Dallas, TX , Quakecon 2012 ó Itís not often that an 8 year old game attempts to step back into the limelight, but id Softwareís next release is aiming to do just that. With Doom 3 BFG Edition, the legendary game developer is attempting to create the definitive version of its nearly decade old title. My hands-on experience with the Xbox 360 version the BFG Edition was both surprisingly enjoyable and expectedly lacking. The gameís due out towards the end of the year, but itís not finished just yet, and some features werenít fully implemented. Nevertheless, my time with the demo showed a significant amount of whatís going to be on tap for players.
Thereís only so far you can push an 8 year old game before it refuses to budge, and while this game definitely shows its age with the occasional low-poly model or muddy texture, itís obvious that the BFG Edition has been pushed in all the right places. Itís still the same solid Ė if simplistic Ė combat and itís still (mostly) the same maps that youíve played through before, but thereís also a lot more here: Thereís 3D vision settings, future-proofed support for head-mounted displays, between 3 and 4 hours of new content, and various other tweaks to the gameís codebase. Coupled with todayís hardware, it all adds up to a silky smooth experience thatís still a visual delight even 8 years later.
With 3D glasses affixed to my head, my time was spent playing a map that appears towards the end of The Lost Mission, the name of the new content thatís been added to the BFG Edition. The map loads and Iím immediately placed in familiar territory. Iím in Hell, and according to the voice on the other end of a radio transmission, Iím supposed to be looking for an outpost. One thatís all but been destroyed, no doubt. After I get acclimated to the obvious but not overdone 3D vision, I spin around to survey the area and collect some nearby ammo. Everything looks different somehow. The hellish landscape and everything else in view has taken on a new level of physicality. There are things popping out all over the place, but not in an annoying way. A mass of rocks here. An ammo canister there. Itís a well-done 3D; one that doesnít make my eyes compete over what I should be paying attention to.
I take a few steps forward and monsters have spawned into the world, shoving projectiles my way. First a few, and then a lot. This would end up being the gameplay theme for as far as I got into the demo. I take out a few evil cherubs with the help of a mounted laser-sight thatís replaced the traditional crosshair. Then I put down a few cacodemons, and then a few pinkies, and then a hell knight. They spawn in a staggered fashion; one group of enemies begins to appear just as Iím about to finish off the last. Iím told that there arenít any new enemy types in The Lost Mission save for a new boss, but even so, this journey into Hell wonít be completely familiar. There are no monster closets here. The scares in these unseen parts of Hell come from not knowing whether youíll have what it takes to survive the next encounter. Itís like an endurance run. These maps are for the people that have played Doom 3, beaten it, then beaten it again on the hardest difficulty all while mocking The Devil and his army of minions. Itís hard. Itís brutally hard. And itís satisfying. Oh so satisfying. After all these years Doom 3 has still got it. The BFG Edition delivers the combat component of the original in spades.
Even considering the occasional low-poly model and sometimes harsh lighting, it must be said that Doom 3 has aged rather well considering when it was released. And even without 3D vision, itís truly something special to watch the game running (on a PC) in widescreen at 120 fps Ė on a 120hz monitor.
Not all the news about this returning star is good though. While the BFG Edition comes with all previous Doom game releases from id Software, the editor for Doom 3 thatís present in the original has been completely removed, and thereís a 4 player limit in multiplayer Ė even though the Resurrection of Evil expansion increased the player count to 8. Thereís no mod support and itís uncertain if existing Doom 3 maps will work in BFG Edition (the person I asked just didnít know the answer).
A friendly ďHowís it goingĒ tap on the shoulder reminded me that other people were also waiting to sit down and play. So with with a few imps closing in on my position, I ended my time with the demo and promised that Iíd return to finish them off in the not too distant future.
Doom 3 BFG Edition will be out this year. If you found yourself particularly infatuated with Doom 3 then youíll want to keep your eye on this. If youíve never played Doom 3 then this is your chance to see the game that launched thousands of hardware upgrades all at once.