Just a few months back, id Software announced its intent to polish up DOOM 3 and give more recent shooters a run for their money. Just this week, Apogee Software and Interceptor Entertainment unveiled their reboot of Rise of the Triad. Put the two together, and you’ve got some compelling evidence that QuakeCon 2012 is the place where old games rise to dust themselves off from the wear of time.
Then again, I suppose that “old” might be considered an epithet in DOOM 3’s case, since it’s not even a decade old. Still, id Software is preparing a re-release an enhanced version of the game that supports both 3D and, as a nod towards future tech, head-mounted displays (HMDs). Ladies and gentlemen, the future is here in an eight-year-old game.
When I sat down to demo DOOM 3 BFG Edition, I was handed, to my unpleasant surprise, a pair of 3D glasses along with the controller. I’m not a huge fan of 3D. You see, getting a raging headache in return for immersion doesn’t seem like a worthwhile trade-off to me. Still, id went through the work of making 3D possible for DOOM 3 and decided that it was worthwhile enough to show off to media. I decided to suck it up and have at it—with my Tylenol handy, of course.
The level being demoed was one of the eight from the Lost Mission, which is new content available only in DOOM 3: BFG. The Lost Mission places you in the shoes of the Bravo Team, before the events of DOOM 3. You begin with just about every weapon the game offers in your arsenal (although I’m not sure if that was for demo purposes or not), from your peashooter pistol to the enemy-tearing BFG 9000. For those unfamiliar with DOOM, BFG is short for “Big F&%^ing Gun.” I hope that drives the point across.
The difficulty of the Lost Mission is slightly ramped up, probably because id expects you to play the original game before moving onto the new content. As someone who hadn’t played DOOM 3 in years, and never before on console, I’m embarrassed to say I died more than a few times. Even though a laser sight is provided on almost every gun, I was having a little trouble hitting enemies (at first) because of my inexperience with shooters on console and the added 3D effect. Despite throwing off my depth perception at first, the added visual effect in the game is fairly minimal, adding only a little bit of “pop” to enemies and set pieces. Thankfully, there isn’t much of the “throw 3D in your face” gimmick that makes me want to hit the Tylenol bottle.
After dealing with these minor issues, the game went as smoothly as can be for a difficult level in a horror game. The game wastes no time in puking up every enemy possible at you. I was already knee-deep in Arch-Viles, Cacodemons, and Cherubs after taking my initial steps into the level. I originally had shotgun on the ready, hoping to conserve my more powerful weapons towards the end of the demo for the inevitable charge of Hell knights and Vagaries. However, after meeting my unfortunate end more than once in the first section, I quickly wised up. Soon, bits of baby Cherub lay at my feet as I leveled every enemy in sight with the Plasma Gun.
With that dispenser of hot death in hand, I hardly broke a sweat when dealing with the ranks of Hell. At this point in the game, a Mini-gun is the bare minimum for dealing with enemies, since corridors are tight, amping up the overall claustrophobic feel. Since I apparently couldn’t play the game to save my life on console, I stuck to the safe side with a Plasma Gun.
Besides the graphic overhaul and the new hardware support, there are also a few minor details amended in the game. For instance, you’re now able to use the flashlight with a gun, removing the jitters the original title provided when wandering down a dark corridor with only a flashlight in hand. I thought the trade-off of having light versus the security of a gun was an interesting mechanic that added to the horror in the game. Since the demo level didn’t have any corridors that weren’t well-lit, the new addition didn’t make much of a difference one way or the other. I was already overpowered with the different guns I had on hand, so I felt secure wandering into the dark.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing things to me about the original DOOM 3 was how linear the entire game was. Your character was unable to move on from a certain section of the map until every single enemy in the area was eliminated. I wasn’t expecting it to be fixed in BFG… and it wasn’t. Bridges leading into the next area would be shortened until you were absolutely certain that you were safe, at which point it’d span to close the gap to the next area. Though DOOM 3 does a fantastic job on building a horror atmosphere with small, dimly-lit, claustrophobic corridors, it’s a one trick pony in terms of enemy placement and spawning.
Despite minor flaws, my revisit to Mars was a pleasant one. There’s a reason why so many developers have modeled horror games after DOOM 3. Its ability to build suspense and atmosphere is absolutely unparalleled. Though certain design elements were “modernized,” the variety of guns, enemy type, and gore harks back to old-school fun. DOOM 3: BFG might not be for everyone, especially those used to cover-based, tactical shooting, but I think it’s a good fit for those looking to bridge the gap between the twitch shooters of old and the realistic, modern warfare shooters of today.
Though we posted it earlier this week, here’s a glimpse of the DOOM 3: BFG trailer fresh from QuakeCon 2012. You can also check out the new screenshots below.