Developer / Publisher – XR Games
Price – US $24.99 / CAN $33.49 / EU €24.99 / UK £19.99
Release Date – February 22, 2023
Input – 2 x Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing
Store – PlayStation
Reviewed on – PSVR 2
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the zombie apocalypse has happened and you are one of the survivors, stumbling across the crew from the films and taking part in some whacky fun as you compete in zombie killing gauntlet runs that task you with getting through them as fast as you can or completing stage specific goals all in an effort to compete in the Zombieland Invitational where you can claim ultimate bragging rights.
Headshot Fever looks to bring the R rated comedy and violence to our headsets by having us play through a series of ranked, competitive stages where your goal is to kill all the zombies as quickly and as accurately as you can. A tutorial breaks down the core gameplay which has you node teleporting though each stage and shooting the all the zombies you see at each stop. The name of the game here is speed, memorization and accuracy which means practice and replay will be key to victory making this a very easy to pick-up and play title, but one that will take a fair time commitment to master…assuming you care to do so. The key mechanic holding this all together is adrenaline mode, which is triggered by every ‘double-tap’ you perform and once you’ve blown off a zombies head in expert fashion, time will slow down allowing to take out move of the now slo-mo undead in the efforts of chaining together more adrenaline in the hopes of keeping that active as long as possible to trim down those final run times. Thankfully, it’s not all on you to get to the invitational as your film cohorts offer up some help including a gun range and more importantly, a weapon station where you can spend your hard-earned loot on new armaments and upgrades. Each stage has additional objectives besides speed running them and each of those also offers up bonus loot and it’s best to focus on those objectives to max out your guns as the regular runs don’t typically reward you with a ton of loot. With each stage only taking a few minutes or less, it’s easy to try and try again making the entirety of this experience one based on how much you want to prove your skills…well, and all the fun of killing zombies too.
The guns all feel great whether it’s your starter pistol or any of the other main weapon options with your off-hand holding either a shotgun or machine gun based upon what you have chosen to purchase. Reloading is simple with you needing to flick down on the thumbstick to open the gun or drop the magazine and then bringing said weapon to your stomach area where the fresh ammo will appear. Everything in here is designed to quick so those looking for any sort of simulation gunplay will be left wanting but as far as streamlining gameplay, I don’t know how they could’ve made this any simpler, which is a good thing as this does feel like arcade shooters of old like Time Crisis or House of the Dead, but if they were only speed runs. While standard zombies will shamble or run towards you, you’ll also face a variety of special zombies that can either take more damage, throw stuff, incite other zombies in the area to rush you and a few more unique ones specific to some of the stages.
There are only 12 core stages to get through here though many have B-sides which start you off typically at the end of a stage and have you going through each one in reverse on on different routes entirely with those stages also having more difficult challenges. The shooting range also offer up more goals with many of those achievements rewarding you with loot (in the form of very valuable toilet paper) weapons skins or perks, the latter of which can greatly affect your game as they can boost your ammo count, disable zombie abilities, protect you from tossed items and a host more that you can change up on the fly which is great as some stages may require different strategies to reach those top scores. What this all makes is a game that is highly repayable and easy to do so thanks to those quick runs and the fact that the gunplay feels fair means the emphasis really is improving and as a guy who typically doesn’t dig this sort of grind, I’m digging the grind here. It’s an addicting game loop and one that’s all too easy to just go one more round, especially when that next upgrade is right around the corner and each one will noticeably up your game making the chase for the next one upgrade just as important as the last.
Minus some redesigns in the stages, the core gameplay from 2 years ago is largely the same, just improved and enhanced but the presentation has been overhauled to point where Reloaded looks like a brand-new game and includes all new models for almost everything from the zombies, characters and even the maps. The new cell-shaded art-style pops in the headset and thanks the PSVR 2, colors are bright and beautiful with everything popping wonderfully in the headset, especially when you trigger adrenaline mode and everything but the zombies is covered by a blue hue. The stages are all somewhat random locations meaning you really won’t every see the same thing twice with zombies all animating very smoothly and now include ragdoll physics which is awesome to watch as you blow their heads off in gory fashion and watch their bodies tumble to the floor. As you go through a stage, every node acts a checkpoint and displays your current time vs your best, so you’ll know right pretty quick if a run is going your way or not. Despite the cartoonish visuals, Zombieland is one of the more impressive looking games I’ve seen in the PSVR 2 headset as it manages to avoid all of its shortcomings while maximizing the presentation making for a very pretty and gory game assuming you leave the gore option turned on.
The voice actors all do their jobs well enough with Abigale Breslin (as Little Rock) being the only actor from the films to reprise their role though it’s kind of funny that Woody Harrelson’s character is voiced by his brother. You, as the fifth wheel, will get constantly berated by the troupe until you beat most of the missions with insults and compliments flying at you depending upon how well you are doing on a given run. Guitar heavy rock tracks accompany you in each stage though I only noticed them when the guitars kick in after a headshot. Thankfully, some of the jokes aimed in your direction will have an F word or 2 sprinkled in which nicely fits the adult humor from the movies. Spatial audio is on point though most of the action takes place directly in front of you so you may not notice it until most of the horde has been defeated and an errant zombie may be heard sneaking up on you on the far left or right.
As any PSVR 2 game should, the haptics in Zombieland increase both the immersion and fun factor as each gun feels unique in hand while head haptics are used more sparingly as one hit from a zombie will kill that run but when you die, you’ll get a little shake which will also happen if a tossed object connects with your noggin. Actually, the amount of single shot firing with the pistols in combination with the resistance the controllers was fatiguing my hands, but in a good way as it felt a little more realistic.
On this second run at Zombieland, I’m enjoying it more than my 1st go thanks in large part to the overhauled visuals and haptics. It’s fun, addictive, rewarding and captures the look an feel of the films quite nicely and while it may seem a little light on content, with that very high replay factor it’s was all to easy to sink way more time than I meant on any given go as I upgraded my weapons and adjusted my strategies just shave a few more seconds off my time so I could see my ranking go up against both friends and strangers.
XR Games provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!