Most folks familiar with the industry will tell you that the cornerstone of the Wii’s blockbuster success was the pack-in game Wii Sports. I imagine it’s a ubiquitous experience by now; if you care enough about video games to read reviews, then you’ve probably swung a Wii Remote around in a game of tennis at some point in your life.
Wii Sports Tennis, along with Bowling, sold more Wiis than pretty much any other game out there, so it’s not surprising that other companies have tried to create the same sort of success. Take Sony with their new PlayStation VR headset, for instance; they’re pretty obviously hoping that PlayStation VR Worlds is going to be the next Wii Sports, and I don’t know if that’s going to work out for them.
PlayStation VR Worlds is separated into a bunch of smaller “experiences.” Any of these by themselves only lasts about fifteen minutes, so for your $40 you’re getting…uh, maybe a couple hours of gameplay out of this collection. It’s not the best deal in the world, though I’d argue it’s still a better deal than Batman: Arkham VR, and you might find yourself really enjoying the shooting gallery included with The London Heist. Anyway, your experiences, in no particular order:
VR Pong! Use your face to move a paddle around, bounce a ball back, repeat until either you or your opponent misses the ball enough to lose. It’s…well, it’s Pong. You probably didn’t purchase a $400+ headset to play Pong, but it’s here if you want it. The graphics are nice and fancy sci-fi affairs at least, so there’s the spectacle aspect, but it’s still just Pong.
You’re in a diving cage, you sink into the ocean and look around a bunch, there’s no buttons or anything so that’s pretty much it. This proved to be popular with non-game-playing visitors, but I wasn’t able to get into it myself; perhaps that’s because of the number of walking simulators…er, “mignons” I’ve played lately?
You’re luging down a road, steering by turning your head from side to side and hoping to avoid running into anything since that slows you down. That’s pretty much it, really. I found this section a little lackluster, particularly combined with the less-than-amazing graphics, and I feel like it’s only there to impress VR newcomers with its sense of speed…which will inevitably be lost when they run into things that slow them down, so…
This is a sci-fi themed adventure where you control a spider-mech exploring in search of a mysterious monolith. You’ll use standard controls here, which I’m told can be uncomfortable for some users in VR but I didn’t have too many issues. Special mention goes to the game’s use of turning-based targeting controls, allowing you to precisely aim by facing your target. It’s a nice touch that bodes well for future VR games.
There’s walls to jump on, bugs to zap, it’s a good time all around and it’s over way too soon. My only complaint is that your handler can be a little too chatty, but a full-fledged game with these mechanics and a little more meat would be a great addition to the PSVR library. Note that I’ve seen other reviewers mention that this segment in particular caused severe motion sickness, but again, I didn’t run into any problems myself.
The London Heist
The London Heist is the centerpiece of the collection, demonstrating strong production values and some of the more interesting uses of the headset. You’re a thief out to steal a priceless diamond with the help of some accomplices, but the heist goes awry and you’re left to deal with the consequences. This is a very short experience, but it’s worth checking out for the graphics, voice acting and some of the best gunplay I’ve experienced in VR.
Said gunplay must have hit the right notes around Sony, since the London Heist section of VR Worlds also includes several shooting ranges to check out. These help make VR Worlds a must-buy for new PSVR owners, since few things are more fun than throwing a pistol into the air with one hand, catching it with the other and then headshotting a target. Having to manually reload your weapons helps with immersion, and you can even dual wield machine pistols or handguns, reloading by slamming helpfully-placed magazines into your weapons as they run dry. There’s leaderboards to try and top if you care about that kind of thing, but personally I had a good enough time messing around with dual wielding.
If you purchase the more expensive PSVR bundle, you’ll get PlayStation VR Worlds as a pack-in game; if you go for the less pricey option you get a demo disc instead. At $40 it’s honestly a little hard to justify this for those of you who don’t end up getting it as a “freebie”. There’s just not a whole lot to do here when it comes down to it, and the Wii Sports wow-look-at-this appeal that this collection could have offered is soured pretty fast when you have to pay for the privilege. $30 will get you Rez Infinite instead, which looks just as awesome and offers vastly more content; a slightly more $60 will get you RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, which is a full-on VR-exclusive shooter.
Don’t get me wrong, though: London Heist and Scavenger’s Odyssey are both really cool, and if Sony ever decides to crank out some full games based on either of those, well…