Doom 3: BFG Edition launched last week, and critical reaction was mixed to poor at best. VG247’s Dave Cook calls for a reality check.
Nostalgia’s a funny old thing isn’t it? It can turn the most level-headed person into a frothing fan boy at the drop of a hat, especially if they connect some kind of cherished memory to a particular game.
Everyone has a game from their childhood that they hold close to the heart, and it’s one of those fiercely subjective topics that spurs endless debate on forums.
I’m as guilty of this as the next man, especially when my all-time favourite game Streets of Rage 2 is involved. I’ll foolishly defend that game to the ends of the Earth, just because it signifies a great time in my life.
This is natural, but what happens when we revisit our most cherished titles and find out that they actually weren’t anything special, or say they’ve dated horribly. It’s kind of disheartening.
“It’s like kicking down a kid who’s just fallen off his bike. It’s cheap to savage a studio that has simply reworked one of its games.”
Last week, id Software and Bethesda launched Doom 3: BFG Edition, a remastered edition of the 2004 original. It currently holds an Xbox 360 Metacritic score of 64, with many reviewers commenting on how poorly the game has aged.
Now, I’m not an expert on Doom 3 – because I’ve only played the old Xbox version, and from what I hear, it’s crap compared to the PC build. But isn’t it a bit silly to slam a re-release of an old game in this manner?
What were people expecting? It was never billed as a full remake of Doom 3, similar to last year’s remake of Halo: Combat Evolved. Instead, it was a polishing job, with new textures, slicker frame rate, slightly reworked areas and other tweaks.
Ugh…the zombies in Black Ops were SO much better.
The FPS genre has come a long way since 2004 thanks – like it or not – to Battlefield, Call of Duty and Halo’s influence. id Software weren’t mind-readers back then, they didn’t know that Doom 3 would one day be graded against today’s criteria.
It’s like kicking down a kid who’s just fallen off his bike. It’s cheap to savage a studio that has simply reworked one of its games and bundled it with the first two Doom titles, in an attempt to bring its franchise to a wider audience. They’re fielding opinion for Doom 4, essentially.
”Sometimes critics can lose perspective when revisiting old games, or indeed playing remastered editions. What do you judge them against? Is it a case of stacking them against modern expectations – with frankly have become stupidly high these days.”
Sure, even I’ve had infuriating moments while playing it. The aiming mechanic feels weird to me – I’m a self proclaimed Call of Duty fan, you see – the enemy AI gets tripped up at times, and the textures can look a little tired at points.
But it’s a nostalgia trip, and actually if you think back to what shooters were around in 2004 and compare them to Doom 3, it wasn’t all that bad for its day, and I think a lot of people who missed it first time around will get a kick out if it.
My point is that I think sometimes critics can lose perspective when revisiting old games, or indeed playing remastered editions. What do you judge them against? Is it a case of stacking them against modern expectations – with frankly have become stupidly high these days.
This uses Frostbite 2 right? If not, I’m not playing it.
Maybe we, as purveyors of gaming critique should review them based on older values, ones that give the game a fighting chance. As I said however, retro games are thoroughly subjective, so I’m sure such a consensus can never be reached.
Reviews should be a guide as to whether or not a game is worth your money. That’s the basis of any good product critique so actually, personal feelings shouldn’t sway a retro review too far. If it’s broken, then by all means a review should state that, but Doom 3: BFG Edition isn’t broken, it just like a relic, a slice of history – because that’s exactly what it is.
id Software never marketed it any other way, so I’m still not too sure where all the negativity has come from. Finally, it’s a budget game at £19.99 – for the Doom trilogy – one of the most influential trilogies money can buy.
To be clear, I’m not outwardly defending Doom 3: BFG Edition, because it does have issues that id could have fixed, such as poor checkpoints, the length of time it takes to initiate a quick-save, some naff visuals and other things.
But if the studio had touched it up even more, would it even have felt like the same game people remember? You don’t go mucking up people’s fond memories for the sake of making a vocal minority happy. That’s no better than design by committee, something the industry at large needs to cull.
There’s no right or wrong answers here but it’s an interesting debate, and one that I hope you’ll contribute to. Should our nostalgia be exploited, tampered with or left alone? Share your thoughts below.