After all the clutter of Dangerous Golf, Three Fields Entertainment’s charming, though flawed, debut, Lethal VR is a work of arch minimalism. Loading into a VR training room, you’re given your weapon, told the rules of engagement, then set to work on a range of static or moving targets. It’s something of a no-brainer for Vive, really – a 360-degree shooting range is an ideal fit for roomscale VR, those tracked controllers a fine facsimile of the guns in your hand. But despite being quite an obvious sort of game, it’s an engaging and satisfying use of HTC’s technology.
It works most of the time, too, the austere purity of the base concept giving Three Fields’ designers the headroom to craft some thoroughly smart stages. Walls appear and hem you in, forcing you to move and lean to angle shots through windows at moving targets. A Wild West town has you headshotting hostage-takers through saloon doorways. Some stages demand that you start with your gun lowered; others that you use a specific weapon to dispatch a certain type of target.
Ah, yes, the weapons. You’ll start with a pistol, then two of them, and quickly work through the classics. An SMG; a revolver; a machine pistol. Levels are designed around whichever tool is at your disposal, with SMG stages clustering a number of targets together, revolver levels slower paced to allow time for regular reloads. Before long you mix and match, an SMG in one hand and a pistol in the other, your hands crossing over each other as you live out a two-minute action-hero fantasy.
But not everything in Lethal VR is so effective. While the Vive controller is an excellent gun, it’s an abysmal throwing arm, and while there’s some slapstick pleasure to be had early on as you send a dozen throwing knives spiralling into the ether before finally landing one on the bullseye, things change as the challenge ramps up, especially when hitting the wrong type of target instantly fails the level. Vive’s greatest asset is its positional tracking. That a game should introduce luck to the equation is only ever going to frustrate.
Happily, such moments are the exception – and even thrown weaponry has its moments, such as the bonus stage that asks you to use a razor-tipped bowler hat to knock the heads from Renaissance-era statues. The structure, split across short, quickfire levels, means that the irksome ones can be avoided once completed, allowing you to focus on the more pleasurable stages, working on perfect ratings and improving high scores. There’s nothing revolutionary in Lethal VR, but it’s an accessible, frequently enjoyable showcase of what its host hardware is best at, let down only by the decision to bring a knife to a gunfight.
This early level shows, in rather basic terms, the sort of quick decisions you’ll have to get used to making in Lethal VR. The red-coloured targets are friendlies, and shooting them means game over immediately