Arizona Sunshine is another re-released VR game, coming from the Vive and other VR systems with great success. Now on PSVR, hopefully it’s carrying gifts of zombie shootin’ with it.
Set in the dustbowl of western America, Arizona Sunshine has you play a wise-cracking zombie slayer as he travels through canyons, mines and the sweltering desert heat. Survival is top priority, well second to top, the top is definitely spouting one-liners as he pops shots at bikini clad undead as they stumble forlornly towards him.
The setup is fun and the Duke Nukem/Ash from the Evil Dead narrator fits with the colourful visuals. He continually makes jokes as you make your way through the campaign, hinting to the possibility of his own insanity. The story consists of sections of gallery shooting, albeit with some freedoms, but depending on the controller you pick you might have more trouble navigating the world than need be. I’ll get back to the control scheme, but concerning the story, it’s not uncommon to ignore the story and brush it under the carpet because it’s ‘just’ a VR game. This isn’t the Kinect, the pit in which all the worst and most horrifying games fell into. PSVR has the potential to expand what is capable in storytelling by immersing the player in a world in a way that just a TV and controller can’t do. That’s why I take the stories seriously when I play these types of games and in Arizona Sunshine’s case they wasted an opportunity.
Watch the Arizona Sunshine PSVR trailer below:
They could have thrown away the cookie cutter and told a concise, emotional story, tied together with a fantastical world. The visuals are just on the edge of fantasy but dragged down from becoming anything really special by real world mundanity. The first few zombies are bikini wearing post-living girls, this sort of gives the impression that the world isn’t totally serious. Great. Run with that. But it never goes any further than that, despite the narrator’s attempts to liven things up with his funny remarks. I would have liked to see an explosion of individuality, new zombie designs, crazy set pieces, even ridiculous ways to kill the dead. You can pick up random things, (like in most VR games) but you can’t use any of it. Why not let me stab one in the face with a pencil? Or smash a ‘world’s best dad’ mug over one of their decaying skulls? It seems like another wasted opportunity, especially since the capability is clearly there.
Gunplay is mixed. I used both the AIM controller and the Move controllers. The AIM controller is far more accurate but it breaks immersion every time you need to open a car door or pick up abandoned grilled burgers to eat. The hands flicking about as if they’re not completely sure what you want to do. I like the tool belt mechanic, you can attach different weapons to your belt and change them as you need them, like you would in real life. It’s actually quite thematic, even selecting grenades, which are located on a second rung above it. You have a red dot sight on all of your weapons. But it’s really hard to see if you’re not aiming at something plainly coloured, it often gets masked by the blood patches usually affixed to the heads of the undead. It’s fine when they’re slow moving and you have time to watch the sight move from the chest upwards, but when there are loads of them running at you, it’s impossible to switch between targets and take them out effectively. You end up spraying and praying, emphasis on the praying.
It doesn’t look nearly as good as the screenshots, the graphics were patchy at best and the recycling of character models is criminal. I think I shot the same shirtless beefcake over a thousand times during my play. Which would have been fine if the game was set in the brainless world of Jersey Shore but it isn’t.
View some Arizona Sunshine screenshots in our gallery:
I’m giving Arizona Sunshine a hard time but that’s only because I wanted far more than I got. There are some really good moments to be had. The mineshaft level was a highlight and when you start accruing an arsenal of weapons it can be tons of fun. PSVR is better for having it but I feel like more could have been done. It is a port remember, there has been the addition of co-op play, pitting up to four players in a horde mode. But it suffers from the same problems as the singleplayer modes. Baffling as it is, it can be quite buggy. I expect a certain amount of bugs when playing a VR game, but I came across a game breaking bug during the first two minutes. To continue I had to pick up all the ammo magazines. I dropped one by mistake, it went under the table and a new one appeared for me to pick up on the table, except it didn’t really exist and I couldn’t pick it up. Enter the Glitch Gremlin and his annoying ways. Close application, restart the game.
There’s fun to be had definitely, and it is one of the better first person shooters for the system bar Farpoint. But I would wait. Play Farpoint, play Dick Wilde and then if you’re still desperate to squeeze the trigger and see something pop like a balloon filled with jam. Then swing by Arizona Sunshine, it’ll be waiting.
Arizona Sunshine was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the developer.
Publisher: Vertigo Games / Jaywalkers Interactive Developer: Vertigo Games Release Date: June 27, 2017 Reviewed On: PS4 / PSVR Also Available On: PC/Steam / Oculus Rift / HTC Vive