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Xbox 360 Review: Doom 3 – BFG Edition

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Doom 3 is fear visually incarnated, with light crushing corridors, stripped spacing, and a facility creaking and moaning as it feels the strain of hellish unknowns attacking. Perpetually silent, Doom 3’s protagonist can only deliver a look of resentment towards his foes — he is a battle hardened, deadpan Marine with no purpose other than to kill.

Despite a shift in technology that bridges the time from the early first-person designs to now, Doom 3 is remarkably adept at being an arcade shooting gallery. Twisting, almost impossibly conceived corridors are the hallmark of Union Aerospace Corporation. UAC’s safety record is shaky, their methods fierce, and their profits a priority. On the surface, Doom 3 exists to kill, but underneath is a sharp-edged call for regulation over business. Panicked PDA messages–the PDA is a sure sign this was made in the early ’00s–urge safety precautions that will never come. It is a shame so many of these elements are locked to collectibles.

That slap at corporate America (Mars?) makes Doom 3 work, safety the last priority no matter the location. Often same-looking corridors break into open space that only instill additional scares, whether it’s from warping in demonic entities or ill-fitted machines that exist only as a workers compensation nightmare. Everything kills this Marine, so it’s no wonder bodies are strewn about or parts line the walls. You have to wonder how many of those happened pre-attack, before the merciless undead. UAC is more concerned with high levels of functionality, an element made clear from level design.

Mars is desolate and contained even on the exterior. Doom 3 is so sure of its success within metallic death traps that it doesn’t stray far from that wheelhouse. Not only are there pathfinding issues (doubly so if you’re hard of hearing; mission objectives are spoken sans subtitles), the materials offered up repeat. Locations are needlessly lacking markers, and that’s a shame since the design of Mars itself is superior. Dunes blow Martian sands, winds whip, and depleting oxygen doubles the panic once the airlock is sealed. Each trek to the following door is harrowing, and maybe that’s the reason these harsh raw planet surface sections are an exception.

Even with the switch to fully rendered polygonal models, Doom has lost none of its punch. What tweaks this slightly remodeled BFG Edition include, mostly lighting shifts, won’t affect gaming’s grandest shotgun. Each blast is the equivalent of a direct uppercut to the jaw by mismatched weight classes, punishing to the point that the devil’s spawn are lifted off their feet. The disintegration once they hit the ground may be technical in necessity, but it’s superior devastation effect is appreciated.

First and foremost, id has always been a technology company, which speaks volumes once Doom 3’s marginally remade facade appears on screen. Despite harsh edges to the polygonal characters, a touch up on the textures is all the title needs for a modern day fitting. Spacious, effective audio remixing brings this world in tighter, making a loose steam pipe or grinding engine an impromptu target. Doom 3 remains rich in its darkness, the flashlight given prominence on the left trigger for basic navigation (sans user modification).

This isn’t a perfectly aged remnant of a generation prior. Basic necessities of genre evolution such as twitchy weapon switching or readily available melee are sorely lost on a game this direct in its combat. Stages are often momentum driven with little vertical gunplay, although this keeps the often erratic platforming minimized. Multiplayer functions remain in id’s PC-centric design, with exaggerated speed and loose aiming sloppily equipped for analog sticks. There’s no question where Doom 3 was meant to land initially.

BFG is a bargain, even if Doom 3 isn’t an inherent personal favorite. Two Xbox Live Arcade ports of Doom and Doom 2 are strapped onto the disc as a bonus, and with no need to unlock them either. Those dual releases cost $15 together as digital offerings, so if you need financial incentive, that’s a firm push. You’ll also gain access to dual expansions for Doom 3; this is as complete as it gets.

There remains an audience for Doom 3–enough to make it the selling point–the game almost iconic for its bright primary saturation, intense depth, and remarkable confinement. Atmosphere is rarely lost to age.

Doom 3: BFG Edition is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, PS3.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.