Crisis On The Planet Of The Apes VR Review (PSVR)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Movie tie-ins are not something that are new to gaming, and one thing that hasn’t changed since the jump to VR is… the game will either suck or be decent. It is time for Imaginati and FoxNext VR Studio to join this area with Crisis on the Planet of the Apes VR – so where does this game fall into?
The story in the games falls in between Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movies. Meaning the Simian flu has wiped out a lot of humans, and those who are still surviving are living little groups around the world. However, the military are rounding up the evolved apes and running experiments on them to try to create a cure. This is where the games starts, as you entered into this facility, tested for you ability and soon branded Ape 139 – with your only aim to escape your certain doom.
Your escape is broken down to two mechanics, the movement system and the combat system – and given that the game is very much a tie-in to the franchise reboot, it all plays out as a linear experience. So, how do the two mechanics work?
For the first part of the game you are going to learn how to walk, climb, jump and swing like an ape. Three of these seem to work very well, but the same can’t be said about fourth. The reason this plays out in a linear way is the lack of exploration or multiple routes to take in the game. The game will give you set points you have to walk between, with some them resulting in the need to climb or jump to progress.
For the walking you see a white silhouette you need you to point to activate and then move your arms up and down, like you do in Sprint Vector, but unfortunately it’s not as quick or fluid. For the climbing the ledges and pipes you can grab will be highlighted with blue mesh and then you can traverse up them by grabbing the next reachable point. Where the climbing is certainly very fluid and can be done at some speed, the swinging in these sections can certainly slow you down. There was points I felt like I was finally getting used to the swinging from pipe to pipe, but then the next lot it just didn’t happen – which was a shame because it ruined some of the ape feeling the fluid climbing gave you.
Now, where the learning how to move like an ape all seemed a little drab for the first part of the game, once the shooting is introduced into the game it will liven up a little. The gun play brings with it a cover shooter feeling, with you jumping between the cover in the levels, taking cover and popping up every now and then to take your shots. With the movement system being all a little slow when walking, I am happy to say this is removed from the shooting sequences. Instead your white silhouettes and replaced with red ones, and all that is required is for you to point at them and drag the controller towards yourself, and you will quickly dash to that point. In the heat of the moment in battle this switching is an integral part of surviving as you jump between the spots to collect ammo and try get a better angle for your own shots.
They then add some accurate gun play to the switching of cover and grabbing ammo to reload, and it makes for really satisfying combat. In the game you are going to get the use of an assault rifle and a shotgun and both of them seem to handle with some clout, but you have to be aware of the enemies because even though they have predetermined spots they will shoot from they can get the jump on you. The final feature of the combat I really thought the team did an awesome job of was the cover system, most VR games will require you to crouch yourself to hide behind an object – which to be honest isn’t great for everyone. However, to use the cover in this game, you simply grab the object with the hand you don’t have your gun in and you can raise or lower yourself, meaning for all those with bad knees out there no bending down is required.
When it comes to presentation, you can see with the budget of Fox that the game has been able to use the benefits of high production values, as all the textures look very crisp, and all the hair on the apes and especially on your own arms looks great. However one thing I was disappointed with was the facts you are restricted to the military base with its more drab colour scheme, instead of being able to go through some of the fantastic ape-made complexes that have featured in the rebooted movies. But, in saying that what they have done with the military base and how crisp it looks it does make for a very immersive setting, and adding to that the animation of both the humans and apes it really adds to the immersion. As well as the high production value in the visuals it brings this in audio, with the final section really standing out as a helicopter hovers and sweeps about overhead.
The main issue I really found with the game was the controls, yes most of this is caused by limitations of the hardware – but, a simple inclusion from the team would have solved this. Firstly the game is made to be played in a standing position, I did attempt this seated and it was even losing tracking when trying to calibrate the controllers. The game also requires two Move Controllers to be played, there is no support for the DualShock 4, although I can not see how support for that would work.
The main button you are going to use is the Move button in the centre of each controller, these are held in as you swing your arms to move, used to grab ledges, held in as you pull the controller to switch cover and held in as you move both controllers up to jump when required. Other than this you are going to use the triggers to shoot your gun. I’m sure your thinking that all seems pretty easy, so what is the problem with the controls?
Well that all comes down to how the Playstation VR tracking works. There is no turning options in the game, other than turning yourself and this results in your back facing the camera quite often. Then your tracking is gone, and a message comes onto the screen that camera can not see the controllers – which really takes some immersion out of the game. This is why I previously mentioned this could be easily sorted by the team. I say this because when it comes to the way Playstation VR works and it not offering the same sensor support as it’s PC counterparts, they really need to implement some sort of turning system – which means you could always be facing the camera and not lose tracking so easily.
When it comes to length of the game, it took me around an hour and a half to complete it – which to be honest for a movie tie-in isn’t a bad time and for £11.99 it’s not badly priced. I personally feel it is one I will struggle to return to because of the games linear path. However, if you are the sort of person who collects trophies you might find yourself going back through the game because you won’t get them all in your first playthrough.
Crisis on the Planet of the Apes VR is far from the best VR title you are going to play, but it really has taken one huge ape like leap and sets a new bar for companies making tie-in VR experiences. It you are a fan of the movies it is going to help you plug that gap between Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, bringing with a mostly fluid movement system, smooth gun play and high production values. But, it’s main issue with the Playstation VR comes down to the tracking which can ruin it in parts, hopefully some turning system might be patched into the game in the future.
Also available on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift