One of the great things about playing PC games that are a few years old is the fact that you can usually crank the graphics up to the max and still get a silky-smooth framerate. When you couple this to the fact that I’m a sucker for video game package deals on Steam, you can see how I end up playing a lot of older PC games.
One of my latest purchases was the QUAKECON pack that included a smorgasbord of games from id Software and Bethesda Softworks for pennies on the dollar. I hadn’t played Doom 3 since 2005 or 2006, so I figured I’d give it another go. Back in the day (am I really calling 2005 “back in the day”?) my GeForce4 Ti 4600 couldn’t really handle the brand-spanking-new “id Tech 4” engine that Doom 3 used, so I went out and bought a mid-range GeForce 6600 GT that did the trick very nicely. At the time I was rocking a 19″ CRT from Dell, which was an awesome monitor at 1280 x 1024 resolution. I had a great gaming experience at the time, but even with the newer video card I couldn’t run the game on “Ultra” settings without serious drops in frame rate.
Enter 2011, my 24″ 1080p flat panel LCD, and an ATI Radeon™ HD 5870. With this newer hardware, I knew I’d have no problems running Doom 3 on “Ultra” with fast framerates. Once I downloaded the game via the Steam client, I immediately fired it up and went to the graphics options. To my dismay, the only resolutions available to choose from were non-widescreen. Sure, I could play the game on “Ultra” at 1280 x 1024 again, but I wanted the full 1080p experience.
I browsed multiple forums and blogs about the subject, looking for a fix. The first promising solution based on the information I found was to open the
DoomConfig.cfg file (located in the doom 3/base directory) with a text editor, find the lines for
seta r_mode, and
seta r_aspectratio, then set the height and width values to my monitor’s resolution, change
seta r_mode to “
-1” (this tells the game to use the custom resolution), and change
seta r_aspectratio to “
1” (this is the 16:9 setting, for 16:10 use “
2“, and for standard 4:3 use “
Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me. I tried setting the values and then setting
DoomConfig.cfg to read-only, thinking that maybe the game was resetting the values, but for some reason the game just wouldn’t use the values I set. It may depend on the particular video card, drivers, or installation configuration I’m using, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work for me; it might for you.
Then next fix I tried was to create a file called
autoexec.cfg in the same doom 3/base directory as
DoomConfig.cfg and include the following commands in it:
r_mode "-1" r_customHeight "1080" r_customWidth "1920" r_aspectRatio "1"
This did the trick for me! I like this solution in particular because I don’t have to make any changes to the original configuration file that Doom 3 uses. If I decide to play the game without any customization to the resolution, I can simply delete the
Note: I came across multiple forum posts from people saying that this didn’t work, then eventually they figured out that they’d done something to break the configuration or typed something incorrectly and when they fixed their mistake it did work. One common issue was that the menu for the game doesn’t actually render at a higher resolution, so people were thinking that the new resolution hadn’t worked; however, you have to actually play the game to see the changes take effect. If it’s not working for you, you’ve done something wrong.
So, to ensure a fool-proof widescreen experience, follow these steps:
- Make sure you start with a clean, fresh installation of Doom 3. This means if it’s been installed before and you’ve tried tweaking configuration files or used mods, uninstall the game and any mods, then delete any leftover files from them in the Steam folder and any other folders where they create files.
- Once the game is installed, start it up and set your desired graphics settings. Keep the anti-aliasing to a maximum of 8x (there is a bug that some people reported when using 16x with custom resolutions). Make sure you click . Exit the game.
- Open Notepad or your preferred text editor and add the commands from my example above. Be sure to use the native resolution of your monitor for the height and width. If you have a 16:10 monitor, use “
2” instead of “
1” for the aspect ratio.
- Save this file as
autoexec.cfgin the doom 3/base folder.
- Whenever you launch the game from now on, this file will be executed to set your resolution to the custom values, all without manually editing the
DoomConfig.cfgfile (it’s always nice to avoid editing original game files).
- The menu will still appear in a lower resolution. You have to start playing the actual game to view your custom resolution.
The end result is rather nice, don’t you think?
For even more fun, I installed the Last Man Standing Coop mod for the game so I can play the game cooperatively with a friend. The mod even includes a remake of the first episode from the original Doom game, re-envisioned using the more modern id Tech 4 engine.
It’s nice to know that with a few tweaks you can still get a great gaming experience out of some of the older games on the market. If you’re looking to play other old games on a newer system in widescreen, check widescreengamingforum.com for more tips, patches, and hacks. If you’ve found any other good ways to improve the Doom 3 gaming experience, let me know in the comments!