Aping its telltale monster closet design, Doom 3: BFG Edition’s announcement earlier this year

Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: id Software
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Price: $40

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Score: 7/10

came without warning, its abrupt appearance no less surprising given the mixed reviews for last year’s Rage and the seemingly on-and-off again development of Doom 4. The release of BFG also (none-too-coincidentally) marks a quiet celebration of Doom’s 20th anniversary, yet it’s easy to ask now how the series is still relevant in a post-Call of Duty industry. BFG’s answer comes in the form of a history lesson, and the amount of attention you pay depends on how your tolerance for learning where FPSes came from.

It’s been a long eight years since Doom 3 first hit the PC as a jaw-dropping technical powerhouse. The passage of time will be notable for new players: once impressive lighting and high-poly-for-2004 character models now look relatively simple, there’s absence of regenerating health and waypoints and there are no iron sights to be found (sidenote: the 360 version seems to emulate the original source code a little cleaner than the PS3 does, though it’s not really noticeable without comparison). This is vintage FPS design through and through—an interesting (and frankly, refreshing) anachronism of what shooters once were.

If you can get over its lack of modern handholding, BFG is still pretty enjoyable as a straightforward FPS with fun pop-up scares and a decidedly Alien-esque aesthetic. It’s a slight misstep that one of the things that made Doom 3 special back in the day—the horrifying inability to shoot your gun and break the incumbent darkness with your flashlight at the same time—has been tweaked; the resultant player empowerment is the difference between sheer blind terror and a slight jump when desperately whirling at the smallest noise in pitch blackness. At least using your flashlight is optional.

Regardless, BFG’s content packs a punch with three campaigns, extras like the original Doom and Doom II (and, perhaps most excitingly, the promise of future Oculus Rift support). It’s not quite The Shining or even Silent Hill 2, but BFG still has a few good scares lurking in its black bulkheads, waiting to ambush.

Watch the Doom BFG Edition Launch Trailer