Doom 3, Resurrection of Evil, & BFG Edition Review

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The classic Doom games are some of the greatest first-person shooters of all time so it’s not hard to believe that they would be an influence on other games and spawn sequels. One of those sequels is Doom 64. Despite being more of the same with a new coat of paint, it does have its moments. Developed by id Software and published by Activision, Doom 3 was released for PC in August, 2004 and Xbox in April, 2005. It is considered to be a reboot. The expansion, Resurrection of Evil, was developed by Nerve Software and released for PC in April, 2005 and Xbox in October of that same year. Then came the BFG Edition in October, 2012 which released for PC and consoles. The BFG Edition is Doom 3, its expansion, a brand new campaign called the Lost Mission, and the first two Doom games, all combined into one package. Doom II even comes with the No Rest for the Living expansion, originally released on Xbox Live Arcade. The BFG Edition was designed to run on modern systems and includes several changes. For this review, I played Doom 3 and Resurrection of Evil using the dhewm3 source port which contains numerous bug fixes, supports EAX-like sound effects on all operating systems, and includes better support for widescreen resolutions among other things. It should be noted that it only supports older mods. I also played through the BFG Edition and I teamed up with Jeremy in Doom 3’s coop campaign, only available in the original Xbox version. I played through the Lost Mission twice. Once in the vanilla BFG Edition and the second time using the RBDOOM-3-BFG source port which includes several enhancements. Keep in mind that both the original game and the BFG Edition run fine on modern systems. At least in my experience. I’ve played through them several times over the years so I figured I would give the source ports a shot.
Doom 3 is set in the year 2145 and the Union Aerospace Corporation has a large base on the planet Mars. After reports of multiple incidents, UAC board member Elliot Swann and his bodyguard Jack Campbell arrive to investigate. Behind them is a silent space Marine who is tasked with locating a scientist. The Marine finds him trying to send a warning to Earth about the teleportation experiments lead by Research Director Dr. Malcolm Betruger. Before he can send the warning, an experiment goes awry and the forces of Hell begin to take over the base. It’s up to the Marine to stop the invasion by finding and closing the portal to Hell. Resurrection of Evil takes place two years after the events of Doom 3. A UAC team is sent to investigate a hidden chamber on Mars only to discover an Artifact which alerts the forces of Hell, killing all team members except a Marine combat engineer, and a new invasion begins. The Lost Mission focuses on the last surviving member of Bravo team which was ambushed in Doom 3. He is tasked with destroying an experimental teleportation array to prevent the demons from reaching Earth. On the surface, the stories in these campaigns seem very simple. Hell invades and it’s up to the Marines to stop the invasions. This should all sound very familiar. However, there is a good amount of backstory and world building here thanks to all the emails and audio logs. It’s up to the player to actually take the time to read and listen to these if they’re at all interested in what’s going on. I can’t say the stories or any of the context is surprising, it’s basically what you would expect, but it’s all fleshed out rather well. The story in Doom 3 is easily the best, followed by Resurrection, and the story in the The Lost Mission is by far the weakest. The voice acting for the audio logs is quite good. The performances do sound believable. NPC’s will communicate with the Marines through their radios, video uplinks, and the campaigns don’t contain many cut scenes. The ones that are present offer just enough for you to know the gist of what’s happening and what your objectives are.
Each Marine can perform the same basic functions. They can run around, acquire and hold all of the weapons, punch with their fists, crouch, and jump. Sprinting does drain stamina unless you’re in Hell and the adrenaline pickup will let you sprint without draining stamina for a limited time. In Doom 3, you’ll come across the Berserker pickup every now and then which makes you invulnerable to enemy attacks, it enhances your melee attacks, and increases your movement speed, all for a limited time. The Marines in Doom 3 and Resurrection can whip out a flashlight to see in dark areas but they can’t have a weapon out at the same time. You can’t shoot and use the flashlight simultaneously. When shooting, you have to rely on muzzle flashes to see. The flashlight not only increases visibility but it can also be used to beat enemies to death. But why do that when you can blow them away with a decent array of firepower? The BFG Edition has the Marines equipped with shoulder-mounted flashlights that run on what I assume are batteries so they can illuminate dark areas and still shoot shit. The batteries do recharge quickly when the light is not in use.

