Published on January 2nd, 2017 | by Edwin Millheim
Arizona Sunshine Review
Summary: Arizona Sunshine is a short game that leaves you wanting oh so much more. Worth the ticket to ride, and OH what a ride.
Zombies and guns in VR!
Arizona Sunshine dives into the Zombie realm of gaming and offers a first person shooter experience for Virtual Reality that pulls you in and keeps you there with a stupid grin on your face. Our hero is never named… and we start off already in full blown Zombie Apocalypse and through our travels we catch a radio broadcast which gives us hope of other survivors. So the game is spent on two goals from that point on, survival and find the source of the transmissions.
First off, the developers for Arizona Sunshine have addressed the hot button of movement and Virtual Reality Motion sickness by opting for the point and teleport to indicated positions in the environment. This of course eases off on the VR sickness that can occur in many of the VR games. That’s also why if you are prone to motion sickness… check the comfort level that many VR developers have adopted to advise a consumer what they may be in for.
While there seems to be a divide amongst players that would rather have full freedom of movement as opposed to the point and transport system, I find them both to be enjoyable and Arizona Sunshine utilizes its chosen game play movement well. Movement this way is especially well done with the Oculus touch controllers.
Once you get used to the movement, players will find when using the controls to point out where you want to move to, you can tweak your facing position on the move by rotating the thumb button and pointing the arrow icon what direction you want to be facing. This is a good compromise between game play and over all avoiding the dreaded VR motion sickness.
As the player moves to the new point indicated, the screen ever so quickly goes black for a split second and you rare there. You almost don’t even notice it going dark. Unlike a few other games with free movement, I played almost nonstop all the way through Arizona Sunshine and got zero motion sickness.
While this type of movement is all fine and well, it can get a little iffy at times when the player feels like they are in a tight spot and no way to move and or circle in on coming waves of the undead. But it is manageable and most of all… fun. One just has to know the limits and abilities of the movement controls and take a fast look at the environment in order to get into a better tactical and defendable position when herds of zombies come at you.
Using curves in areas or stone formations in conjunction with something at your back can help you survive when it really hits the fan and a bunch of the flesh eating Freds come your way. (Fred is what our hero in Arizona Sunshine calls the Zombies) Think about getting them in a bottle neck so they are manageable.
The game on Oculus Rift using the Oculus Touch Controllers are just a joy. The controllers are designed in such a way that when your virtual self is holding a weapon, you feel like you are holding a weapon. There was more than one moment when I went all John Woo in my gun stances and postures just for the sheer unreal entertainment of it. Sure I would not use the kind of stances and pistol tactics in the real world, but being a virtual zombie shooting world… I had a blast. (Pun Intended)
There are several different types of weapons and the weapon models looks absolutely beautiful. Throughout the game you do get to find a sniper rifle or two, and players have the option of leaving it propped on the sand bags to fire from, or picking it up two handed and trying it out. I tried both of course with mixed results. I of course had better accuracy with it propped on the sandbags. It was an interesting experience knowing how it should feel, and not feeling it in my hands.
It was perhaps the only weapon in the game I felt detached from, even with the nifty Oculus Controllers. NOW I am a fan of the old west, so when I found a couple of old western style revolvers… of course I took two of them. There are some compromises on reloads, pressing a button expels an empty clip or opens your revolver and just moving the weapon near your ammo belt puts in a fresh clip or ammo supply.
And so it goes with grenades as well. These are great when you feel you are getting over whelmed. A press of a button pulls the pin and then you literally throw the grenade. Took me a few tries to get the hang of it and not throw it just a mere few feet from myself and thus blowing myself up. Also manipulating objects in the game using the controllers felt so natural. From searching vehicles and drawers for ammo and other items like grenades and picking them up. Once you find ammo or grenades you can attach them to your ammo belt or bandolier at your chest. Pretty awesome.
Though it felt rather odd that things I was able to pick up, I could not use to whack any zombies with. I thought a shovel was a nice weapon, but trying to use it resulted in just going through the zombie and it killing my character. So why be able to pick up something that you cannot use? Or was this just an odd glitch? Sure some players may find it monotonous to have to pick up each and every item and maybe wishing for the option to just take ALL items in one press of a button would have been nice a choice but alas it was not to be.
