Doom VFR was released without much fanfare, being somewhat overshadowed by the other two titles in Bethesda's VR triple-whammy. But unlike Skyrim and Fallout, Doom isn't a straightforward VR port of the 2016 sleeper hit but is instead a shorter, stand-alone title built from the ground up for VR, using assets from its console sibling.
You take on the role of a scientist, or at least the cadaver of one. Sadly, it turns out Mars doesn't have a great workers union and even in death, you are expected to mop-up the demon spawn causing havoc within your research facility. Thankfully your consciousness is being kept alive by a machine, which for the games 4-5 hour duration will be transplanted into various robotic bodies so you can get back to work.
But before you get to morbidly admire your own cable entangled corpse in third-person, there is a brief 15-minute tutorial where you can play around with the games various control options.
But despite the game having every conceivable option, including support for the Aim Controller. Neither of them feels quite right due to the game having a static weapon/hand position regardless of which option you pick.
This disconnect between your real-world hands and the in-game hands is jarring, especially when using the Aim which requires two hands to hold; yet your in-game persona is still holding his grenade in his left hand the entire time.
Even when using the Dualshock 4 with standard FPS-style controls, having two tiny little hands protruding from my neck area made me feel like a very angry t-rex, albeit one with an incredible aim thanks to the game using the headsets position for lining up shots.
The game really doesn't have much in the way of a story, it's very much classic Doom. collecting key cards will offer a few minutes of rest-bite between frantically killing swarms of hell demons. Thankfully the gunplay itself is excellent, each new weapon you gain feels stupidly overpowered which allows them to up the ante with some great action set-pieces, where they throw everything at you except hell's bloody kitchen sink.
Graphically, the game looks amazing on the PlayStation 4 Pro. It's easily one of the best PSVR showcases thanks to it's crisp, detailed visuals and fantastic assets. The developers have even added a glorified model viewer via one of the machine terminals in game, which does a great job of showcasing just how little has had to be compromised in order to get the 2016 Doom assets up and running in VR. It's also pretty fascinating seeing just how big the enemies are when you are stood next to them. (spoiler - way bigger than you expect).
Texture pop-in is pretty noticeable, especially when you slow down to really take some of the scenery in, but when in motion the game is unparalleled.
Unfortunately, beyond the solid gunplay and great visuals, every other aspect of the game sabotages its enjoyment.
Having a rocking soundtrack is part of Doom's DNA, but VFR mostly forgoes this for short, repeating ambient riffs. I found the short length and obvious cut/repeat points so odd that I rebooted my PS4, presuming it had somehow just got stick in a glitched loop. It's a shame as the game does have some proper music in there, reserved for boss battles and set-piece moments.
The menu system carries on this trend of not quite knowing what is a glitch and what is just poor design, with the title screen being displayed at an odd 30-degree angle. triggering my 'hold to recenter' PSVR reflex a number of times before I realised it was either intentional or consistently broken.
The in-game menus also like to appear in some rather weird and wonderful positions, often requiring you to back out, stand somewhere else, and try again. Whilst the same can be said about Skyrim, given this game was built from the ground-up for VR, it's harder to excuse.
When looked at as a whole package, and considering it's not a full price title. there is a lot to like about Doom VFR. For those stoic enough to overlook its bugs and frustrations, it's one of the best mindless blasting experiences on the PSVR. It's also not unsalvable, so hopefully post-release support can elevate some of it's current pitfalls.