We don’t hear anything from the ex-Burnout team for ages then we get two games in a year. First the daft but addictive Dangerous Golf, and now a fast paced shooting range simulator for Vive and PSVR. Given the pedigree of the studio who once produced the greatest FPS on PS2 with Black (at least in my opinion) we shouldn’t be too surprised that they’re capable of producing a decent shooting game. That said, does it manage to keep the action coming thick and fast in a VR environment?
There are a number of genres that shouldn’t really work as a game and a shooting gallery in a traditional console environment is one of them. Dragging a cursor around the screen to pop up targets that are only there just long enough to get one snap shot off is novel but not really all that much fun. Drop the game into a VR environment though and thrust motion controllers in your hands… it’s a totally different proposition. Aiming, moving and squeezing the trigger in an immersive virtual range stops being a chore and starts being a natural and intuitive experience. Of course, you could just do this in real life if it’s possible in your country of residence, though for most of us this is as close as we can get to a wanton waste of ammo.
Starting off basic with one handgun, the idea behind Lethal VR is really simple – shoot the targets that pop up as quickly as you can. The faster you complete the challenge, the higher the bonus score, and this gets added to whatever score you’ve managed to net with your deadeye skills. Bullseyes and headshots score highly, though knocking any target out of play gives you some reward, and you can get multiple hits to start racking up bonus points. Finish the level and you’re rated anything between failing to rank and the elusive “Lethal” score, then get to move onto the next. Having another go to beat your score is quick to get into, and in a lot of levels the targets seem to be randomly placed or sequenced so you can’t just learn the positions, you do have to react.
Progress means complexity gets added, as well as a variety in weapons and challenges. Soon enough you’re throwing knives as well as firing pistols, then machine guns come into play, before you’re let loose to dual wield the same weapon or even mix types up. Getting set the challenge of only being able to shoot certain targets and throw knives at others certainly makes you think and focus on accuracy. The implementation of throwing is nicely done, simply hold the trigger on the controller to set it up, look at the target, flick your wrist and let go. It’s an instant refill of knives too, so as long as you can keep flinging your arms you can fire out huge amounts of knives at targets (there’s a tip there somewhere). The shooting is solid and satisfying, but the knife throwing is even better when you get it right – there’s a definite smug feeling you get when you hear the “thunk” after casually chucking one off to the edge of your vision to trigger a retry or next level. Lethal VR structures itself with different tiers of difficulty that culminate in a round involving a bonus firearm, usually inspired by famous movies. Scaramanga, Dirty Harry, Robocop and even Oddjob get their signature weapons nicely recreated in the game, with each being a lot of fun to play with.
Whilst the mechanics are spot on with hit detection and response through the headset and controllers being instantaneous, there is one issue that the Three Fields Entertainment guys are not able to resolve because it’s do with the physical setup of the hardware. Your natural response is to lift the digital weapon to eye-level to aim and this unfortunately distorts the head tracking because the glow of the Move controller sit in front of the lights on the headset, so there’s a shimmer or wobble in the image that shakes things off. It meant for precision aiming I was taking a bit of a punt on the right angle in some instances, which is far from ideal. By no means is this game breaking, it just drops the immersion a touch and compromises some of the scoring.
Lethal VR offers up a solid shooting range game that will take between 60 and 90 minutes to get to the end of depending on how good a shot you are. It builds the difficulty nicely along a steady curve and gives enough variety in the setup to keep you hitting “Continue”, and the quest for attaining the highest rating brings the instant reload into play. It’s smooth, slick and well executed, and it reminds me a lot of the Time Crisis 2 Crisis Missions, though I do wish it had more levels to go at, or even a free mode where you could pick a weapon and go at a randomly generated range. If you’ve got PSVR then it’s worth investing in to give your reaction times a workout and make you recall some classic movie moments, as well occasionally making you feel like a badass.
A PSVR copy of Lethal VR was provided by the Team 17 PR team, and the game is available now on PS4 and PC through Vive.