Giant Bomb Review

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Doom 3 Review

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However you felt about Doom 3 when it came out, BFG Edition isn't the best way to play it today.

Still the market leader in creepy colored lighting.

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who loved Doom 3, and people who...well, you know how that goes. Let it suffice that eight years after release, Doom 3 remains a divisive game. Whether you found the juggling of weapons and flashlight to be a taut tension-builder or a tedious chore, thought the monster closets were chilling or just cheesy, odds are Doom 3 left a deep impression on you. Me, I'm a staunch member of the pro-Doom 3 brigade, and while I haven't thought much about the game since I got done with its only expansion pack ages ago, I realized recently that I've been plenty ready for a good excuse to run back through those dimly lit Martian corridors again with all the hindsight the last several years have provided.

Whichever kind of person you are, the new BFG Edition is probably not the Doom 3 you should hold onto for posterity. Far from the loving tribute to an important milestone in modern games it could have been, BFG only adds a couple of esoteric technical features and a short, mediocre new campaign add-on to Doom 3, at the expense of some of the core graphics and gameplay features that defined the game's identity on its initial release. Even the inclusion of Doom and Doom II isn't handled as elegantly as it should be on either console. If you really want a version of Doom 3 to play on your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, BFG Edition works, but it's bafflingly far from ideal.

In this package you get regular Doom 3, the expansion Resurrection of Evil (which added some pretty tasty stuff to the original recipe), and that new eight-level campaign dubbed The Lost Mission. The Lost Mission is not the reason to own the BFG Edition. In addition to the ubiquitous monster closets and red-flash teleporter spawns, the two previous games featured just enough custom-designed action moments and unique enemy entrances to keep things entertaining. Hell, Doom 3 was pretty much the first game to have enemies tearing their way through level geometry in the first place. The Lost Mission has none of that. Its levels feel boxier, more generic, one room of enemy spawns after another stitched together in a fairly uninteresting way. There's a shred of boilerplate story with a few minutes of new voiceover and one character who appears briefly, but none of it is engaging. It's also well on the short side, as it took me only around three hours on the hardest difficulty to get through--though, as repetitive as even I found the enemy encounters toward the end, maybe that's a blessing.

No cacodads were harmed in the writing of this review.

Sadly, even the two original games don't arrive intact in BFG, and it's here where I find the changes made to this collection so perplexing and unfortunate. Like it or hate it, your inability to use a flashlight and weapon at the same time was the defining factor in Doom 3's gameplay cycle and it's largely what created the game's thick sense of tension. Sweeping a darkened room with your light would give you a basic sense of its layout, but if you wanted to defend yourself, you had to rely on your memory, the ambient glow of the facility's remaining computers and machinery, and the muzzle flash of your weapons to make out the shapes of the enemies and put your shots on target. BFG Edition throws all that right out the window, making the flashlight a simple toggle that you turn on and off instantly regardless of what weapon you're holding. The flashlight also bafflingly doesn't cast any shadows off the environment, enemies, or anything else, which may sound like an obscure technical thing but was also instrumental in establishing the visual mood of Doom 3. These changes don't destroy the tension--I still let out a couple of involuntary yelps here and there when a maggot snuck up behind me--but why there's not at least a menu option for classic flashlight mode, I have no idea. There are hardly options for anything, even basic functionality like subtitles, and on the PC, where you expect a healthy set of graphics options but will find none, that's especially damning.

You can add the first two Doom games to the list of BFG's features, but these aren't especially well implemented either. On the 360, you're just launching the Xbox Live Arcade releases from a menu, so if you already bought those, you're getting literally nothing new. (The inability to play these releases from the game's custom menu when the disc is installed is just inexcusable, especially when you can still circumvent the issue by playing them from the dashboard's games library.) Things are a bit rosier on the PS3, which has never seen either of these classics released on PSN, but the ports themselves aren't nearly as snappy as the ones on the Xbox, with slow, clunky menus and a lengthy save process every time you change a menu option.

