Monday, November 26, 2012

It still works

When Doom 3 came out in 2004 I was near the end of my 'I must have a PC that can run anything on the shelf at max settings' phase. My machine still had teeth enough to run it, and while I had to bring my visual expectations more in line with reality to achieve a solid frame rate, it was a great looking game. The darkness never bothered me even though creating it required a leap of logic greater than the one needed to accept demons invading Mars. Not being able to wield a flash light and a gun at the same time created an environment where even zombies with no guns are a threat. It was tense when nothing was going on and teeth grinding when surrounded my monsters. Who cares if it didn't make any sense.

My expectations for the BFG Edition were not very high. The game is eight years old, how good could it look compared to new shooters like Crysis 2 and CoDBLOPS? Good enough, because the game is just as good at making me jump at nothing and peer into the darkness looking for health pick ups as it was before. 'Fixing' the flashlight by attaching it to the marine's shoulder does make things easier but it does not break the game. It would be better if the flash light actually cast shadows in real time but the engine is old, I need to give it some slack. The sound is still perfect, sometimes giving the player clues as to what is coming and others out right lying. Switching between weapons doesn't work as well, but until Microsoft lets me plug a mouse and keyboard to play shooters the right way there is nothing to be done.

My only complaint about the original game was how monsters' corpses all disappeared shortly after they were killed. This was, for me anyway, one of the best parts of the first two games. You could walk back through the level and marvel and the carnage you had unleashed. This environmental consistency always makes me smile; see Titan Quest for anther excellent example. Doom 3 had none of this and this annoyed me enough to dig up a mod that forced demon corpses to stay in the map. It completely fixed the problem and also revealed why it was not the default option: later levels either had hallways blocked by bodies or slowed down to a crawl because of how many of them there were laying around. No modding the Xbox version so I have to deal with them turning to dust and denying me that little perverse pleasure.

Good games stay good games and Doom 3 has aged surprisingly well. Rage was good, but not Doom good. This may just be a way for Id to fill the coffers in an an attempt to get Doom 4 off the ground. That is fine with me, just save it for the next generation of consoles so I can have my mind blown again.

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