Reviews PlayStation

Farpoint + PlayStation VR Aim Controller Review

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For everything PS VR does right, so far it has not been able to move away from its arcade-like experience. Up to now, games have not managed to touch the more hardcore audiences, and you either get titles that come across like tech demos, or titles that put you in a track-like position with very little control over your character. All we have wanted since launch is a hardcore shooter that lets us take control of a character in a world worth exploring, and gives us full control over a weapon. Farpoint is the closest we have got to that wish, and while it is not perfect, it managed to take me on a 7-hour journey was both action-packed, and told a great story of survival and discovery. The PlayStation Aim Controller that replicates a gun mould by requiring both hands to hold it, came with the game, and it was a perfect fit. I could not envision the game without it, to be honest. 

After a routine check-up goes wrong on the Pilgrim, a space station located in the Milky Way, the crew are teleported through a wormhole to a distant galaxy and crash land on a barren wasteland of a planet. You now need to find your crew mates and try and escape the deadly rock. Like all things in space, it would not be complete without a deadly alien threat of some sort and in Farpoint, these aliens take the form of different creatures. As you progress the game different scenarios present you in the form of each enemy type. The earlier enemies are spider-like creatures who love nothing more launch themselves at your face and ram your body into a rock, while the later enemies pose a bigger threat with the ability to shoot and even one-shot kill you - not fun Juggernauts  

*note: Some of the screenshots in this review are based on the spectator view and does not fully represent the game's visual fidelity.*

A new type of VR game

These difficulty spikes challenge you to play better and just when you think the game has reached a steady pace, a new enemy presents itself and you must take a new strategy. While this may seem rather boring for anyone who has played any other FPS before in the last decade, somehow it works in Farpoint as the formula is so unique given that it is a VR game. Yes, Farpoint would make a terrible standard game, but its combat and mechanics push the limit when it comes to what the body can withstand in VR. Believe it or not, but I seldom felt sick at all playing the game. I did, however, practice before the launch and built up some resistance to the motion sickness.

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Things like enemies not spawning behind you and the speed of each one have been carefully discussed to consider that you are wearing a VR headset. There was never a moment where the combat felt impossible, and when a spider freak jumped behind me, I could easy turn around and shoot it. The game’s overall experience is next to flawless bar the odd viewing angle issue here and there when you move around too much. I for one stood up and played the game as it just made more sense. Standing up gives you the ability to crouch, or more like squat to duck behind cover. This all depends on the controller you are using, as the PS VR Aim Controller was a different story when compared to the DualShock 4. The Aim Controller lets you get into the action more with the ability to blind fire and push your luck, while the DualShock 4, given that it is not being tracked as well as the Aim Controller, lacks the feature.

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Shooting is as easy as you think it is the Aim Controller, you just point and shoot. The precision and immersion of the controller are unlike anything I have ever experienced before. When I rotated the controller sideward the gun moved in the same position.  Holding the gun close to my chest while walking through a cave replicated that same movement in the game. It was like the gun became part of who I was, and it was just like the movies say, “this is my rifle, there are many like them but this one is mine”. I felt that I knew my gun, and aiming down my sites by pulling it close to my face was the exact same feeling as it was when I go to play paintball. The only difference here is that I was on a dead rock compared to some field in the middle of Boksburg.

Pew pew pew

The variety of guns in the game are lacking to a certain extent but overall each one came in handy when I needed them the most. The Assault Rifle never runs out of ammo but overheats and can shoot a missile which you can control by aiming at ab object. The Shotgun is a short-ranged power gun that launches grenades and can decimate enemies in seconds, the only thing is that you need to reload it. There is also a Sniper Rifle which came in handy in the later parts of the game when you could abuse your distance and take enemies out from afar. Each gun works perfectly with the Aim Controller and comes to life when holding it in your hands. Sure, you might need to run and pick up rockets and grenades to give your guns that extra kick, but the standard fire mode works just as well when you are in a pickle.

The only things I wished the combat had more of, was different ways to kill specific enemies. After a while, it becomes a case of “point and shoot”, without any real diversity in enemy behaviour. Sure the aliens are fast, and the spider freaks are small and run around you and leap at your face, but there was no real challenge to each enemy. Even the Juggernauts lose armour as you shoot them, but the damage seems to be equal across their machine body whether or not you shoot the now bare area. 

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Every new area was a spectacle of standing and looking at. Sure, most of the game is made up of rocky areas with very little to do and see, but somehow Impulse Gear has brought the strange planet to life with the little attention to detail like the wind howling in the distance, and small rocks tumbling off the surfaces on the wall. Later on, in the game, you encounter even more breath-taking scenes especially when it comes to the boss fights. However barren the planet is, somehow it looks great, again probably because this is a VR experience compared to looking at a dull landscape on a TV. There is not much to do while you are not shooting enemies, no collectables to find, or anything remotely entertaining on the side.

Every now and then you will find a hologram to scan which will reveal more about your fellow Pilgrim team as they journey through the planet looking for a way off, but that is it. Even though the game is meant to give you freedom from the typical track-based gameplay, it is pretty linear to a certain extent.

Everything in Farpoint pushes the limit to what we are used to in VR. Combat and shooting have levelled up to a more hardcore rank, and I loved every minute of the campaign. There is no doubt that this is the best shooting experience on PS VR, and the Aim Controller makes it even better. 

PS VR Aim Controller

When looking at the PS VR Aim Controller, you are looking at another R700 for the bundled Farpoint game plus the controller. In the long run, it might be a better investment to get both, as the game has been made for it. There are also a couple of other games that support the controller, with more to come in the future. The Aim Controller is a premium-built device, and you can feel it in your hands. The light globe is attached to it, and it does not require any sort of accessory to work. The controller is light, with the analogues positioned where your thumbs would be. The typical buttons are also positioned around each analogue stick, so you can press them when need be. It is also important to note that the controller supports both left and right-handed gameplay thanks to the positioning of the R2 button on both sides of the device. 

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With a 7-hour battery life, the control took me right through Farpoint before needing a recharge. Its haptic feedback adds dimension to your shots, giving you a feeling that you are firing something. Sure, there is no huge kickback when shooting the gun as you would find in a shotgun, but it works extremely well in every scenario. Rotating the controller gives you a full view of the gun in the game, and it is the little details like that, which pull you further into the experience.

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While it costs a little extra, I highly suggest you look into getting the game and the controller bundled in one. Sure it is a risky investment not knowing what titles could support the gun in the future, but for Farpoint, it is a match made in heaven. The game just works perfectly with it. 

Farpoint is an epic experience that pushes the VR boundaries into a new type of game. Gone are those tech demos, and welcome to the future of VR games where breaking a sweat due to ducking and diving is a thing. Bundled with the VR Aim Controller, made me feel like a badass veteran, and I even looked awesome from the outside. 

Take a look as some of the gameplay from the first boss fight below.

Available On: PS4 (PS VR) | Reviewed on: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 16 May 2017

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"Everything in Farpoint pushes the limit to what we are used to in VR"

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