Doom 3 was a real departure from the original Doom formula established by the previous two games in the franchise. It was an extremely atmospheric experience that was made way more tense by the sheer fact that you had to spend most of your time playing in the dark. Back when it was originally released in 2004, this game scared the ever living crap out of me — then again, growing up a scaredy cat, a lot of media got in my nerves as a kid, but I eventually grew a sense of trying to challenge myself into watching and playing scary stuff like the original Resident Evil, but Doom 3 was something else entirely.
Yeah, a lot of people came to diss it for its monster closets and the whole thing with not being able to carry a flashlight and a gun at the same time, but I took the latter in stride since it made Doom 3 way more tense and fun to play. Eventually, it was revealed by programming wiz John Carmack that the game was made that way because of limitations in the technology behind the game. In the end, the majority won when Doom 3 BFG Edition was released years later for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3, adding a host of gameplay changes, chief among them a shoulder mounted flashlight that could be used alongside a gun, as well as an increase in light sources all throughout the game.
The re-release of Doom 3 that we got along with the original games last month during Quakecon is an HD port of that version, which gave me a chance to once again dive into the re-imagined Mars setting, and see how everything played under the new direction of the BFG Edition. All in all, the core of the game remained the same, but the jump scares and intensity of having to navigate spaces in the dark were pretty much gone, resulting in an exploratory experience dotted with occasional shootouts in tight quarters. Admittedly, I never thought Doom 3 was a really good shooter to begin with, but thanks to what later I found out were limitations, my original run through the first version of the game was centered around the darkness factor, and taking it away made the experience of playing the game less exciting, even though the world built for it was still there intact.
Putting Doom 3 side by side with 2016’s Doom makes it that more evident how differently the franchise is being handled these days, but it doesn’t take away from the merit of the id Software of that day — a way different studio from today’s — who tried to take the series in an entirely different direction. I could argue for hours how much I would rather play a more atmospheric game like Doom 3 than the new in-your-face Doom, but you wouldn’t want to read that, would you? You want to know if this new release of Doom 3 is worth it. My definitive answer is: it depends whether or not you’re like me, and which version of Doom 3 you prefer.
The game itself performs wonderfully on the current consoles. For the purposes of reviewing it, I played the PlayStation 4 version, and I can safely say that it’s by far the sharpest version of Doom 3 I have ever played. Back when Doom 3 was ported to the original Xbox, I had a great time running through it as well as the PC version, but even when approaching the modded Steam copy that I own, it certainly pales in comparison to this new release. That not only goes for the presentation of the game, but also in terms of controls, which I assume were inherited from the BFG Edition. It feels tighter and way faster compared to the chunkier movement from the original version, also thanks to the improved framerate in this port, very rarely straying from running at 60 fps. Like the other two re-releases, the big draw to buying Doom 3 in this form is playing it portably on the Nintendo Switch, and to all accounts, that version runs suitably well.
Doom 3 was easily one of my favorite titles of its generation, even rivaling the likes of Half-Life 2 and even Thief when it came to first-person games of that period. While the BFG Edition took away some of the things that I most liked out of the original release, it retains the great setting that’s still a blast to explore years later. This re-release has the potential to bring in an entirely new group of players who may never have enjoyed Doom 3 back in its heyday thanks to the great work put into converting it to modern systems. Plus the fact that it includes the Resurrection of Evil expansion and the bonus mission from the original release doesn’t hurt!