Dallas, TX , Quakecon 2012 — It’s not often that an 8 year old game attempts to step back into the limelight, but id Software’s 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 game’s due out towards the end of the year, but it’s not finished just yet, and some features weren’t fully implemented. Nevertheless, my time with the demo showed a significant amount of what’s going to be on tap for players.
There’s 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, it’s obvious that the BFG Edition has been pushed in all the right places. It’s still the same solid – if simplistic – combat and it’s still (mostly) the same maps that you’ve played through before, but there’s also a lot more here: There’s 3D vision settings, future-proofed support for head-mounted displays, between 3 and 4 hours of new content, and various other tweaks to the game’s codebase. Coupled with today’s hardware, it all adds up to a silky smooth experience that’s 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 that’s been added to the BFG Edition. The map loads and I’m immediately placed in familiar territory. I’m in Hell, and according to the voice on the other end of a radio transmission, I’m supposed to be looking for an outpost. One that’s 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. It’s a well-done 3D; one that doesn’t 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 that’s 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 I’m about to finish off the last. I’m told that there aren’t any new enemy types in The Lost Mission save for a new boss, but even so, this journey into Hell won’t be completely familiar. There are no monster closets here. The scares in these unseen parts of Hell come from not knowing whether you’ll have what it takes to survive the next encounter. It’s 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. It’s hard. It’s brutally hard. And it’s 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, it’s truly something special to watch the game running (on a PC) in widescreen at 120 fps – 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 that’s present in the original has been completely removed, and there’s a 4 player limit in multiplayer – even though the Resurrection of Evil expansion increased the player count to 8. There’s no mod support and it’s uncertain if existing Doom 3 maps will work in BFG Edition (the person I asked just didn’t know the answer).
A friendly “How’s it going” 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 I’d 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 you’ll want to keep your eye on this. If you’ve never played Doom 3 then this is your chance to see the game that launched thousands of hardware upgrades all at once.
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