One of the games that drew a lot of attention at the launch of PlayStation VR was EVE: Valkyrie. A space dog-fighting virtual reality game is an idea to excite just about anyone. But what you may not have known is that Crowd Control Productions – usually referred to as CCP – has actually releasing a second VR game at launch. This is where Gunjack comes in.
EVE: Gunjack is a stationary turret defence game that sees you defending an ore refinery space station from pirates, as well as things like asteroids. It doesn't sound particularly complicated, and that's because it isn't. This is not a bad thing however. The game's pure simplicity makes it exceptionally easy to just pick up and play for short bursts here and there. It's essentially like playing Galaga – this writer's favourite cabinet game by far – in a three-dimensional virtual space. And that's incredibly well suited to VR. The turret operator you control is right at home in the turret's cockpit, and it's actually really nice. From an immersion standpoint, CCP nailed this. A lone gunman on the precipice of the station, fending off pirates with gorgeous vistas of planets and asteroid belts beneath is quite a sight to behold.
Also of note is the head tracking in the game. Now, Gunjack forgoes aiming with a DualShock in favour of having you aim at all of the enemies by moving your head around. It doesn't seem initially as though it would be as precise as if you got to use a controller, but by around level three, we definitely started to like it quite a bit. It helps that the head-tracking precision with this game is exceptional; no jittering, loss of position, or any of that made itself known to us while we played. There was nothing to interfere with the fun.
Well, nothing from a head tracking point of view anyways. You might not have nearly as much fun if you just sit down and play the entire game in one sitting. Sure it's not long – 20 relatively short levels, and two bonus challenge missions as well – but the missions are relatively repetitive in nature. Because of this we'd recommend playing in chunks. It's actually quite nice to play this way, because this is a game that will continue to draw you in again and again. The last couple of levels aren't quite as fun however, so be warned of that.
The difficulty curve in the game isn't too great unfortunately. While the title starts off on a gentle curve, after about level seven, the challenge kind of levels out, until the last couple missions. Then everything suddenly goes from "wow this is easy" to "how am I supposed to track all these targets?!" without much in between. It makes the last little bit of the game a bit more frustrating than it might otherwise be, which is a shame. The bonus missions aren't fun either really, as it's a survival mode against an onslaught of incoming asteroids. It has no impact on the main missions, though, so you can easily just pass by them if you so choose.
One thing that you can't pass by is the voice acting of what we believe is supposed to be your supervisor. Other than some space station announcements, this guy is the only voice work in the game, and quite frankly, it's dreadful. In the instance of this game, the voice probably would have been better off as a synthetic/robotic voice; it would've been a little easier to make convincing, and it wouldn't have been as grating. Plus, not only is the voice work abysmal, it's also repetitive. We heard our supervisor saying the same mission start and mission end spiels after about the fifth mission, so you're definitely going to get tired of hearing some of these things. Sure, it's not enough to get in the way of the fun, but it's still annoying.
EVE: Gunjack is a nice little title to help round out the PlayStation VR launch. Really fun to play for short stretches and then come back to repeatedly, it's a worthwhile venture. A very low price point – $9.99 – paired with some immersive environments makes this a game that, while probably unknown to many, should be sought out. For anyone that likes good, simple fun, this is for you.