Arizona Sunshine Reviews

AuthorReview
Slam-Shot-Sam
62,101 (40,740)
Slam-Shot-Sam
TT Score for this game: 1,054
Posted on 27 June 17 at 23:25, Edited on 27 June 17 at 23:41
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Arizona Sunshine | PS VR | Review

Lagging six months behind its Oculus Rift and HTC Vive counterparts, Arizona Sunshine has finally made its way to Sony’s PlayStation VR platform. Has the transition to weaker hardware sullied the acclaimed first-person shooter? Or has the extra development time made all the difference?

Set amidst an unexplained zombie outbreak, Arizona Sunshine takes the player (and a potential co-op partner) on a narrative-driven journey through the sundrenched US state of, you guessed it, Arizona. You play a nameless, wisecracking protagonist well versed in, and seemingly unphased by, the apocalypse, tasked with traversing eight quasi-open levels in aid of tracing an intercepted survivor broadcast to its point of origin. With all but no human interaction along the way, an internal monologue rife with bad puns and dad jokes makes for surprisingly welcome company in breaking up solitary bouts of zombie slaying.

Vertigo Games have utilised everything at their disposal to comfortably accommodate the experience on console: graphically enhanced for PS4 Pro, supporting all available control methods - that’s the DualShock 4, two Move controllers, and the PS VR Aim controller - and offering the choice between teleportation/free movement and smooth/segmented turning ensures everyone is able to play their way, free from discomfort.

That said, while supporting all of the control peripherals is commendable, they each come with their own caveats. Move controllers aren’t compatible with the new two-handed weapon mode, so if you don't have the Aim controller, you're stuck with the DualShock 4. Though the DualShock makes movement a breeze - we found navigating with it the easiest, though others might not be able to stomach sprinting around with the dual analogue set up - its inaccuracy when it comes to aiming makes for an unattractive way to play. All controllers work with the one-handed weapon mode, on the other hand, but you can only dual-wield with the Move controllers, which basically makes using anything else redundant. In the absence of an analogue stick when using the Move control method, however, you're all but tied to using teleportation in place of the more natural free movement.

Vertigo Games have utilised everything at their disposal to comfortably accommodate the experience on console.
Outside of the DualShock 4's issues, aiming is pretty spot on with both the Move and Aim controllers; you’ll utilise point-and-shoot motions in an entirely natural way, satisfyingly lining up shots as if you were in a real 3D environment. Closing one eye and looking down the ironsights allows you to execute strings of carefully-crafted headshots against the intentionally docile and dozy enemy AI, but, in the event a horde springs to life and swarms, you’ll be forced into a spray-and-pray panic, which gets the job done, but at the cost of a chunk of your ammunition.

Ammo should be a limited resource, but if you explore environments thoroughly enough you can scavenge quite the stockpile. Opening up cars, drawers, cupboards and more via occasionally finicky, telekinetic interactions uncovers all sorts of strange hiding places, with certain ammo types being rarer finds than others. You’ll keep track of what you’ve accrued through the innovative, HUD-busting inventory system that sees you look down to inspect the bullets, grenades and firearms holstered on your belt before physically grabbing them to use them. While immersive, the main drawback of this is that, when playing seated, it’s all too easy to accidentally grab items when your arms are held close to your core, so you’ll need to keep them awkwardly outstretched.

You can carry up to four weapons at once, though you’ll find an abundance of them, so it makes sense to choose as diverse a range as possible - namely a shotgun, submachine gun, pistol/magnum and grenade launcher - to tactically meet differing situations head-on. You’ll also sporadically encounter stationary sniper rifle and machine gun emplacements, which offer up an empowering and gleeful temporary twist on combat, helped along by the protagonist’s excited exclamations that will no doubt mirror your own (if you're anything like the psychopaths we are…).

Though they are comparatively empowering, standard zombie encounters aren’t exactly emasculating. This is largely due to the aforementioned healthy levels of ammo, however the (mostly) bright and breezy setting and lead character sap any real sense of horror from the experience. That’s fine, especially with so many VR horror games already on the market, but in doing so it readily passes up on leveraging the genre that is perhaps virtual reality’s greatest asset.

Despite that, it’s still very frightening on the odd occasion you turn around and find a member of the undead ranks invading your personal space, with the resulting unnerved excitement only making us wish it happened more often. Upping the difficulty can draw you closer towards true horror by nixing ammo pickups and buffing zombies, should you desire that, while harsh checkpointing means you’ll actually be invested in staying alive and fear death that little bit more (or possibly just curse the devs).

Aiming is pretty spot on with both the Move and Aim controllers; you’ll utilise point-and-shoot motions in an entirely natural way.
Regardless of your skills, death is something that always comes in Arizona Sunshine's Horde mode. This is exactly what it says on the tin, or the cassette, in this case, challenging you with surviving increasingly difficult waves of enemies that attack from all sides as you’re confined to a small central area. Playable alone or with up to three partners online, co-op is definitely the way to go, and not just to have someone watching your back. Thanks to the game’s motion control, interacting with players is often cause for hilarity - you might wave to greet one another, dance and fist-pump to celebrate a wave well defended, or even get weird and spend some time stroking each other's faces, locked in prolonged eye contact… Whichever way you play, there’s a relevant leaderboard to track your performance and give you something to strive towards.

While the level of interactivity in Vertigo Games' post-apocalyptic take on the sunny state of Arizona can leave a little to be desired (you can pick up axes, shovels and pans, but can't use them as melee weapons, for example), its nonetheless rich and immersive environments are a pleasure to explore. When combined with seriously satisfying shooting mechanics and entertaining co-op, both thanks to great motion control implementation when using the Aim and Move controllers, Arizona Sunshine takes mantle as one of the first full fat FPS experiences to reach PlayStation VR.

Pros

+ Satisfying shooting with the Move and Aim controllers
+ Varied, detailed and quasi-open areas to explore
+ Co-op is great fun
+ A range of comfort options that are mostly accommodating to everyone ​
+ Likeable protagonist, not despite, but in part because of, his groan-inducing dialogue

Cons

- All control peripherals come with some form of caveat
- Shallow and occasionally finicky environmental interactions
- Inventory system can be clumsy when playing seated

8/10

Trophies

Arizona Sunshine has a largely simple list, though the Horde trophies for reaching 300, 400 & 600 kill streaks will take some practice. The same goes for beating the story on the punishing Apocalyptic difficulty.

Originally written for Pass the Controller, a copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my Xbox One reviews over at TrueAchievements.

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