Thursday, November 30, 2023

Doom 3: VR Edition review

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the recent doom games may have hypercharged the series, but the narrower corridors and comparatively slower burn of Doom 3 from 2004 seem to be the most natural solution for a direct port to virtual reality – at least in theory. In reality, its undersized world, PSVR’s limitation to forward-facing play, and the slippery nature of its still relatively fast-paced combat mean Doom 3: VR Edition is more often a demon headache than a ride to hell. Its original campaign and two DLCs are unchanged and, therefore, unsuitable for VR, especially when you compare them to modern. PSVR shooters like Blood and truth or The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners which show what games truly designed for the psychic can do.

17 years later, Doom 3 is still one of id Software’s greatest hits. That’s thanks to its fantastic arsenal of guns, terrifying enemies, and attractive level design. Packing all of its action into the relatively limited PSVR headset and having it play just as well as the delicious but also limited Gun-shaped aiming controller could not have been a simple task. It performs very well technically, the text is remarkably clear to read, and the guns are just as heavy and fun to shoot as in the original – especially when the optional aim controller hits with every blast of your shotgun.

I used to experience a tense euphoric feeling whenever I shone my flashlight in the dark corners of a room, often followed by a startling jerk as a demon stepped out of the shadows or through a doorway. me. These constant jumps work just as well in VR in 2021 as they do on screen in 2004. Plus, there’s an indescribable level of satisfaction that comes with blowing up a Cacodemon with a Plasma Rifle or sawing off a Cacodemon. a zombie with a chainsaw when your entire aim controller rumbles up and down. Its extra weight brings something special to the quality of two-handed weapons in VR, and Doom 3 is the perfect game to show it.

However, this port immediately reveals some of the main flaws of just taking a campaign that plays well in 2D and dropping it in virtual reality. From the start, the scale of the world around you is visibly strange. Even when you adjust the height settings to your actual height, the terrain itself never seems appropriately sized to accommodate you. At one point, I dominated everything. Then after holding down the “Options” button and resetting the view, I had apparently been reduced to a small child.

Doom 3’s heavy movement is natural in 2D, but smelly in VR.

During this time, the NPCs and even the enemies you fight are irregularly scaled. It’s hard to see from the outside, but in VR the disproportion between NPCs and your field of vision is almost comical – like you’ve stepped into an episode of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, except the kids are face-eating demons. This is especially evident when you compare the size of an NPC to the size of your weapons, which feel huge in your hands and often block your line of sight unless you hold your controller in your lap. Ironically, it worked much better with the standard DualShock 4 controller than with the aim controller, which is not as comfortable at waist height.

Another major issue is the way Doom 3 wants you to move around during combat. In later areas swarms of bite-sized Trites, Cherubs and Maggots – giant spiders, flying babies, and two-headed monstrosities – try to surround you in physical proximity, making it essential that you straf and guard your guns. distances. This kind of FPS movement feels natural with a keyboard or gamepad, but it’s just plain smelly in the PSVR headset. There’s also no option to move via teleportation, and doing any kind of strafing or saving with Doom 3’s super slippery motion controls is an instant recipe for motion sickness.

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While there is an option to enable instant turns and screen blocking vignettes that cover your peripheral vision every time you turn a corner, playing with those features enabled is a downside when tasked with fighting literal waves. of demons appearing in all directions. As a result, it’s easy to find yourself aiming your controller straight down and frantically holding your trigger to clear your way of enemies while nervously darting left and right. It happens too often, and it’s neither comfortable nor fun.

All of these frustrations would be easier to overcome if Doom 3 had more moments of VR interactivity, but its 10-hour campaign is mostly filled with fast-paced combat, because that’s just how the original was designed. Your hands are attached to your weapon at all times and your only actions are “move”, “attack” and sometimes “press buttons on a computer screen”. Again, this style of play works great outside of VR, but the lack of variety in its interactions beyond that is tiring – even when your actual hands are glued to the aim controller. Other friendly games like Farpoint, Firewall: zero hours, and even Borderlands 2 VR feel more suited to the limitations of PSVR, while Doom 3: VR Edition often forgets to accommodate those limitations.

Cutscenes are also a major issue in Doom 3: VR Edition. These are completely flat, two-dimensional scenes that unfold in front of you and take you completely out of the action. These scenes set up a few key elements of Doom 3’s story, particularly the elements about the menacing villain, Dr. Betruger. However, it would be nice if there was an option to skip them – or better yet, experience the same face-to-face exposure with these characters in VR instead of having to go through a bunch of flat scenes.


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