Years ago, to try and do a little Moddb participation project, I wrote a little blog piece about my take on the whole
Doom 3 mod scene. At the time, I was roughly trying to parse out the factions within that community and my general
feelings towards both the original game and the mods affect on it. Results, pretty much an awkward Myspace post about Doom 3:
Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 eh?
The general premise still stands though. Doom 3 is a game that uncomfortably straddles between a mindless shooter and a survival horror title.
It's interesting to consider that Doom 3's cerebral attributes seem to be inherited from System Shock which heavily influenced it's design whereas
I can now confidently say that Doom 2016 is a byproduct of Doom 3, Brutal Doom, and HL2 \ Black Mesa (with the latter being a particularly strong influence).
While there are some flashes of brilliance in the early levels of the game, the true glories of the Doom 3 experience are in the Hell levels where
the organic environments and intense demon fighting action take center stage compared to the claustrophobic jump-scare maze of offices in
the research facilities. Still, there is SOMETHING there in that early gameplay that feels like it had the potential to be far more interesting
than the version that shipped. I think that is why so many mods have tried to tinker with ammo amounts, difficulty, AI accuracy, etc to refine what
was good about these areas. Alas, most of these endeavors have failed.
Up 'till this point, Dentonmod was really my go-to gameplay modifier. I mostly used it for the included gore and weapon physics. It was more satisfying
to watch my weapons display more powerful damage effects even if they didn't inherently change any of the difficulty behaviors.
(I keep putting it on the back-burner but I have planned to fiddle with Flaming Sheep's Classic Doom 3 and Denton mod to make a combined mod
so that all the functionality from both remains intact.)
So, one evening, when scanning the Doom 3 mod section I came across the DoomReborn mod which I had seen a few times before and decided to finally give it a try.
Up to this point, I had avoided it because it looked pretty garish and I thought that Classic Doom 3 had already accomplished this feat much more appropriately
with better level design. I was surprised to find a completely different experience that was really a thrilling throw-back to the original Doom 3 feel.
DoomReborn may not look so great in screen-shot form, but when played it's dimensions, player speed, and color scheme all subliminally link you
back to the original Doom game and it makes you feel more like you are playing the most advanced Doom 1 graphics mod rather than a
Doom 3 modded to play Doom 1 levels. I think it's a shame that the two projects were developed independently. Classic Doom 3's smaller,
more closed-in, levels and slower pacing feel somewhat limp compared to the bombast of DoomReborn's sprawling 1000mph blast fests.
So, I'll give a resounding "recommended" to DoomReborn if you are a fan of the arcade style action of the original Doom games:
(Survival Horror Side)
After that, and tinkering with a few other Doom 3 mods that mostly were variants of Sikkmod with Wulfen textures, I decided to check out one mod that
was constantly mentioned in Steam forums. Strelok's D3 Enhancements.
I was absolutely floored! Stelok has done something quite special here. He's finally made the base Doom 3 game live up to it's survival horror leanings.
Enemies no longer awkwardly lurch towards you as you fire ineffectual rounds at them. Now they rush at you in a way that recalls the menace of contemporary
Zombie films. The whole feel of navigating the early missions is completely nail-biting. Also, weapon reloading is a manual affair. Once you run out of ammo,
the game no longer wrests controls from the player and auto-reloads but instead leaves you firing empty clicks. You must take the initiative to reload. Another
nice survival horror touch! The only down-side, I've encountered thus far are the Imp's. They are also sped-up and more aggressive to the point that
it is very difficult to survive an encounter with more than two at once.
With Doom 2016 out, this mod makes the virtues of Doom 3's design stand much further in contrast. If Doom 3 had launched like this, surely it
would've been considered to be in the company of classic survival horror titles like the Resident Evil series.
I have yet to revisit everyone's standard Doom 3 mod, Perfected Doom 3. The last time I tried this it was a horrible mess with inappropriate
self-shadowing and strange "sharpened" textures with halo\emboss artifacts at the shading boundaries. (And it performed like a dog.).
It looks like V-games may have made some significant improvements since I last looked into this, so I look forward to seeing the progress.