Special Delivery (PSVR) is all about avoiding Death

First thing: Ask yourself; “Did I play this game without the PS Aim controller?” If the answer is “Yes. I played this game without the PS Aim controller.”, then either play it with the PS Aim controller or kill yourself.

Having said that, I wish to make it absolutely crystal clear that this game should only be played with the PS Aim controller until something can be done to improve the throwing arc linked to the Dualshock 4 controller, which is absolute garbage.

Second thing: There need to be some sort of accessibility controls to move using the control sticks instead of leaning to one side or the other.

Now that I’ve gotten the prerequisites out of the way..

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Welcome to Special Delivery (Stealth Paper Boy VR), an arcade style game where you play as a newspaper delivery-person with short hair and a baseball cap.  The goal is to deliver your stash of papers to all the subscribers before you die.

Look, we can pretend that getting hit by a car or sucked up into a tornado is all fun and games but we need to be honest… you’re dodging death at every turn on your paper run. A stray dog starts chasing you as a rogue protester forces you to detour in the path of a tornado as a building collapses.  That’s when you see it… Death, complete with scythe and hoodie.  Death is on your ass Paper-kid. DEATH IS ON YOUR ASS!

Avoiding getting killed is a little difficult.  I recommend going slow.  Ride the brake and stick to the sidewalk.  You will die.  OH YES! YOU WILL DIE! Touching anything, kills you (except picking up newspapers) so avoid touching anything.  OH, did you hit that fire hydrant? Well don’t let the water touch you because you will die.  It is difficult staying alive.

If you manage to avoid the obstacles and deliver enough papers the first week, your reward is a ridiculously hard “boss battle” and a route expansion for another week with more death chasing your ass!

The key, is getting good enough to survive long enough to deliver enough papers.  The key to getting good is the PS Aim controller which allows for more control.  Do you have the PS Aim controller and need another game to use it on now that you’re done with Farpoint? I can recommend that you give this a shot.  $9.99 is definitely a fair price if you’re willing to put in enough effort needed to develop the basic skills needed to complete each level.

Yes the game is tough but it is rewarding.  Cheating Death always is.

J

Farpoint/PS Aim Controller Review

Farpoint is half a game at the maximum length. So short that I was going to simply write my first impressions of the game but I said “Meh, let’s see what happens next.” *Roll credits.* “And I’m done here.”

I’d argue that Rush of Blood would take around the same amount of time to complete and that game is on rails.  What I’m trying to say is that Farpoint is short.  Really… short.  8 levels, I think? The first one is mostly orientation/tutorial/introductory stuff, the next are pretty easy as you get used to the freedom of movement. Then around level 5 or 6, that is as difficult as the game will get and either you’re crushing it or you’re moving through at a reasonable pace.  The levels are not very big but they are designed well enough that the action doesn’t feel too claustrophobic or expansive.  The whole thing is simply over before it can even get going.

By the way, I think this game is fantastic but… moving on.

The plot revolves around two plucky young explorers named Eva Tyson and Grant Moon. (I think those are the names.) These two are on a space expedition when of course, shit hits the fan. I must note the exceptional voice work of Laura Bailey who crushes every single scene she is in.  Her character alone is the only reason I cared about anything going on anywhere at any time.  Grant Moon is a wimp that couldn’t learn how to fire a gun so Eva could rest her legs ONE TIME? — Anyways, chivalry is dead and Grant Moon is a dick.   Where was I?

Eva and Grant are sucked up through a wormhole and moments later, you are too.  The rest of the game is about finding these two.  As you make your way through the alien landscape, you will come across holograms you scan to advance the plot and with them comes Laura Bailey and her excellent voice work.  However, every scan is little more than “Here’s debris. I’ll keep following it.”  After some levels, you’re treated with an actual cut-scene where you remain static in the environment and you watch it play out. During these scenes, spoiling nothing, it is important to pay attention to time.  Then two levels later, the game is over.  Right at the moment where the game’s story turns into one worth telling, the game just ends with two major cliffhangers that could easily be tied up with one additional level or another few to make the game longer and FINALLY have compelling storytelling.  I guess they are saving it for the sequel but (and I am definitely not a developer) make it twice as long, guys.

