Sunday 21 January 2018

PSVR reviews: Loading Human, RIGS, Job Simulator, Harmonix Music VR

Loading Human: Chapter One (PSVR) 3 stars Age: 12+

Loading Human: There's even a love story
Loading Human: There's even a love story
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

THE Star Trek holodeck was never far from the minds of the creators of Loading Human, an episodic space adventure in VR. But the wisdom (or lack thereof) of trying to emulate the perfect simulation comes back to haunt this valiant effort time and again.

This opening chapter sets up the narrative of a gallant adventurer training for the ultimate mission among the stars: the quest to save his ailing father from death.

But from the outset Loading Human tries to mimic reality too closely, forcing you into a series of mundane interactions of a style last seen in David Cage’s games such as Heavy Rain. As you roam the nicely rendered space base, looking out onto a beautiful skyscape, you’re constantly fighting the control system.

The Move controllers require a complicated semaphore to turn, pick up objects and walk. Defaulting back to the less accurate DualShock pad improves matters but Loading Human never quite overcomes this hurdle, which has been exacerbated by the inevitable motion sickness due to full 3D movement.

Factor in a €40 price tag for just one chapter of approximately four hours and the creators are asking a lot of players to buy into what is admittedly an interesting experiment in VR.

rigs.jpg
RIGS: Mechanized Combat League

RIGS

(PSVR) 3 stars Age: 12+

NO ONE expected first-person shooting to work in VR – the sensory overload should surely be a rapid ticket to Vomit City. But RIGS (or RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, to give it its full explanatory title) at least calls that certainty into question.

You will need a strong stomach to deal with the fast-paced, often airborne battles in this fully fledged mech fighter. After a decidedly gentle start, you face off in 3 vs 3 matches between giant robots in multi-level arenas that require jumping, dashing and pirouetting.

Some screen tricks help minimise the potential for motion sickness but just be grateful each match lasts only about 10 minutes.

The VR aspect does add an extra dimension to what could be boiled down to Call of Duty with robots. It boasts pleasingly varied loadouts and mechs. Naturally, it plays much more enjoyably with human opponents rather the somewhat inconsistent AI.

But the €60 cost and the nagging fear of nausea will limit the appeal of RIGS.

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Job Simulator

Job Simulator

(PSVR) 4 stars Age: 12+

IN a not-too-distant-future where the robots have taken all the jobs, humans will have to rely on simulators to fill their endless days. This appalling vista allows the developers to have a lot of fun with VR recreations of mundane drudgery such as as an office worker, mechanic or café cook.

The cartoonish representation of each work environment gives the game away. The droll narrator urging you to complete your tasks is gently mocking you as you struggle to manipulate simple objects such as a saucepan, wrench or stapler.

But your enjoyment will stem from trying to break the game and explore its many secrets while complying with the objectives.  The tracking of the Move controllers (there is no DualShock option) just about copes with the dexterity required, though reaching below waist level (and failing to grab something) sometimes spoils the immersion.

Job Simulator probably lacks longevity but at €30 it’s an amusing demonstration to VR doubters about the abstract potential of the medium.

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Harmonix Music VR

Harmonix Music VR

(PSVR) 3 stars Age: 12+

MAYBE you need drugs for this one. On the other hand, after a hard day in VR gaming, perhaps it’s a calming antidote to the synapse-stretching bombast.

Think of Harmonix Music VR as an iTunes visualiser inside your brain. Fire up the game, pick a tune (a selection of mostly electronica) and the trippy visuals fill your eye sockets with psychedelia. You can also plug in your own tunes, which is a much better bet.

The game features a handful of modes – a beach, a robot dance-off, a painting sim – and warps the colours and visuals according to the music. And, er, that’s about it.

So long as you don’t expect any gamey-style challenges and just want to chill out, Harmonix Music VR is a relaxing jam but nothing more.

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