The PSVR launch bundle included VR Worlds, a collection of mini-games and demos by Sony Interactive’s London Studio meant to show off the capabilities of Sony’s virtual reality headset.
Although each individual experience is solid, they’re often cut way too short (a problem I noticed with Arkham VR and other PSVR launch titles), and I concur with other critics that it may as well just be an included demo disk with every headset.
Still, there’s enough content available in VR Worlds to give you a taste of a variety of VR experiences and get accustomed to the new technology. Here’s a breakdown of each VR world.
The London Heist
If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to team up with Jason Statham in Hulk mode to pull off a jewel heist in London, this game is for you. After Resident Evil’s Kitchen demo (which I thought was a cooking simulator when I chose it), London Heist marks the second time my virtual experience started off with me tied to a chair.
However, instead of using the dual shock to simulate having my hands tied, London Heist uses the Move controllers to simulate your hands, which can pick up pistols, uzis, and even light and smoke a cigar.
After being interrogated by a thug, you flash back to play out different scenes from the robbery from planning to a daring highway escape and shootout. It’s a fairly on-rails experience, but there are two satisfying scenes in which you finally get to pull out a weapon and start shooting.
The story mode is short, lasting barely an hour, but there’s also a shooting range included, which my roommate above fell in love with. Of all the games and demos we’ve played on PSVR thus far, London Heist’s shooting range has the most replay value akin to 16-bit consoles, arcades, and pinball machines of the old days.
My house is so addicted to this shooting range that we’ve even worked our way up the PS4 leaderboards into the top 100 every week since the release (and all-time, so far).
VR Luge is about as simple as racing gets, with you laying on a skateboard and travelling down busy highways at speeds easily exceeding 100 mph. In order to steer, you simply lean your head in the direction you want to turn.
You’re not racing against anyone, just doing it for the lulz I suppose, and my initial fear of hitting a truck or wall at high speeds turned to disappointment when I learned I was invincible and a head-on collision with a semi barely slowed me down.
There are beautiful landscapes to look at, but with no real sense of competition, the game was somewhat boring and lacking. I also couldn’t help but notice on-rails spherical roller coaster videos gave me more of a sense of speed in the pit of my stomach than VR Luge.
Even earning trophies barely gives you reason to replay VR Luge, and it’s easily the weakest VR experience in the package.
Fans of Pong and Tron are likely to enjoy Danger Ball, which puts you into a futuristic stadium in a game of 3D, first-person Pong. Headbutting the ball and trying to get different spins on it in the virtual world, I wasn’t aware of just how ridiculous I looked to everyone in the real world.
Danger Ball really helps you appreciate how much distance PSVR is capable of creating around you. Head and movement tracking was on point, and I never felt like I was seeing the ball somewhere it wasn’t or fighting the controls the reach it in time to return a serve.
Like most tennis-style games (and even the real sports of tennis and ping pong), the constant back and forth will eventually get boring unless you have a real passion for the game.
Still, I couldn’t help but keep playing once I started facing opponents with special Arkanoid powers like double balls and shields. The unfortunate part of Danger Ball is you can’t go online and challenge human players. Like everything else in VR Worlds, it’s a solitary environment where you compete in scores only.
Danger Ball is a great showcase of PSVR’s stereoscopic technology and head-tracking, but, like everything in VR Worlds, the lack of any competitive mode strangles the replay value.
Not actually a game, Ocean Descent is a completely on-rails experience where you’re a rookie diver just sitting in a cage and watching the view. There are 3 different adventures listed, but they’re actually the exact same thing, just longer or shorter versions.
In the extended version above, Shark Attack, your dive cage is eventually attacked by a huge great white shark that eventually pulls the front off as you sit helplessly. Then, at the last minute, you’re saved.
Although it’s only worth doing one time, that one time is worth it, as you do start to feel a little claustrophobic and believe the shark may attack you. It’s like facing a virtual version of a fear you never had to admit you had before.
The shark attack has become a ritual in my house, and everyone who comes over is forced to experience it while my roommate and I look on in amusement. Here’s another great reaction – you’ll notice in both videos the people follow the VR shark with their head, which causes the real-life dogs to follow their head and mimic the shark’s movements.
Scavenger’s Odyssey puts you and your PS4 DualShock controller at the helm of a mech on alien planets, asteroids, and other sci-fi environments. You have more freedom to explore than in other VR Worlds, but there are still limited enemies that you don’t really feel afraid of hurting you at any moment.
There are some moments in the game where you have to jump around on different surfaces and you do feel like you’re actually in space dealing with zero gravity situations. Jumping between asteroids in the dark expanse of space, I felt the type of rush I was hoping to get from VR Luge.
Unfortunately, like everything else in VR Worlds, there’s very little replay value to Scavenger’s Odyssey, making it another single-use experience. This ultimately ends up being the shortcoming of the game.
Once you reach the end of each VR World, the initial awe wears off, and you’re left judging how long it takes for the menu to load so you can just select the London Heist shooting range, which is the only reason to return to this game.
Although each experience is short and somewhat lacking, they’re all worthwhile once and on par with much of what’s been released on PSVR in 2016 so far.
Still, for $40, you’d expect a little more out of the game. At a $19.99 price point, VR Worlds is a solid effort, but should have included online multiplayer and more variety in the offerings available.
Final Grade: C-