Motion Without Sickness: Impressions of Wipeout in VR

I have never been a fan of the Wipeout series of games. I do like racing games, I like sci-fi racing games in fact, but somehow Wipeout has always felt a bit dull to me. Very fast, yes, but somehow a bit sterile – like a tech demo. Impressive maybe, but not interesting. The chance to try out such a game in VR, however, gave me a reason to pick up the Omega Collection. Would I feel the same about the series once I was fully immersed in the virtual world of high speeds and high stakes?WIPEOUT™ OMEGA COLLECTION_20180426132301

Well, yes. My feelings haven’t changed about Wipeout in general, but I think it is an interesting game from a motion sickness point of view. Firstly, I felt absolutely no motion sickness at all playing this game. As I noted in a previous VR-related post my first experience with racing games on the PSVR, Gran Turismo Sport, made me feel really, really sick. I assumed from that experience that there was something about racing games that didn’t agree with me. Well, Wipeout Omega Collection has put the myth to bed. Clearly, GTS in VR is just to be avoided in general. I wonder if in part this is because it’s more natural here to move your head into the turns. Here is a lap of one of the tracks:
https://player.vimeo.com/video/269808216

What is really interesting about Wipeout Omega Collection in VR though, is how many options there are for people who are suffering from motion sickness to try and ward it off and keep playing:

  • You can change whether the camera is locked to the pilot or to the ship or track
  • You can change how enclosed the cockpit is, so that your peripheral vision is more limited
  • You can change whether the ship moves about a little when crossing a boost pad or stays level

WIPEOUT™ OMEGA COLLECTION_20180426132502

All of this means you can really limit the VR-ness of it if it’s making you feel sick. Luckily, I was able to have all these settings turned to their most immersive options without any dramas at all. But I really like the idea that games could give players options to help. Motion sickness is the most-cited reason for not liking virtual reality, from what I can tell, and it seems to afflict different people in different ways. It would be fantastic if more games were able to give players a range of options, so that more people can play and get on board with VR gaming. Then maybe rather than a niche, VR could move towards the mainstream.WIPEOUT™ OMEGA COLLECTION_20180426200408

In the meantime, I’m done with Wipeout again – I might bust out Fast RMX on my Switch to get a little fix of high-octane racing! What about you – can you play VR games without motion sickness? And do you think such options are a viable for other VR titles? Let us know in the comments below.

Click here to purchase the game on disc from Amazon.co.uk:
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REVIEW: The American Dream

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: PSVR
  • Also available on: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
  • Time to get into: 10 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 4 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

The American Dream is an on-rails VR shooter with a huge dose of satire. In fact it would probably be more accurate to describe it as a satirical take on American gun culture, built into a video game. Whilst this does kind of work to begin with, unfortunately the game outstays it’s welcome and then completely jumps the shark on it’s way out. Somewhere in here there is an entertaining game, but you have to wade through too much superfluent stuff to find it.The American Dream_20180427132658

With guns, you can achieve anything
Within the game ‘The American Dream‘ is a theme park ride taking you through the life of an ‘American Patriot’ and showing you how guns are the solution for everything. Cleaning up stuff in a teenager’s room? Shoot it. Catching a football? Shoot it? Eating food at a restaurant? Shoot it. You get the picture! Mixed in with the gameplay is a commentary on the ride, given to you by a dog. That’s right. He encourages you to shoot everything and waxes lyrical about how wonderful the life of Americans is because they have guns. For example, apparently Americans have the best beer in the world: ‘expect maybe in Australia, but they banned guns there, so they can go get ******!‘ If this all sounds properly weird; it is. I wonder if it is clearer to those playing the game in the USA (let me know in the comments below!) but as an outsider I am not sure if the developer, Samurai Punk, is trying to make an actual political and social commentary here or if it is all purely for laughs. Either way, early on it is very funny but it starts to drag from about halfway. The basic point – ‘with guns, you can achieve anything‘ – has been well and truly made by then. But then, here in the UK we have also banned guns, so I guess we can ‘go get ********’ too.