The argument can be said that when every second counts you do not want to be fumbling around in an ammunition crate for more ammo. However I for one like the added tension this creates. There’s also an OH CRAP moment when your weapon clicks on an empty chamber and you have to grab more clips out of a drawer or something. Let me tell you, there is nothing more invigoratingly satisfying than just barely getting a weapon loaded and a shot off when a zombie is right in your face.
A blast of chill shot through my body with an adrenaline spike when it happened. I immediately went into an actual pistol technique called the Speed Rock. With a free hand I tried to shove the zombie back and leaned back with my upper torso and fired with my right hand gun close to my body. The two shots of course destroyed the zombies’ cranium and saved my virtual self. Granted of course my automatic response of shoving the zombie did not work, because the game does not register your virtual hand contact on a zombie. But of course the rest of the technique worked as it is designed. One put down zombie.
The designers did not design any cheap scares into the game on purpose, no in fact any that do happen are products of a natural occurrence in the game. Of course any instance may be different for different people. Some may not feel anything at all. The thrill moments are there though.
Manipulation of things using the Oculus Rift Controllers in Arizona Sunshine is pretty cool, you can fling a gate car door or trunk of a car or door opening it fast or slowly open it to peek inside.
Here is a cautionary note in regards to VR gaming and feeling in the moment and like YOU ARE THERE. There was a point that I was sure a Zombie would be in a military like vehicle, and that when I got the door open it would lunge out at me. Well I leaned and grabbed the virtual door and started to open it slowly… using my other hand with the gun to cover the opening… ready to shoot anything that came out. Well… I leaned too far and started to fall. Let me tell you something… a virtual door will NOT catch your fall if it is not really there. DOWN I went. Laughing very hard at my obvious getting to into the game.
But I did survive my embarrassing fall. Word to the wise, be careful playing.
In terms of graphics, the areas and scenery mostly are of desert, rock formations and canyons which can be a bit bland. Though the varied locations from cave systems and mining areas, to abandoned housing and even a train yard all add to the thrilling fun of taking on the zombies and getting yourself through to the next sequence. The atmosphere is ramped up in some parts of the game when you find yourself in a cave system with a flash light in one hand and a weapon in the other…. trying to make your way through the gloom and pitch black. You can also hear the dead mournfully moaning and moving and like any cave system, the sounds can play tricks on you. Are you right next to something that is going to take a bight out of you or not?
Also, Arizona Sunshine designers also have odd face masks and various head gear throughout the game. Thus far I could not tell if these face masks offered any kind of bonus or not, or just at this point an added oddity for your character.
As I said, Arizona Sunshine has some fairly interesting locations and scenery which does not get to boring, because you just never know if something is going to come crawling out of a crevice or what. Now like most games, you have to pretty much get from one point to another and the really good games give a great illusion of choice. Arizona Sunshine keeps up with a heard the player in a certain direction kind of play, though it’s by way of obstacles and natural formations of rock mostly. At least you know which way to go.
Now to the obvious question. Zombies…how do they look are they awesome? Yes, the models of Zombies they have look pretty brilliant. I would say they could do with a few more Zombie model types to avoid too much repetition of character models. Tactical wise, players in Arizona Sunshine will find a few curves thrown their way. Sometimes you can encounter a Zombie that has a motor bike helmet on, giving it some armor up top or, a military zombie that that seem to have body armor. So you may expend a few more bullets to bring them down. Then there are some Zombies that seem to have some natural armor by way of hard fungus growths andtThese type really do take more than one bullet to kill.
Oh don’t think you can get off that easy, some Zombies get their legs blown off and they actually crawl after you. Talk about creepy.
In the end Arizona Sunshine is a good start to the VR realm… we can only hope that this is the start of some kind of ongoing franchise, because to me the game was a little on the short side. It’s a A hell of a nice thrill ride, but oh so short and if the designers’ goal was leaving us wanting more… then they did it.
Please Vertigo Games, may we have some more?
Have fun, play games.
Edwin Millheim Impulse Gamer
Title: Arizona Sunshine
Developer: Vertigo Games, Jaywalkers Interactive
Publisher: Vertigo Games
Format: PC Oculus Rift Virtual Reality