If you are lucky enough to own a PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive, then congratulations. You are what they call an early adopter … or a pioneer if I’m allowed a bit of grandiosity, and it’s my review dammit, so permission granted. Without us degenerates gobbling up each new game and VR experience like a junkie looking to score their next hit, innovations like Virtual Reality would wither and die before they ever got their chance to thrive. Now you could argue that VR may not thrive until the next generation of hardware (and you may be right) but without us early adopters willing to shell out big bucks for expensive systems with few triple A games, the next generation may never come. And while I think the next generation of VR will come and it will be amazing, I think this generation will bring plenty of killer apps too. Is Mortal Blitz one of those “killer” games that promises to move units by the truckload? Eh, no. But it is fun and along with Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, it’s my favorite shooter on the young system.
Before I explain how I feel about the game, let me get into the nuts and bolts of the action. First of all, you can play the game sitting down or standing, but I highly suggest the latter. I found myself moving as much as three feet to my left or right to hide behind a virtual wall or dropping completely to my knees to duck under virtual boxes, before the bad guys would blow said boxes to smithereens. Although, it would be irresponsible of me not to mention that you’ll want to clear out plenty of playing space or suffer the same fate as me. Remember, the boxes and the walls are not real. If you lean on them, you will fall over your coffee table, knock your laptop to the floor, and fall into your wife’s lap while she insincerely asks if you’re okay through bales of laughter. The fact that nobody caught that little trip on video is a shame, although it did give me the opportunity to use hematoma in a sentence, so it wasn’t all in vain. In this regard, playing from the seated position would probably be safer, and the ducking and dodging from this position did work pretty well, but it left some of the hiding places out of reach—plus it didn’t offer the same level of immersion.
I do occasionally suffer motion sickness while playing in virtual reality (I still can’t get through a single race on Dirt VR) but I played hours at a time in Mortal Blitz, and my cookies never once threatened to hit the eject button. Due to the limitations of the Move controllers, the game uses teleportation to advance through the levels, which virtually eliminates any potential VR induced nausea. Although I much prefer being able to move on my own (I can’t freaking wait for Farpoint and the Aim controller!), I’ll admit that the system worked pretty well.
Limitations aside, the twin Move controller tracking worked almost flawlessly, even when I dropped to my knees or stepped two or three feet in either direction. It never ceased to please me when I blind fired from my knees over the top of cover, relatively safe from return fire. This worked surprisingly well. Besides ducking, leaning and shooting, you’ll have fun using the oddly titled Groggy System. In this, you’ll press either the circle or square button on one of your move controllers and you’ll instantly put that corresponding handgun away. With your gun holstered, you’ll be able to fire what looks like a laser leash from your hand that will pull a stunned enemy into the air towards you as the game goes into slow-motion. While the enemy pinwheels slowly through the air, you pump it full of lead to load up on health and extra points. Once you become adept at the Groggy System, it becomes a fun and useful technique to slow down the action, allowing you to pepper live enemies with one pistol, while finishing off the poor, stunned bastards as they floats towards their Groggy deaths. This laser leash deals no damage, but along with slowing time, it can also be used to pick up items that you can hurl at your victims, including the grenades they toss at you. This isn’t the first game that allows you to toss back your enemy’s own grenades, but I found reaching out my bare hand towards a live grenade, sucking it up with my trusty laser leash and tossing it back towards the bad guys especially rewarding. The Bulletstorm comparison is obvious, but honestly, I felt a bit like Luke grasping his lightsaber from across the room. Needless to say, it’s cool.
But there are always two sides to a story and second side of Mortal Blitz’s story is not so good. Speaking of story, the game has one, or so I’m told. I’ve played through the five missions multiple times and I couldn’t tell you what the story is. I can tell you that you have two partners-in-crime. One of them is a cartoonishly huge meathead named Max, because calling him Rex would have been stupid, and the other is a nearly naked, large breasted female with an emo haircut from the late 90’s. I didn’t catch her name, so let’s call her … Rachel. They spout off clichéd one-liners like: “Appearances can be deceiving, Max,” or “It’s time for us to settle the score!” The voice acting, like the dialogue, is largely weak and the animations aren’t much better but the Unreal Engine 4 looks pretty good compared to most VR titles currently available.
The varied guns you stumble upon sound and feel okay, if a little weak, but the ambient sounds of the game are not as tight. Your two companions, Max and the missing vampire from Twilight, stomp around the mission room like they are trying to kill cockroaches with each step, and when there are multiple enemies on-screen (most of the time), it can be hard to differentiate where the fire is coming from. When an enemy would sneak up next to me or shoot me through a side window, I usually didn’t know where the fire was coming from until it was too late. Triple A shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield have mastered that aspect in the first person perspective, and I found it noticeably missing from Mortal Blitz.
The enemies in the game are mostly stupid, simply running into a room, picking a spot and firing until you or it dies. There is a winged demon from the promo photos that darts through the air attempting to dodge your fire, but those attempts are mostly feeble and between your twin blasters and the Groggy System laser leash, it doesn’t take long to clear out a room. The lack of unique enemies (only four or five different bad guys) and the generic set-pieces including a moving train and a string of futuristic corridors that we’ve all seen a million times before, are only made bearable due to the game’s short running time of only an hour or two. After completing the five missions, you unlock increased difficulties and there is also a gun-range type training mode with 50 increasingly tough levels if hunting trophies is your game. Skonec Entertainment also suggests that this is merely episode 1 and more missions are coming. Release dates and price points are not known at this time.
These quibbles aside, the game’s backbone—namely shooting things and ducking for cover—work surprisingly well, and in the end, I had plenty of good, sweaty fun with my time inside the game’s (dated) world. Mortal Blitz VR is short, but if you enjoy shooters as I do, then I think it’s worth your time and your twenty bucks.
Mortal Blitz PS4/PSVR Review
Mortal Blitz VR has enough shortcomings to fill a virtual swimming pool, but the shooting and ducking for cover work so well--not to mention the lack of other quality PSVR shooters--that it nearly makes this a must buy.
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