The shoulder mounted flashlight is one of the changes I like about the BFG Edition simply because I like being able to see and shoot at the same time. I know a lot of Doom 3 fans out there hate this new feature and many will argue to death that switching between the flashlight and weapon adds “tension” or more “immersion” to the game but I disagree. I find the entire mechanic to be ridiculous. If you really think this about within the confines of the game world, it just doesn’t make sense. There’s no reason that these Marines should not be able to see what they’re shooting at. There’s no reason or context for it at all explained within the game world. Despite the fact that the game is set in the future primarily on a base on Mars built by one of the most technologically advanced corporations in the solar system, I’ll accept that the base has piss poor lighting conditions. Some of the audio logs even reference and question the poor lighting. Also, the forces of Hell obviously fuck shit up and that may explain why many areas are so dark. This all provides at least some context for the dark environments. But why can’t the Marines hold their flashlights and at least a pistol at the same time? It’s never explained. If anything, it makes it sound like these Marines lack common sense. There’s no tape, velcro, wire ties, or anything around the base they can use to attach a flashlight to one of their weapons or suit? Really? Duct tape mod, anyone? Did you know that in the Xbox version of Resurrection of Evil, the handheld flashlight was removed but the pistol is equipped with a flashlight attachment? You have to always switch to the pistol to see shit, but it makes more sense than this “see or shoot, but you can’t have both” concept.
Switching between the flashlight and weapon is just a mechanic that we are supposed to accept as “um game design” because nobody can come up with a logical explanation for this to make sense in the game world. I can understand getting immersed into the creepy atmosphere but having a mechanic like this without proper context makes it feel like it was implemented “just because” and that makes any “tension” feel artificial which ruins the “immersion”. At least for me. Maybe you think I’m digging too deep into it and am crossing over into the “too realistic” territory but I don’t see it that way. I don’t see being able to use my tools efficiently as “too realistic”. Switching between the flashlight and weapon isn’t efficient. It’s just stupid. Someone left a comment on our previous review that explains this whole thing perfectly – “it goes beyond the suspension of disbelief and stands out as an issue that breaks immersion.” For me to get immersed, at the very least, the basic mechanics should make sense. I’ve heard that the switching mechanic is a result of a technical limitation. If that’s true, I will give it a lot more slack but I still think the developers should have thought of something else then because this mechanic is just absurd. The lighting and darkness is cool and all and was impressive for its time. I’m not denying that. The darkness is a gimmick or obstacle the player needs to learn to accept and overcome which is fine. But if you can’t allow the player to overcome it in a logical and efficient way, then it’s not going to work and it’s time to come up with another idea. A few people have said the flashlight battery concept in the BFG Edition adds “tension” because of how rapidly the battery or batteries drain. Well without getting too deep into it, it doesn’t. It just sounds like the battery or batteries need to be replaced or the light is busted or something. I’d like to point out the handheld flashlight didn’t have this problem. Maybe they should have attached that thing instead. Maybe having the player acquire batteries for the light as they progress would have been a better idea. It would force you to use the light sparingly at least.
As you progress through the campaigns, you’ll acquire numerous weapons and most of them should be familiar. The chainsaw, pistol, shotgun, chaingun, rocket launcher, plasma gun, and BFG-9000 are all here. You can blow enemies away with a machine gun and grenades can be helpful when you’re outnumbered. Resurrection of Evil adds in the double-barrel shotgun which can blow away most enemies with ease. The only downside is the time it takes to reload. It leaves you vulnerable to attack which can suck if you’re surrounded. At a certain point in Doom 3, you’ll acquire the Soul Cube which is a deadly weapon or artifact that needs to be charged up by killing enemies. Once you’ve killed enough enemies, you can unleash the cube to instantly kill a foe and steal its health. Resurrection of Evil adds in the Grabber and Artifact. The Grabber is similar to the Gravity Gun in Half-Life 2. You can use it to pick up and throw objects, small enemies, and enemy projectiles which can then be hurled back at your foes. The Artifact is a device that needs to be charged up with human souls before it can be used. When you defeat certain bosses, it will absorb their abilities. The Helltime ability lets you slow down time. The second is like the Berserk power-up allowing you to inflict more damage and move faster. And the third is invulnerability. Once you activate the Artifact, all of the abilities are active at once and only last for a limited time. Honestly, this thing is really cool but it does make you extremely overpowered. Any kind of challenge the campaign offers is made significantly easier because of it.

Doom 3 is a dark game by design. It’s supposed to be an action horror game. Monster closets are everywhere. Enemies will frequently spawn behind you. Around almost every corner is something ready to kill you. And the attempts to jump scare the player don’t stop even though they become predictable pretty early on. The classic Doom games had all of this as well except maybe the jump scares but the action was solid. Doom 3 as a whole falls apart in the action category. The actual act of engaging enemies is just underwhelming. I find that most weapons don’t have satisfying feedback and most hits lack any sense of real impact except on some of the zombies making the weapons feel weak as a result. It doesn’t help that most weapons sound weak as well. I really feel like the gunplay could have used some more attention. The Lost Mission is clearly more action-oriented than the other campaigns and it’s also much shorter. You can probably get through it in under two hours. Enemies will frequently spawn in everywhere you go and the atmosphere is just not on the same level as the other campaigns. It’s more about shooting than it is about scares.
Foes like Imps, Revenants, Mancubus, Lost Souls, Hell Knights, Pinky Demons, and Cacodemons all make a return in these campaigns and behave basically the same as they did in the original games. Their appearances have been updated and match the creepy tone and atmosphere of the game. I don’t particularly care for the flying “undead head” look of the Lost Soul. Resurrection of Evil adds Forgotten Ones which are basically Lost Souls except they resemble their classic appearance which I think looks much cooler. The Pinky Demon is easily the most underwhelming enemy in the game. It looks very different and much creepier than its classic counterpart and is a perfect example of a foe that is all bark and no bite. Every time I come back to this game after not playing it for a while, I’m always surprised at how easy it is to take this thing down. Much like the classic games, Pinky’s are more dangerous in numbers but you’ll never have to engage swarms of them here and they don’t show up often.

Zombies or the undead types are present in each campaign. They’ll come out of the shadows, sometimes they’re lying around motionless and get up when you approach, they utilize melee attacks, some carry melee weapons, some have shields, and the Z-Sec types, otherwise known as Zombie-Security, are equipped with firearms. The Z-Sec can actually be dangerous because they can frequently hit you with gunfire so if up against a bunch, they can drain your health pretty quickly if you’re not careful. Commandos return and some do wield chainguns just like their classic counterparts and others will attack you with their tentacle arm that has quite the reach. These guys are my least favorite enemies in the game because I usually suck at timing their tentacle attack but if you have it down you can easily dodge or duck below it. Doom 3 includes several new enemies. Maggots are probably the most forgettable demons in the whole game. These two-headed monsters, like most enemies, look more threatening than they actually are and just rush you. The creepy humanoid infant-like enemies known as Cherubs and the Trites and Ticks (or Spiders as I call them) are annoying little types that usually arrive in numbers and can swarm you. They go down easily and the chainsaw is pretty good against them. Then there’s the Wraith. It can slash away at you but what makes it different is that it can teleport. These guys are my favorite because they’re just silly. They seem to teleport just for the sake of teleporting. There’s no strategy to it or anything. I did some research and the internet tells me they’re supposed to teleport to wherever you’re not looking. Well that doesn’t seem to work in my experience. More often than not, they would appear in front of me, then teleport away and re-appear in front of me again but maybe in a different spot off to the side.
Many returning enemies feel unchanged compared to their classic counterparts and it wouldn’t be a problem if they were more dangerous or had more to offer. Also, several foes share the same behavior so if you’ve figured out the strategy for one, you’ve figured out the strategy for others. You would think giving each enemy more unique behavioral traits to make them stand out from each other and be more interesting would have been a priority but apparently not. In addition to the Forgotten Ones, Resurrection of Evil adds the Vulgar and Bruiser to the enemy roster and all three of them feel like clones of existing foes with minor changes. Forgotten Ones are literally Lost Souls with a different model. They both try to fly into you. Vulgars, Imps, and Hell Knights are basically the same but with different appearances. Each of them will hurl projectiles and can claw away at you if they’re close enough. Hell Knights are the biggest and can inflict more damage. Imps and Vulgars can leap so you want to keep your distance which usually isn’t hard. There are several instances where an Imp is lying in wait behind a door, leaping at you as soon as you open it, and it usually feels cheap because they’re almost impossible to avoid unless you know that they’re there beforehand. The Vulgar is basically a reskin of the Imp. Just like Imps, they can crawl along walls and ceilings, usually to make their entrance. In regular combat scenarios, they simply move around on all fours while Imps primarily walk around on two legs. The Bruiser is basically a variant of the Mancubus and it looks ridiculous thanks to a screen protruding from its face. Both the Mancubus and Bruiser are equipped with dual cannons that fire projectiles but the Bruiser can fire them at a faster rate. I think Revenants and Arch-Viles are the most dangerous enemies in the game. Revenants fire homing missiles just like they did in Doom II and while they’re not really hard to avoid, it’s easy to not realize the missiles are coming for you if you’re distracted by other enemies. Arch-Vile no longer utilizes a hit scan attack. However, it can summon enemies and unleash a fire attack that travels along the ground.