To make matters worse, you are introduced to a third character you know you’ll probably meet, and when you do, she’s a … brat. She’s just so… rude! I know it is just a character but without the player character she cannot achieve her goal so it is just absolutely ridiculous she’d be such a … brat! That’s all I can really say without spoiling anything.

OK, so the game is short and the plot is just slow exposition until a double cliffhanger explodes your face. What makes it fantastic.

Shooting stuff.

Without VR. This game is an extended tech demo from 2006. As a shooter it could not hold up to anything without VR.  The firefights in VR change the entire experience.  Having the feeling of being in the middle of a battle and mimicking the gestures required to survive give you a completely newfound set of feelings of accomplishment.  The new set of battlefield awareness needed in an exchange is fulfilling when executed properly.   For the most part, enemies will spawn in front of you and advance towards you. In those instances, it is better to pick your shots and pick off small fast enemies first and work up to the larger ones.  However, though some of the sheer chaos that can happen, you may find enemies above, in front and beside you all at the same time. Without VR, that situation would take a bunch of fancy thumbstick maneuvering to navigate but with VR and the PS Aim controller you have just over 180 degrees of rotation to gesture towards within moments.

There are five weapons; an assault rifle, shotgun, precision rifle, plasma rifle and spike launcher.  You can only carry two at a time and you will only come across weapons randomly so make sure you like a weapon before you swap one out.  All but one weapon has a secondary function. The assault rifle fires homing rockets locked on to your laser.  The shotgun fires grenades.  The plasma rifle as an energy shield and the spike launcher can detonate embedded spikes.  The real genius of the secondary fire button is that it is located below the scan button so be careful of which one you hit inside and outside of battle. You’re not trying to scan your enemies or blow up holograms.

This game is a lot of fun as a pack-in to the PS Aim controller. Marketing Farpoint as a full on game is almost misleading. It is a great title to pack-in with a new peripheral.  Calling it a Triple-A title suggests VR games need to be shorter, easier and involve less production value than something like Borderlands or FarCry when they don’t.  *Cough*Resident Evil 7*Cough* (Side note: Resident Evil 7 needs PS Aim support NOW)

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The PS Aim controller is great.  It is light without feeling cheap or awkward in my hands.  Every button on the controller except the PS and R1 buttons are intuitive and easy to find when I am wearing the PSVR headset.  The R2 trigger provides enough resistance so you wont accidentally pull the trigger but not too much that it takes any more effort than pressing a button. What was excellent was the fact that Farpoint knew where the gun was in the space so I could do things like hold it outstretched around a (virtual) corner or over a (virtual) rock and hit my target.  It was a completely rewarding blindfire experience.

I definitely enjoyed my time with this game despite any shortcomings and hope to see a broader,  larger scoped sequel with twice as much shooting and deeper storytelling.  I would definitely recommend this to anybody who likes arcade shooters or anybody who is sick of saving damsels in distress.
Metrics:
3.5 Supernova-Wormholes out of 5
1 and a half thumbs up your pooper.
7/10
The Jaded Gamer
Farpoint (2017)
Deveoloper: Impulse Gear

Bad Man in the Wildlands

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is awesome.  It is obviously not perfect but the imperfections that exist DO NOT make it a bad game.  This isn’t a review, more a question of criticism about a decent game.

For instance, there is a great amount of repetition in this game.  I’d imagine a certain amount of boredom could set in as it could with any other repetitive task, but I’d argue that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands has a need to have a repetitive nature for the player to experiment with.  Wildlands is the most annoying or frustrating when things go south.  The problem with the situation going bad is that it depends on my actions. Was I spotted? Was I heard? Did a patrol see a body? Is it worth me waiting out these reinforcements?  There are a lot of ways a mission can go wrong after going completely smooth.  The idea of repeating a task allows you to get better at it.

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Province after I nearly cleared it out… apparently.

