Review: Doom 3 BFG Edition

Doom is back, and just in time for Halloween! But, no, it isn’t the release of Doom 4 (show me your “rage”!…get it?). What we have here is Doom 3 BFG Edition, which honestly should’ve just been called the Doom Collection. While the titular game is the one that gets the most attention, being remastered and getting a brand new expansion, BFG Edition also houses Dooms I and II, making this a must-buy for diehard fans of the series.

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but this is actually the first time I’m properly getting into the Doom series. Yeah, I’ve played the original game before (on a cellphone…), but I’ve never really beaten any of them nor had the chance to fully immerse myself in them. BFG allowed me to do just that, at long last. So this release was definitely on my radar for months. But the question is, is it worth it? Or is Doom 3, despite its improved visuals, “doomed” to live on as a relic of its time? Let’s find out!

The story is quite simple. You play as an unnamed marine that’s sent to a UAC facility on Mars City. UAC is the leading corporation when it comes to high-end technology, and their mission to excavate artifacts deep within Mars goes horribly wrong…As expected! When you arrive in the facility things are all normal and everything is following routine. But shit hits the fan, and before you know it, a portal to Hell has been opened, bringing hordes of demons to the complex. It’s your mission to fight to Hell and back, putting an end to this demon infestation. Basically, what we have here is a remake of the original Doom.

That’s pretty much all there is as far as story goes. Yeah, you do collect audio and video logs as you venture through the complex’s corridors, which unravels more of the story and breathes more life into the world around you, but it’s still pretty bare-bones. And with the BFG Edition you get the complete Doom 3 experience, thanks to Resurrection of Evil’s inclusion, as well as a brand new expansion titled “Lost Mission.” Again, both expansions’s stories aren’t going to bring home any awards, but overall, Doom 3 is a playable sci-fi horror movie that provides one hell (haha) of an adventure. This is thanks in large part to its amazing atmosphere. And c’mon, Doom is really all about the gameplay after all.

Sweet baby Jesus, Doom 3’s atmosphere is truly immersive and its superb lighting makes the entire time you spend in confined areas very creepy. It’s even better now since the visuals have been improved with this remastered edition, though character models look a little funny, to me at least. Sometimes I found myself just taking a short break from the game, due to the very somber nature of each environment. Honestly, I don’t know how the people working in that complex remained sane! Well, there wasn’t really anyone left working there after the portal to Hell opened, so yeah…

Blood on the walls, corpses littered around, and darkness itself all make this game stand as one of the best modern, first-person horror games of this century. I was always on edge as I made my way through dark corridors, waiting for a demon or zombie to just pop out at me. The scares here are all of the “boo!” variety. With enemies appearing out of nowhere, but really, the atmosphere is what makes this game truly creepy. Cheap scares are one thing, but being just terrified of the world you’re pit in definitely makes this a worthy horror experience. It’s a good thing we can use the flashlight as its own item!

That’s right, the BFG Edition actually lets players use the flashlight without having to cycle through their weapons to select it. In a way, this kind of strips a bit of the game’s level of tension and horror, since now you can shine your flashlight and shoot your firearm at the same time, but I actually was quite grateful for that ability. And it’s not like you can infinitely wield your flashlight, it does have an energy meter. Though I would have loved to see an option present which allows you to switch back to that “classic” setting for an even bigger challenge. In the end, the flashlight is a crucial part of the game’s first-person mechanics, which aren’t really all that modern by today’s standards to begin with.

Doom I and II are extraordinarily fun experiences, even today. All you have to worry about is shooting hordes of demons as you make your way through each game’s maze-like levels, collecting items and finding secrets along the way. Doom 3 ┬áretains that classic approach to level structure, as well as the simplified shooting mechanics, but it also changes things up a bit. If you’re used to modern first-person shooters, you may not really enjoy Doom 3’s gameplay at first. And the fact that enemies don’t drop ammunition or health all the time (health doesn’t regenerate either) may also irk the more younger crowd, but hey, that’s what makes this game a survival horror experience! You’ll definitely have to conserve the ammunition and health supplies you have, and always be on the lookout for any more that may be laying around in darkened areas. One must also remember that this game originally came out in 2004, so you can’t go into it expecting the GameStop Exclusive Call of Demons 2012 Edition. I’m not too big on shooters to begin with, but I absolutely loved playing Doom 3, despite some dull moments, which I’ll get to when I talk about the things I disliked about this game.