You’ll quickly realize that most if not all enemies don’t pose much of a threat and can all be killed fairly easily. Most of the common enemies in the original games would go down easily, too, but you often had to deal with hordes of them. In these campaigns, you’ll engage multiple enemies frequently but nothing like the mobs in the classics so what you’re left with is battles against one or a handful of enemies that can be easily dispatched and the only thing you need to watch out for is enemies spawning in behind you. When you do have to engage a group, they usually don’t all appear at once. You kill one or two and then more spawn in. You can be immediately surrounded by zombies but I never once walked into a room or area and had to deal with multiple Imps, Revenants, a few zombies, maybe a Cacodemon or two, and a Mancubus all at the same time. There’s nothing like that here and the environments aren’t really designed for those types of combat scenarios. This isn’t like the classics. Instead, Doom 3 tries very hard to scare the player and for that to be successful, the enemies need to be terrifying and more importantly, dangerous. But they’re not. They look the part but they don’t act the part. You can hear enemies spawning in and it’s very easy to locate and approach the spawn points and blow them away just as they arrive. Resurrection will throw more enemies and tougher types at you as you progress but the Artifact abilities reduce much of the challenge that comes with the tougher encounters.
The enemies in Doom 3 are not very bright. It’s almost as if the AI hasn’t evolved since the classic games. Except now there’s less enemies and far less chances of infighting. They spot you and then they rush and/or attack you. That’s the extent of their intelligence. The darkness should not blind you from their stupidity. You’ll never witness any type of sophisticated enemy behavior in these campaigns. They don’t try to sneak up on you or flank you and they’re not very good at avoiding your shots. The only time they ever got the jump on me was because they spawned somewhere out of view like behind me and I just didn’t notice. But that’s not intelligent AI. That’s just a different spawn point. The Z-Sec will often run right at you, even right passed you, as you unload your weapon into them. Sometimes they just stand around as they’re being shot. When they do decide to move, they might take cover behind objects and roll around every now and again. Avoiding Z-Sec gunfire can sometimes be a bitch but avoiding most demon projectiles requires simple side stepping. Avoiding their melee attacks isn’t very difficult, either. You just need to keep your distance and since most of them go down pretty quickly, it’s not hard to keep them from getting anywhere near you. But even if it’s a tougher type like a Hell Knight or Mancubus, they don’t move very fast so despite their bullet sponginess, you can easily keep your distance and just fire away or use the BFG to blow them away in seconds. Furthermore, the enemies always make their presence known. They’re not very quiet about it. Zombies will grunt and groan, you can hear demons spawning in and making whatever noises they make, and as mentioned earlier, it’s not hard to locate and approach the spawn points to blow them away as soon as they arrive. The campaigns do get slightly more challenging as you progress through them only because the later encounters contain more enemies and tougher enemy types. Resurrection of Evil likes to throw a lot of Revenants at you in the later areas and Bruisers can prove to be dangerous but the Artifact abilities make these encounters a nonissue.

Both Doom 3 and Resurrection include several bosses and I didn’t find any of them to be particularly difficult. I found the Guardian and Sabaoth bosses in Doom 3 to be somewhat enjoyable and Maledict, the final boss in Resurrection, is easily the most challenging but its attack patterns are easy to memorize. The BFG Edition actually makes this battle easier for some reason. Cyberdemon, my favorite boss/enemy in the classic games makes an appearance as the final boss of Doom 3 and it has to be the worst and most underwhelming boss battle in the entire game. You don’t actually fight it. You run away from it and kill the other enemies in the area to charge up the Soul Cube. You unleash the Soul Cube however many times on the Cyberdemon and you win. It’s just a very disappointing battle. The co-op portion of the Xbox version rectifies this by making it an actual fight. You get to shoot it until it dies and it’s a lot more enjoyable. The coop campaign also modifies the Guardian fight to the same style. The Guardian makes an appearance as the final boss in the Lost Mission and this, too, is a “shoot it until dies” battle.
