Developer / Publisher – Jaywalker Interactive / Vertigo Games
Price – US $39.99 / EU €39.99 / UK £29.99 / AU $54.95
Release date – June 27th, 2017
Control Method – Gamepad, Aim Controller, Move Controllers
Pro Patch – Yes
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on – PS4 Pro
It’s time to soak up some of that Arizona Sunshine! For those unaware, this was released last year on our VR PC counterparts to rave reviews and 6 month later we PSVRers(?) get to see what all the fuss is about with 1 or 2 additions sure to make the PC master race a little jealous.
Without ruining too much of the plot, you are a survivor of the Zombie apocalypse, in fact you are more than just a survivor as right away it becomes apparent that you are pretty jaded over your circumstances. Leaving the protection of your cave, you take out a few of the undead, familiarize yourself with the controls and stumble across a broadcasting radio that signifies that you are not alone and off you go across the desert to find out who else is still alive in this barren wasteland.
This is one the only title available currently that support all 3 major control methods, ensuring that you will find the style that fits your preferred way to play. All the modes a customizable in many ways so you can choose to turn teleportation on or off, pie chart turning options are available as well, or to disable entirely. I commend the devs for putting so many movement options in the game.
The DS4 method play very much like it does in Farpoint, having you move your hand in real life and up to your head to aim down the sites. Otherwise it plays like a stock FPS. Move controls are also unsurprising, though with the limited buttons available they make for a rather clunky experience, especially when situations get hairy and you are forced to flee in a panic. Getting your bearings can be an absolute nightmare. Finally, is the oh so awesome Aim controller, which worked wonderfully and was once again my controller of choice. It plays exactly as you would expect it would allowing for the most realistic and intense experience out of the 3 control types. I did have the minor issue of tapping backwards on 1 of the joysticks, which turns you 180 degrees and annoyed the heck out of me every time I accidentally hit it.
That’s not to say this should only be played with the Aim controller as one of the sacrifices/bonuses of the controller choice is weapon selection. While DS4 and move controllers offer up dual wielding weapon options, playing with the aim will require a fresh start as all the weapons throughout are now only 2 handed. It’s a little unfortunate that the weapons are segregated into those 2 option, but completely understandable and if anything, playing through the campaign a second time feels like a fresh experience.
The campaign is relatively short, clocking in at around 4 hours or so on medium difficulty, and has you on a very linear path from one point to the next. Not a bad thing, as most barriers feel natural given the context of the game; cliff sides, car pile ups and so on, though I did encounter a few invisible walls, which were a little off putting. Besides that this plays like a very familiar lone-survivor type shooter. Follow the path before you, advance the plot, fight some Zombies, continue to the next area and repeat.
As you progress through the world, you’ll be forced to explore every car trunk, file drawer and anything else that could contain your oh-so precious ammo. That’s the crux of the game, get good at headshots or waste too much ammo. The ammo is plentiful but the Zombies you face can be bullet sponges unless you master the art of the head shot. This is key to both your survival and your enjoyment of the game. I’m not sure who to blame, the hardware or the game(maybe a little of both) but I had issues with all 3 control types with regards to this. Up close, I’m as deadly as they come, but place a zombie maybe 20 feet away from me and I would miss more often than forcing me to just take them out in close range. Practice may make perfect, and after a few hours of play, taking these baddies out seemed to come a bit easier, but I still struggle with lining up the sights for that perfect shot, wasting my much needed ammo.
Besides the single player campaign, a few other play options are available; co-op which, like it sounds, has you playing through campaign levels with an online brother in arms. The host acts as the main player so it’s his job to trigger items and events to progress the stage, the second player is kind of just there for the ride and to help against the undead swarm. The other mode is Horde, which pits you and up to 3 other people against wave after wave of the zombie menace as they come at your from all sides. Having a friend(s) in the apocalypse is great, but at the time of this review there doesn’t appear to mic support, so you are left with silently miming to each other in a vain attempt to communicate.
The game looks very bleh…not say it looks bad, but the few times I was impressed by the visuals, it mostly backgrounds and scenery. Zombies and other environmental models look like they were taken from an early release xbox 360 game, lacking in detail and looking bland. The bones are here, but the flesh needs a bit of love. Textures can look a dull, and while this does take place in Arizona, levels feel unnecessarily drab and washed out. Headshots, and really any shot, blows off a bloody chunk of flesh or an arm or leg and are quite satisfying. Looking down your weapons sites and lining up that perfect shot is great fun whenever you connect. Zombie animations can be really jittery as they navigate the environment, but more often than not they just shamble around waiting for you to alert them so they can come at you.
The audio is pretty decent with a mix of lighter and heavier tracks matching the action taking place, or accompanying your explorations of a few select buildings. Your protagonist offers up cheesy one-liners and that are eye roll worthy almost every time, but in a good way, like if your dad was in the zombie apocalypse and you were forced to listen to his lame dad-jokes…there’s a charm there.
I’m not fully sure what I expected out of this, but I do feel a little disappointed given the hype surrounding this game. I really do appreciate the care they took into crafting each control method, they all work pretty good, but with their own minor shortcomings. Other minor issues were the need to quit the game completely to change control types, checkpoints that are a little to far apart and the aforementioned tracking issues. Nothing game breaking, but all these little problems just start to add up and take away from the overall game.
The action can get frenetic and the campaign is fun, if not a bit repetitive. The co-op options are also really good, but without mic support, they hold way less interest due to the fact that it’s next to impossible to act like a team. Will you have fun? Probably, but I doubt that you’ll be playing this in the long term. Other VR games have done similar things here, only better.
What would I pay? $40 US isn’t criminal. There is still a lot of value here and, shortcomings aside, this is still a pretty fun game. For what you get I think the asking price is on point.
Vertigo Games provided theVRgrid with a review copy of this game and, regardless of our review, we thank them for that!