PLAYSTATION VR - LAUNCH REVIEW

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By JAY TEE - 01/11/16

THE BASICS

- Sony’s first foray into Virtual Reality gaming, following the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for PC.

PLATFORMS

Playstation 4

GAMES PLAYED BY JTGA

- PSVR Worlds
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
- Driveclub VR
- Eve Valkyrie
- RIGS: Mechanized Combat League
- Resident Evil 7: Kitchen
- The Playroom VR
- Battlezone

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2

3

4

5

BEST WITH FRIENDS

PICK UP
& PLAY

LONE
WOLF

DEEP
DIVE

KITCHEN
SINK

TAKEAWAYS KEY

- Something marked with the JTGA
Green badge is an extremely positive
and / or unexpected response to a
particular game or moment.

- The JTGA Orange badge represents
a mixed response. It’s normally
something that works in principle,
but could have been executed better.

- When you see the JTGA Red badge,
you know this is something negative
that’s either disappointing, frustrating,
rage inducing, or all of the above.

TARP BADGE KEY

- 1 out of 5 is BAD. Really bad.
Maybe it’s the worst. Bottom
line: a game with this rating is
a waste of your time and money.

- 2 out of 5 is OK. The game
might have some half decent
ideas, but the execution misses
the mark and the game falls short.

- 3 out of 5 is GOOD. Something
with this rating is absolutely worth
playing, but it’s a flawed package
with a couple of mis-steps.

- 4 out of 5 is GREAT. You’ll have
a fun and varied experience, with
plenty of reasons to invest. Even
if it’s just shy of greatness.

- 5 out of 5 is FANTASTIC. To put
it simply, a game with this rating
comes highly recommended, and is
pretty much close to perfect.


- The BEST WITH FRIENDS badge is
earned if a game is significantly
more fun playing with people you
know, either in campaign or online.

- The PICK UP AND PLAY badge is
for when a game is better suited to
brief, impromptu sessions that
give a quick blast of escapism.


- The LONE WOLF badge tells you
that a particular game can only be
played, or is more enjoyable, when
you’re flying solo.

- The DEEP DIVE badge is a heads
up that what you’re about to play
is a huge undertaking, and best
enjoyed in extended periods.

- The KITCHEN SINK badge is an
indication of a game that is
bursting at the seams with
content (either on disc or DLC).


- The BAM! DONE! badge lets you
know that within minutes of
picking up the controller, you
can play this like a pro.

- The HOT POTATO badge makes
a really clear statement: this
game is making waves, and it’s
definitely worth a look.

- The LEARNING CURVE badge
is awarded if you’ll need to
allow a fair bit of time in
order to fully grasp the controls.


- The SCEPTICAL FACE badge is for
when a game doesn’t leave a strong
impression. Perhaps more time
is needed to decide?

- The LEFT FIELD badge is awarded
when a game surprises us by being
really good and we’d never heard
of it before.

SCEPTICAL
FACE

LEARNING
CURVE

BAM!
DONE!

HOT
POTATO

LEFT
FIELD

PSVR HARDWARE

- Wearing the headset is incredibly comfortable. The headband and visor portions are separately adjustable, and extended time using it presented no ill effects. There are a lot of helpful tutorials via the PS4 UI that let you check to make sure you’re being detected by the Playstation Camera, everything is in focus etc…

- It also feels like a premium piece of Sony hardware, with a sturdy design and polished finish. You do look like a plonker wearing it, but thankfully the genius addition of a Social Screen (mirroring whatever you’re seeing inside the PSVR onto a nearby telly) allows others to get involved and be part of the experience.

- Image quality is a lot better than I thought it would be, particularly in first party titles. There is a softness to the edges of the image being displayed, but nothing particularly noticeable. Infact, overall I’m really impressed with what they’ve achieved. Frame rates are consistently excellent.

- I have had issues with tracking, specifically involving the PS Move controllers when playing PSVR Worlds. They seem to interfere with the positional detection of the headset, which led to my only bout with nausea as the screen jerks back and forth slightly as it attempts to compensate. Other games like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood worked flawlessly though.

- It seems like the now creeky Playstation Camera struggles to keep everything in view, especially when gesturing wildly with motion controls. I found I had to set the camera about 6 / 7 ft away from me in order for PSVR to run smoothly, but that doesn’t provide a wide enough field of view for keeping up with more active gesture based titles. However, when using a traditional DualShock 4, it worked brilliantly.

Following the well documented launch woes of Oculus and Vive, understandably sceptical eyes now turn to PS4 to deliver a viable, accessible, living room alternative. Wherever you lie on the spectrum of opinion, there can be no denying the tangible potential of Sony’s opening salvo. The offer here is clear cut: an affordable (relatively speaking) VR alternative for Playstation uber fans looking to explore these exciting, uncharted waters. Problem is, a jaded public, burned by the disappointments of 3D, Kinect, Nintendo’s Wii U etc… are going to need more than an attractive price point and the promise of ‘more to come’ to get on board.

