Besides spikes in impractical places and a sinister belly laugh, every self-respecting demon needs a lively imagination. Demons, after all, are in the business of eternal torment. Discovering new ways to inflict said torment is presumably crucial, or you'll end up with lost souls doing the metaphysical equivalent of channel surfing.
Sadly, DOOM 3's demons have all the creative flair of dried-out goldfish. Whether you're talking about the fireball-throwing Imp, the skeletal Revenant or the bloated Cacodemon, the "tortures" to which you'll be subject on your tour of Mars are precisely two: one, the creature will teleport to your blindside in a swirl of heathen runes, and two, it'll hide behind something (e.g. a door you could have sworn was a wall) and jump out at you.
The correct course of action in both these situations is to sigh, turn, back out of reach, cycle laboriously via the bumpers to your most powerful weapon and F-stop the offender to a puddle of shrieking goo. As with Painkiller's Hell and Damnation update, DOOM 3 BFG Edition is a shockingly simplistic play alongside the latest shooters, "tactical" or otherwise. There's really nothing more to the experience than strafing, finding keycards and watching your ammo - not that you'll need to watch your ammo much, if you're fighting on default difficulty.
id Software's horror-inflected technical tour de force has, however, stood the test of time better than contemporaries like Serious Sam. That's mainly down to the pleasantly well-articulated and detail-rich setting. Cheap as all the hidden doors and blind corners are from a challenge perspective, the Mars base has a certain depth to it - you can pick up PDAs to access audio logs, videos and emails detailing the staff's descent into madness - and while the once-celebrated lighting system feels a little artificial nowadays, the props and textures hold up well under the new 720p resolution and wide-screen format. There's support for stereoscopic 3D displays, too, if novelty eye-strain is your bag.
The conversion doesn't always do the original proud, however. It's now possible to wield a flashlight and gun simultaneously, and while this makes for a more plausible game, it also makes for a less surprising one. Where before you'd have inched into a darkened room with your torch up, poised to spring back and whip out your Plasma Gun at the slightest hint of hostile movement, now you'll trot into the ambush without a second thought. The liberal attitude to illumination also weakens more creatively-lit areas, and makes the woodenness of monster behaviour harder to ignore.
The multiplayer is extremely limited - four player online and local deathmatch - and the original Xbox version's co-op mode has been cut. Co-op never really made sense in Doom 3, given the tightness of the environments, but given the wearying rigidity of the odds, the option to bring another player along would have been nice. If you're desperate for company, try teaming up with a robot dog. They've got a lot more personality (not to mention firepower) than most of the human cast.
All in all, the BFG Edition is a polished overhaul of an elderly but entertaining corridor blaster, bolstered by two major expansions and remastered editions of DOOM and DOOM 2 (also available separately on Xbox Live Arcade, and pretty much every other platform in existence). id Software's take on hell might be a little two-dimensional, but if you don't have the patience for the likes of Dead Space, this should scratch your diabolical itch.
A serviceable HD update
- Mars is still worth visiting
- Plenty of content
- Worn-out scares
- Boring enemies
- Dated firefights