No flashlight, no shadows, no sale.

So what are the BFG Edition's pros? Stereoscopic 3D support across the board is the one that's likely to be useful to the most people. Obviously, that largely comes down to your interest in playing games in 3D in the first place, but the 3D separation worked more or less fine on both consoles for me. I occasionally ran into enough crosstalk to make it hard to aim at enemies, but that may have been due to my TV setup and not the game. You can definitely lay the 3D frame rate issues at the game's feet though. Both versions run at a rock-solid 60 frames per second in normal mode, but the frame rate drops substantially in 3D (and noticeably worse so on the Xbox), enough that I preferred just playing it in 2D for a smoother experience. The PC version offers support for the forthcoming Oculus Rift VR headset, which is conceptually a great feature to have, but since even the developer-oriented version of that thing isn't shipping yet, it's not very helpful in practice right now. And the presence of a cool feature you can't actually use yet is especially depressing in light of the poor implementation of some of this collection's more basic features.

I had planned to end this review with a recommendation that, if you don't need 3D or Rift support, you just stick with the regular Doom 3, which is highly moddable and which any modern PC will run perfectly fine. But the original game is no longer available for sale on Steam outside of the hundred-dollar id collection, meaning the BFG Edition is the best you're going to do right now if you want to buy a new copy of a shooter that, for better or worse, ranks among the most hyped video game releases of all time.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
77 Comments
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Edited by Grissefar

first

Wow thanks for the heads up, Brad. Not that there was need of one for this game. Ha ! Ha ! It is funny though that it is not even the best version, given the fact that the original doesn't exactly shine.

Edited by ttocs

@Grissefar: Ugh, don't do the whole first thing. Just make a comment and leave it at that. Especially when 7 minutes pass between the first comment and the second.

Edited by fisk0

Them removing the original games from the Steam store was expected and sad, I wonder how anybody thought it would be a good idea to take away some of the core mechanics of the game, as well as the mod support and graphics options.

What's happening with Id? They don't have the excuse some other studios can get away with - that none of the original members of the studio are left - aren't all the big names sans Romero still there? And he left well before Doom 3 originally shipped.

On the shadows/flashlight thing - monsters still cast shadows, it's just the environment that doesn't.

Oh, and by the way, doesn't it look like the BFG edition lacks bump/normal maps, or has much less detailed such than the original?

Posted by kennybaese

I keep going back and forth on whether or not to pick this up. I loved playing Doom 3 when it first came out, and I don't think that the flashlight thing will bug me much, but I don't have a PC that can run games. So, this is my only option for a console version of the game (unless I hunt down an XBox copy of the original game, I guess). All in all, I think I'll wait until the price drops a couple bucks and pick it up then.

Posted by CakeBomb

Veteran is not the hardest difficulty, it is the hardest civilized difficulty, for Nightmare is a gimmick that plagues many modern games unfortunately. 
 
I'm assuming you played on Veteran, as seen in the QL.

Posted by bkbroiler

The shadows are the coolest part of the game! What are they doing getting rid of them?

Posted by super2j

so i guess i better go find and buy all the copies of the original doom 3 for when the resurgence happens

Posted by charlie_victor_bravo

Flashlight thing could have been used were effectively for achievement. "I did not see the Aliens", 30 points - go trough the main game with "Classic flashlight" -option turned on.

Edited by Solh0und

So i should just play the vanilla version of Doom 3 then?

Posted by Grissefar

@ttocs said:

@Grissefar: Ugh, don't do the whole first thing. Just make a comment and leave it at that. Especially when 7 minutes pass between the first comment and the second.

Said second.

Posted by blastershift

PC no dosbox for doom 1 or 2

Menu system, plus achievements.

Most of the mods for Doom 3 aren't all that great anyways.