Technically average
Unfortunately, the gameplay itself is also in the interesting-to-begin-with-but-quickly-gets-tired category. This is the third gun-toting game I’ve played on PSVR, after London Heist and Super Hot, and it is the worst mechanically. It lacks the substance of using the guns in London Heist but doesn’t replace it with anything like the style of Super Hot. The actual VR isn’t as good either: The American Dream doesn’t track your movements with quite the same accuracy which destroys the illusion that you  are actually holding these weapons in your hands. It’s certainly not terrible or unplayable but it’s not ideal.The American Dream_20180427165758

Left shark
After you’ve fought through the story and the gameplay to reach the final quarter of the game, The American Dream completely goes off the deep end. I will, as always here, avoid story spoilers (in case I’m not sufficiently putting you off playing it!) but let’s just say that the final part of the game is even weirder and unhinged than the rest. It’s a confusing and disappointing close to the game.The American Dream_20180427145353

Conclusion
Somewhere inside The American Dream is a decent two hour VR shooter with a sideline in satirical social commentary. Unfortunately, this brings with it average gameplay, repetitive and slow moving levels and a nonsensical ending. Look elsewhere, patriots!Review2

Click here to purchase to the game on disc from Amazon.co.uk:

RETROspective: Star Wars Racer Revenge

Why am I playing it?
I spotted Star Wars Racer Revenge on sale a while back on the PS Store and I remembered how cool the control scheme was. It is a PS2 Classic and back in the day it was a sequel to Star Wars Episode 1: Racer. I believe Racer was released around the time of the Phantom Menace and then Racer Revenge was released to coincide with Attack of the Clones. What made it stand out is that you could race by using the two analog sticks on the Dual Shock controller as throttles for the two engines on your Pod – thus being able to control speed and steering with the same method, just like the ‘real thing’. Push one stick or the other forward to turn, or push both forward to accelerate in a straight line, as I’m demonstrating here:20180423_204935.jpg

How well does it hold up technically?
No effort has been made with these PS2 Classics to update things like the graphics – this is not backwards compatibility like you get on Xbox One. As a result, this game just looks bad but I guess no worse than it did before. Controls are responsive and smooth once you are used to how unusual they are (or use more standard acceleration and steering inputs, but why would you?). Unfortunately it shows it’s age with some dodgy collision detection at times, particularly with some lo-res walls. Perhaps this was just what racing games were like in those days?!Star Wars™_ Racer Revenge™_20180423203609

Has it stood the test of time?
Not well. I would definitely consider Star Wars Racer Revenge poor if it came out now. Really all it has going for it is some Star Wars nostalgia and the interesting controls. Even things like the menus and everything built around the game is poor compared to what we have even on cheap indie games nowadays. Upgrading your pod racer is a very basic affair and even the very concept of the story – 8 years later Anakin comes back to pod racing to face a Sebulba looking for revenge – needs a lot more backing up than just the usual Star Wars scrolling yellow text at the beginning to make it believable.Star Wars™_ Racer Revenge™_20180423153915

Should people go back and check it out?
The control scheme is genuinely great: it’s unique, at least to my knowledge, and it would only work on a Playstation controller as the analog sticks are next to each other, not offset. But, where that was enough to make up for it’s shortcomings when it first came out, now it’s little more than a quaint interest-piece. I’d love it if a new racing game came out making good use of twin analog sticks like this but for now, this one is probably not worth your time.Star Wars™_ Racer Revenge™_20180423172740

Time For Tennis: AO International Tennis vs Tennis World Tour

Sneaking in ahead of Mario Tennis Aces are two games that take tennis a little more seriously. After a few years without a proper tennis game, AO International Tennis and Tennis World Tour have both appeared in 2018, so I thought it was a good chance to have them go head-to-head. After a good few hours with each it has become clear which one has the balle de match – if you’re looking for a tennis game, check out AO International Tennis.

My first, first impressions were actually the opposite! AO International Tennis (the AO is for Australian Open, for which is has the licence) first appears to be a much more arcade title than Tennis World Tour. AO plays much faster, has more exaggerated animations and puts more emphasis on the presentation around the actual gameplay. WT on the other hand is trying to be much more of a simulation. The gameplay is slower and asks you to be more precise. It has a more thorough tutorial as well that really steps you through the different shots and makes sure that you have got them down before letting you continue.

