DOOM 3 BFG Edition: Hands-on Preview

Doom 3 was a huge leap forward for the series when it came out in 2004. There had been an eight-year gap since Final Doom had released before it, and the technology for shooters had leapt ahead since the days of that original id Tech engine.  Another eight years have passed since Doom 3 came out, and gaming technology has once again increased exponentially.  With Doom 4 not due out anytime soon, id is tossing Doom fans a bone by releasing Doom 3 as a HD edition, complete with some new features, extra levels and bonus goodies.

Doom 3 was the first game in the series that ran on a 3D engine, so the difference in graphics and mechanics is considerable.  Yet the thing that made Doom 3 stand out from its contemporaries was the focus on horror.  In the modern day when Dead Space has cornered the market on “Horror In Spaaace”, and the Resident Evil series has shifted to a combat-heavy formula, Doom 3’s story of shooting monsters on Mars isn’t quite as revolutionary as it was when it first came out.

I got some hands-on with it a PAX Prime where Bethesda was showing a portion of the single-player mode.  The mission structure was exactly as I recalled this portion of the game being in the original version.  The telltale flash of light that heralded the arrival of demons teleporting in behind me, the use of shadows to make fast-moving enemies hard to hit, and the disorienting layout of the Martial colony were all still there, rendered in the promised HD and widescreen.

However, Bethesda was also showing off the new 3-D mode that is especially fitting for this game.  Doom 3 has lots of enemies that attack with hand-to-hand combat, or that shoot fireballs at the Player, and this works very well in 3D with the fireballs seeming to fly right at you.  The floating skull enemies were particularly creepy when done witht his effect too.  Gamers who like playing in 3D and who have the equipment will find this game to be particularly suited to it.

Aside from the 3D effects, the BFG edition comes with some other bonuses that help justify a purchase; the expansion pack Resurrection of Evil, is included as are the original Doom and Doom II.  The most compelling addition, however, is the “Lost Mission” which was originally intended to be in the game, but cut.

There are also tweaks to some elements of the gameplay, such as a checkpoint system and the option to use the flashlight and gun at the same time (The original version wouldn’t let players do this in order to make the experience spookier).

For console gamers, this package appears to be a good deal; the last time Doom 3 was on a console it was the Xbox version.  Even if players pop that game into their Xbox 360, they’ll find that it doesn’t work with widescreen, and that the multiplayer servers are shut down.

For PC gamers, the Doom 3 BFG edition seems like more of a hard sell. While there is a noticeable improvement in graphics over the original, it isn’t a huge difference when compared to the original PC version on the highest settings.  The PC edition supports high resolution monitors (And there are hacks to force it to run in widescreen).  It still looks very good, despite its age, and there are plenty of mods out there, including a “Martian Duct Tape” mod that allows players to use their gun while holding the flashlight too.

Doom 3 BFG Edition comes out for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 16th.  Check back with for our full review after we’ve had a look at the final version.