Review: Island 359
Dino hunting has never been so much fun.
Having been in Early Access for 18 months, CloudGate Studio’s dinosaur filled, action packed virtual reality (VR) title, Island 359 should be well known to HTC Vive and Oculus Rift users as its received continual praise since its initial arrival. Having seen numerous updates in that time Island 359 has now been fully released on both platforms, bringing with it a whole new survival experience that combined with the other modes provides one of the best single-player experiences in VR.
Island 359 is about one thing, hunting dinosaurs, so if you thought you’d kick ass in Jurassic Park then this is going to be the videogame for you. Split into three separate modes, Survival, Mercenary and Arcade, even the introduction to Island 359 doles out plenty of intense action, giving a brief glimpse at the legendary T-Rex.
Mercenary and Arcade are the best two modes to jump into first, where you can learn your dino hunting skills, offering different scenarios across several maps. Mercenary is all about getting those kills in, collecting loot drops to delve ever deeper in to the jungle then hopefully making it out alive for the bounty. Arcade is somewhat more casual, offering a wave-based gameplay option. Additionally, there’s a Big Hunt mode which arms you with just a bow to take down the toughest creatures.
You’ll soon notice that the gameplay does get somewhat samey, as you are just constantly killing dinosaurs. It’s not until you delve into Survival mode that Island 359 really starts to shine. CloudGate Studio has done a commendable job creating a lush, jungle filled island that’s six square miles in size. After being dropped off in a helicopter you are on your own, suddenly realising the task ahead. You’re supplied with a rucksack and a tent, after that everything is up to you – the first time a compy ran up before picking up any weaponry was intense. In this mode you can craft items to aid your journey as well as uncover a thinly veiled storyline.
If you’ve had Island 359 for a while then Survival mode expands the entire experience greatly, offering a great deal more gameplay than the other modes. What’s also useful is the central hub with a store that can be used for each mode. Collect cash in one area and you’ll be able to use it to buy guns and ammo for use in another.
Also well worth pointing out the Island 359 caters for all your locomotion needs, offering teleportation alongside free movement. If you can, using the free locomotion option does add to the whole experience, creeping through the under growth trying not to disturb a group of raptors is certainly fun.
Considering the island size Island 359 does look amazingly good. Sure there are points where certain areas look barren and detail free, or pieces of foliage look out of place but for the most part the design is spot on – especially when on the beach as the sun goes down silhouetting a Triceratops.
It’s been a long wait but it was worth it. Island 359 offers a proper showcase of what can be built specifically for VR when enough time and effort is put in. It’s not 100 percent perfect in places but the videogame offers enough of everything that you won’t really care. Grab that gun and get hunting in this thoroughly enjoyable and engaging VR shooter.