Review: Arizona Sunshine
Vertigo Games’ VR zombie apocalypse comes to PlayStation VR on good form.
Launched for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift several months ago, Vertigo Games has taken its time to bring the critically acclaimed Arizona Sunshine to PlayStation VR. However, in doing so the studio has tailored the experience to take advantage of the unique properties of the PlayStation 4, and thus delivered a commendable first-person shooter (FPS) experience on the technically weakest premium virtual reality (VR) format.
The videogame, for all intents and purposes, is the same as it appeared on the PC VR formats. A single-player campaign offers a story-led experience which comes complete with ham-fisted b-movie style dialogue and its fair share of exciting set-pieces and bottlenecks. The campaign is far from perfect, but remains hugely enjoyable. Far more so than the original HTC Vive release – a lukewarm wave shooter – would let you believe. In the months that have passed since its debut, Arizona Sunshine has transitioned into a fully free-movement FPS, and this is the version that has launched on PlayStation VR.
The campaign will take you through the red-rocked Arizona as you face-off against zombies on rocky mountain paths, through underground mines and atop train carts. You’ll be given pistols, SMGs, sniper rifles and more along the way in order to take on the overwhelming numbers, and you’ll also find a few new additions to the arsenal designed specifically for the PlayStation 4’s unique attributes; namely the PlayStation Aim controller.
Arizona Sunshine comes complete with three different input options. A DualShock 4 controller can be used as standard, however two PlayStation Move controllers can also be used. These two differing control schemes offer a tough trade-off: greater precision in movement versus greater precision in aiming. Arizona Sunshine does offer a basic teleportation system, which the PlayStation Move players will no doubt rely heavily upon. So too with those who choose to play with the PlayStation Aim.
The PlayStation Aim control scheme is arguably the best option for PlayStation 4 players. While far from the precision of Farpoint – the videogame designed alongside the peripheral – Vertigo Games has done a good job of bringing the new PlayStation VR exclusive accessory into Arizona Sunshine. The slightly muddled layout doesn’t provide too much in the way of a barrier for those who have already experienced Farpoint, and given that the accessory is typically sold as a bundle with Impulse Gear’s VR debut title, that’s very much likely to be the case.
On the subject of PlayStation hardware, it would be remiss not to mention the graphical detail that Arizona Sunshine delivers. On a standard PlayStation 4 console the visual quality is of a good standard, despite the dumbed-down animation and frequently dimwitted enemies. However, on PlayStation 4 Pro, Arizona Sunshine comes very close to replicating the quality of its PC brethren. Draw distances are pushed back significantly and other visual effects make for a much more impressive presentation. Arizona Sunshine’s gameplay doesn’t change at all on PlayStation 4 Pro, but it’s easy to see why many VR early adopters champion the upgraded PlayStation 4 with this title.
Arizona Sunshine also offers multiplayer gameplay in addition to the single-player campaign, with the co-operative gameplay for up to two players or a four-player horde mode on offer. The set-up process is simple and the lobby system a fairly standard affair, yet the action is arguably much more satisfying with more players. It’s easier to forgive the comparatively weak graphics and awkward movement systems incorporated into a VR videogame when you’re simply having fun with a friend.
Arizona Sunshine is by no means a masterpiece, however it is a significant step closer to the VR experiences that early adopters know the technology is capable of. Hesitating to innovate too much, Arizona Sunshine cleverly picks-and-chooses from the key mechanics that have proven to work in four years of PC VR development and brings them to PlayStation 4 feeling almost new. Vertigo Games has created a hugely enjoyable FPS videogame for the early days of VR, but one which will undoubtedly look dated in just a few months.