Doom is back and better than ever thanks to the BFG Edition.
First off, let me just say that I'm a big fan of HD versions, collections, and compilations. We've seen a lot of these released, especially on PS3, and I own almost everyone of them. In most cases, these spruced up re-releases are the definitive way to play some of the best games from a (console) generation or two ago.
With Doom 3, Bethesda did more than just bring it to the 360 and PS3 (both it and Resurrection of Evil were previously released on Xbox). Graphics and sound were re-mastered, giving a 720p image with improved lighting, and 5.1 Dolby is supported. 3D support is included now too, although I was unfortunately not able to test this; I let a friend borrow my 24" set a few weeks ago and they're on vacation. I really eager to see it, though. Anyway, new content has been added too, including the ability to use the flashlight and your gun simultaneously. This is explained by the space marines having a chest-armor mounted flashlight. Some of you may recall the 'duct tape mod' that was released for PC when the game first came out to remedy the inability to shoot and have a light on at the same time. It's worth mentioning that the flashlight does have a quick cooldown mechanic, meaning you can't leave it on all the time, and for the hardcore, purist players, you can always elect not to use it, too.
Doom 3 (and Resurrection of Evil and The Lost Mission) feature checkpoint saves as well, although they're not very frequent. Fortunately, you can, and should, manually save your game in multiple slots at any time. Take note, if you start a Doom 3 campaign but decide you want to skip to the Lost Mission, the game will warn you that your progress on your other campaign will be lost. It's a little bit misleading though, because while your auto-save (and therefore the Continue Game save) will be replaced, your manual save games are still there. While I appreciate the auto-saves, they can be a little cumbersome simply because they very abruptly bring the game to a halt, sometimes right in the middle of the action. That obviously breaks the immersion and flow of the experience. It also pops up that annoying little animated diamond shape icon. This means a game is either being saved or loaded; in either case, it feels like, for a game almost eight years old, that it takes too long. Load times especially are curiously lengthy. Not Neo-Geo CD lengthy, mind you -- but still roughly thirty seconds. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but it's an area that I would have to think could have been better, if for example an install option to the PS3 hard drive was available.
Controls have also been tweaked to make playing on a console more intuitive and familiar. There are three schemes built in, the default one was fine for me, but being able to customize them would have been a plus. Additionally, I would have liked the ability to toggle crouch, or at least assign it away from R3. As is, you sprint (an important action) with L3, which I've never been a big fan of (sometimes my thumb moves and the 'click' of L3 turns off, so I stop running abruptly), and you crouch with R3. Doom 3 does a lot with enemies spawning in, often behind you, or dropping down in front of you, so being able to sprint and crouch are crucial, and personally I would have liked to have been able to re-map these (and set a toggle for crouch). Regardless, it's another one of those 'well, this could have been better' points as opposed to some glaring problem. On the other hand, I did like L2 and R2 for changing weapons and L1 for flashlight, R1 to shoot. Space Marines don't line up shots through the iron, so there is no zoom
Doom 3 is definitely one of those shooters where you are going to be switching weapons a lot, largely because enemies will engage you at different ranges. You may enter a room and start combat at a distance, but scripted conditions and just the nature of the game often gets other enemies right in your face, so that long range gun isn't your best bet anymore.
That's actually another thing that I always thought Doom had going for it -- weapons that are effective and fun to use. Be it the classic shotgun and then double-barreled shotgun from Doom II, or the plasma cannon, or even the spiked knuckles or chainsaw, Doom has always given players reason to rotate weapons constantly. Doing that while reloading, strafing, running, etc., is all part of the package, something a long-time FPS fan like myself still really enjoys. Oh, I also like how Doom 3 puts the name of each area in the HUD; it helps differentiate locations and, I don't know, I just thought it added a little bit to the immersion because I would look at a name like 'Coolant Transplant' or whatever and look at the surroundings while passing through with a little more care, trying to match up what I saw with the name. Maybe I'm just weird like that.
While Doom 3, and yes even Doom and Doom II, have a lot of great thrills, something that maybe does stand out more these days is the level design, and how especially with Doom 3 most of the experience is running through dimly lit, narrow corridors with big solid doors that are either locked, unlocked, or damaged. Things are spiced up with another floor above you, putting players in a position to where they have to 'play vertically' as well, not just contending with what's in front of them. That design does help, but if you're not overly immersed in the game, or are watching someone else play, it's not hard to notice the closed design. This is something that may bother more modern-only FPS players than those who grew up and often found comfort or logic in such level design, myself included.
All that to say, as a whole, what really impressed me with the BFG release was the inclusion of The Lost Mission. It's not that these seven levels included incredible new weapons or story or enemies, etc. It's more so that it's just quality, new content, not unlike the 'No Rest' expansion that Nerve did for Doom II for the XBLA release (and is also included here). You're not likely to see The Lost Mission ever released separately (on any platform) and it's not like Doom 3 is going to get any more DLC; it pre-dates DLC (although certainly not expansion packs). While not on the same scale, imagine if Miyamoto and crew got together and released a new world for Super Mario or something.
Anyway, The Lost Mission takes place during the story of Doom 3, about six hours after the invasion at the UAC facility began. You play a member of Bravo Team, who quickly gets wiped out in the opening cutscene (although you manage to survive). Your goal is to rescue a scientist somewhere in the facility. Expect it to extend your play time by several hours. Adding this amount of significant new content makes the release far more valuable and "genuine," if you know what I mean, than it would have been without.
Another big bonus for the PS3 version is the inclusion of Ultimate Doom and Doom II, with the No Rest For The Living episode as well. No Rest For The Living is a set of nine additional levels that was created by Nerve for the XBLA release of Doom II a couple of years ago. Similar to The Lost Mission, there aren't any new weapons or enemies here, but you are getting quality level design and content that's very much worth playing. As someone who grew up with PC gaming, having these all time classics on my PS3 for the first time is a treat. Playing co-op, with up to four players split-screen or online, is a great way to introduce anyone to gaming, too. With Doom and Doom II, the levels are nicely segmented, and it's not like the concept or controls are difficult. Additionally, there are a variety of match options you can set before launching the game, including selecting any level from any episode, so it's really easy to jump back into where you left off on a previous play session. I think my only gripe with how Doom and Doom II were packaged here is that you have to quit out completely, to the XMB, to be able to switch between them, but that's not uncommon for compilations or collection releases to have to do.
To the summary...