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 thrown into E1M1: Hangar, with just a pistol, just like the old days. 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 Finally, the partial invisibility that appears in E1M5: Phobos Lab has been replaced by Doom 3‘s berserker, which is a bit strange.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 went to great lengths to remake every level, even 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. Sonic Clang does a good job with the remixes, which you can listen to on his official YouTube page or on Spotify. It’s really good stuff.
The mod ends with E1M8: Phobos Anomaly, fighting the ol’ Bruiser Brothers – a pair of Hell Knights in this case – and the fight’s no different than the original, just in a much darker space. I mean, it’s idTech4 we’re talking here, I’m not expecting these to be well lit.
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 mod team’s intent. Or maybe it was, who knows?
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 for a long time it was the only Doom 3 mod I’ve heard of that’s wasn’t 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.
Please note: Classic Doom for Doom 3 requires Doom 3 (natch). You can get it on Steam or buy a second-hand PC copy to play it. Despite the name, Doom 3: BFG Edition doesn’t work with this mod natively, as that game does drastic changes to id Tech 4’s codebase which break mods. If you only have BFG Edition, this could work with the RBDOOM-3-BFG source port with a bit of tinkering, but I didn’t check to see if it worked.