Doom 3 is more about Hell coming to you then you going to Hell. You do spend some time there in all three campaigns but they’re not very long trips which is a shame because Hell contains the most interesting areas. Most of the time, you’re in facilities on Mars. No matter which campaign you’re playing through, there is very little environmental diversity and everywhere you go basically looks the same. You will have to traverse across the Mars surface several times where you will slowly lose oxygen which can be replenished from the air canisters scattered around. In Resurrection, you’ll traverse through the waste tunnels where you need to acquire Enviro Tanks to stay alive. In the BFG Edition, the tanks were removed, allowing you to navigate through the tunnels at your own leisure. It doesn’t bother me, personally, but I don’t understand why it was changed. It’s not like this area was hard to get through. When you do end up in Hell, it’s a wonderful change of scenery. Walls move, there’s demonic imagery everywhere, fire and brimstone type stuff – it’s pretty cool. But your trips always feel too short. The base or Mars City is full of similar looking rooms and corridors, wires everywhere, pipes, and numerous terminals to interact with. The Xbox version of the game contains more simplified environments to run better on the console and the co-op portion of the game skips entire areas, resulting in a much shorter campaign. Scattered throughout the environments are med kits and health stations which replenish your health, security armor and armor shards which grant you extra protection, and ammo and weapons which are also dropped by the Z-Sec enemies. All of the Marines are equipped with PDA’s that store information. As you progress through the environments in each campaign, you’ll find video disks and more PDA’s, and their information is downloaded onto yours. The PDA’s are from individuals who worked at Mars City in some capacity and you can read through their emails and listen to any audio logs they recorded which is how most of the plot is conveyed. The emails and logs are also how you acquire codes to gain access to certain areas, lockers, and cabinets which usually house goodies like health, armor, ammo, and sometimes even weapons.
In all three campaigns you’ll ride elevators, use teleporters, crouch through tight spaces, and each one is pretty linear in terms of level design. These aren’t maze-like environments but there are lot of rooms and areas off the beaten paths which usually contain items. Because all of the environments in the base look similar, it can be easy to get turned around and confused. You’ll know you’re actually lost if there’s no enemies to shoot. Enemies are an indication that you’re going the right way. There will be some backtracking here and there and you’ll need to find PDA’s that update your security clearance so you can access new areas. Sometimes you need to find specific items like key cards or interact with something and in classic Doom fashion, that will often result in enemies spawning in. There is some very basic what I’ll call “puzzles” in each campaign. You’ll have to transfer toxic waste barrels to an incinerator in Doom 3. In the beginning of Resurrection of Evil, you’ll have to utilize the Artifact’s helltime ability to get through a few hazardous areas which are clearly only present to show you how the mechanic works. And in The Lost Mission, one area has you using the Grabber to power a conduit. Honestly, these all just feel unnecessary and kind of mess with the pacing. Most of the time you’re just running and gunning. Every now and then you’ll come across Sentry Bots that will travel a certain distance with you and attack enemies along the way. They can help you save ammo but they can also be destroyed if they take enough damage. Explosive barrels are everywhere, you can fall off some ledges, you’ll want to avoid the lava in some of the Hell areas, certain mechanisms can kill you, and most of these hazards are easily avoidable.
The Xbox version of Doom 3 is the only official version of the game that supports cooperative play but only if playing online or through system link/LAN which is what we did. Unfortunately, the Xbox version of Resurrection of Evil does not support coop and I do find it kind of odd that the developers didn’t implement coop into the PC version. However, there are mods out there that add coop functionality. When setting up a coop game, you can choose a map to start in and if you want friendly fire on or off. Both players will need to interact with certain things to progress through areas. While the co-op campaign is significantly shorter than the single player campaign, if you’ve played the single player portion before or even the PC version, the co-op campaign retains the same atmosphere and action except you get to experience it with a buddy. Many of the areas are modified to support both players and there are pickups that can only be acquired by certain players which is really nice and means one player can’t steal everything. It’s also nice having someone use their flashlight to illuminate an area while you shoot at enemies. Our biggest problem with the co-op campaign is that it’s easy to get in each other’s way, even with the widened areas, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to communicate whose going where and doing what. Usually one of us would take the lead and the other would watch our backs. When a player dies, all of their equipment is dropped in the form of a backpack which they can then retrieve after re-spawning which is usually not very far from where they died.
