Developed by Id/Nerve
Published by Activision
A few months back when I reviewed Doom 3, one of the things that impressed me the most was how the wizards of Id managed to capture the old school Doom feel while completely updating the mechanics of the game and, of course, the technology of the engine.
It’s more than a little ironic, then, that I’m about to say fairly negative things about the new expansion pack for Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, because it hearkens back to the old school Doom a little too much.
I usually explain the plot of a game at this point in the review, but I’m not sure there’s a point in this case. In the first piece of evidence in making my case that RoE goes back to the Doom II days just a bit much, the story is just barely there. You’re another space marine, called back to Mars because once again some idiot corporation has gone and messed around with a hell portal. The only real difference here, honestly, is that there’s a female doctor instead of a sergeant giving you your orders and you’re the moron who fiddles with ancient Martian technology and accidentally opens a portal to Hell. You have to try to seal the portal and escape. This involves a lot of running and shooting.
Man, does this sound familiar.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m a little biased against this expansion pack from the get-go: I just don’t like expansion packs.
Back in the day, expansion packs served a very clear purpose. You didn’t have a new 3D engine coming out every two months, and many companies still relied on the shareware business model for revenue. Because of those compelling reasons, just adding a bunch of levels and adding some weapons and critters to an existing game made great sense for the developer. From the player side of things, you weren’t going to see a sequel or even a comparable game for many months, so an expansion pack took that initial investment and stretched it a little.
Now, I’m sorry to say, an expansion pack like this is just an open attempt to charge gamers $35 for stuff they couldn’t cram into the original game.
I apologize, I’m getting ahead of myself here. What you’re offered for your hard earned dollars, really, is about 10-15 hours of new levels, two new weapons, Capture The Flag multiplayer, and a very powerful alien artifact.
The two new weapons, the classic Doom II double-barrel shotgun and a “grabber” weapon, don’t do anything dramatic to the play mechanic at all. Arguably, the grabber could be cute in a multiplayer situation, but it’s only really helpful in the single player game when it NEEDS to be helpful based on the level design. I doubt anyone will be changing their playing style to accommodate its ability to throw stuff around.
The CTF multiplayer really belongs either in the original package or as a free online upgrade. Anyone remember when Counter Strike was a free, online upgrade to Half-Life? Man, those were the days…now you’re shelling out $35 for a really basic multiplayer game structure that’s already been perfected in other games. Sure, it looks awfully pretty, but when you’re playing CTF, are you really stopping to admire the nifty lighting effects? Is it really worth the upgrade to play this when you probably have a copy of Quake Arena or Unreal Tournament that can play the same game in much more interesting settings?
That last addition, the artifact, is the core of my gripes here. See, it’s an inventive idea…for 1996. Remember the invincibility and berserk power-ups in old school Doom? This artifact is the new school version of those power-ups. The artifact only recharges every once in awhile to use them, but they still work the same way they did back on your 486. The new addition to the artifact? “Hell Time.” Yep, you guessed it, bullet-time rears it’s exceptionally overused head in yet another action game. I think we need congress to intercede here and pass a moratorium on the use of bullet-time effects in video games and movies for at least ten to twenty years.
Now here’s where it all comes together. The double-barrel. The berserk power-up. The invincibility power-up. Put them together inside a game that relies much more on wanton violence than any sense of atmosphere or story and what do you have? Doom II with a really pretty engine.
I hope you love rooms chock full of monsters and mini-bosses that are only survivable by using the artifact powers. I hope you’re in the mood for a lot of running and shooting. I really hope you’re in the mood to reload a saved game after getting gibbed the 50th time in a row by yet another monster spawning behind you because you triggered something.
Mind you, Resurrection of Evil isn’t all bad. If you like this kind of stuff, and the mindless shoot-em-up action of a game like Serious Sam, you’ll probably get 10-15 hours of enjoyment out of this. If you desperately want to play Capture the Flag in the Doom 3 engine, this may be worth it for you. If you want a real continuation of where Doom 3 was headed, look elsewhere. This step forward is actually a pretty monumental step back.
2 out of 5
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