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Doom 3: BFG Edition Review (X360)

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Doom 3: BFG Edition Review (X360)
Bethesda
Nostalgia is a heck of a thing. You remember things a bit differently than how they may have actually been in reality, and as more time passes those memories tend to get even more rose-tinted. We just had one of those moments with Doom 3. My memory tells me I loved it and thought it was great with no big problems, but reading my review of the Xbox version of Doom 3 from years ago paints a picture of an enjoyable, but deeply flawed, experience. Replaying Doom 3 in the Doom 3: BFG Edition makes it clear that the reality is the latter, not the former, and also that the past 8 years have not been very kind to gameplay that was already feeling dated back in 2004. It isn't all bad for the Doom 3: BFG Edition, so keep reading for all of the details.
Game Details

  • Publisher: Bethesda
  • Developer: id Software
  • ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
  • Genre: FPS
  • Pros: Loads of content; still pretty intense when things hit the fan; great sound
  • Cons: Gameplay doesn't hold up; graphics won't impress; odd handling of Doom 1 and 2

The Doom 3: BFG Edition is an HD update (with optional 3D for those with a 3D TV) to Doom 3 that includes the original Doom 3: Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil expansion (that adds a gravity gun and some other nifty things), a short new set of levels called The Lost Mission, as well as the original Doom 1 and Doom 2 (which both still hold up incredibly well, by the way). Doom 3 includes multiplayer (which is sort of basic and throwaway these days), but the co-op from the Xbox version didn't make the cut. You get all of this for just $40. Not too bad for what easily amounts to 30 or so hours of gameplay.

There are some quirks to this package, however. The versions of Doom 1 and Doom 2 are just the Xbox Live Arcade versions, so if you already own them these aren't anything new. Because of this fact, however, you can't install Doom 3: BFG Edition to your hard drive and then play Doom 1 and 2 from the disc due to a conflict between having the same data on your HDD and disc at the same time. Instead, you have to go to your "My Games" tab on the Xbox 360 dashboard and load them from there, like any other XBLA game. Bethesda says that installing the disc doesn't have any performance benefits, and if you don't install it you can play Doom 1 and 2 from the in-game menu off the disc. It isn't a huge issue, but just something to be aware of. Another quirk is that since Doom 1 and 2 are the XBLA versions, they take up 400 of Doom 3: BFG Edition's 1000 gamerscore points, leaving Doom 3, Resurrection of Evil, and The Lost Mission at just 600 GS, which is pretty disappointing for achievement junkies.

Gameplay

Bethesda
We won't go too deep into the gameplay, since we've reviewed a lot of this content already. Read our Doom 3 Xbox and Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil reviews for all of that stuff.

One distinct change in Doom 3: BFG Edition is that someone in the last 8 years figured out how to use a flashlight and gun at the same time. Part of the thrill of Doom 3 was that you had to constantly swap between a flashlight and a weapon since you couldn't use them both at the same time. Resurrection of Evil let you use a pistol and flashlight together, but that was it. BFG Edition lets you use a flashlight and any gun you want together. It certainly does diminish some of the thrills that the rapid weapon swapping brought in the original, but it makes for an absolutely better playing game because of it, so we won't complain.

The rest of the gameplay hasn't been updated, however, and it really doesn't hold up very well here in 2012. Even back when Doom 3 was released in 2004 the gameplay was overly simplistic and clunky feeling, and in 2012 it plays really, really poorly compared to pretty much every other first-person-shooter on Xbox 360. It is the very definition of point and shoot - no subtlety or nuance here - you just put your cursor on an enemy and pull the trigger (and if your cursor isn't on them you miss entirely, even with a shotgun from close range ...). The level design that typically presents two paths - one locked and one where you find the PDA to unlock the locked door - is simple and bland. The "monster closet" enemy encounter design where enemies jump out of vents or out of closets (literally just tiny closed rooms behind a hidden door ... how long was the monster waiting for you?) is predictable and ridiculous. The guns are also surprisingly disappointing with easily the worst pistol and wimpiest machine gun in FPS history. The shotgun and more powerful weapons you get later are a bit better, though, we have to admit.

So the gameplay is kinda bland. With that said, however, there is something that is also still kind of appealing about its simplicity. When the crap hits the proverbial fan and demons start pouring in from the depths of hell, Doom 3 can still hook you. Doom 3 is incredibly intense and honestly kind of exhausting since enemies are jumping out at you from all over, you hear screams and radio calls from other human survivors, and every darn thing in the game (even good things like health pick ups) makes some loud noise designed to make you jump, but that makes it enjoyable in a weird way. The first 10 minutes of Doom 3 are boring as heck, but once it picks up after that point it can still be a lot of fun. The level designs and enemy encounter design is still dumb as all get out, but blasting the brains out of enemies with a shotgun (yes, the brains actually fly out at you) never gets old.

Graphics & Sound

The presentation was always Doom 3's strong point, and it holds up okay here. The lighting effects and industrial aesthetic was impressive in 2004, but not really so much now. Lighting in particular has greatly improved since then. Character models are also really, really bad with everyone looking like plastic covered robots. It is also hard not to notice that round objects, like characters' heads, are not even close to round and have lots of pointy polygonal edges instead. It still looks okay, don't get me wrong, and it has a very distinct and easily recognizable look that sets it apart from every other game out there, but it won't impress like it used to.

The sound, on the other hand, is still as strong as ever. Great music. Great sound effects. Excellent enemy sound designs. And everything is nice and loud and impactful. Even opening a door or picking up health is loud and kind of scary here.

Bottom Line

Bethesda
All in all, Doom 3: BFG Edition is kind of a hard game to ultimately rate and recommend. It is still an okay game, and the BFG Edition does pack a lot of content, but basically every first-person-shooter released since Doom 3 originally came out has surpassed it in just about every way. Because of this, I really doubt that younger players who didn't experience Doom 3 in its heyday will be all that impressed if they played it now. So my recommendation comes down to this - if you are trying to decide between Doom 3: BFG Edition or some other modern release, you are probably better off with the other game, especially if you don't have nostalgia clouded memories of Doom 3 already. And even if you do have fond memories of Doom 3, it doesn't hold up nearly as well as you remember, but can still be fun. If you are still interested after all of that, Doom 3: BFG Edition is worth a rental or a price bomba purchase down the line.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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