Much VR, very im­merse, wow

HWM (Malaysia) - - GAX - by Do­minic Chua

Last year, Sony launched the PlayS­ta­tion VR af­ter sev­eral years of work. Re­views were gen­er­ally pos­i­tive, though they car­ried the pit­falls com­mon to all VR to­day — var­i­ous ex­pe­ri­ences have some great mo­ments, but a true killer app has yet to emerge. Although we have seen sprin­kles of gems such as Ea­gle

Flight and Res­i­dent Evil VII: bio­haz­ard early on, the PlayS­ta­tion VR seems to have lost a bit of steam since.

Past PS VR games have been fun, but they pro­vided more fleet­ing mo­ments than full-on ex­pe­ri­ences that I wanted to stay in for hours at a time. Far­point achieves this and more. The caveat here is, of course, sub­jec­tive to how well you take to VR in the first place.

I had the chance to play Far­point with the VR Aim con­troller and I must say I am im­pressed. This is be­cause Far­point has a fan­tas­tic co-op mode. VR is of­ten an iso­lated af­fair, but get­ting the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence mul­ti­player on VR is a wel­come treat.

Far­point tells the story of a pair of sci­en­tists on an ex­pe­di­tion to ex­plore an alien world. As luck would have it, they be­came stranded on the dis­tant world in­fested by gi­ant alien bugs (like most dis­tant worlds) af­ter a catastrophe. If you are a huge fan of Star­ship Troop­ers, then

Far­point’s story mode is stan­dard sci-fi cookie-cut­ter stuff that lasts be­tween four to seven hours. But the game’s big sell lies in co-op.

You get to choose four lev­els with an on­line buddy and this fea­tures a lot more ac­tion than the ex­plo­ration-fo­cused sin­gle-player cam­paign. En­e­mies and mon­sters come at your team in in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult waves as you progress through a level. Think of it as Horde mode in Gears of Wars – ex­cept with VR and hold­ing a pseudo laser gun to el­e­vate your ex­pe­ri­ence.

In­trigu­ingly, while you can choose to play the game sit­ting down, it’s far more in­ter­est­ing to play the game stand­ing up, as play­ers are re­quired to phys­i­cally turn around if they want to look in a di­rec­tion.

Im­pulse Gear also added some cool touches to im­merse you in the VR world fur­ther. One high­light is the way you change weapons in-game. Switch­ing to the sec­ondary weapon on your ‘back’, for in­stance, re­quires you to move the VR Aim Con­troller up­wards – as if you are stor­ing your weapon onto your back. Sim­i­larly, picking up a new weapon re­quires you to phys­i­cally set the VR Aim Con­troller down onto the floor to swap it.

The de­vel­oper could have gone the easy route by mak­ing a weapon change with the touch of a but­ton press, but these small touches are a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The VR Aim Con­troller it­self feels solid in the hands de­spite its feath­ery weight. The mul­ti­ple but­tons and trig­ger does give the im­pres­sion of a mashed up Dual Shock 4 and Move con­trollers, but the PS4 only rec­og­nizes it as a stand­alone pe­riph­eral – it doesn’t func­tion as a Dual Shock 4 nor as a Move con­troller. De­spite the ar­ray of but­ton/ trig­ger place­ments all over the gun, they were quite easy to find de­spite my vi­sion be­ing hid­den by the PS VR head­set.

While it’s pos­si­ble to play the game with a Dual Shock 4 con­troller, but the new gun con­troller is a big evo­lu­tion leap over its pre­de­ces­sor – the PS Move Sharp Shooter that was re­leased for the PS3. The down­side to all this, how­ever, is cost. The VR Aim Con­troller is avail­able for US$59.99 sep­a­rately (or RM449 as a game and con­troller bun­dle). It’s a great ac­ces­sory for Far­point, but Sony needs to be cau­tious to not let it be­come an­other Play Sta­tion Move – one of the com­pany’s high-pro­file failed ac­ces­sories. A pe­riph­eral is only as good as the games that sup­port it af­ter all.

Far­point is one of the most fun and en­gag­ing co-op games I have played with the PS VR. Sony and Im­pulse Gear have churned out a gen­uine triple-A block­buster and I dare say the game is al­ready one of our ‘Best VR Game of the Year’ con­tenders.

Now, ex­cuse me while I head back to killing some alien spi­der scums with my on­line buddy.

CON­CLU­SION VR treat­ment for an FPS is a no brainer, but good co-op and phys­i­cal im­mer­sion game­play make it a must have.

Laugh all you want, but the new VR Aim Con­troller is es­sen­tial to turn a good VR game into a great VR game.

The co-op mul­ti­player mode in Far­point takes VR gam­ing into an­other level of in­ter­ac­tiv­ity.

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