James Stephanie Sterling
PlayStation VR Worlds Review – Less A World Than A Small, Shitty House
I love demos that you’re expected to purchase!
Developer: Sony Publisher: Sony Format: PlayStation VR Released: October 13, 2016 Copy provided by publisher
PlayStation VR Worlds is a demo disc masquerading as a full title. Available for purchase as a standalone game – and even more expensive than the superior Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, this collection houses a slight selection of “experiences” that struggle to even qualify as minigames.
It should have been a standard inclusion with every PlayStation VR Headset, not just one of the official bundles.
For all intents and purposes, it is PSVR’s official demo – Sony just wants to ensure it makes some extra money off the thing. Not exactly a great look, kicking PSVR off with something so nakedly cynical, but that’s business for you.
Worlds includes five games, barely any of which are worth playing more than once, and only one of which I genuinely enjoyed.
The London Heist comes close to likeable, if not for the fact that its “story” consists of two playable action sequences and a handful of quasi-interactive cutscenes featuring a robust cast of two characters. If you want to hear a pair of gentlemen lay their cockney accents on thick, it’s good for a giggle, but with barely five minutes of real gameplay going for it, it’s got all the impact of a wet fart.
You sit and listen to a London bloke talk, then you sit and listen to another London bloke talk. You take part in a shooting gallery scene against some random enemies. You listen to a bloke talk some more. You have another shooting scene, this time firing at bad guys from a moving car.
After this, the two London blokes fight for some reason and you – I shit you not – get a “moral choice” where you choose which one of the complete strangers deserves to die.
Then the “game” is over.
Intended to show off the PSVR’s potential for shooting combat, it’s a static, brief, unintelligible alternative to Rush of Blood. The shooting is admittedly good, and it’s an interesting idea to have you manually reload ammo clips using two motion controllers, but it’s all flash and zero substance.
The only reason to replay it is to perform inane “challenges” like picking up a cigar and lighting it, emphasizing just how much of a tech demo the thing is. It’s designed for you to pick things up with motion controls and look at them. It’s not intended to provide a meaningful game.
VR Luge is controlled entirely by the PSVR headset, with players tilting their heads to control some idiot who’s rolling a toboggan down a busy highway.
While promising, the sensitivity for this thing is way off – either you’ll not be tilting far enough and meandering into things, or you’ll tilt too far and start bouncing off the barriers on either side of the road. There seems to be no in-between, the headset not quite subtle enough in its tracking to handle what VR Luge wants done.
It’s a particularly ugly little game, too, and not just because its environments are dreary and sparse. Everything has a jagged look to it, and the cars look hideous as they approach the luging idiot. Also, if you look down far enough, you’ll quite blatantly notice your avatar has no head, and it’s creepy as hell.
Scavenger’s Odyssey is a game I refuse to play after spending only a few minute with it. Played with a traditional controller and offering full 360 movement rather than a rails-based experience, it made me incredibly sick after a brief period of time. It’s not just that you’re using a controller – you’re expected make huge arcing jumps from gravity-defying platforms and the whole thing is disorienting.
VR games with controllers have a reported tendency to make players queasy, but there are ways of mitigating that problem seen in games I cannot yet talk about. Scavenger’s Odyssey does nothing to offset the unbalancing feeling of moving while not moving, and the result was my feeling so physically ill I couldn’t do anything for the ten minutes after I ripped my headset off in protest.
From what little I did play, it was a slow-paced mech shooter where you jump real high and blast at little green bugs. More tech demo stuff.
Ocean Descent is exactly what it sounds like. You descend. Into the ocean. You look at fish n’ shit.
Danger Ball is the only Worlds offering I actually enjoyed to any notable degree. Essentially first-person Pong, you control a mostly-transparent paddle by moving your head around, knocking a ball back and forth between you and another paddle at the end of a tunnel.
Unlike VR Luge, the motion tracking feels way more responsive here. The paddle matches your head movements in an intuitive fashion, and you can twitch your head sideways or forwards to curve or smash the ball and potentially outwit the opponent.
The game’s tournament pits players against an array of enemy paddles with their own special moves – one creates fake duplicates of the ball, another can send it flying back to the player in a misleading circular pattern.
It’s a fun game, but like everything else in the package, it’s not particularly robust. It has to be played in a single sitting, since tournament progress isn’t saved, and outside of more optional challenges, there’s not much to keep a player returning.
Danger Ball would make for an interesting full title, but that’s not what it is as part of the Worlds collection. It’s just another content-light demonstration.
Several of the games have little extra modes, like a “shooting gallery” in Heist, but none of it extends the gameplay out to any worthwhile degree. It’s just more of the same fluff, and there’s hardly any of it to begin with.
For a retail price of $39.99, Sony wants to sell you what ought to have been free for everybody. Hilariously, Worlds is included on a demo disc that comes with the less expensive PSVR option, offering slivers of games that, themselves, would turn out to be slivers if bought.
Worlds does a half-decent job of showing off the potential for virtual reality on PS4, but with the sickening Scavenger’s Odyssey and the unreliable VR Luge, it also highlights the system’s weaknesses. Meanwhile, anything with a modicum of promise – chiefly London Heist and Danger Ball – barely qualify as games.
If you’re opting for the more expensive PlayStation VR launch bundle, then Worlds comes as standard and is worth trying out for a few minutes. I absolutely wouldn’t recommend purchasing it separately, though. It’s not worth the money, and it’s quite frankly insulting that Sony’s selling the thing rather than dishing it out to anybody and everybody.
In short, it’s a demo that you buy, and not even a good demo. The only reason it’s getting any attention or a modicum of praise right now is because it’s a launch title with little competition. In time, this thing deserves to be looked back upon with only scorn.
Scorn as both a product in its own right, and a shoddy example of customers being taken for a ride.
Frankly, I hope The London Heist is a stealth tease for a Getaway sequel. At least that would mean this “game” did something notable.