Review – Arizona Sunshine
Arizona Sunshine is a story driven zombie survival game that has you play as an unnamed character who awakes in a cave in an Arizona river valley. Within the first few minutes you come across a radio where you hear a faint human voice come through giving directions to a haven for survivors and thus starts your journey. Zombie survival games are hardly anything new, but with the addition of VR, the great mechanics, funny main character voice work and featuring a ton of content, Arizona Sunshine offers a full game experience that has been lacking on PSVR.
Originally released for the Vive and Rift back in December 2016, Arizona Sunshine finally makes it way to PSVR with a few additions in gameplay and an exclusive update to include the PSVR Aim controller. One of the new gameplay updates is the addition of full movement for playing with either the wands or the Aim controller; originally you could only move by warping to locations. Using full movement with the wands works fine, but it is a bit clunky. To walk you have to hold X and you will walk wherever your wand is aiming and then use the square and triangle buttons to turn left and right. They do offer a nice range of turning options for people who are less battle hardened in VR so you can customize the gameplay to make yourself comfortable. However, this awkward movement is alleviated by using the new PSVR Aim controller since it features two full analog sticks for movement and turning.
Like most VR titles the gameplay is what really shines here with motion controls and the first=person immersion. One of the features or, depending on how you look at it, lack of a feature, is the omission of having laser sights attached to every weapon. The majority of VR shooters will have a laser pointer on all weapons to aid in aiming, but Arizona Sunshine forgoes that trope and has the player rely on their own aiming skills. This adds to the immersion and realism of the overall game, and being able to put to test my real life hours at the firing range in a zombie apocalypse was quite nice. The main character is equipped with an ammo belt and holsters for additional guns and grenades. There are 25 unique weapons with the original dual wielding mode that mostly feature pistols, but also a few special weapons like a one-handed shotgun, a couple different Uzi’s and a grenade launcher. The player is able to wield a weapon in each hand and also holster 2 additional weapons in the left and right holster.
Unfortunately the wand tracking is a little shaky and I can’t fully blame the PSVR wands since Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and Farpoint’s tracking was a lot more stable. I’ll chalk this up to a porting problem which will hopefully be fixed with a patch. And this brings us to the other way to play and that is with the PlayStation Aim controller. Vertigo Games added full support and that required them to add an entirely new arsenal of weapons to use. The new weapons are all 2-handed since the PS Aim controller is a 2-handed peripheral which is a nice change of pace, plus being able to freely walk with the use of the two analog sticks makes it feel like a new experience. Unfortunately even the Aim controller suffers from shaky tracking.
Unlike the majority of VR games or “experiences” that tease great immersion and gameplay, but leave you wanting more after it ends in only a couple hours, Arizona Sunshine offers a full story campaign with full co-op, Horde mode with up to 4-players and a few different story mode difficulties. For the hardened players who want to simulate a real life zombie apocalypse, is the Apocalypse mode. This features one-hit kills, no saves, extremely scarce ammo and sections that throw a ton of “Freds” (the name the main character jokingly calls the zombies) at you.
The graphics, like the majority of PSVR titles, are really nothing to look at. Textures are muddy, some items and sign posts never load any textures, and there are jaggies everywhere. But somehow when you’re immersed in it, and again like the majority of VR titles, it doesn’t matter because it is so fun to play. I will say the lighting is well done. The outside areas are bright and vibrant and the cave level is dark and creepy with just a trusty flashlight. The sound design is definitely well done, however. While there are no memorable music tracks throughout the campaign, the sound effects for each weapon, the well done and humorous dialogue from the main character and the high quality zombie growls adds to the immersion nicely.
Arizona Sunshine stands as a quality example of a full game experience in VR. Even if you’re sick of the zombie genre since there is an over-saturation of them in the market, it stands out with offering different gameplay options with VR. It has finally given me the full immersive zombie survival game that I have always wanted and while it isn’t perfect with its shaky aiming and poor graphics, Arizona Sunshine is a must have game for VR owners of any headset.
Reviewed on PSVR.
Arizona Sunshine is available now on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR.