Arizona Sunshine PS4 Review

It’s rather surprising that it’s taken this long to get a zombie-shooting game on Playstation VR: as the latest E3 2017 has proven, zombies still remain the most clichéd, tired, and still hotly demanded enemy in the history of videogames. While the time will eventually come when VR games become infested with the undead adversaries like every other genre, Arizona Sunshine by Vertigo Games holds the distinction of being the first title to shamble towards Sony’s infant VR headset.

The plot of Arizona Sunshine is so bare-bones it would make a zombie starve; players control a faceless, nameless protagonist who has holed up in the Arizona river valley to ride out the zombie apocalypse; with supplies running dry, a radio broadcast spurs him to hoof it to the nearest settlement in the hopes of finding other survivors, with an endless horde of undead horrors standing in his way.

Arizona Sunshine’s story may be simplistic, but it also tries to inject a bit of humor through the protagonist’s numerous quips. Unfortunately, much of the monologuing falls flat, with the hero coming across more like Duke Nukem rather than Bruce Campbell. While not nearly as annoying as that example may sound, the dialog is mostly unremarkable filler nonetheless, and the zombies will hardly dredge up any jump scares or tense feelings, especially with the lack of graphical detail in their designs.

The game takes on the tried-and-true guise of first-person-shooting with its VR setting, very much fashioned after a light gun game (and, incidentally, is compatible with the light gun-like Aim Controller that was included with Farpoint). For those that lack the peripheral, a couple of Move controllers can also suffice….or rather, they can be used as a control scheme. Like so many other early VR games and a large majority of Nintendo Wii titles, Arizona Sunshine aims to create a more immersive experience that traditional controls could not achieve, but fails to ask the question of whether it should.

Each of the Move controllers independently control one of the character’s arms; objects can be picked up and manipulated with the left or right hand, depending on the player’s preference, while movement can be customized to turn and move instantly or by following the camera. While it is commendable that the game offers different control schemes in order to combat the ongoing problem of VR motion sickness, none of the combinations felt fluid at all. Worst of all is the unresponsive action of backing up and turning around, requiring all sorts of awkward arm movements that seldom feel natural, or even tolerable.

But worst of all is the aiming, which is the whole point of the game to begin with: as of this review, there is an issue where the aiming sights do not line up with what is being targeted. Players can try all they want to aim down the sights of their guns in order to hit a zombie’s head or even a glass bottle, but more often than not they will only find frustration as the shots veer into the left or right of the intended target. While the developers are looking into fixing the issue, it remains to be seen if or when that will happen.

And even if the aiming issues get sorted out, the rest of Arizona Sunshine’s controls are still too clunky to enjoy. Once again, the attempts to add immersion to the experience (such as manually reloading weapons using the ammo stored in the player’s belt) have only resulted in a frustratingly unresponsive control scheme, and the generic and flaccid enemy encounters will leave players too bored to keep playing even if they mastered the controls.

Despite the good intentions of the developers, Arizona Sunshine is yet another PSVR game that is plagued by unoptimized controls, queasy camera movement and an overall brief and unremarkable experience that barely qualifies it as a rental, where such an option even possible. The standards have already been raised for virtual horror games thanks to Resident Evil 7, so it falls upon developers to catch up to the VR race and deliver the same kind of quality that Sony’s new hardware add-on desperately needs.

3 out of 10
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