To Hell and back again.
Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about the actual location of Hell. Most reputable biblical scholars agree that it lies in the depths of the Earth. Others feel it might be just south of Jerusalem. Hell's Gate could be in Africa or the tiny Caribbean island of Saba. Hard to say. Norway, maybe? Oddly, Hell seems to keep a farm somewhere in England, and we all know that Hell's Kitchen is in Manhattan.
It's a good thing for gamers, then, that John Carmack, founder of id Software, knows better. Hell, it turns out, is on the planet Mars. Two years ago, a mysterious incident killed everyone on the UAC Mars base. Well, maybe it wasn't so mysterious, on account of the hordes of zombies and demons we all fought eight months ago in Doom 3. That might explain all the dying.
But nothing explains the strange signal emanating from a long-forgotten archeological dig on the red planet. Shall we send in the marines to investigate again? Of course. Will there be more demons to shoot? Hell yes.
In Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, you play as one such ill-fated space marine, a different trooper from the poor sap in the original Doom 3, but the only way you could possibly tell that is because the radio calls you by a different name. For that matter, this expansion pack introduces only very minor changes to the formula, making Resurrection the perfect name. It's really just Doom 3 brought back to life.
There's very little in the way of new stuff. You start off in an ancient temple on Mars, which is a nice new setting, but soon enough you'll be back to the familiar metal corridors, and finally, the depths of Hell itself, just like'well'every Doom game ever.
Much of the story (such as it is) revolves around an evil artifact you discover early on in the game. It looks like a big, evil, pulsing, floating human heart, and you can pull it out at any time. Just the thing to impress the ladies! It feeds on human souls, so it's fortunate that the demons have provided you with plenty of dead bodies. Activating the artifact slows down time for everything except you, making you obscenely powerful for a few seconds. Later the artifact grows in power and allows you to explode demons just by punching them. By the end, the artifact can make you nearly invincible, assuming you can keep feeding it souls. It's a marginally interesting gameplay dynamic.
There are only two new weapons here, though, and only one of those is really "new" since the other is that old Doom standby, the double-barreled shotgun. Slow to reload but powerful and satisfying, it's a nice reappearance.
The really new weapon is the Grabber - except we've seen that before, too, when it was called Half Life 2's gravity gun. The Grabber can only hold items for a few seconds before firing them. It can also be used to throw the demons' own projectiles back at them, but its more effective (and potentially disastrous) use is to hurl Doom's ubiquitous exploding barrels around like a maniac. The weapon is well-implemented and features a cool warping effect, but it's such an obvious copycat, you can't shake the feeling that it was added just to prove that the Doom 3 engine also has cool physics.
There are only a few new enemies as well. A leaner, meaner cousin of the traditional imp throws blue fireballs and a rocket launcher guy hurls missiles. You'll encounter the new boss demon several times, each time requiring some creative use of the Grabber to beat him. Otherwise, Resurrection is about your basic assortment of zombies and demons.
Thankfully, the multiplayer game has been fleshed out a bit. There's a new Capture the Flag mode with some decent maps, but nothing we haven't seen before, and no sign of the Xbox version's cool Co-operative mode. The number of players has doubled, which might have been impressive if the original number hadn't been four. So while the multiplayer has definitely improved, it still isn't a major selling point.
The expansion also isn't very long, only about half the length of the Doom 3 single-player game. Capable fraggers will beat it in eight hours or so, which is pretty thin.
On the other hand, it's more Doom 3, and it's as fun and scary as ever. If you're a big fan - and I know there are more than a few of you out there - you'll be pleased with the expanded multiplayer and few but notable additions. Just don't expect nearly as big of a trip this time around. Now if only someone would follow Dante's map of Hell, then we'd be in business.