I am more than happy to buy it.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

While I haven't actually played Doom 3, I have to say that Dead Space 2 probably has better creepy colored lighting. Or at least better colored lighting.

Otherwise, it's disappointing that this version isn't so great.

Moderator
Posted by Suigyoken

Wait they removed the original version of Doom3? Well at least you still can get a used copy off Amazon...

Posted by fox01313

Weird that they took just Doom3 off of steam somewhat, looks like you might still get it in the id superpack but not individually (like games in the Geneforge saga). Still don't understand why this is such a rather lackluster collection of such a landmark series in games.

Posted by TheCreamFilling

I am very disappointed by the fact the flashlight doesn't produce shadows, it makes everything look sterile rather than scary. I suppose the only upside to that is the 60 frames are cool.

Posted by MrFixIt

Was there nothing better to do then review Doom 3? No other games, I was just surprised to see this game get a review.

Posted by august

Removing dynamic lighting when that was the whole point of the original is kinda insane.

Posted by august

@fisk0 said:

What's happening with Id? They don't have the excuse some other studios can get away with - that none of the original members of the studio are left - aren't all the big names sans Romero still there? And he left well before Doom 3 originally shipped.

The only person left as far as I know is Carmack and he doesn't really play games and is only interested in building new engines.

Posted by iAmJohn

Brad, I'm going to venture a guess and say that there are far more than two types of people in this world, just saying. (Sorry, I really hate that rhetorical device. :P)

Great review. Disappointing to hear that this didn't live up to its full potential.

Posted by JoeyRavn

The PC port is pretty bad... Not on a technical level, really, but on the... I don't know. Common sense level. No mods (for the moment), no resolution configuration for the original Doom and Doom II, no subtitles... Piss poor job.

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

Unfortunate design choices, but this whole re-hype has gotten me to go back and play some original-ass Doom 3.

Posted by WarlordPayne

Letting you use the flashlight and guns at the same time ruins Doom 3. It's pretty sad that even the developers didn't get what made that game great.

Edited by punkxblaze

@blastershift said:

PC no dosbox for doom 1 or 2

Menu system, plus achievements.

Most of the mods for Doom 3 aren't all that great anyways.

I am more than happy to buy it.

On the contrary, there are countless excellent Doom 3 mods, especially ones that make it look significantly better than the BFG Edition. Also, sourceports for Doom 1 and 2 are far superior to the versions offered in Big Fuckin Gun Edition.

I would recommend Vanilla Doom 3 and Doom 1/2 on GZDoom or Skulltag long before I would recommend Doom 3 BFG Edition. Of course, the difficulty in finding Doom 3 now that it appears to have been pulled from Steam's store makes the BFG edition the only option for some people, which I doubt is a coincidence.

Posted by Rotnac

Good review. This release was a total disappointment across the board. I should have just bought Dishonored instead but now I'm stuck with BFG unless I wanna get ripped off and get a $14 dollar trade-in credit at EBGames.

Posted by ShuaReborn

I picked this up last week, and as someone who never really played Doom, I'm loving it. (Still playing through the first one.) I have to say though I have seen Doom 3 back in the day and lakc of shadows is a bummer, but I did get it to play in 3D. I hope that part rocks.

Posted by fisk0

@punkxblaze said:

@blastershift said:

PC no dosbox for doom 1 or 2

Menu system, plus achievements.

Most of the mods for Doom 3 aren't all that great anyways.

I am more than happy to buy it.

On the contrary, there are countless excellent Doom 3 mods, especially ones that make it look significantly better than the BFG Edition. Also, sourceports for Doom 1 and 2 are far superior to the versions offered in Big Fuckin Gun Edition.

I would recommend Vanilla Doom 3 and Doom 1/2 on GZDoom or Skulltag long before I would recommend Doom 3 BFG Edition. Of course, the difficulty in finding Doom 3 now that it appears to have been pulled from Steam's store makes the BFG edition the only option for some people, which I doubt is a coincidence.

