Friday 23 February 2018

PSVR reviews: Headmaster; EVE Valkyrie; Driveclub VR

Headmaster (PSVR); 5 stars; Age: 12+

Headmaster for PSVR
Headmaster for PSVR
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

ONE of the joys of VR lies in finding concepts that would never work in any other medium. Headmaster ticks that box with aplomb, dispensing with fiddly control systems and stripping back the game of football to just headers.

Framed by a sporadically amusing Portal-style narrative about footballers confined to a prison camp while they practise their skills, Headmaster requires nothing more than flicks of the head in VR. The coach fires balls at you from behind the goal and your tasks consist chiefly of hitting targets to score points while confounding robot goalies and avoiding obstacles.

The PSVR’s head tracking proves subtle enough to distinguish between a powerful lunge and a soft nod. It’s only at higher difficulties does frustration begin to emerge.

Headmaster packs more than 40 levels into a novel idea that probably lacks longevity but for €20 it’s an innovative use of VR with a droll sense of humour.



EVE: Valkrie (PSVR)

3 stars; Age: 12+

A SPIN-OFF from the long-running EVE Online universe, Valkyrie promises to make a (virtual) reality of every space dogfighting dream you ever had, from Star Wars to Battlestar Galactica.

And to a degree it succeeds, putting you at the helm of a nimble starfighter and throwing you into a series of fast-moving battles played out with arcade-like physics. Locking on missiles by following an enemy’s trajectory with your head never gets old and, perhaps surprisingly, motion sickness can be kept at bay despite tight turns and spinning arcs.

But a slightly built story mode provides barely enough lead-up to the main event, which consists of 16-player online battles. If you can ignore the microtransactions and enjoy flying repeatedly in circles, Valkyrie provides hours of entertainment.

But for a full-price game the adrenalin thrill of dogfighting in VR has a short life span.

driveclub vr.jpg
Driveclub VR


Driveclub VR

(PSVR); 3 stars; Age: 12+

WOW, just wow. VR’s infamous sense of presence fires on all cylinders in Driveclub VR, a reworked version of Sony’s troubled racing sim. Step around your gorgeous motor, admiring its sleek curves, then hop into the driver’s seat to be greeted by a plush dashboard and revving engine. You feel like you’re in the car, down to the adjustable height of the seat.

Press the throttle and – wait, what? Suddenly, Driveclub VR’s like the cut-and-shut banger you might see in the small ads.

Its 2014 elder sibling was known for its sumptuous visuals, something that was matched in the gameplay only after many, many patches.

Driveclub VR looks the business too – until things start moving. Suddenly, everything seems to be smeared in a layer of blur or grain. In truth, if you were paying attention, the dashboard gives the game away too, the dials almost unreadable even if you lean in close.

You can try – and sometimes succeed – to ignore this lack of detail on the track and on the other cars. In that spirit, Driveclub VR teeters on the edge of exhilarating, the physical scale of everything immerses the player convincingly. But then a texture or roadside object pops in and you’re pulled back out.

Perhaps next week’s launch of PS4 Pro will grant Driveclub VR the horsepower it truly needs to be convincing. For now, you’re getting most of the original non-VR game with some extra tracks. But with graphics that hark to the PS2 era, it can’t work hard enough to impress.


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