The BFG Edition is convenient to say the least. It contains all three campaigns in one package along with The Ultimate Doom, Doom II and its expansion, No Rest for the Living. It’s not really a bad package but there are numerous reasons you may not like the BFG Edition. A lot of people rip it apart and even I question some of the changes but, overall, I don’t despise it like many others do. As much as I welcome the more convenient shoulder-mounted flashlight, removing the handheld one seemed unnecessary. It would have been better if the game allowed you to enable one or the other. One of my least favorite changes has got to be making the cut scenes unskippable. One of the worst changes is the removal of some encounters. There’s an entire Hell segment in Resurrection that was cut out. Apparently the engine was updated, this version is certainly brighter than the original, and the developers added some new visual effects. One neat change is that interface for the PDA is in a proper widescreen resolution. Some say Doom 3 should have included less ammo pick-ups. Well the BFG Edition adds more. It seems unnecessary because if you listen to the audio logs and read the emails to acquire the codes, scrounging for ammo should not be a thing unless you’re a terrible shot and miss everything all the time. Furthermore, the maximum ammo capacity for the weapons has been increased. Regardless, I don’t understand those that argue more ammo ruins the experience because I don’t know what game they played but there’s more than enough ammo lying around in the original. I’ve never played the game on Recruit which is the easiest difficulty but apparently in the BFG Edition, from what I’ve researched, you’ll find more health, armor, and ammo when playing on this difficulty. Ultimately, the developers made the BFG Edition easier for reasons which are not clear. It’s odd because the game was never that hard to begin with unless you play on the Nightmare difficulty which needs to be unlocked first.
I’ve heard that the changes made in the BFG Edition were the developers attempting to make the game more action-packed. Well the way the game is designed, you would need to change a lot and all they did here is make the game easier. Adding more ammo doesn’t make the game more action-packed. It just means you have more ammo now. They should have added more enemies to balance it out or do some other tweaking to balance things. The tweaks they did make are just questionable. Doom 3 was designed to be a dark and creepy run and gun shooter, not the circle strafing action-fest the original games were. This is partly why The Lost Mission isn’t that spectacular. It’s more action-oriented but with the lackluster gunplay and the creepy atmosphere stripped away, the result is an unremarkable experience. There’s four difficulty modes – Recruit, Marine, Veteran, and Nightmare which needs to be unlocked. Nightmare offers quite a challenge but the others do not. I played through the original game and Resurrection of Evil on Marine and knowing the changes they made to the BFG Edition, I played through the campaigns in this version on Veteran. The higher the difficulty, the more damage you’ll take from attacks and more enemies appear on Veteran, but they are still unintelligent pushovers. Nightmare’s challenge comes not only from taking more damage but also because your health will keep dropping until it reaches a certain point and there are no med kits to be found.
Doom 3 was an excellent looking game for it’s time. It looks a bit dated now but the lighting can still be impressive and I always thought all of the interactive terminals were pretty neat. The Xbox version is downscaled. Environments are simplified, textures are blurrier, and it just doesn’t contain as much detail as the PC version. Looking at the original PC version and BFG Edition from a modern perspective, the game still doesn’t look too bad but it’s age does shine through. Character models look plastic, many of the human NPC’s you encounter share the same character model, and the BFG Edition doesn’t really do much to make things look significantly better but there some minor enhancements. Light from the flashlight can cast shadows, you can turn on motion blur which I found adds nothing special to the experience, and you can play the game in 3D. I was quite impressed with the dhewm3 source port mainly because it doesn’t require much tweaking and runs great for the most part. It did crash on me once. It contains many bug fixes, supports 64-bit systems, and I really like that it lets you play the original game in widescreen with a proper widescreen HUD. No more oval crosshair. The RBDOOM-3-BFG source port for the BFG Edition certainly makes the game look much better thanks to its soft shadow mapping and some other effects. The source port gives you new antialiasing options, there’s a dev menu where you can select a map to play from any of the campaigns, and it supports true HDR lighting. While it does make the game look better, it also makes it brighter which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Please keep in mind that you don’t need to use the source ports. I would like to give a shout out to Classic RBDOOM-3-BFG which is a variant of RBDOOM-3-BFG that focuses on enhancing the classic games that come with the BFG Edition. You might want to check that out if you’re only interested in the classics.