However, that is where the impressive parts of WT stop. Once you are in a game, issues start to rear their heads. Tennis World Tour‘s animations are pretty horrible to look at, particular in the transition from moving across court to playing a shot. Next, and perhaps consequently, there are regular issues with a disconnect between the shot you try to play and the one your player actually does. More than once I’ve been happily preparing to lash a top spin shot across court only for my player to suddenly lunge into a slice down the middle. The fact that this doesn’t happen in AO convinces me that it is the game rather than my bad play!!

So despite it’s more arcade leanings, AO International Tennis turns out to be the best option, regardless of that. It is certainly not easy or basic either. In fact, the power meter you have for playing shots is very clever indeed: rather than just the usual hold-the-button-longer-for-a-harder-shot/hold-it-too-long-and-miss mechanic, you’ll also miss your shots in AO International Tennis if you don’t hold the button for long enough. It does a great job of mimicking the actual timing required to play tennis shots. The animations quite happily keep up with the slightly quicker speed of the game and you’ll be sending down booming serves and forehands down the line in no time. Above all, AO International Tennis is fun, where Tennis World Tour is just a struggle. Add in the lack of online play (although a patch is apparently forthcoming) in WT and AO has the match sown up. Game, set, match: AO International Tennis.

What about you? Are you looking to play a tennis game this year? And if you are, is it just all about Mario Tennis Aces?! Let us know in the comments below.

Click here to purchase Tennis World Tour for PS4 from Amazon.co.uk:

Click here to purchase AO International Tennis for PS4 from Amazon.co.uk:

 

Top 10 New Games at E3: Monthly Roundup June 2018

Please see here for previous Top 5 Round Ups from 2018:
January: Top 5 Rocket League Showroom Battle Cars
February: Top 5 Open World Games
March: Top 5 Mario Kart 8 Items
April: Top 5 Underappreciated Games
May: The Boy’s Top 10 Games Ever

So E3 has rolled around once again and we have all marvelled at the new games that were revealed. Or at least, at those that weren’t leaked beforehand, anyway! Overall, I was impressed with the presentations of Ubisoft and Xbox and rather disappointed with Playstation and EA‘s showcases, with the rest somewhere in between. Ubisoft were the ‘winners’ for me – a great combination of games I am excited about, series that I haven’t been interested in before but might be now and a presentation that was just a lot of fun! But let’s just get straight to the real point: the games. Here are the ones I am most looking forward to, and a few slight disappointments.

  1. Halo Infinite (Xbox One, Microsoft)hi
    • We were given next to no details about what Halo Infinite was in Microsoft‘s press conference but my love for this series is still super strong, despite diminishing returns since it was taken over by 343 Industries. If anything, the fact that Halo 4 and 5 were only OK makes me even more excited: I still have hope that the series can get back to it’s previous heights!
  2. Beat Saber (PSVR, Sony)IMG_20180612_123132.jpg
    • This game is why I picked up a VR headset, so I am waiting for this more than any other game right now! So glad we got proper confirmation that it is coming to Playstation VR, although I was sad that we didn’t get a release date – I will have to continue hassling their Twitter account about it for the time being!
  3. Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Multi, Ubisoft)
    IMG_20180612_114639.jpg

    • I wasn’t expecting to love this game. I didn’t really enjoy the original but I was blown away by what we were shown by Ubisoft. It’s looks epic! Fantastic game worlds and the Hitrecord collaboration, if it works, could be both groundbreaking and amazing.
  4. Gears 5 (Xbox One, Microsoft)
    • Across their series’ so far, Gears of War might not have quite hit the heights of the Halo series but it has been more consistent. And Kait is one of my favourite new characters of recent years. Can’t wait.
  5. Trials Rising (Multi, Ubisoft)
    • The Boy and I will be all over this! Trials Fusion has been one of our mainstays. Can’t wait to play Trials on Switch as well. I also really loved the video set to Blue Danube too – great stuff.
  6. Control (Multi, Sony)
    • This game really intrigued me. I love sci-fi in general but particularly anything that messes with the fabric of reality. It quite reminded me of Quantum Break, which was Remedy‘s previous game so hopefully they can build on that with this new one. Few details so far but I really like what I’ve seen.
  7. Sea of Solitude (Multi, EA)
    • Was great to see a publisher like EA dedicate a whole section of it’s show to a game about emotions. The rest of it was mostly guns and goals but Sea of Solitude looked and sounded great. It reminded me a little of Rime.
  8. Super Mario Party (Switch, Nintendo)
    • The Boy and I have been waiting for a Mario Party game ever since the Switch was released! Great to see the technology of the two Switch consoles working together too – something that can only be done with Nintendo Switch.
  9. Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Multi, Ubisoft)
    • I’ve put ‘multi’ there, but let’s be honest: if you have a Switch you are going to get this game on Nintendo‘s console so that you can get Star Fox! Great to see another Nintendo character doing crossovers with other Ubisoft games. Now I’m actually excited for Starlink.
  10. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Multi, Square Enix)
    • Lara looks like a machine! I was slightly underwhelmed by Rise of the Tomb Raider but this looks like a proper evolution of the gameplay. Will be great to see how the trilogy ends.

