Review | Doom 3: BFG Edition (PC)
id Software is no doubt one of the best developers on the market, bringing us constantly intriguing titles that leave us wanting more. From controversial Wolfenstein and revolutionary Doom to the likes of Quake and the more recent Rage. Each game brought something new to the table and even though all of them share similar characteristics, at the same time all of them are unique. But the first Doom was alot more than just that – it set the standards for today‘s games. Doom II eventually followed in its footsteps and come 2004, the third instalment was upon us. Not only did it scare the crap out of players themselves, it kept hardware manufacturers on the edge as well. Eight long years have passed since and here we are with a BFG Edition – the ultimate answer to everything Doom and much more. Or is it?
Doom 3: BFG Edition would be best described as a compilation. It includes the original Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, Doom 3, its expansion pack “Resurrection of Evil” and eight brand new levels aka “The Lost Mission”. But wait, there‘s more! The BFG Edition also comes with a bunch of new features – which I‘ll get into in a moment. All of this looks great on paper and for some this alone might be a good enough reason for purchase, but let‘s not get too excited, shall we?
When you launch the game you‘re immediately presented with an elegant screen where you can choose which iteration you want to play – be it Doom I, Doom II or Doom 3. If you pick the latter, when starting a new game you‘ll also get to select from standalone D3, RoE and Lost Mission. Easy as that. Switching between various instalments is instant and literally takes only a second. This kind of symbiotic behaviour between the individual games is in a way brilliant, because it saves you enormous amounts of time. No need to go back and forth, launching and closing program after program, as everything is nicely integrated and in one spot. Definitely comfortable if you ask me.
As legendary as the first two games may be, though, our main focus here will be Doom 3 and everything that comes with it. Like I mentioned earlier, the game includes additional features and despite most of the changes are for the better, at the same time there are things this version for some unknown reason lacks. Some of the flaws are sadly noticeable at first glance, some you will take notice of later on in the game. Let’s start off with the more apparent ones.
First and foremost, there is no support for mods whatsoever. At least not yet. Supposedly it has something to do with the semi-new engine, but that‘s hardly an excuse. Sure, a few of you might argue that modifications are slowly becoming a thing of the past, but I beg to differ. Doom 3 still has alot to offer and various mods – Sikkmod I‘m talking to you – can take it to a whole new level. Not to mention that by eliminating mod support, you‘re at the same time getting rid of a part of the community and, ultimately, fanbase. Last thing you want is to lose some of the loyal fans that have shown support for the series for such a long time – especially now when Doom 4 is right around the corner. BFG should be the most complete edition there is and frankly, removing something vital such as mod support – that was present in the original release to begin with – doesn‘t exactly do it justice.
If you‘re one of those people that like to tweak everything before they jump right into the game, you might be disappointed. In terms of system settings, besides the standard resolution, antialiasing, vertical sync and brightness, there‘s not much really to configure. The only additions here are “Frame Rate” (60 or 120fps) and “Motion Blur” (up to 32x), which creates a really nice effect when turning around. Subtitles however, useful not just for the hearing impaired, are sadly non-existent and texture options are missing. The game is allegedly running on highest settings by default, but surely it wouldn‘t hurt providing PC players with the freedom of choice they‘re so used to. If anything, it doesn’t leave a good impression. It also would‘ve been nice if you could adjust the audio volume separately for music and voices. This becomes apparent when you‘re trying to listen to some of the audio logs later on in the game and you can barely hear a word, because they overlap with the ambient sounds around you.
Overall, as you may know, there are four difficulty options – Recruit, Marine, Veteran and Nightmare. If you were fortunate enough to experience Doom 3 when it originally came out, Veteran is the way to go. As you‘ll notice, the game has been in some ways slightly dumbed down. Medkits and armor are scattered all over the place and you‘ll be picking them up now more often, almost making you feel invincible. At the same time, your ammo will fill up pretty quickly and there‘ll be moments when you‘ll be completely full and won‘t know what to do with it. I understand this has been done to make the game more accessible for players who until recently had no clue that Doom 3 existed, but it takes part of the suspense away. That and the fact the flashlight is now mounted to your suit. It isn‘t necessarily a bad thing, as some players were hoping for this in the original release, but like the rest of the changes mentioned above it certainly is up for debate. At least the flashlight needs to recharge after a while, so you won‘t end up abusing it – hopefully.