Some tasks are fun. The game has side-missions that double as cover for gathering large amounts of resources or unlocking back-up from the Rebels.  Two of these repetitive tasks are “Steal the plane” and “Steal the Helicopter”.  Doing these missions requires you to do nothing more than steal the aircraft.  You could do it the exact same way every time but is that way the most effective?  I enjoy those side missions the most because every escape makes me James Bond.

The game does it’s best to mix it up but generally, every single mission is “go here, do this thing.” and it is dependent on the player to have fun within the parameters set. The games is just a sandbox.  You can’t say “This sandbox sucks” if you’re the uncreative bucketless bastard that doesn’t know how to build a castle.  I’m not defending this game because this is the best creative box of sand ever.  I’m defending it because there are too many bucketless bastards criticizing it.

Simply put, this game’s lack of creativity is on the player’s lack of imagination. Every mission is a puzzle with many answers.  One answer that will always work: kill everybody.  The game is the LEAST amount of fun when you succumb to base instinct, scorch the Earth, reset and go that route.  The most fun you will ever have is trying to do each mission without killing anybody or with the least amount of casualties.

One mission directing me to extract a target alive, required me to do it during a rainy sunrise. The darkness and rain made it harder to be spotted, so using this to my advantage, I advanced close enough to take out a sniper and hop over a wall. Staying quiet, I continue to move closer to the warehouse where the target is and approach him from behind. I swiftly grab him, stuff him in a cartel car and escape unseen.  One of the most satisfying executions of a mission, ever.  I made it look so easy.  Rather than even shooting AT an enemy, why not shoot near one to lure a whole bunch of enemies to the source of the shot? That action might empty out the area you need to investigate.  Diversion is just as effective a tactic as extermination.

The topography is beautiful and the environment is a combat tool as much as it is a breathtaking location. Every province has its own subtleties as well as a large amount of content to consume.  This is another thing that confuses me.  I completely understand that this isn’t the traditional “Ghost Recon” game.  But those games were 13-15ish missions and then “Roll credits.” I’m not sure how many Story Missions there are but it is more than 15. Then there are dozens of side missions and dozens more “instant missions” that pop up when you need to acquire a collectible or piece of weaponry.  Doing anything becomes a mission.

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In order to acquire new weapons or enhance them, you will need to collect the weapon or the part for it. Doing this is busywork I found enjoyable.  It lead to a sort of weird lottery I would unlock every time I went to a new province.  If a province had a weapon or upgrade of interest, it would be the first thing I would attempt to do upon discovery.  Enhancing my rifle became a lot more fun after I got used to using it. Wildlands makes me never want to give up a gun I’m used to using as much as it makes me want to find a better weapon, then make sure I have the upgrades to suit my tastes.

The story gets criticism because it doesn’t attempt to say anything substantial about geo-politics.  Oh No. A game didn’t have a message or an ideology attached to it. Shame.  Look. You’re in Bolivia taking down a drug cartel ran by a dude named El Sueno.  There are four underbosses and 4-5 bosses below them overseeing a province each, which means that there are at least 16 provinces. Plus 3 or 4 provinces without a boss overseeing it that have a bunch of side quests. There is A LOT of game here and you’re free, at any time, to start whipping through it when you start getting bored. You’re in Bolivia baby and the US government won’t officially acknowledge your presence.  That’s all you need to know. You’re playing a video game.  Follow orders and get to shootin’ soldier.   Quit overthinkin’ shit.

The Jaded Gamer

Loading Human: Chapter 1 (PSVR) – Impressions

I don’t know if I can review this adequately because I’m not entirely sure I know what the fuck just happened.  I know I enjoyed it. Before I begin. I don’t know what spoilers are so this piece of writing may or may not be full of them so … take the condom off and see if you get a rash….

Let’s go through the things I didn’t really like first.

The controls.

Navigating though the environment in VR is not annoying enough to ruin the game but just enough to make you exclaim “ugh!” every ten minutes or so.  Sometimes you think you have a grasp on it enough for it to be tolerable but you’ll have to do something you’ve done before and spend a moment too long trying to position yourself properly to do anything.   The controls work fine when trying to manipulate objects, but when moving though the space, things become tedious.