God damnit. THAT'S what the BFG edition should've looked like.

Posted by civid

@ShuaReborn said:

I picked this up last week, and as someone who never really played Doom, I'm loving it. (Still playing through the first one.) I have to say though I have seen Doom 3 back in the day and lakc of shadows is a bummer, but I did get it to play in 3D. I hope that part rocks.

Same situation here. I completely understand Brad's problems with the game, but for someone who have never touched the Doom-series I'm kinda glad they released this, because I don't think I would have ever picked these games up if it weren't for the BFG edition.

Posted by august

@punkxblaze said:

I would recommend Vanilla Doom 3 and Doom 1/2 on GZDoom or Skulltag long before I would recommend Doom 3 BFG Edition.

FYI Skulltag is dead, Zandronum is the continuation of the project.

Posted by hanktherapper

I am a big fan of Doom 3. It has the best atmosphere of any game I've ever played. I almost picked this up until I watched the QL.

Posted by punkxblaze

@august said:

@punkxblaze said:

I would recommend Vanilla Doom 3 and Doom 1/2 on GZDoom or Skulltag long before I would recommend Doom 3 BFG Edition.

FYI Skulltag is dead, Zandronum is the continuation of the project.

Huh. Thanks for the heads up, I haven't touched Skull in a while, so I'm out of that loop.

Posted by Xealot42

I'm glad I picked up the Doom Pack during the Quake Con sale on Steam after seeing the lukewarm reception to this version.

Posted by OriginalGman

What about someone who never played Doom 3? Someone who enjoyed the Doom games up until Final Doom, but didn't have an Xbox or a good gaming PC when the Doom 3 hype was white-hot, and never got around to playing it because hell, who remembered that Doom 3 even existed until now?

Should I pick this up when it inevitably goes for $10 in a Steam sale? Or should I just take the shrink-wrap off that copy of Rage I bought when it went bargain bin and play that?

Posted by MrKlorox

Does it at least run in 60 FPS in 3D?

Posted by ToxicCurve

I'm pretty sure I saw Doom 3 for sale on steam by it's self for $14.99, but I think they killed it when BFG came out.

Posted by M_Shini

I think ill wait till someone makes a mod to remove the flashlight, wont be too long a wait im sure.

Posted by sofakingcool

I'd like a quick look of this

Posted by csl316

"No flashlight, no shadows, no sale." Sorry, but I've found the GB coverage of this to be extremely nitpicky. I can take or leave the shadows (and yes, I own the original version), but the flashlight thing... The reason they changed it is because of how much shit they've gotten for years and years. And now all of a sudden the flashlight mechanic is essential to the game's mood. This game just can't win. "Even in hell I get no respect."

Anyway, I've been having plenty of fun on the 360 and found it a worthwhile upgrade if you've only played the Xbox version (though the PC mods have made the original look absolutely fantastic). The whole health/ammo management mechanic builds a tension that modern games lack, and the thick atmosphere keeps you on your toes throughout. Good times.

Posted by wewantsthering

@MrKlorox said:

Does it at least run in 60 FPS in 3D?

Did you at least read the review where he specifically talks about this?...

Posted by tourgen

the lighting downgrade is a real bummer

Posted by evil_gordita

The process of using the stencil buffer to create shadows was called the 'Depth Fail' technique, or 'Carmack's Reverse.' Apparently, it was previously patented by a group of people at Creative Labs and even though he had come up with the idea independently, id software was sent a Cease and Desist letter. Creative was kind enough to allow him to use it as long as he included support for EAX in Doom 3.

I remember hearing him talking about the BFG port of Doom 3 at this year's QuakeCon keynote (I saw the three hour recording on YouTube), but I don't quite remember what he had to say about it. I'm under the impression that Doom 3's dynamic shadows were removed more for legal reasons than technical.