Top 3 Disappointments across E3a

  1. Anthem
    • This just looks like Destiny set in Mass Effect: Andromeda locations. Hopefully they can pull it out of the bag but my high hopes from last year have diminished from this E3.
  2. The Last Of Us Part 2
    • 99% of me is still confident that this will be amazing based on the fact that Naughty Dog don’t seem to be able to make a game that doesn’t shoot straight into my All-Time Top Games List. But every single thing we’ve seen about this game has focused on how brutal it is. Like, really brutal. What made the first one so great, however, was how the brutal combat juxtaposed the heart and the relationship between the characters. A little 1% of me is worried that the hype is going to make The Last Of Us eat itself.
  3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
    • To be clear: I don’t mean that I was disappointed with the game itself. Really, I have little or no interest in it at all. I played a lot of Smash Bros on the Gamecube and a little on the 3DS but fighting games just aren’t something I am good at or enjoy. I am simply disappointed that Nintendo dedicated such a ridiculously large amount of their presentation to it. They clearly don’t have anything else up their sleeves this year. Where was the Yoshi game, for example? Bring on 2019 I guess.

What about you? What new game reveals got you the most excited? Let us know in the comments below.

Playlink Games – Mini-Reviews of That’s You! and Knowledge is Power

I recently picked up a copy of Gran Turismo Sport so that I could play it in VR. That didn’t go very well, let’s say, but it did come with a free copy of That’s You!, one of the Playlink games on PS4. If you don’t know of Playlink then it’s basically a way for Playstation 4 owners to play mini-games with their friends without the need for controllers – all players use their phones to interact with the games over WiFi and much hilarity can ensue! I also picked up Knowledge is Power, a quiz game for Playlink and have played them a couple of times with friends.That's You!™_20180504222011

That’s You!
This is a really hilarious game that asks you questions about each other. It’s like a high-tech version of Mr & Mrs for groups of friends! For example, it might ask ‘which one of you would be most likely to get sunburnt at the beach?’ Everyone selects which of the group they reckon is the most likely via their phones. However, of course, the game doesn’t know the right answer! As such the scoring works where only people who get the same answer get the points so even if you select the ‘correct’ person, if everyone else chooses another then they will be scoring points and not you. This (in combination with the fact that we all like to be a little wicked to our friends, don’t we?!) means that everyone quickly moves to selecting the funniest answers rather than anything else.That's You!™_20180504220413

The other tasks in the game also lend themselves towards fun first – you might be asked to all take a selfie making a silly face and then rate whose was the best. Each game ends with a round where each player is asked to draw on their screen to add more ‘art’ to a picture of another player. Only the person who took the selfie doesn’t know what everyone else is designing them to be so the results are always fantastic. If you have a group of friends who know each other well enough then you’ll get a huge amount of good laughs from That’s You!Review3

Knowledge is Power™_20180504230214

Knowledge is Power
This is a more standard quiz game as we’ve known them in the past but at least here there is no need for huge amounts of peripherals like you had with Buzz from back in the PS3 days. It does of course mainly test your knowledge but also let’s you interact with each other by way of different types of power play which enable you to do things like override another’s choice of topic or obscure the multiple choice answers on the other player’s phones.Knowledge is Power™_20180504224449

Having other ways to beat other players besides just answering the questions better and faster than them is an additional part of Knowledge is Power that does up the fun factor and help keep things closer. However, it all seems pointless by the end as the entirely of each round is only for the purpose of placing yourself a certain height up the final pyramid. With a question or two of that final round everything can have changed which somewhat devalues all that came before. In the final count Knowledge is Power is a perfectly serviceable quiz game but not something that is going to be first choice for a gaming session, or even a Playlink session, with friends.Review2

Playlink
A quick word on the Playlink concept. It does use the technology well. These games, or parts of them can only be played in this way with the additional screens and cameras that are then available via the devices in each player’s hands. For example, drawing on each others selfies is not something that has been gamified well before now and my experience with them so far is that this has every chance to be more than a short lived gimmick. I am certainly looking forward to playing the other Playlink games and to see where the series goes in the future.

