FeVRier: VR Worlds Review

playstation-vr-worlds-listing-thumb-01-ps4-us-14jun16.pngEvery advance in gaming technology needs a tech demo; something to show the target audience what it is all about. The Wii had ‘Wii Sports’, the Kinect had ‘Kinect Sports’ and now the PSVR has ‘VR Worlds’. A collection of short games that utilises everything the PSVR has to offer whilst simultaneously showing off the potential of what is possible in VR.

‘PSVR Worlds’ is a collection of 5 unconnected, short experiences that all vary in content, length and quality. Each game is designed to show off a different aspect of the PSVR setup; some are designed to show off the graphical capability whilst others highlight gameplay and controller possibilities. Unfortunately the games vary wildly in their quality and while there are excellent highs there are also some very deep lows.

This gulf in quality makes this a very difficult review – so I will review each individual game and summarise the package at the end. They have been arranged in order of quality; best to worst.

The London Heist

Is the most famous of the games here because it was the defacto ‘demo unit’ game – and the reason for that is evident within seconds of starting; it is an incredible experience!

Half ‘Time Crisis’ and half ‘Snatch’ the biggest compliment I can give ‘The London Heist’ is that it is too short! The game follows the story of three gangsters and their botched diamond heist and that narrative is told through two distinct story-telling devices; passive cut-scenes and intense action sequences.

micky-london-heistThroughout the entire experience the sense of presence is tangible. In the cut scenes you’ll feel like you are with these gangsters, you’ll smoke your cigar, you’ll flinch when Mickey comes at you with a violent look in his eyes and (if you’re anything like MrJohnSherry and I) you’ll try to lean on a table that doesn’t exist!

It is the action scenes that shine brightest though! These are ‘Time Crisis’ style on rail shooter sections and they are fantastic – you will duck behind cover (literally), lean out car doors while shooting and generally have an absolute blast! They are truly exhilarating! The tracking of both your head and the move controllers is flawless; not once did it get confused or get in the way of my enjoyment. Even though these are brief sequences they prove the viability of on-rail shooters in VR because it is accurate, 1-to-1 and satisfying.

Unfortunately, from start to finish, ‘The London Heist’ has a run time of about a half hour with no real replayability beyond, an admittedly excellent, shooting range mode with leaderboard support. As a tech demo of the PSVR’s tracking accuracy and its graphical potential it is peerless in this collection.

9/10

Ocean Descent

mantaray-vr-worldsIs the second best experience in the collection, it is totally passive and because of that, it is my “go to” game for VR newbies and it is one that has left everybody speechless. It is the most graphically impressive game in the collection (it looks incredible) and one that invokes wonder, awe and terror seamlessly and effortlessly.

As you descend down to the depths of the ocean you’ll be blown away by the sheer detail of everything; do not listen to the web groups that say PSVR is incapable of creating clear, crisp graphical details because this debunks that myth. The level of detail in both the ocean and the wild life that inhabits it is unbelievable; manta ray look real, jellyfish glow with a luminance that looks real – you will eventually forget that you are wearing a VR headset and truly believe you are diving – it really does look that good.

By the end of the dive the cage that led to a world that felt expansive and open will suddenly feel restrictive and claustrophobic.

Absolutely brilliant – if short-lived experience with no replay value.

8/10

Danger Ball

Is undoubtedly the surprise package of the disc. A futuristic sports title that is reminiscent of ‘Break Out’ mixed with ‘Pong’ that is surprisingly deep, addictive and fun!

dangerball-vr-worldsYou are pitted against an opponent in a game of 3D tennis, in which you control your paddle by moving your head in the required direction; to add depth you can add spin to the ball by flicking your head as it makes contact with your paddle or hit the ball harder by moving your head forward. It is difficult though; with a variety of enemies who have different powers (such as multiplying balls etc) ensure that it never gets too easy or boring.

The 3D depth on show here is incredible! It makes tracking the ball and timing your head movements natural; you can see where the ball is and your brain instinctively knows when to react; gone is the guess-work that every tennis game ever has had! Absurd as it sounds but this game feels revolutionary and it works flawlessly; I’ve played this game a lot and it has yet to get boring.

8/10

Scavenger’s Odyssey

scavengers-odyssey-vr-worldsOne of the worst games of the collection is also, somewhat ironically, the most ambitious!

What we have here is a simple mech shooter with some platforming and while the graphics are outstanding and the sense of presence is tangible; there are some very real issues with how the game (and this does feel the most like a full game) plays.

Firstly the shooting lacks any real feedback, the weapons you use feel weedy and unremarkable; it  leaves the combat feeling very unfulfilling which is heightened ten-fold in VR!

Another major issue is with the platforming – it is cumbersome and it breaks the flow of the game every time it is required. Worse than this though is the lack of comfort options for the player. This is the only game that I had to quit due to motion sickness! 

Which is a shame because it shows promise and there is a storyline in here – sure its cliched but ‘Scavenger’s Odyssey’ is attempting to show that real games are possible in vr. 

Between the games unsatisfying gameplay and unrefined comfort setting I’ve never felt any desire to return to ‘Scavengers Odyssey’. And doubt I ever will. 

What the developer is trying to show here is that real games are possible on PSVR; hopefully they’re not as vapid and unsatisfying as this effort! 

4/10

VR Luge

Is weak, very weak.

‘VR Luge’ is a downhill racing game that desperately wants to be PSVR’s ‘Ridge Racer’ but it has a few massive issues that restrict it to “try it once or twice and never again” territory.

vr-luge-vr-worldsIts biggest issue is that there is no sensation of speed; in a game where you are flying down a mountain road, feet first a few inches from the ground, that is absolutely criminal. There is no excitement generated as a result of this issue despite the developer’s best attempts to make it exciting (helicopters, logs falling etc).

Its seconds issue is that the graphical engine just cannot cope – when the pace picks up everything becomes incredibly blurry and it makes you squint to make anything out – and you know what that means…

…it means that some people may find it uncomfortable to play and worst case scenario it can make them motion sick. This was the case with MrJohnSherry who had to quit after only one track.

Even if it didn’t have this shortcoming there is really nothing in ‘VR Luge’ to keep you coming back – its one note racing that lacks the nuance and artistry of the games it’s attempting to emulate.

4/10

Overall

While it is overall strong enough to recommend the purchase; most of the games here have fallen short of their potential. As a result the package feels like a demo collection that has been tailor-made to be pulled out when your friend who has never played VR before comes round.

7/10

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