Reviewed: April 4, 2005
Released: April 4, 2005
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Mars, id Software unleashes a new evil upon the planet in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, the first official expansion to last year’s mega-hit Doom 3. Co-developed by Nerve Software, Resurrection of Evil continues the terrifying chain of events that unfolded when UAC teleportation experiments opened a portal to hell and…well, we all know what happened.
Resurrection of Evil picks up two years following the events of the original game in a once forgotten and remote UAC research facility on Mars. You once again don the suit of a space marine and unwittingly release more powers of hell when you take possession of a mysterious “artifact”. Then just sit back for the wildest and most evil rollercoaster ride of your life as you try to vanquish the forces of hell. Only this time, you have a few new tricks up your sleeve.
Normally, expansion packs offer a few new levels, a modest story, and a few gimmicks to lure you back to the franchise but Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil is practically a complete game on its own merit. It might be half the size of the original, but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.
First the facts; Resurrection of Evil is an expansion pack, about half the size of the original game. The level design is much more expansive than the first so you aren’t crawling through tight and twisting corridors the entire game. You will often find yourself in mammoth caverns and large open areas, and yes, there are even a few brief excursions outside so bring a few extra canisters of O2.
Half-Life 2 has obviously influenced the team at Nerve as we now have a gravity gun, or “grabber” that we can use to grab and fling objects around. While this is a useful tool in clearing congested passages, tossing a crate, or grabbing a med kit or ammo pack from an otherwise unobtainable location, the designers have gone one step further to make this tool a most formidable weapon.
When used at long range you can actually “intercept” incoming fireballs and fling them right back at the demon that shot it. Ah yes, sweet revenge. And if those flying flaming skulls are taking too many shotgun blasts to kill, just suck them up with the grabber and smash them into the nearest wall. Mastering the grabber is essential for puzzles as well as an early boss battle and is perhaps one of the biggest improvements in the overall gameplay of this expansion.
For those of you lamenting the loss of your beloved double-barrel shotgun in Doom 3, give a big “Yeehaw” to the boys at Nerve and mount that gun rack on your PC. The devastating twin-barrels of death are back and have never been better or more satisfying. New demons that would take two or three normal shotgun blasts disintegrate with one close-range blast from the “Sarge”.
Of course the biggest gameplay feature has to be the Artifact; you remember that beating heart that you ripped from its shrine and unleashed the forces of hell in the opening movie. Well now you carry this grotesque organ around and when properly charged will allow you to invoke special powers that open up an entire new realm of gameplay.
The Artifact can be infused with three abilities, each earned when you defeat one of the main bosses in the game. “Hell Time” (or “bullet time”) slows down everyone and everything but yourself, allowing you to dodge traps, cover great distances in a short time, not to mention giving you a huge advantage in combat, especially when you are outnumbered. “Berserker” is pretty much what the name implies. You go into a rage mode and do extra damage, and “Invulnerability” is the third and final power and basically gives you a short burst of “god mode”.
Obtaining these abilities is one thing but you must also keep the artifact powered up. The heart can hold up to three charges and is powered by the souls of any glowing corpse you happen to find lying around. Just equip the artifact and stand near the fallen body and watch it dissolve in a very cool Blade effect.
Nerve is also bringing some new denizens of hell to the table with no less than three new hideously deformed demons. The Vulgar, the Bruiser, and the Forgotten are all added to the existing roster of monsters you will be slaying in this expansion, and each creature is just as evil and formidable as their names might imply.
While the original Doom 3 ran flawlessly on my ultimate gaming rig built specifically for Doom 3, I did have some technical issues with the expansion pack. During the entire 12-13 hours it took me to finish the game my system rebooted nine times. Even more interesting is that all nine times took place while using the “Hell Time” mode, so I’m not sure if there is some glitch with this power or what, but I highly recommend quicksaving frequently.
Resurrection of Evil is even more polished than it’s predecessor, if that is even possible. The game engine hasn’t changed but the textures are much more intricate, the new demons are really creepy and now warp in with blue lightning as well as the original orange. The environments are still overly dark but there seems to be more natural light sources so it’s not as bad as before. And you still have your trusty flashlight if things get too dark.
The new weapons are very cool, especially the grabber that has a working monitor on the weapon that shows it locking on target. The targeting cursor also changes to indicate items you can actually grab onto. The artifact is just plain creepy not to mention what it does to your hands while you hold it.
Much like the visuals, sound and music combine to enhance the already oppressive atmosphere of Doom 3. Music is minimal and used only as need to enhance a cutscene or scripted event. Environmental sounds, creaking metal, hissing pipes, whirring computers, are all industrial instruments in a mechanical orchestra that creates a natural soundtrack that inspires real fear. The rest of the audio presentation is left for chilling sound effects, demonic screams, screeches, and howls, and incessant gunfire.
Speech is perfect, both in quality and content with a whole new set of characters. All of the interactions with NPC’s are spoken, and there are also numerous voice logs that you can play back for story elements and critical access codes. There are more of those video discs you can watch throughout the complex and eventually download to your PDA.
The entire sound package is available in surround sound, but the same glitch from the original game is back to haunt me once again. The game insists on having your Windows Control Panel sound settings set to 5.1 before you can enable Surround Speakers in the Doom 3 options. My Audigy 4 Pro is normally set to 7.1 so I had to back it down, which in turn affected my audio performance in other games that do support 7.1, at least until I set it back.
Early estimates put this expansion pack in the 15-20 hour completion range. On Marine difficulty I managed to finish the single-player campaign in just over 12 hours, but I had already played several of the levels previously so I knew a lot of the layout and puzzles.
A rich multiplayer component is guaranteed to keep you on Mars long after you have beat back the hounds of hell. With support for both team and versus modes including Deathmatch, Tournament, Team DM, Last Man Standing, and Capture the Flag, there is certainly something here for everyone. There is even an arcade machine, Sarge’s Big Game Hunt, buried in the main game that turns out to be a surprising diversion. I know I spent more time with it than I should have.
And with nine custom levels plus four more for CTF, you won’t be getting tired anytime soon. These levels are massively complex, full of twisting passages, elevators, and secret places to hide. There is even an invisibility power-up that gives you a Predator-style cloak; not 100% effective but it does give you a slight edge.
Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil is the game we were all hoping Doom 3 was going to be in the first place. It just took a few more months and the help of Nerve Software to get there. The difficulty is much higher now, but with the added power of the double-barrel shotgun and the innovative uses of the grabber, plus the insanely cool artifact, gameplay balances out nicely.
This is one expansion pack that actually rises above the original core game. It’s not as long as the original, but you will enjoy every last second from opening movie to closing credits, then you can take a short break before heading online for some of the best multiplayer in recent PC history. It’s quite simple really – if you own the original then you are destined, nay, “doomed” to purchase the expansion pack.
See you in hell, or Mars…or is there really a difference. Play Resurrection of Evil and find out for yourself.