Objects and immersion.

There are a lot of objects you can manipulate in the game.  There are some objects that have purposes but most are items that have no purpose.  There are so many objects that you become numb to them because most of them do nothing. Normally I wouldn’t have a large problem with this but there are also a lot of objects you cannot interact with at all.  The immersion is confusing.  Does this object do nothing because I can’t use it … yet… or does it always do nothing.  It is a tough call when it comes to letting the player interact with objects but more objects in the game need to have a function or allow interaction because I skipped a lot of things that just didn’t seem interesting or relevant.

And now the rest…

Graphics

The PSVR sacrifices graphics a little bit for the VR function and even considering that, the graphics here suffer from being just a little blurry or pixelated unless you’re up fairly close which is a shame because most of the animations are smooth and manipulating objects with motion control is pretty easy so more could be done with the minutiae of what the graphics can accomplish.  Reading the ingredients off a piece of paper and preparing a meal would’ve been a lot more satisfying than what they have you actually do which is literally nothing more than you’d do in a standard game. Press the win button.  But it’s VR. I could’ve assembled the dinner. Poured the wine and balanced it all on a tray and brought it to the date.

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However, I’d fault this game for not having faith in the graphics, not utilizing what could be done and not putting more on the screen. As I mentioned earlier, there are objects that do nothing.  One object is a telescope. Out of all the useless objects that do nothing, I’d expect a telescope to do something titillating in virtual reality. Instead we’re treated with clear rendered labels on food products, boxes, record labels, books and signs but blurry pixelated sprites on objects in the near distance.

VR Stuff

There is a gym in the game that has actual “games” to play.  Those are the only things in Loading Human that require any sort of physical skill.  The rest of the game is button pressing except it is your hand in the space.  The game is more fun when you don’t think about the times you’re actually simply pressing “A” or “X” to accomplish a task… which is easy to forget because you’re physically turning a knob or opening a drawer.  There are only two times in the game I can remember thinking that the use of VR enhanced the experience.  One of which had me input a code at a computer while I had a password in my off-hand. Holding the answer in one hand and typing with the other was way better than trying to commit the solution to memory.  There wasn’t enough of that in the game.  A lot of this game could be accomplished outside of VR with the controller to the same effect.

The Plot

If I told you that this game was about the protagonist going on an interstellar mission lasting half a generation to obtain the missing link for immortality, I’d be correct… I think.  But if I also said it is about the relationship between Prometheus and Alice, I’d also be correct. The problem is, as far as Chapter 1 is concerned, it doesn’t explain enough of one and it rushes you through the other. Meet Alice…

She is your love interest and you will “develop complex relationships, solve dilemmas and fall in love” with her according to the back of the box.  As far as I can tell, this is a lie.  I don’t know how complex this relationship is. Kiss her, do what she asks, nail the date, then her. Boom! But she seems to be what the game is about.  Falling in love with her isn’t optional. Maybe how deeply she loves you or you/her  but two thirds of the game is dedicated to interacting with her… which is better than the only other humanoid you interact with.  I’ll leave that for you to discover.

I did enjoy this game in the same way I enjoyed a satisfactory episode from Telltale games. I am hoping that this game simply served as a tutorial for ideas that will be displayed in the future.  This game lets you interact with a lot of things and I hope Chapter two aims to allow the player to do more things with that interactivity.  Alice is a likable character and when she smiles (you will remember her smile too) you just might smile too.

Finally.  This game is too expensive considering the length and content.  It should be priced competitively with Batman Arkham VR given it’s length and content.  Should Chapter 2 have more content, I would not have a problem with its price.  You will get more time out of other VR games.  Loading Human: Chapter 1 will probably only sit in your PS4 for one or two playthroughs and that is it. There is, of course, every chance this franchise becomes a cult classic and people live, eat and breathe this game.

I liked it… but it isn’t without its faults.

Which.. might ruin your experience.

PS. Since a lot of people already asked me, this title doesn’t have a platinum trophy. (Which I think is a tad silly given the price and why I suggested it be priced closer to Arkham VR)