Although these are the three main problems I have with the release, this isn‘t sadly where it ends. There are also minor issues like the fact that the now present autosave pauses the game, inevitably pulling you out. If you tend to get too focused on things, it can get a bit annoying over time – especially since it saves quite frequently. Ironically enough, the amount of save slots is fairly limited and shared with the two expansions – which, again, makes no sense.
When it comes to gameplay, though, Doom 3 offers plenty. After more than eight years Mars City is still relevant – perhaps more than ever – and still has its demonic charm that we once admired. Older players that know the game will agree that giving it one more run won‘t hurt and newcomers might be curious what was the buzz back then all about. Despite the slightly linear and scripted gameplay style, the game still manages to suck you in. Doom 3‘s world sure ain‘t perfect, but it certainly is even by today‘s standards – for the most part – believable. You have this feeling like you‘re really there and that‘s something not many titles manage to achieve. From collecting PDA‘s of deceased UAC staff with various data, to blasting your way through hordes of relentless enemies. With almost 30 levels, dozens of monsters and many weapons, Doom 3 will keep you occupied for some time. Plus, after you finish the main game, there‘s still the Resurrection of Evil expansion pack to beat, as well as the newly included Lost Mission.
Despite being almost a decade old, the game visually holds up pretty well. One of the main reasons for this is that Doom 3 was way advanced for its time. Back then it was one of those power hungry titles that served as a benchmark. If you could run it, you were a boss. If you could max it out, you were a god. But now it’s 2012 and the ultimate question is: “What has changed since?” Not much and at the same time quite alot. Doom 3 is now running on an updated engine, which provides players with slightly enhanced graphics and – most importantly – a bunch of new features. For starters, the game natively supports widescreen and high resolutions, as well as 3D setups, the Oculus Rift head mounted display and integrated Intel HD graphics. While that is pretty impressive, the biggest improvement here is in performance. Everything is now insanely smooth and easier on the eyes. No slowdowns whatsoever. Same can be said about the loading times, which have been cut down by a tremendous amount and are virtually instant. Getting into the game takes roughly just five to eight seconds and you don’t even need a fancy SSD drive. That’s what I call tweaking! The PDA, aka your personal data assitant, has been upgraded as well. Its interface underwent a facelift and is now more organized and easier to navigate through. However, there are two changes that some players may not like and perhaps even complain about. The FOV (field of view) has been altered and so has the lighting. Everything is alot brighter than you remember – new players won‘t mind – and that could be an issue for some. One of the reasons I found the game so scary back then was because I couldn‘t see anything. The darkness created tension – and eventually made you paranoid. You had to rely on your flashlight and had no clue what was hiding around the corner. At certain moments you were even so terrified, that you occasionally stopped breathing. The game is still scary, no doubt, but it‘s no longer a thriller. This can be partially resolved by lowering the brightness in the game‘s menu to bare minimum, but because the flashlight doesn‘t cast dynamic shadows anymore, it‘s not exactly the same. A bit of a bummer.
All things considered, Doom 3: BFG Edition is a pretty solid package. It contains all of the main games in the series and on top of that a brand new single-player campaign that will show you things from a slightly different perspective. With 8 missions and approximately three hours of gameplay, it is a valid addition and makes the story complete. There are also dozens of Achievements to unlock and five multiplayer modes to compete in. Finally, the game has been optimized for a wide variety of setups, offering buttery smooth gameplay and updated visuals with today’s standards in mind – support of the Xbox 360 controller or 3D displays being the proof. On the other hand, however, there is no out of the box support for mods anymore and there are fairly limited options when it comes to settings. Not to mention, the game’s difficulty has been significantly lowered in favor of appealing to a much larger audience – specifically the console players who until now were mostly left behind. Although the BFG Edition is far from perfect, and there’s already a patch underway to address some of the issues, its timing is more than spot on. It serves well as an appetizer for the long-awaited Doom 4. Hopefully this time around PC gamers can look forward to something truly special. In the meantime, if you’re hungry, have a bite!