The monsters you’ll fight in the game are nice updates on the classic monsters from the series. They’re nicely designed and some of them are quite creepy, especially as you get closer to the end of the game. Aside from slow zombies (some wielding melee weapons) and demons (including the insanely adorable Pinky!), you’ll also come across gun-wielding enemies. These prove to be quite annoying, especially later on when you start facing zombies with large machine guns. You also have big foes to fight, like the Hell Knight, which are quite intimidating, but quite easy to take down and dodge. And that’s the thing: the enemies possess very basic AI, so that once you know how to take down one enemy type, you shouldn’t have anymore problems facing them at all in future encounters.

One thing Doom enthusiasts may dislike about the enemies in the game is that they don’t really come at you and surround you in the high numbers they would in the old games. Yes, you’ll still face hordes of demons and zombies, but here they spawn in a more…how should I say?…generous manner. You enter a room, you may have one or two demons throwing fireballs at you, you take them down, only to turn around and see another one right behind you. That’s usually the case with how enemies come in. They’re not one-on-one encounters whatsoever, but you’re just not fighting as many demons and zombies simultaneously like you were in the classic games. Though zombies are always roaming around in groups already. But there are instances where you’ll be surrounded by a large group of demons, and these moments prove to be quite intense, and I found myself screaming quite a few times as I ran around killing enemies, only to turn around and see another demon all up in my face. A lot of the game’s scares come like that, and it makes the experience even better. Just make sure you turn off your lights and put the volume up!

Doom 3 is a lengthy single player experience, clocking in at around 8-10 hours. And once you’ve seen the game’s credits, the demon-slaying fun isn’t over yet. You still have the “Resurrection of Evil” campaign to play through, which adds 3-5 hours to the experience. Here we get some new enemy types as well as new weapons and abilities, like being able to slow down time to get past obstacles using a demonic…organ. Then you also have the brand-new “Lost Mission” expansion, which is exclusive to this remastered edition of the game. This adds a good 2-3 hours, but doesn’t really add anything that’s actually new. It’s still a satisfying experience nonetheless, though. Then there’s the multiplayer mode, but I rarely found myself playing it. You don’t really need the multiplayer mode to give the game lasting appeal, especially when you have such a replayable main campaign to begin with, and a handful of difficulties to clear it in. As far as the extras go, what I did play a lot of were the other two, retro inclusions that round out this package.

As aforementioned, the original Doom and its sequel are included here, adding some retro goodness to this edition. And it’s funny, because the first thing I did when I got my copy was immediately play the original game. This is the game that revolutionized first-person shooters, so even though Doom 3 doesn’t live up to the standards gamers have now for games in the genre, you have to respect the series for all it did for said genre. We all know the term “Halo clone” to describe similar sci-fi fps’s, but there also used to be another label long ago: “Doom clone.” And honestly, I had a blast playing Doom I and II! The action is relentless and I actually found myself screaming on many occasions after being confronted by hordes of demons. And, I’ll admit, the first time I faced Pinky, I did scream…loudly. In the end, this edition of Doom 3 is definitely the definitive edition and should be in every fan’s collection. But now let’s go on to the issues I had with the titular game…

Right off the bat, some of the enemies are just too easy to kill once you figure them out after your first few encounters with them. I would’ve loved to have the enemy AI be a little more complex, which would of course add to the fear level if they would change their attack tactics when you least expect them to, not letting you get accustomed to them. Though at times I did find myself annoyed with the machine-gun wielding enemies, especially since health isn’t as plentiful as more modern gamers may be accustomed to. And speaking of the enemies, what’s up with the lack of bosses? The bosses that are in the game, including the ones from the expansion, lead to some pretty intense encounters, but I would’ve loved to see more.

There were also points in the game where things just felt dull, and the mission objectives started to get repetitive. I would’ve loved to see more variety, and a change of scenery, too. Even though the atmosphere was truly amazing and immersive as all hell when traversing the game’s enclosed areas, I would loved to see more of the segments that take place in Hell, where the level design gets more inventive. The lack of a map was also bothersome at times, but I got used to it. That wasn’t really that big of an issue anyway, since getting lost definitely added to the game’s level of horror. Again, the game may feel truly dated to gamers more accustomed to modern shooters, but you really should give this a chance, especially if you love horror.

In the end, Doom 3 BFG Edition is definitely worth it. It’s a game that continues to stand as one of the best survival horror games, and hell, it’s scarier than most of the mainstream horror games we’ve gotten in this console generation. Some parts may be a bit dull, but that doesn’t stop the entire experience from being truly memorable and highly replayable. Thanks to this release I was finally able to experience each main game in the series all in one place. Now I truly love Doom, and I can’t wait for Doom 4!


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