OK, we know that there’s some criticism that the PSVR2 has launched with very few exclusives to its name… even if they are cracking examples of what the device can do. That doesn’t mean there aren’t games available though, and the advantage of mature hardware in the market is the prevalence of existing quality titles waiting to be introduced to a new audience. Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded is one of those – or rather is an enhanced version of a shooter that’s graced the Quest and PSVR in the past. Based on the fairly successful offbeat action comedy series starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, it’s more of a classic lightgun on-rails blast than a full blown FPS, though that shouldn’t put you off because it’s quick, precise and a whole lot of fun.
Given the source material there’s no way you’d expect Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded to take itself seriously, so expect to be given plenty of grief by the supporting cast as the new guy joining them at the Zombieland Invitational. Simply put, there’s a competition in place for all the undead killing bad asses left in the US, and your aim is to take part and win the champion’s trophy. Whilst the challenge is straightforward – run a gauntlet of hungry Z’s in the fastest time possible – survival is not, and you’ll need to have your eyes on swivels as you’re propelled through each scenario. Only two weapons are allowed to be taken with you, one with limited ammo, and you’ll be expected to nail headshots from the off. In fact, that’s where the best times come from because a doubletap headshot will slow time and extend your run, as well as give some much needed breathing room to counter the swarming monsters.
Shooting has to be perfect in a game like this, and fortunately it damn near is. There seems to be little aim drift and peering down the sights or firing off the cuff bring resounding results. Your right hand holds a pistol that can be infinitely reloaded which will be your mainstay throughout; your left a special weapon like a shotgun or machine gun which will deal huge damage as it eats through the meagre amount of ammo. Flick down on either of the corresponding Sense Controller sticks and the magazine is ejected, and you slide the gun to your waist to insert a new one. It’s a slick and easy motion when you get used to it, and nicely builds the physicality of the reload (as well as the time needed). There are no other distractions to worry about, it’s all point and shoot. This is where the controller elements work to supplement the world as the haptics deliver on the recoil and reloading, and the L2/R2 buttons match the resistance of the trigger pull. It’s extremely satisfying when it all comes together – doubletap to instigate slow time, follow that up with kills until the mag is empty, eject, reload, and continue your run.
As you complete more of the levels you’ll earn the most valuable commodity in Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded… toilet paper. With your TP currency you can upgrade your weapons to make them more effective, and with it only being a couple of increases for each it’s not too much of a chore. Within each playable level there are four challenges to tackle too, and some are linked to opening up perks that add special abilities that are very much worth experimenting with. Get a blazing time and you’ll open up a B-Side version of a level which mixes things up, changes starting points and enemies, and generally becomes a lot harder. This expands the playtime quite significantly, effectively doubling up on areas and proving quite tricky at times as it all gets a bit chaotic. Your progress will always be linked to how capable you are, and we’d recommend making use of the practice area to really understand your weapons and hone your speed and accuracy.
As a licensed property there are the likenesses of the movie’s cast gracing the screen, but not the actual voices. It doesn’t really matter as they sound close enough, with Tallahassee being voiced by Woody Harrelson’s brother, and the others having casting approval for their stand-ins. There’s some decent banter that accompanies the action, and it’s not massively repetitive either in short play sessions, so it maintains the fun amongst the bloodshed. Graphically it hits all the right notes in VR with the cartoon-setting fitting well with the over-the-top action. The levels feel a good size in the VR space too, and are sharp and slick whilst moving through. With the aim being speed runs you don’t tend to stop and admire scenery, though if you do there are a few secrets and collectibles dotted around that are worth hunting for. Add the immersive sound effects to create the menace from the walking dead and it wraps up into a great little package.
I might lament the focus of many VR titles on being shooters, yet when they’re pulled off in style like Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded, they make a lot of sense for the medium. Whether you’re going for speed, finding all the secondary objectives, or just wanting to explode some ghoulish heads, the core hook supports getting in there and having a go. Minimal loading and short levels certainly help, and there’s little to no discomfort in playing for extended periods, and at a decent intro price this is definitely a game to kick off your VR collection. Just remember in your quest to be the best at the invitational: “it’s amazing how quickly things can go from bad to total shitstorm“.
A PSVR2 review copy of Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded was provided by X R Games, and it’s out now on PC and PlayStation for around £20.
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