Doom 3 PSVR Review
Every family has an odd duck in it. A member who just doesn’t fit in: maybe an uncle or aunt, maybe a cousin. Could be a sibling. Or GASP! Maybe it’s you!
Videogame franchises sometimes fall prey to this too. Doom certainly did. The granddaddy of fast paced first-person shooters launched onto computer screens in 1993, and it captivated gamers with its breakthrough 3D graphics, environments with 3D spatiality, multiplayer capabilities, and support for user created maps. Doom II followed in 1994 further solidifying the franchise’s identity as a fast paced action shooter.
For the next ten years user mods, expansion packs, and ports to gaming consoles made Doom ubiquitous and firmly cemented its nature. So when a reboot was trumpeted for release utilizing all the new advancements in graphics, fans were understandably ecstatic. But instead, they got the red-haired stepchild. Doom 3 eschewed the run and gun nature of the franchise; the game was a much slower paced, corridor-constricted, narrative driven horror story.
With the passage of time, the utter disdain for Doom 3 by gamers has cooled and it is looked on with kinder eyes today. But it will never have the wide appeal of the other Dooms. They are easy to jump into and are reinvigorated by user mods. Doom 3 is a locked down entity with its narrative storyline approach.
However, technological advances breathe new life into older games. One of those advances is VR. Of all the Dooms, Doom 3 is the best suited for VR with its claustrophobic corridors and eerie mining facilities that come across like a mad scientist’s lab. Throw in monsters and darkness – which this game has ample amounts of – and they all become delicious atmospheric ingredients for a horrific VR experience.
A Less Than Perfect Port
The foreboding environments of the Mars Mining base in Doom 3 spring to virtual life. It’s one thing to see them in a flat 2D presentation, but quite another to be surrounded by them in VR. You really experience the tension of moving about such a hellhole in VR. The industrial nature of the setting allows for grim and dark and sinister settings often in subdued or flickering illumination–or total darkness.
Unfortunately, the VR conversion is deficient in two main areas. Not only is there a lack of sharpness in the graphics, but the scaling is also odd. The character models are strangely too small, though the environments fare better. This is a major immersion breaker, but fortunately, players have found that the scaling issues can be fixed by adjusting your VR settings.
The other immersion breaker has to do with the PDA and the cutscenes; both are displayed in 2D. Understandably, reworking the cinematics for VR is an expensive undertaking. However, a conversion to at least display in 3D would have made for a decent compromise.
Despite a few shortcomings, other changes made to the game enhance the VR experience. Any HUD items from the flat version of the game have been removed, and instead, your Health and Armor status has been moved to a wrist display device. You keep track of your ammo by displays on the back of each weapon. Decluttering the screen and giving you a clear view is a wise choice for VR.
Doom 3 VR carries on the change from Doom 3 BFG with mounting the flashlight on weapons. This is opposed to having to switch manually between the two as was done in the original game. It also carries on with the autosave feature. Unfortunately, autosaving happens frequently and usually at an inopportune moment, so I’d recommend turning this feature off and saving manually.
The biggest plus of the game is AIM support. This is the Sony dual joystick shooter peripheral that allows for movement via joysticks as well two-handed weapon welding. It works fabulously! Aiming weapons is spot on. All weapons are laser-sited. It’s a real blast to weld out destruction with the AIM controller while swooping, dashing, and making 180 turns with ease. The controller tracks flawlessly and allows you a fantastic immersion deepening nimbleness.
With PSVR, you are required to wear headphones, and the audio for the game takes full advantage. Environmental cues are excellently placed dimensionally around you, and the weapon sounds have also been reworked. The extra oomph and beefiness of your arsenal have great kick to them–this is especially true of the shotgun. The weapon sounds are truly superior to the Doom 3 BFG edition.
Overall, this game may lack the polish to make it a hallmark VR experience, but it excels where it matters most: blasting demons. Playing Doom 3 in VR is a real hoot.
The game is available on PSVR for the PlayStation 4 & 5 now.
*** PSVR review code provided by the publisher ***
- Incredibly fun in VR
- Full length experience
- All DLC included
- AIM support is spot on
- Enhanced 3D audio
- Graphics not as crisp as they could be
- PDA and cutscenes are displayed in 2D
- Characters/demons scaled too small