[I’ve since done a follow-up feature piece on Crisis VRigade on PSVR. You should definitely check it out here.]
Crisis VRigade is Time Crisis in VR. That might sound like an oversimplification, but it’s the honest truth. The developers, Sumalab, spotted a hole in the market and then filled it with a cheap and (kind of) cheerful knock-off. But is it worth your time, effort, and money? That’s up for debate.
As Crisis VRigade is a PSVR game, you’ll need a PSVR headset. This can not be played outside of VR. When it comes to controllers you’ve got options. You can use the DualShock 4 controller, two PS Move wands, or the PSVR Aim controller. I’d recommend leaving the latter, and I’ll explain why later on in this review.
The game is basic and the concept is simple. You’re a SWAT cop, the bad guys are robbing a bank, you need to kill them and save as many hostages as you can. Simple. That’s all there is to it. You point, shoot, move to the next area, point and shoot some more, and so on. As you can imagine, it gets a little repetitive, especially seeing as how you’re bound to die just as much as I did. It’s kind of like a rogue-like, except without the sense of progression and skill building. Death doesn’t mean starting again with any kind of advantage, it means doing the same stuff you’ve already done before.
The game starts out with you taking cover behind a patrol car outside the bank that’s being robbed. I’ve played this scene out around 50-odd times by now – and I’m sick of it. Progression comes via kills. Once you’ve killed all of the bad guys in a given area, you’re moved on to the next. You don’t move yourself, mind you. Instead, the screen turns black for a few seconds and you’re shifted along to the next location. It’s not that bad, but it is a little jarring for someone who is used to running around freely in Firewall Zero Hour.
Some areas end with the choice between going down one route, or following another. Branching paths, if you will. It’s a nice touch and it does add a little replayability to the game, but once you’ve played each area a dozen times it starts to get old and boring very fast. And that will happen. Within an hour I was turning the air blue due to numerous cheap death that threw me back to the game’s sparse main menu. And by sparse I mean that there are only two options. You can either shoot at the ‘Rookie’ mode or at the ‘Hell’ mode. There are no options for audio, video, or any other settings. There’s a leaderboard at the end of each run where you can input your name. Yay? It’s hard to get excited about a leaderboard when it’s offline and only tracks your own scores. Besides that, Rookie mode is ball-achingly difficult and Hell mode can die in a fire.
The gunplay itself is actually pretty good and I like how you’re able to move around a little to take cover. You can step to the side to shield yourself behind walls, or you can crouch down behind cover to save yourself catching a stray bullet in noodle. It’s a nice touch and a taste of roomscale that PCVR get to enjoy with their version of this game, but it’s not 100% compatible with PSVR. Trying to duck into cover often left me unable to use my in-game hands to reload my pistol, and other times it seemed that no matter how low I ducked, I just couldn’t avoid the enemy bullets, resulting in what I feel were cheap and nasty deaths.
As I mentioned earlier, there are three different control schemes for the game. I’ve tried all three and I can say that using two PS Move wands is by far and away the best way to play. There’s the extra work of having to reach down to your belt to grab ammo for your pistol, but I actually like that. Sure it was a little frustrating during firefights, but I appreciated the little detail that had me pulling a clip from my belt, dropping the empty magazine from my pistol, jamming the new clip in, and then cocking the gun to make it ready. What I didn’t like was using the Moves for two-handed weapons, nor did I really enjoy using the PSVR Aim controller.
Killing enemies sometimes rewards you with the ability to pickup a two-handed gun, like a sub-machine gun or an automatic rifle. Crisis VRigade allows you to steady your aim and reduce recoil by having you place your other hand on the barrel of the weapon. That’s a natural fit, fair enough, but more often than not it led to some wonky tracking issues when using the Moves. That being said, it did work very nicely for the pistol, so I eventually avoided getting the gun pickups.
The PSVR Aim controller is another story. Using the PSVR Aim controller your pistol is replaced by a standard rifle that shoots in short bursts. I don’t mind that, but what I do mind is that the firing never felt responsive enough. It was almost as if there was a delay between me pulling the trigger on my gun and the game actioning that command. Plus, aiming down the sights was just yucky. PS Move controllers are the best method of control for Crisis VRigade, without a doubt.
There are some redeeming qualities to Crisis VRigade. As I’ve already mentioned, the actual gameplay is decent and being able to move around a little is a nice change. The graphics are also really clean (on PS4 Pro at least), albeit simple. Like many VR games on PSVR, Crisis VRigade employs low-poly artwork and textures. It works well though and I can’t say that I was ever frustrated by the game’s graphics. Heck, I even had a few giggles when I shot a bank robber wearing what appeared to be a Donald Trump mask and his mask was sent soaring through the air.
However, decent gunplay and graphics aren’t enough in this case. The A.I is basic and once you’ve played a few times you’ll have the enemy locations memorised. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was a longer game. Unfortunately it’s not. The game consists of one level split into different areas. Fair enough, it can (and most likely will) take you hours to reach the end, but when that’s down to cheap deaths and frustrating quasi-roomscale, it’s not really a plus.
Still, for $5.99 it’s worth a punt. There’s no other Time Crisis-like game available so Crisis VRigade is the best there is at the moment, even if that’s only on a technicality.
Crisis VRigade PSVR Review
Overall - Not Bad - 5.5/10
Crisis VRigade could have been so much more if it wasn’t for the few annoying distractions from what is an otherwise decent little arcade shooter.
Gunplay is fun
Decent sound effects
Quasi-roomscale that doesn’t work all the time
Unbearably difficult and unfair, resulting in cheap deaths
Very repetitive with only one scenario to play through
Feels more like a proof of concept than a full game
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
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Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)