Scary or not, Doom has always been about blowing away the forces of Hell with awesome firepower and one of Doom 3’s biggest issues is the gunplay. The lackluster weapon feedback and the lack of any sense of real impact from shots are the problems. The standard shotgun can take down many of the lower-tier enemies in one shot if you’re at the right range but if they don’t go down, the shots just feel underwhelming. The double-barrel shotgun does feel a bit better. I really dislike the machine gun. The look of it. The sound of it. Not a fan. I think the most satisfying weapons are the Chaingun and BFG. The lack of impact and reactions to shots is more of an issue with the demons than the zombies. When demons are hit they may flinch a little or sometimes not react at all and I really wish there were better visual effects accompanying the gunplay. Muzzle flashes don’t look amazing and the gore effects are just okay. Some blood will spray and splatter on surfaces and enemy bodies will show visible blood, both of which look cool at times, but that’s about it. I feel like something is missing. As mentioned earlier, zombies will noticeably react to being shot, and sometimes their brains pop out and they appear to disintegrate when they die which is pretty cool. But they, too, aren’t always satisfying to shoot. The Z-Sec types will often not show any type of reaction and, instead, just grunt. Another problem is dead demons will burn away so you can’t even admire the aftermath of your carnage. I assume the bodies disappearing was an effort to maintain solid performance but I really wish there was an option to keep them visible. Luckily, mods can enable dead bodies to remain.
If there’s one thing Doom 3 and Resurrection of Evil nail it’s the dark and creepy atmosphere. Lights will flicker, dead bodies and skeletons are scattered around, blood is smeared on the ground walls, and ceilings, growths will cover parts of areas, things will inexplicably move, the Marines will experience hallucinations, and all of it is backed up by excellent audio work. You’ll sometimes hear laughing, whispering, NPC’s screaming in agony somewhere out of view, and enemies moving about somewhere around you. The demons will hiss, screech, and roar, you can hear the bigger ones like Hell Knights stomping around, and most of them look and sound intimidating. It’s just a shame it’s all flash and no substance. You don’t really have to worry about anything. You can hear when enemies spawn in and I think eliminating those sounds could add some tension. Then I remember how often enemies spawn behind you and feel like getting attacked from behind without warning would just end up being annoying. Anyway, the weapons fire did not receive the same love as the rest of the sound effects because as mentioned before, most of the weapons sound weak and not very satisfying. Even the explosions sound weak. In my opinion, the double-barrel shotgun and chaingun sound the best. As for the music, there’s not much. The songs that are present are few and far between and usually kick in during certain encounters to enhance the sense of tension the game tries so hard to convey.

On the technical side, the dhewm3 source port crashed on me once and the frame rate dipped a few times. Other than that, I have no complaints. It was nice not having to tweak any files or enter any commands to run the game in a widescreen resolution and I played through the campaigns without any visual enhancements other than whatever the source port provided. When I first played the BFG Edition when it came out there was a bug with the elevator in Delta Labs Sector 1 and it could be game breaking if you didn’t have any backup saves. The elevator wouldn’t open rendering you unable to progress. The bug only happened if you activated the elevator before you were supposed to. I’ve heard it’s been patched but I’m still nervous in that area because of that experience. Luckily, I didn’t encounter any issues with my BFG Edition playthrough this time around. During my time with the RBDOOM-3-BFG source port, I did notice pink lava when I was traversing through Hell and, well, that didn’t look right. Maybe I needed to tweak something or change a setting. Not sure. The Xbox version suffers from frequent frame rate dips but we didn’t encounter any major bugs.
