The dark sheep of the franchise has found new life in the realm of VR.
At one time I missed Doom 3 (id Software, 2004) entirely because its technological superiority was killing my poor old computer. The announcement that this classic is now getting the VR treatment could have not made my Covid shadowed days any brighter. Finally, I will be able to experience this ahead of its time technical marvel and legendary horror-action shooter more intensive and impressive than ever before.
In the future, The Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) has grown into mankind's largest corporation. With the help of almost unlimited resources, UAC has built a base on Mars, where along with weapon technology, their goals are to develop biological research and space exploration. Because of their research, a gateway to hell is opened and is now bringing monsters to the base. These hellish creatures have a goal to invade Earth after they have over-run the Mars base. A Space Marine, who just started his tour in this doomed base, has his hands full to kick these possessed creatures back where the sun doesn't shine.
On the contrary to earlier Doom games, in Doom 3 the player doesn't barge straight into the action with a gun in their hand. The game sets up events without rushing by walking the character along the Mars base momentarily. This way the atmosphere is more authentic and the survival battle soon to come feels a bit more personal. The story details are experienced by finding pieces of texts along the way from computer screens and crew's diary entries, for example. Instead of just being a brainless shooter the story gives the action some meaning.
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With regards to gameplay, Doom 3 has converted to VR nicely. Advancing through Mars base corridors goes smoothly with the help of free moving and gradual turning. However, the best way to play is with the Aim-controller. The Aim-controller's buttons allow smooth control over the character and above all authentic and precise shooting, which is the most important thing in a Doom game. Surprisingly, even the pistol doesn't feel weird to handle with the two-hand Aim-controller. The action is actually at its best when using guns requiring two hands, since now it's possible to shoot the monsters behind cover and around corners.
Doom 3 - VR Edition certainly has the foundation of an exciting action game. Its levels include a lot of threats from all directions and clever scares every now and then. This horror feeling is enhanced with surprising situations that also reshape the level as well. For example, collapsing supporting beams and wildly swaying crane cargos both feel very threatening to be experienced through the VR helmet.
Considering that the original material is almost 20 years old, Doom 3 - VR Edition looks impressive. Mainly its old age can be seen in slightly blocky characters with strangely small heads compared to their body size. Apart from a few messy details, the newly mastered textures are sharp and do wonders to the game. With the help of added light effects, reflective surfaces, and dynamic shadows, Doom 3 is looking so nice that several modern PSVR games could learn a thing or two from it.
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Even though the loading times are a bit longer than anticipated, at least Doom 3 runs on PlayStation 4 Pro smoothly generating a fast-paced action experience. When this speed is paired with the dark levels and flashing lights, however, I really couldn't avoid feeling VR sickness. I thought that my stomach could handle VR-action quite well but only after 15 minutes of game time, my hands were reaching for a bucket instead of holding the gun, no matter how I tweaked the VR comfort settings.
Similar to the graphics, the sounds of the game are well mastered to meet modern-day standards. The gloomy atmosphere of the Mars science base can be experienced in a well-crafted surround sound environment. You can hear all kinds of clatter and hiss around you, that you might expect from a collapsing settlement. Monster grunts echo on the hallways and approaching ominous steps makes your skin crawl while preparing for the next attack.
Considering my pretty high expectations, I'm still extremely surprised how well Doom 3 has transition into VR. There are about 16 hours of quality shooting to experienced here since the release includes both DLCs and the base game. The technically fine and atmospherically awesome shooter is above all thrilling and damn fun entertainment. It's a shame though that motion sickness prevented me from enjoying it over long periods of time.
8 / 10
Aim controller support. Great restoration of a classic game. The atmosphere and action is top-notch.
Character heads are too small. Some textures are blurry. It can cause motion sickness.