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Get your nostalgia to Mars in Doom 3 BFG Edition


It has been a long time since I last visited the imperiled Mars research facility featured in id Software's 2004 shooter, Doom 3, but playing the upcoming HD revamp, Doom 3 BFG Edition, I felt like I hardly ever left.

While not as highly regarded as its predecessors, Doom 3 was an enjoyable (and, at the time, graphically impressive) game that garnered a fair following. For fans, Doom 3 BFG is a package filled with memories of the franchise. Along with Doom 3, its expansions, and brand new 'Lost' missions, the BFG pack includes both Doom and Doom 2.

Doom 3 BFG itself is not meant to be the original Doom 3 experience with prettier textures and 3D support. "We made some slight improvements to the original game," id creative director Tim Willits told me after I got my hands on Doom 3 BFG's 'Lost Mission' content. "Like the flashlight [which can be used in conjunction with your gun, unlike the original]. We made things a little bit brighter, we improved a lot of the character textures."

BFG features tweaks throughout: slightly increased player speed, adjusted ammo and health, new soundscapes, and new auto-save and checkpoint features. "It plays better, it really does," Willits promises.

Gallery: Doom 3 BFG Edition (QuakeCon 2012) | 8 Photos

The original Doom games included in the BFG package haven't been touched. In fact, on the Xbox 360 you can expect them to play exactly the same as each game's Xbox Live Arcade ports, as that's what they are. The PS3 version, however, needed a little help from a much newer game in order to get up and running online.

"We never released Doom 1 and Doom 2 on the PlayStation Network," Willits reminded me. "So we're like, 'OK, what's the easiest way to do this?' And what the guys did instead of rewriting all the network support, [support for] friends, and all that kind of stuff, is they took Rage, took out all the 'Rage' bits and put Doom 1 and 2 on top of it. So when you launch Doom 1 and Doom 2 you actually are launching most of id Tech 5, and it just has a game loop that runs Doom 1 and Doom 2."

The flashlight and other tweaks in Doom 3 are reminiscent of past mods, which cannot work with the upcoming version for a few obvious reasons. "We incorporated a lot of id Tech 5," Willits said. "The engine is more id Tech 4.5. So the way that it's all engineered is so different that it does require that [original Doom 3 mods] won't be compatible."

As for Doom 3 BFG, id Software is still figuring out what kind of support it will add for the mod community. "[John] Carmack has to figure out what he wants to do with open source and with mod support on the PC version," Willits said, "...but it's something we're aware of."

Carmack mentioned this during his QuakeCon 2012 keynote. Among potential solutions he quickly rattled off, he said he had considered releasing specific chunks of the id Tech 5 source code – something he wasn't even sure was possible. I asked Willits if id would consider using the Steam Workshop for mod distribution, but that seems to be unknown even to id.

'[John] Carmack has to figure out what he wants to do with open source and with mod support on the PC version.'- Tim Willits

So why is id Software looking to launch a Doom 3 revamp eight years after it first hit store shelves? According to Willits, it was the perfect project after wrapping up Rage, when the company had a lot of people in between development of that and their next project (Doom 4). He also cited the huge potential audience that exists in the console space right now, with so many millions of current-gen console owners, some of whom may never have played a Doom game.

"We're excited to reach that market. And," he added with a bit of a wink and a nod, "get everyone familiar with the Doom franchise." I tried to press him for more on the sequel still shrouded in demonic mystery, hoping that maybe there would be some sort of teaser for Doom 4 in the BFG Edition. He would only say describe this collection of Doom history as "a great bridge." Doom 4 was first announced in 2008 and has been hidden from public view ever since.

Playing the press demo in 3D didn't exactly blow me away, even though I was playing new content in the form of the 'Lost Mission.' But the tweaks haven't overtaken what Doom 3 felt like – playing Doom 3 BFG feels like the best version of the game, wrapped in what could be the best collection of Doom memories. It might be a good way to prepare for that sequel, whenever id decides it's done.

Doom 3: BFG Edition launches on October 16 in North America for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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