Click here to purchase That’s You on disc from Amazon.co.uk:

Click here to purchase Knowledge Is Power on disc from Amazon.co.uk:

 

REVIEW: Superhot VR

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: PSVR
  • Also available on: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
  • Time to get into: 5 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 8 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

I had been meaning to play Superhot ever since it came out but had just never got around to it. The main idea and main selling point for the game – that time only moves when you do – is pretty much unique, at least to my knowledge. As it turns out, I am kinda glad I missed out, as instead I picked it up as Superhot VR – one of the first games I’ve played on PSVR. It is an absolutely brilliant concept and perfectly executed in virtual reality. Superhot VR is more than enough reason to own a VR headset.SUPERHOT VR_20180403234438

Don’t move
If you’ve not come across Superhot before then you may not know about it’s headline feature: time only moves at the same speed that you do. In other words when you stop, so does the game. This gives you time: to look around, to maybe take in the distances of two bullets heading your way, to spot the new enemy appearing around a corner to the side. Then you can decide how you are going to approach the battle and then act accordingly – you start moving and the game jumps back into life. This is great but what really makes it unique is that it’s not just on/off. If you move slowly, so does the world around you. This takes things to a new level – suddenly you are dodging bullets, throwing things at enemies and shooting them down in complete control of the speed of proceedings. If you are under threat, move slower – if you are confident then smash those bad guys into pieces (literally!) with abandon. Check out this video to get an idea of it all:

He’s beginning to believe
The best thing I can say about Superhot VR is that it made me feel like I was in The Matrix (still my favourite movie, 19 years later). There are a couple of levels that don’t give you access to any weapons – you have to dodge left, right up and down to avoid a hail of gunfire before your foes come close enough for you to smite them down with your bare hands. Add to the that joy that comes from snatching the weapons of downed enemies right out of the air and turning them on others. The virtual reality is wonderful. I haven’t played the standard edition of the game but I cannot imagine that is anywhere near as immersive (let me know your thoughts in the comments below if you have played it), despite not making any effort to look like the real world. Being stood at some strange angle trying desperately not to move until you’ve figured out how to avoid some incoming bullets just can’t be replicated outside of VR. The combination of this immersion with the ability to so closely control the flow of events (or at least, the speed at which those events happen) is a marriage made in heaven. Superhot is totally at home in VR. Technically it matches up to this – there are very few tracking issues, despite how much you are moving around. Occasionally I thought it was generous with how near my hands were to objects when it let me pick them up but I was hardly complaining in the heat of battle!SUPERHOT VR_20180404200546

Backing up the main thing
All of this fun would still get tired though, without some stuff to back it up. What little plot there is is odd and intriguing without ultimately meaning anything. You are in a room filled with computers through which you are being asked to go into a virtual reality world to complete all these missions. I really enjoyed the virtual-world-within-a-virtual-world angle and it does give a little meaning to the sparse environment and shattering enemies. Otherwise the only variety in Superhot VR is in the weapons. From objects strewn about like bottles, to throwing stars and axes, to pistols, automatic weapons and shotguns. Which one you pick up in any given level has an effect on how you can tackle it but there is rarely a choice so it just becomes another part of each particular challenge. For me, despite basically only doing one thing the whole time it remained interesting throughout – there was enough fun that I didn’t need more backing it up. But I can see that for some it might be a little one dimensional.SUPERHOT VR_20180404205024

Conclusion
Superhot VR is a great showcase for what virtual reality games can be. Not just a normal video game that is a bit more immersive, but an experience that can’t be matched outside of a virtual world. It’s also a great shooter – Superhot VR enables you to play a little bit stylishly if you like but mercilessly punishes trying to rush or not concentrating. An absolute must play for VR owners.

Review5

Click here to purchase the game on disc from Amazon.co.uk: