Review: Space Ops VR
Big guns and big aliens, what's not to like?
Everyone tends to have a guilty pleasure of some sort. A bizarre food concoction for example, or a film that’s so bad it’s good. That can happen with videogames as well, where they might not tick all the normal approval boxes yet still somehow manage to put a smile on your face whilst eating up hours of your time. That’s kind of the case with Space Ops VR, it doesn’t necessarily wow with new ideas but still has something going for it.
Space Ops VR isn’t some rich story-driven sci-fi shooter where you’re trying to save the planet or survive in hostile terrain like Seeking Dawn. Yes it’s set in the future with some cool weaponry, and you do play a rookie training to be part of an elite special ops team, however, that’s about it. Because what Space Ops VR has been designed for is a training simulator, pitting you and other players against lots of nasty bug-like aliens.
If you’re thinking Starship Troopers in virtual reality (VR) you wouldn’t be far wrong. You’re a grunt with a gun who needs to complete various training exercises. These, in turn, increase your XP unlocking bigger and better guns. Weapons are your standard designs, you start with a pistol and automatic rifle and can eventually work your way up to massive two-handed death machines.
The title seems to have a positive and negative duality with all aspects of its design, from the weapons handling to movement and overall gameplay. The guns for example. Great to hold and shoot, feel nice and accurate at distance and have a rather cool HUD aiming reticule. They can all be held with both hands which then unlocks a secondary mode for a much more powerful, but slower, shot. Yet their body placement is just entirely weird and unnatural. The pistol is next to your head for some reason rather than next to your hip, while the automatic rifle is more hip level. After playing so many VR titles it takes a bit of getting used to, and it’s nowhere near as fluid as FPS titles such as Robo Recall.
Then there are the grenades. Chest placement is completely understandable, it makes sense to grab a grenade off your chest and throw it out. Well it would be if grabbing the grenade worked most of the time, but it doesn’t. The placement seems just a little too set back so you end up pawing at your chest getting shot to smithereens. Succeed in this simple task and POW, an awesome looking blast which is really destructive – so long as you’ve not dropped it at your feet.
As a first-person shooter (FPS) movement is important and Space Ops VR covers this side fairly well. At your disposal are both smooth locomotion and teleportation systems at the same time, with the right Oculus Touch stick handling the latter, and left controller handling the former. All the training scenarios have a multilevel design so there’s no way to solely use smooth locomotion. Because of this – as well as the fact that smooth locomotion tends to be slower – teleporting becomes the defacto movement system. Which is fine for comfort but not so great for immersion, flitting about the battlefield killing bugs.
When it comes to gameplay and enemies, Space Ops VR is a rinse and repeat style experience – it is a training sim after all. The Sandbox mode will be where most players will want to start after quickly getting through training offering several scenarios to run through where you can compete against a ghost. The only trouble with this is the fact that you can’t earn any XP, which can be a little annoying after a 50-minute session. The other mode is Skirmish, and the one most players should stick to. Played solo (probably most of the time) or in multiplayer – 1v1 or 2v2 – ranking up will also unlock customisation options for your character.
Basic enemies tend to charge straight at you as cannon fodder, while thankfully some of the more advanced classes do actually put up more of a fight, flying around making half decent evasive manoeuvres. It doesn’t really matter if you do get a bit overwhelmed at points as you have infinite lives by the looks of it. Space Ops VR will keep respawning you as many times as you need to complete a section, or just get fed up and stop. The fed-up issue comes from the fact that you respawn exactly where you died, which more often than not is where a group of enemies have huddled around your previous location, thus making reappearing particularly difficult – or worse instantly dead.
As mentioned at the start Space Ops VR is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Sure it’s rather generic and it has its faults – some more head-scratching than others – and the multiplayer needs some more people, yet it’s hard not to like just a little bit. If it was overpriced then Space Ops VR wouldn’t be worth it. Luckily it’s not, get a good sale price and Space Ops VR is worth a cheeky purchase.