Fortunately, PS VR comes out swinging, with a confident (but improvable) hardware design, and a launch line up that is, on balance, the strongest of any console release in recent memory. We’ve had the unit since Day 1, playing with both the DualShock 4 and (where supported) two Playstation Move motion controllers. The game ‘reviews’ represent quick fire thoughts of our experiences with each title, and therefore aren’t as in depth as our traditional write ups. We also only played the demo versions of some games, which means the ‘scores’ are a reflection of our limited time with them, and not necessarily indicative of the final release.

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CONCLUSION

Sony have laid the foundations of an exciting, feature rich platform that suffers from the kind of teething problems to be expected with such a new endeavour. The intermittent (and possibly software specific) tracking issues and overall softness of the presentation restrict it from the dizzying heights of a higher final score. But don’t let that discourage you. This is a cracking piece of kit. VR feels like the ‘SNES to N64’, ‘SD to HD’ leap for gaming that means not only is the best yet to come for PSVR, but we’re one step closer to the Holodeck from Star Trek. Unlike 3D, Kinect, and Nintendo’s Wii U, I believe this one will live long AND prosper.

This is absolutely as fun as it looks. And yes, you can use a PS Move controller to grab that milkshake and throw it out the passenger side window. Masterful.

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PSVR Worlds serves its purpose. It’s a showcase of the tech, but the cheaper price point still doesn’t make this five game compilation feel like anything more than an elaborate tech demo. The London Heist is an all too brief highlight, but the Ocean Descent is nothing more than a static example of choreographed tension. Weirdly, Danger Ball is an unexpected hit, and could have been a downloadable spin off in its own right. Still, probably best to wait for the inevitable
PS Plus giveaway…

This superb launch title delivers on its premise with a flair and polish all too rare in early software releases. Rush of Blood is a ‘Time Crisis’ inspired roller coaster ride through various horror clichés, and easily our favourite PSVR game to date. This has to be played with PS Move motion controls to be fully appreciated. The calibration is superb, and you quickly slip into a comfortable rhythm as things make you jump, gory visuals creep you out, and you can’t help but have just one more go.

PSVR WORLDS

2

UNTIL DAWN: RUSH OF BLOOD

5

This deserves more attention than it’s getting, partly because of the untimely closure of Evolution Studios, whose tireless work is shown off in spades here in Driveclub VR. When you pair this up with a decent wheel and pedals (which i did), the sense of presence and scale is quite something. The 3D also allows for excellent judgement of distances and braking, even if I’m clearly terrible at driving. A few minor graphical corners have been cut, but they’re negligible. This runs like a dream.

Eve Valkyrie is a visually striking, immediately cool game that I can’t help but gravitate towards. It’s a science fiction dogfighter with a confidence in itself that resonates from the moment you’re propelled from a carrier into deep space. The controls took some getting used to, and I have concerns that the thrill of flying around and shooting things might quickly wear thin, but I enjoyed my limited time with it. The possibilities for co-op with friends are very exciting.

DRIVECLUB VR

4

EVE VALKYRIE

3

On paper, this should be a guaranteed win. Titanfall meets Rocket League! In practice, RIGS is a muddled and confusing mess. There is no sense of heft or weight to player movement, the controls feel un intuitive, and the HUD is bafflingly complex and impossible to read in a pinch. For a game that requires good reflexes and keen spatial awareness,it seems to go out of its way to disorientate and confuse. RIGS feels like a basket of decent ideas in desperate need of simplification and focus.  

This ‘less than five minutes’ demo did more to sell me on the promise of PSVR than some of the full price launch titles *ahem* RIGS *cough*. It’s an entirely static experience, but the sense of presence within the space, not to mention the outstanding sound design, make for a truly unsettling horror experience. If the final version of Resident Evil 7 captures even one iota of these deftly crafted scares, then this could well be the first killer app for the platform. I honestly believe survival horror is about to get a new lease of life.

RIGS: MECHANIZED COMBAT LEAGUE

1

RESIDENT EVIL 7: KITCHEN DEMO

5

PSVR has a secret weapon, buried beneath its ridiculous amount of cables and wide eyed enthusiasm: the social screen. The Playroom VR utilises this direct feed in a variety of clever, asymmetric ways, inviting other DualShock wielding players to jump into the action. The best of the bunch: a very
Nintendo Land-esque mini game that sees the VR wearer taking on the role of a cartoonish Godzilla, whilst up to four other players dodge his attacks and throw anything they can back at him. It’s silly, yes, but free!

Don’t be fooled by the simplistic art style: Battlezone means business, and offers a feature rich package (four player co-op, procedural campaign) that deserves your attention. The ability to aim with the right stick, whilst using the PSVR to look around for additional targets, feels great, and the multiplayer support lends itself well to the relatively simple premise. Battlezone understands what it’s trying to achieve, and from what we’ve played, it’s a standout in an already packed launch line up.

THE PLAYROOM VR

3

BATTLEZONE

4

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