Farpoint: PS4 VR Review
Studio: SIEA/Impulse Gear
Stranded in space, with only a gun for company on an unknown planet, and creatures out to get you.
It's a familiar sci-fi premise that's as cliched as they come.
But the good news is that Farpoint, using the VR technology and some reasonable pacing, makes the familiar feel fresh.
When it begins, it starts in space, near an anomaly. As the inevitable begins to happen, and the space station The Pilgrim near you starts to be ripped apart by forces unknown from within, you're pulled through.
Stranded on the extra-terrestrial planet, with only hints that your colleagues have survived, it's up to you to fight waves of critters and get to the centre of what's going on and survive at the same time.
In terms of first person shooter, Farpoint works incredibly well with its VR AIM Gun counterpart. It's the first time that the tech has fully aligned with the game's raison d'etre, and it provides a smooth companion to proceedings.
With laser sighting, it really does feel like you have a gun in your arms and are using it to take down the creatures coming toward you. Using the movement stick on the Farpoint gun controller, you get to move forward. But unlike other games of their ilk which induce motion sickness within moments, this smooth flow of play actually works and stops you feeling nauseous. (Though there were a few wobbles when traversing major precipices).
Gun play is very familiar and surprisingly intuitive to anyone who's ever lifted a gun in a game to take down the bad guys.
With secondary weapons, the ability to scan memory fragments left scattered around the planet, and a responsive trigger finger, the VR AIM controller's Farpoint counterpart is nothing short of revolutionary in terms of gameplay.
It feels like a natural extension of a controller and playing either seated or standing, it works well to ensure you can shoot your way out of trouble.
The game operates in a shooting gallery somewhat similar to Until Dawn: Rush of Blood's carnival gameplay. Scuttling creatures and big critters a la Starship Troopers come hurtling toward you, and you have to kill them off. It's a jump scare tenet and it's well-executed, even if occasionally, it does feel a little repetitive.
There's a degree of skill required too, as the gun can overheat leaving you overwhelmed, surrounded and prone to being killed. Bigger boss creatures require a bit more in terms of tactics, but they prove to be easier prey if you're smart enough.
The game itself plays as you'd want - but there have been a few technical snafus that occasionally take you out of the immersiveness of Farpoint, which is a great shame.
A lack of ability to turn around and view behind you without the flashing PS Camera bringing up a grid to show you are out of range is a disappointment; especially when the 3D sound is so clever. There's little point demonstrating enemies are behind when you can't do anything against them.
Some of the more static edges are shown up because of how immersive the game tries to be. Initially, in your spaceship, you're unable to interact with anything around you - which seems odd given how brilliantly visualised it is.
And somehow, you can manage to twist your entire arm around when pointing the VR Aim controller at your face and the game manages to do the impossible and give you 360 degree wrists.
Granted, these are minor niggles in a beautifully realised VR game that really gets the FPS ethos totally right. But they do have a disappointing tendency to remove you from the mindset and paranoia of being trapped potentially alone on another world.
All in all, Farpoint is a great step forward for VR in many ways. Combined with some stronger story-telling elements and a great integration of the gun, it shows that VR is finally moving into territory which feels fresh and exciting, rather than static experiences that force simple interactions.