As much as I’ve ripped the game apart, Doom 3 has grown on me over the years. I had fun with it despite its problems. It nails the dark and creepy atmosphere and while it remains consistent throughout Doom 3 and Resurrection, the “tension” starts to dissipate rather quickly. The campaigns don’t mix things up enough to really keep you on the edge of your seat for the eight hour or longer campaign. People really like to shove the words “tension” and “immersion” into arguments in defense of Doom 3. Now maybe it’s just me but being dark and atmospheric doesn’t automatically make the game tense, immersive, or terrifying. It’s just dark and atmospheric. Being dark, atmospheric, and not knowing what to expect or actually having something to fear would make it tense. Not being able to see anything does not immediately make the gameplay tense. Darkness is the whole gimmick here and that’s what people are really defending when this flashlight madness comes up. There are certainly reasons to dislike the BFG Edition but for me, increased visibility is not one of them. It’s really not that bad because in reality, it’s the same game except now you can actually see what you’re doing because there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to. The character’s inability to see and engage enemies simultaneously in the original game is unexplained and just doesn’t make sense. The creepiness is just that. Creepy. It could enhance the fear if there was actually something to fear but there isn’t. The gameplay ruins any sense of fear the creepy atmosphere instills. Let’s recap. You know enemies are around, you can hear them, you know they’re pushovers, and you know they’re not very bright. You just might not be able to see them easily because of all the darkness. I don’t know about you but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be afraid of and that’s the whole problem. There’s no real danger to worry about. Playing on Nightmare may be a different story but on most difficulties, the danger is minimal.
You can call Doom 3 a horror game but it fails in that category. The definition of horror states “an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust”. Doom 3 does not instill any of those feelings for long. It’s creepy but not scary. The first few encounters may startle you but the scares become predictable. You come to a dark area and you know there’s an enemy somewhere around or will come spawning in. Happens all the time and you can hear them coming a mile away. At first, you’re startled. Then it happens again. And again. And again. And again. In the same ways. And it won’t take long to realize that gunning down enemies doesn’t take much effort so any sense of danger or fear starts to fade. The dark and brooding environments remain consistent throughout and might make you feel uncomfortable, but that feeling, too, will probably wear off after a short while because the scenery doesn’t change very often. “Oh, look, another dark and bloody environment. What else is new?”. If you look at the other side of the argument that Doom 3 is more shooter than horror, I would say that’s accurate. However, I feel it fails in that category, too, because of how underwhelming the gunplay is. Doom 3 does share many elements with the classic games but I think focusing so much on the horror aspect and trying to scare the player is why the game fails as a whole. The horror stops working long before the adventure is over because the gameplay doesn’t back it up. I think if the developers put more effort into the gunplay and enemies, it could have been a better game. Resurrection of Evil adds some cool new content but, ultimately, it suffers from the same problems. The Lost Mission pretty much abandons the horror stuff in favor of a more action-oriented experience which really just exposes the underwhelming gunplay even more.
Believe it or not, I would recommend Doom 3 to fans of action games. Only because you can get these for pretty cheap and there are plenty of quality mods out there for the original. Many of which have rectified the game’s issues. To be clear, I don’t hate the game but I just don’t think it’s the “masterpiece” some people make it out to be. If you just want to shoot demons and the undead, Doom 3 has you covered. But then again, so do the classics which are far better games in my opinion. What makes things worse is that they put “Doom” in the title. This a Doom game. It’s in the company of some of the greatest first-person shooters ever made but it really doesn’t deserve to be there. Doom 3 can be an enjoyable game but it’s not a good Doom game. It’s not the horrifying experience it aims to be but that’s not why it’s a bad Doom game. It’s a bad Doom game because it’s an average shooter. It was an average shooter even back when it released. It just showcased impressive technology for the time. Doom 3 is basically a simple run and gun shooter shrouded in darkness.

If you’ve played the original game before, I don’t think the BFG Edition is worth it unless you can get it on sale. It’s convenient but some of the changes the developers made are just odd and unnecessary. And the Lost Mission certainly isn’t super incredible. However, the BFG Edition is one way to acquire No Rest for the Living for Doom II. If you’ve never played the game at all, I would say play the original first and if you enjoy it then check out the BFG Edition if you’re at all interested in seeing the changes. I would only recommend the Xbox version if you want to play through a condensed version of the Doom 3 campaign with a buddy. Other than that, it’s inferior to its PC counterpart and there are mods out there that add coop functionality. It should be noted that there is a multiplayer component in each version of the game but I didn’t get the chance to try them out. In the end, Doom 3 may not be as legendary as its predecessors but it can make for a fun time if you’re into atmospheric games.

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