familiar with today.

From the offset Doom 3 thrusts you into Mars on the UAC’s station, of which mostly comprises of scientists, marines, and civilians at work. As for the story itself, it’s not overly complex – that is besides there being demons and portals into hell and back, of course. It’s strangely a believable future that is presented as you’re not given chance to ponder or question; besides a quick tour of the busy workplace, it won’t be long before you get yours hands on a pistol, and sure enough, the shotgun.

For all the sum of its parts Doom 3 is a masterpiece in tension and suspense with cleverly designed areas giving a sense of endless scale amidst the plethora of corridors and piping works. Around every corner darkness looms, and typically there’s something waiting to rip your throat out. It’s full of cheap scare tactics with enemies typically hidden in compartments that open after you walk on by, or those that lurk from the ceiling; it’s certainly entertaining and there’s a strange sense of satisfaction after you clear each room, as well as of course blasting off the undead’s head with gaming’s most iconic and beloved shotgun.

Progression through the UAC facility is fairly straight forward, though this is a time before game makers decided to hold your hand and give you marked way-points on-screen and auto re-generating health. Doom 3 rewards your exploration, pushing you into the darkness on the hunt for PDA’s that grant you access to locked areas, security codes for storage lockers, or to meet some new hopefully living characters, and you do all that with nothing but a short lived, and soon to be blinking out of power flashlight – though now you can wield your weapon simultaneously thus enabling you to see the disgusting face of what it is you’re shooting at.

As for Doom 3’s expansions, they offer up more of the same claustrophobic horror, with Resurrection of Evil in particular ramping up the heat in hell considerably. RoE continues shortly following the culmination of events in Doom 3, and it throws you in deep with much more of an emphasis on action. There’s some new toys introduced such as the Grabber – Half-Life fans will feel right at home with this gravitational gun. You can grab smaller demons, such as the flaming flying skulls, grab their fire-balls, exploding barrels and launch them at the demonic horde to much more devastating affect.

Our favourite new toy has to be the Bloodstone artifact, which is introduced into RoE early on. This essentially stores three human souls, with each use slowing down time, which can not only be useful for gaining access through key areas, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun to use and just run around punching demons in the face! The Bloodstone artefact can be recharged by equipping it and approaching a dead human – typically a marine, and harvesting their poor soul.

As for The Lost Mission, it harks back to the tensions featured in Doom 3, though it’s at a much slower pace if diving in after having beaten both Doom 3 and RoE, bearing in mind it’s content cut from the game, it’s easy to understand why, but none-the-less, it gives an excuse to stick that shotgun in an Imp’s face and pull the trigger.

Frustrations however can arise with regards to the weapon selection process, 8-year old game bugs, and even the save system manages to irritate to a degree. There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard and not having the right tool equipped for the task at hand; you can hold a plethora of weapons at any one time, and cycling through them is done with the the top shoulder buttons, which proves a nightmare when trying to quickly cycle from Rocket Launcher to Shotgun, all the while you have demons clawing at your face. The D-Pad seems an obvious placement for manually assigning your favourite weapons, though these are pre-assigned and non changeable, most of which for the most part you never have hold of until set times and even then they’re not greatly needed until later boss fights. Yet those four items still get added to the cycling process further cluttering it up, even though they’re a mere single button press away.

The only thing more frustrating is the actual process of saving the game. The flow of gameplay is interrupted by auto-saving, which is a little distracting as it momentarily pauses the game. Auto-saves however are not too frequent, and more often than not if caught off guard you may find yourself having to trek through 20 minutes worth of gameplay again, which is a painful reminder to manually save frequently after clearing each area. This requires pausing and saving through the main menu, though it’s something that needs to be done so frequently there could do with being a 1-button save option – and there’s a face button sat there on the controller not getting any attention.

Doom 3 is the quintessential corridor shooter of its time, and is still satisfying to play now as it was then; with impressively creepy audio and improved graphics running at a buttery smooth 60 frames-per-second and 3D support, the latter of which proves a delight as you might be able to imagine for those lengthy, dark and light-flickering corridors. The 3D depth is a perfect fit for horror, and it certainly goes some way to making Doom 3 all that more immersive.

If anything has ultimately put the doom and gloom stigma over this BFG release – it’s the shocking absence of co-op play for Doom 3 which was previously a great driving force for the game’s re-playability factor. Although there is 2-4 player multiplayer present, much like it was last-gen, whilst PC runs ahead with 2-8 players. The co-op aspect though is something that was present on the game’s last-gen console outing, and the mere fact that classics Doom I and II feature four player co-op, whilst it’s abundantly absent from the grand finale certainly taints the overall package, and no doubt will leave many fans – including myself, dismayed and ultimately disappointed.

Doom 3 BFG Edition in terms of overall content, regardless of such shortcomings it’s very much an essential purchase for Doom fans, and for those who love the horror genre in general. Its retail price of £24.99 ensures that this disc is destined and doomed to enter your console.

 7.5/10Review by Wayne Julian

  • http://cramgaming.com Wayne Julian

    I enjoyed this, that is despite the initial shock of the lack of co-op for Doom 3.

    It could have done with some more thought behind it though in terms of feature-set, and I’m not just talking about co-op, but the weapon selection process, as cumbersome as it is, the controls could have been prioritized better, or the option to customize, perhaps this was ample opportunity to have integrated Kinect with Doom 3 BFG!? It works on Mass Effect 3, and Bethesda’s own Skyrim (the publisher of Doom 3 BFG), and would have simplified things greatly for Kinect owners. “Quick Save”, “Shotgun”, “BFG”, “Artefact”, “Chaingun”… all examples of not having to break the flow of gameplay or cycle through multiple weapons.