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Game Review

Gamemakers are still trying to find that sweet spot when it comes to virtual reality titles. The big question is this: How do you create a game that's 360-degree immersive without making the experience into a motion-sickness torture session? Bethesda is taking another, uh, stab at that idea with its first-person demon-hacker Doom VFR.

To be honest, when I first spotted the latest Doom release, I almost skipped reviewing it altogether since it looked like a VR rehash of the 2016 version we've already reviewed. But I found out that instead of converting the same game into an in-your-face shooting gallery, like some production houses do, these gamemakers rebuilt their VFR version from the ground up.

So here we are facing down our Doom once more.

Rip Into the Story Reboot

Gamers still find themselves on the Union Aerospace Corporation's Mars base, a deep-space power plant that's being overrun by demonic entities spilling from a planetside portal connected to Hell. Ugh! But this time you'll take on the role of the last living UAC employee (well, sort of, as we'll see), a guy named Adams, instead of playing the ravaging, bloodthirsty Doomslayer from the last game.

If that suggests that this version might be less flesh-rending and blood-soaked, well, in some ways it is. The game goals, for instance, are more focused on fixing broken tech, getting the facility up and running, and closing that creepy portal once and for all. Of course, that still makes for a lot of hellish stuff and goopy slaughtering along the way.

The very first thing that happens to players, for instance, is a gruesome death. The elevator that our guy Adams rides in opens its door, and a monster rushes in to dismember him. After a moment of blackness, Adams awakens to discover that while his ragged fleshy torso is on a meat hook in front of him, his consciousness has been transferred to the power plant's computer system. Once he slips into a virtual robotic body replacement, it's off to work.

Warp Instead of Urp

One of the ways Doom VFR tries to deal with its potential for creating motion sickness is to tweak the means of travel. Players can still move in short scoots and quick turns that aren't always very equilibrium-friendly. But the game's preferred movement mode is a point-and-click form of teleportation from one location to another nearby spot.

This keep things a bit less herky-jerky and also gives players a slowed-down sense of time—which can help them figure out where to warp to while they deliver a well-aimed gun blast, dodge an incoming projectile, or evade a slashing set of demon claws.

This teleporting travel feature also replaces most of the gory melee kills of the previous non-VR Doom. Once you stun any given enemy with a couple of gun blasts, your teleportation ability can be aimed right into them. It's called telefragging, and it essentially has you materializing inside the foe—which then bursts open, leaving you in a shower of entrails, eyeballs and health boosts.

Still a Bit Ill

OK, did I say this game was less bloody? Let's just say it's a little less bloody. You're not ripping open jaws and force-feeding demonic thingies their own entrails like you might have in the last game. But there's still quite a bit of crimson gore and fleshy chunks raining down on you.

Accenting that gush is the fact that even though you're a company technician and not a hard-as-nails marine, you still tote around most of the same arsenal as the previous game—from the hard-hitting Super Shotgun to the punishing Plasma Rifle and the grenade-launching BFG.

Then there's the VR side of things. Doom games are known for their pulse-pounding play as more and more, bigger and bigger, malevolent and malevolent-er entities gang-rush you in a fire-hose burst of visceral pandemonium. VFR simply makes that demon deluge all the more realistic and keeps you swiveling and swerving in reaction to the surround-sound screeches and shrieks you hear coming from all directions.

Add in the story's f-word injections, ample helpings of satanic symbols and hellish sacrificial images, and you've got a roiling, nerve-jangling mess. You may be able, if you're lucky, to avoid some of that virtual reality queasiness. But there's still plenty of infernal carnage here to upset your stomach, mind and soul.

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Record Label


PlayStation 4, PC




December 1, 2017

On Video

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Bob Hoose

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