The fact that our front room looks directly out onto the street is unfortunate. Anyone who had the misfortune to witness us flailing around while wearing a PSVR headset and aiming at thin air with the glowing pink ball on the end of our Aim controller can’t have come away richer for the experience.
For us, however, the incident was a surprisingly pleasant one. Impulse Gear’s FPS is, for the most part, thoughtfully constructed and something of a revelation when it comes to free movement in VR. The default setting lets you steer yourself by turning your body, while you move about using the front analogue stick on the Aim controller. While there are other options (including free turning, and clock-position shifting) the standard setup marries especially well to the wide corridors down which Farpoint funnels you. While simplistic by modern FPS standards, taking cover behind rocks and scrap metal, and firing back at a selection of formidable – if not particularly bright – alien and robotic enemies, proves exhilarating.
The whole thing is elevated by that strange-looking peripheral. While fussy to set up (you’re told to place the PlayStation camera, with its short lead, above head height for best results) the Aim acquits itself flawlessly in-game (see Good aim). The device’s one-to-one tracking and built-in vibration ensure that the virtual guns feel satisfyingly substantial, and the available armoury includes a space SMG, a shotgun and an underwhelming facsimile of Halo’s Needler. The highlight, however, is a powerful, laser-sighted sniper rifle that’s introduced about halfway through the game. Lining up distant shots while staring down the virtual sights is a delight.
But while Farpoint is built around demonstrating the Aim’s capabilities, it also tells an unexpectedly warm story. You play a shuttle pilot sent to pick up scientists Eva Tyson and Grant Moon from the Pilgrim, a research vessel studying an energy anomaly somewhere near Jupiter. Predictably, something goes terribly wrong and the story charts your attempts to locate Tyson and Moon as you learn about their own efforts to survive through the holographic and video recordings you find. It’s just a shame that a lurch to more schlocky fodder for the final act spoils the overall effect somewhat.
Even so, what’s here stands out simply for being the first convincing example of a VR FPS that doesn’t make you feel sick. It’s basic in comparison to other games in the genre, but deliberately so, and the grin-inducing pleasure of aiming a physical gun from behind what feels like real cover carries the game even in its less successful moments.
While shooting at bugs and other enemies constitutes a large part of the game, you’ll also spend a good deal of time simply wandering through some remarkable alien landscapes. Cliffsides are especially breathtaking