Doom 3 was a pretty cool game for 2004. I replayed it recently since it had been several years and I was initially down on it, but after replaying it, I have some newfound respect for it. While not as groundbreaking as Half-Life 2, it was still a good game. Though it’s hardly a “masterpiece of the art form” as the box quote says.
Alas, from what I gathered, the Doom 3 modding community was sparse compared to classic Doom, even compared to its competitors like Half-Life 2. But one particular mod stood out, and it’s not surprising it exists considering id Software’s legacy:
Classic Doom for Doom 3 was one of those hyped mods in its heyday. Boasting a small team of developers at Flaming Sheep Software, these guys aimed to remake the 1993 classic on a modern engine. Of course, what better way to show off the modding skills of Doom 3‘s engine than with a remake of the original Doom?
There’s only four difficulty levels in this one, similar to Doom 3‘s skill levels. Alas no Ultra-Violence, but I’ll play on Hey Not Too Rough, the equivalent of “Normal” difficulty.
Surprisingly the development team made an intro to explain why you’re going in. It’s so corny, filled with amateur voice acting and really jerky animation. Basically they give a reason for Doomguy to enter Mars and kill demons, eventually fending for yourself. Granted, the intro can be skipped, but it’s fascinating to put a story on why things went to hell. It’s a sight to behold.
Then you’re thrusted into E1M1: Hangar, with just a pistol. A remix of At Doom’s Gate starts blasting through your speakers. It’s time to kill some demons!
Since I played a lot of the first episode of Doom – and I really mean I played a lot of it– it’s interesting to see the similarities between the original level and the Classic Doom remake. Everything’s dark and gloomy much like Doom 3 is, there’s GUI switches just like in regular Doom 3, but it has a mix of the original Doom‘s weapons and reused weapons from Doom 3. It’s a strange mix.
While it does recreate most of the levels faithfully, some items didn’t make the cut. There’s no radiation shielding suit, so enjoy trudging through the toxic areas and taking damage. There’s no automap, so it can be easy to get lost in some of the later levels like E1M6: Central Processing’s blue key maze. Finally, the partial invisibility that appears in E1M5: Phobos Lab has been replaced by Doom 3‘s berserker, which is a bit strange. It’s like the team couldn’t find a way to code in the original game’s items, and just worked around it.
While the mod starts out pretty well, by the time I got to E1M7: Computer Station, it felt like they ran out of steam. It was too wide open, too boxy, and had problems where monster closets were not only easily visible, but looked out of place considering the rest of the scenery. Not only that, some of the levels require you to climb ladders, which is somewhat difficult to do in Doom 3‘s engine. That isn’t a big knock against it, but it started out very promising. They even remade The Military Base, the secret level! It’s just a case of inconsistent level design.
As for the music, it’s rockin’ remixes of Bobby Prince’s stuff from the original game. A lot of the more subdued tracks in the original Doom’s soundtrack keep that same atmosphere without trying to overdo it like some metal remixes I’ve heard. Then again, I would’ve been okay with them just throwing in the original music or even those remixes from the 3DO version, as long as it sounds good.
The mod ends with E1M8: Phobos Anomaly, fighting the ol’ Bruiser Brothers – a pair of Hell Knights in this case – before finishing with a hilarious cutscene of Doomguy ripping through enemies while some guy narrates the ending text screen from episode 1 in a weird voice. I’ll give them points for originality but this is hilarious to watch, which is probably not the designer’s intent.
Alas, the mod team decided not to continue remaking the later episodes of Doom. Which is sad, because I would’ve loved to see them try to remake later levels like the Slough of Despair with it’s hand-shaped level layout, or Mt. Erebus’s wide open absurdity. Hell, it would’ve been funny to see them tackle Doom II and try to figure out Sandy Petersen’s abominations like The Chasm or Nirvana and make them actually look like realistic locations.
In spite of the hilarious cutscenes and mixed level design, Classic Doom for Doom 3 is a pretty fun mod all things considered. Remaking older games on newer engines is a nice treat, and still being done today with stuff like Black Mesa. They did a good job here, and it the only Doom 3 mod I’ve heard of that’s not some co-op multiplayer mod. It’s worth checking out if you’re looking for more Doom 3 stuff to play. You can download it from their ModDB page here.
If I missed any cool Doom 3 mods, post them in the comments! I’m always up for playing more mods for games, especially the underrated Doom 3. At least it was better than Far Cry was.
Doom screenshots taken from Doom Retro by Brad Harding, which is a happy medium between a pure classic Doom source port and a pretty port with all bells and whistles. You can grab it here.
Please note: Classic Doom for Doom 3 requires Doom 3 (natch). You can get it on Steam, which the mod supports. Despite the name, Doom 3: BFG Edition runs on a heavily modified engine from the original Doom 3, and thus this mod will not work with it.