Ever since Assassin’s Creed released all those years ago, Ubisoft has indulged in something of a fetish for birds of prey. Each subsequent Assassin’s Creed game has featured eagles in one form or another – Assassin’s Creed III actually had you play as one during a gameplay segment – and we’ve all come to expect that familiar hawk of an eagle as we, er, eagle dive down to a bale of hay.
Now Ubisoft has taken it a step further by making an entire game centered around the aforementioned eagle with… Eagle Flight for PSVR. All jokes and snark aside, Eagle Flight is actually a damn decent game. As you already know, Eagle Flight is a PSVR title, so you’ll need a PSVR headset to play. The game takes place from the perspective of a bald eagle, with you view only showing a bit of feather at the top, and a sharp beak at the front. Standard stuff, then?
The game is played entirely with the DualShock 4 controller, so you won’t need to fiddle around with the PS Move wands. Normally I’m a little disappointed when a game doesn’t use the PS Move wand controllers, though in the case of Eagle Flight, it’s not a bad thing. The controls are dead simple with speed being mapped to the triggers, and attack/defense being mapped to the square and circle buttons, respectively. All movement is done with the PSVR headset, and while it’s a bit weird at first – you tilt your head left and right to make turns – it became natural movement within half an hour or so, and to be fair to the developers it works really, really well.
Eagle Flight is split up between a story mode, a free flight mode, and multiplayer. The single-player campaign isn’t anything worth shouting about, but it’s nice to have it than not. Eagle Flight is set in the French capital, Paris, some 50 years after humanity has supposedly buggered off. There’s no confirmation yet as to whether it was due to Trump, so we’ll leave that your imagination… You play the role of a bald eagle. A majestic bald eagle! You’re born (which is weird) by having your parents peck through your egg, and then you’re quickly thrust into a prologue of sorts. It’s a nice little distraction for a few hours and it helps that the narration is well done; think of it like a documentary-style voice-over and you’ve got Eagle Flight’s narration pegged.
Single-player “missions” are fairly varied; you’ll fly through hoops around the city; you’ll collect fish to impress a potential new friend before helping him escape those bastard vultures when he’s injured. I called my friend Dave. Dave’s a lad and we tore up Paris pretty hard. Oh, I’m veering off-course again. So, there’s a good bit of variety to the campaign and it’ll last you around four hours or so, but that’s not including the challenges and what have you. In true Ubisoft fashion, Eagle Flight is packed full of collectibles. Because of course it bloody is. I might make that sound negative, but in truth I think this is the only Ubisoft game where I’ll actually bother to hunt down the feathers, (yes, feathers, just like in Assassin’s Creed II!) fish and what not. It’s fun to just fly around, so why not collect some stuff in the process, right?
Graphically, Eagle Flight isn’t the most impressive, though it still is impressive in its own right. Instead of trying to go for a realistic approach, the developers opted for a more cartoony art direction. With the limited power of the PS4/PSVR combo, it’s a wise choice. The game’s very clean in terms of image quality, something that would have surely suffered if they’d gone for something a little more demanding. At first I was a little bit “ergh, what’s this?” but I soon warmed to the graphics; I soared as high as the game would let me, and then peered down upon Paris and thought “it’s actually really nice. I should stop being a dick,” and then I swooped into a deep dive and smashed my beak into an elephant’s arse. Karma for my naughty thoughts? Maybe.
The game’s world is surprisingly lively; elephants (and their massive, dangerous arses) roam Notre Dame; wolves and bears hang out in the underground train stations, waiting for a train that’ll never arrive. Or they’re part of an underground Fight Club, I can’t be sure yet. This needs investigating. My point is that even though you’ll spend most of your time flying high above the non-flying creatures, they still exist in the world and you’re free to go and annoy them if you so wish. Tip: Use your screech on animals to piss them off. It’s not a gameplay thing, it’s just fun to do.
Fun Stuff: One thing I admired was the game’s map. If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed Unity, you’re probably going to recognise some of the buildings in Eagle Flight. It’s not a massive thing and I’m not judging the game on it, but it’s just a nice thing to know.
While a single-player campaign is always welcome by me, I’m actually surprised to say that it’s the multiplayer mode that’ll keep Eagle Flight from being doomed to digital deletion. I’m not too fond of multiplayer games these days, but there’s something primal about Eagle Flight that has me going back for more. Fun fact: during the course of writing this review for you lovely people, I’ve bailed out twice to go and have a play online. What other job in the world allows this kind of behaviour?!
You didn’t read it wrong when I said multiplayer “mode.” The only downside to Eagle Flight is that there is just one singular mode. It’s essentially Capture the Flag, but instead of running around gunning people to nick flag, you fly around screeching at your foes to drop a dead rabbit. It might sound a little daft, but believe me when I say it gets intense. Very f&*king intense. I screamed, I shouted, I swore I’d shit on the other team’s car in retaliation – I’m a method player, I became the bird.
Each round stars with 3v3, though it’s possible for the numbers to be less if the lobby doesn’t fill up in time, and a purple marker will appear to tell everyone where the dead rabbit is. The goal is to swoop down through the marker to pick it up, then make your way back to your nest to score a point. The team with the most points after the round ends wins. It sounds simple. Trust me. It’s not as easy as that. See, when you’ve got the rabbit between your beak, the other team will do their utmost to take you out and get that tasty treat from themselves. It’s up to your team mates to try to protect you by “shooting” the other players with their screech. You can also screech, but as you’re the one carrying the flag, you’re best bet is to avoid trouble and get back to the nest as soon as possible.
Even if your team mates are complete morons, you’re not without some defense; you can press the circle button to activate a screech shield (totally realistic…) which will give you protection for a limited time. Bear in mind though, enemy players can activate their shield and smash into you and kill you. It’s surprisingly deep and it require some good teamwork, so it’s a shame, then, that there’s no voice-chat functionality. Like, c’mon, wouldn’t it make sense to be able to say to call out to your team where the enemy is? It’d surely add another layer of depth to an already surprisingly good game, but alas, it’s not to be.
I should probably mention something about motion sickness, shouldn’t I? Anyone who has read my previous reviews of certain games for PSVR will know that I’m susceptible to throwing my guys up. Windlands knocked me for six, and DriveClub VR kicked the crap out of me. Eagle Flight? Nothing! I know it might not be the case for everyone, but even swooshing from side to side and up and down, I never even got the tiniest bit sick. Maybe you’ll chunder all over your lap, but for it was a genuine pleasure to be able to take the headset off and not have to mop up my dinner. Bravo, Ubisoft, I’ll give you credit for that.
Eagle Flight is out now for PS4. You can get your copy of the game via the PlayStation Store, or you can go physical with Amazon.
Eagle Flight PS4/PSVR Review
Eagle Flight is a genuinely awesome game, and not just an "experience." A decent story mode with the usual collectibles (oh, Ubisoft, never change, darling) and a multiplayer portion that's proper intense makes this a viable purchase. It might seem a little light on content, but in comparison with similarly priced PSVR games, I can't really complain. With a few updates to add in a bit more content, this one could be flapping its wings for a long time.
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