Edited by Rongaryen

I got the impression that the Doom3 isn't a port of the PC version but the original Xbox version. Is there anyone that can confirm this?

Online
Posted by CaguamatorFK

The fact that the original Doom 3 for Pc is no longer available as a stand alone product on Steam is really messed up.

Posted by csl316

@sofakingcool said:

I'd like a quick look of this

Here ya go.

Posted by AsKo25

I've never played Doom 3, but I've been playing the BFG edition on PC and I'm really enjoying it. I don't think the flashlight being used with the gun is that big a game-changer; the original system seemed like it'd just be tedious after a while, and furthermore I haven't really needed the light much on Marine difficulty. I pretty much turn it on if the room goes completely black or if there are items somewhere, which you don't really need your gun out for anyway.

To everyone who's on the fence and has yet to play Doom 3, I'd check the game out. It's certainly not worth it if you've already played it and the expansion, because as previously stated this is not the optimal version of the game. Graphics options are not nonexistant, but they are very limited; it's only resolution, vsync, framerate, and motion blur toggles. Plus, the mods are all better with the original version. However, this is a great release for console gamers, though I would recommend getting it at a reduced price.

Posted by SpudBug

I bought it to support the series, was super disappointed to see how bright the game is, and how much easier they made it. Also not having shadows from the flashlight on pc is bizarre.

Installed sikkmod and a few other mods and am blown away by the vanilla doom 3.

Posted by mlarrabee

I bought the id pack a couple of years ago, so I guess it's time to go dig out my copies of Doom 3 and Resurrection of Evil for the original Xbox...

Posted by bigstrat2003

@csl316 said:

"No flashlight, no shadows, no sale." Sorry, but I've found the GB coverage of this to be extremely nitpicky. I can take or leave the shadows (and yes, I own the original version), but the flashlight thing... The reason they changed it is because of how much shit they've gotten for years and years. And now all of a sudden the flashlight mechanic is essential to the game's mood. This game just can't win. "Even in hell I get no respect."

There are people (me, for instance) who have been saying that the flashlight limitations added to Doom 3 literally since it came out. So why shouldn't we be disappointed? And come on, it's not like it would've been that hard to make it an option.

Posted by zombie2011

I built my first and last gaming PC back in the day specifically for Doom 3, so i had to convince myself that i really liked the game. Looking back now i'm soo pissed i wasted money building a PC for this game, when i could have waited a year to play it on my Xbox.

Posted by csl316
@bigstrat2003

@csl316 said:

"No flashlight, no shadows, no sale." Sorry, but I've found the GB coverage of this to be extremely nitpicky. I can take or leave the shadows (and yes, I own the original version), but the flashlight thing... The reason they changed it is because of how much shit they've gotten for years and years. And now all of a sudden the flashlight mechanic is essential to the game's mood. This game just can't win. "Even in hell I get no respect."

There are people (me, for instance) who have been saying that the flashlight limitations added to Doom 3 literally since it came out. So why shouldn't we be disappointed? And come on, it's not like it would've been that hard to make it an option.

I thought it made things more terrifying, it has its place. An option would've been nice. But Brad's Quick Look focused so much on shadows and a flashlight that it seemed to make the game worse than it is. It seems like his preference makes him write off this release when it's a pretty decent package. Especially for newcomers.
Posted by vinsanityv22

I will stay play this.

Thanks for the heads up though, Brad. It is baffling that they didn't include the "normal" Flashlight mode as an option. And the options in particular - what the heck is it with id that they're glossing that stuff over so badly lately? I am no PC gamer, and everything I DO have on Steam I can play with my 360 controller, but id is (was?) PC Royalty. Why not put 110% into those options?

Very weird. But Doom 3 is Doom 3. And, since I game on PS3, I don't have access to Doom 1 and Doom 2 otherwise - and I enjoy going back and playing old school shooters like that (I remember when the genre was called, "Doom Clone"). Also never played Resurrection of Evil.

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