Review: Smashbox Arena
Empty servers and sub-par single-player mode let the side down on this arena shooter.
As virtual reality (VR) matures and expands, several titles have been hopping over from other platforms. One such title is Smashbox Arena, a title that developer BigBox VR have created to be part of the tried-and-true arena shooter genre, and one that previously launched on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. How does its PlayStation VR version fare?
The first thing that strikes you is how bland everything looks. Though there are no serious graphical flaws, the flat, cartoonish style does little to distinguish Smashbox Arena, and even less to show off the power of the PlayStation 4, and some of the more detailed backgrounds and environments don’t quite seem to match the smooth, plastic-like appearance of the avatars.
Secondly, there are few options available to alter to comfort, preference or playstyle. There are no control options and no comfort options, not even a proper pause menu. The controls as they are work fine, though at times feel very stiff and awkward, and the teleportation movement seems to be very sluggish for such as fast-paced title.
The core gameplay itself is fun, amounting to what is essentially a game of hardcore dodgeball. There are strategic elements involving dodging, blocking, rebounds and power-ups as well as careful positioning which can provide plenty of entertainment if you manage to get a full group of humans together. Which unless you have a lot of friends who all have a PlayStation VR and a copy of Smashbox Arena, you probably won’t, since the servers seem to be very sparsely populated. This is partially compensated for with the addition of AI bots, but half the time, the bots are as dumb as rocks and cause more problems than they solve.
The single player Story Mode feels very tacked on, amounting to little more than an extended tutorial against AI bots, and for something called ‘story mode’ there is little to no story involved.
Smashbox Arena was blatantly built to be a multiplayer title, but the lack of cross-platform play and sparsely populated servers for the PlayStation VR hurts it a lot. The single-player mode is barely worth the time, and it lacks any sort of depth. If you have lots of friends to play with online, it might be worth a look, but otherwise, there are better titles available.