After releasing on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive last year to huge success, the PSVR community have been hungry for a port. After such a long wait you’d expect the port to at least be thorough. Unfortunately Arizona Sunshine may be the shining example of how not to port to PSVR, showing how a great game can be completely ruined by poor understanding of the hardware it’s on.
Arizona Sunshine’s main problem boils down to the use of the PSVR’s tracking. The game’s core shooting mechanic involves looking down the sights of whatever gun you’re holding. Anyone who has had any experience with the PSVR headset will tell you that it’s main weakness lies in when you hold up the controller to the headset. In doing so, the game gets confused as to which is which, the controller starts jittering and the world glitches out. This problem is so deeply ingrained into Arizona Sunshine’s gameplay that it becomes truly game-breaking. I experimented with all of the different controller settings, played in pitch black darkness and sat in a chair but none alleviated the problem to a manageable level. And in a game which involves head-shotting zombies, often when they are moving around a lot, this problem is unforgivable.
The aiming isn’t the only issue tough. The world is filled with objects which you can pick-up, move around and drop. They serve no real function other than to give the world added detail. Which would be absolutely fine if it didn’t make picking up the things you really need so damn difficult. You see, in order to pick up an object you look at it and press a button. The object then teleports to your hand. Problem is, this is how you holster weapons, change weapons, pick up ammo and throw grenades. This leads to many instances where you will go to change weapon and accidentally pick up a rubber duck, causing you to get killed.
These issues with the porting are made even more disappointing by the fact that this was a really good game on other platforms. There’s a fun, well designed and funny experience buried under the mountain of bugs present in this PlayStation port but it’s so often not worth it to persevere. One level throws you into a pitch dark mine with only a flashlight to light your way. This segment is VR-horror at its very best and only goes to show just how good Arizona Sunshine could be. Unfortunately the aforementioned bugs rear their ugly heads in full force during this section making it a real slog to get through. The checkpoint system too, is brutally unfair, often making you repeat long, drawn out parts where you battle wave after wave of zombies. They’re a lot of fun the first time around, but dying later on and being placed 10 minutes back is a real pain, especially when 9 times out of 10 the death wasn’t your fault.
Weapon variety is a lot of fun with guns ranging from automatics to explosives, all feeling intuitive and hefty. There were a few times in the game where I just flat-out ran out of ammo and with no melee alternative I had to just load up a previous checkpoint. This is poor level design at its very worst and not the only time the game shortchanges the player. During the wave based sections of zombie killing, certain stairways are suddenly made off-limits, often leading to yet another cheap death when you realise you’ve painted yourself into an imaginary corner.
Because of the lack of other non-zombie characters in the game, the dialogue and chit-chat comes from the protagonist. He’s sarcastic, lonely and genuinely funny, breaking up the moments of tension with some much needed comic relief. The environments are a lot of fun too. The juxtaposition of undead face-munchers alongside the sun-bleached desert vibes of Arizona is an absolute delight. The visuals are generally pretty impressive throughout with text and draw distances managing to stay stable and clear.
Arizona Sunshine offers a whole lot of bang for your buck. There’s a several hour long campaign to play through, cooperative play, horde mode and AIM controller functionality. It’s definitely one of PSVR’s meatier experiences so bugs and performance issues aside, players will be happy with the value on offer here.
Allowances must always be made when talking about VR, ones personal set up is a huge factor in the performance of a game so take all of this with a grain of salt. All I can say is that I have never experienced issues to this extent and to which hamper the experience so strongly.
It is with a genuinely heavy heart that I must say that the PSVR port of Arizona Sunshine is absolutely not worth your time, at least not in its current state. What was a great and incredibly fun experience on other devices has been turned into a festering corpse of a game on PSVR. Some of the worst tracking I’ve experienced so far, poor controller options and a near game-breaking level of bugs completely smother what I know to be a very good game indeed. At it’s current price point I would urge you to wait for patches. The developers are being very open about the game needing work (and genuine props to them for doing so) so holding off may be key here.