Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: March 23, 2018
Arizona Sunshine is an action horror first-person shooter available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR. Arizona Sunshine has won multiple awards upon its HTC Vive release including 2016 Best HTC Vive FPS at the Vivey Awards, alongside 2016 Best Vive Game of the Year and even more impressively 2016 Best VR Game of the Year from Upload VR. Can the PlayStation VR port of Arizona Sunshine achieve the same quality as the HTC Vive release, while delivering the world’s first zombie apocalypse in immersive virtual reality?
Arizona Sunshine’s story revolves around the lead character’s attempt to survive an outbreak of zombies and search for any fellow survivors in the process in a story campaign spanning 8 levels, while checkpoints for automatic saving are appropriately positioned periodically when reaching an important area or completing an objective such as finding a required item.
Meanwhile, horde mode tasks the player with surviving for as long as possible, despite being surrounded by ever increasingly emerging hordes of zombies throughout 3 levels in a canyon, an old mine in which the player is initially only equipped with a flashlight that introduces strategic gameplay as to how to overcome the oncoming hordes of zombies, alongside the undead valley in which the player gains new weaponry, ammo and vantage points through exploring to unlock new areas in Las Vegas.
Enemy design comes in varying shapes, sizes and speeds as most zombies walk or stumble along towards you, whereas some zombies will leap over vehicles and sprint at you which can be quite problematic, especially if there are a large group of zombies gradually gaining in on your position, while certain zombies wear crash helmets making them impossible to headshot with far more accuracy required to shoot zombies in the neck.
There is an array of weaponry such as various pistols which can be dual-wielded or aimed individually for more precision and grenades, while a post-launch update introduced over a dozen two-handed weapons compatible with the PlayStation Aim controller including rifles, assault rifles and sub-machine guns that will completely change the experience in a separate mode.
Environment design effectively depicts an apocalyptic zombie outbreak as your character is situated in Southwest America with his immediate surroundings comprising of dangerous canyons that are mostly open environments other than some areas that are cordoned off with abandoned cars, while there is also an old mine, various buildings, structures and more besides.
Controls are initially confusing to get to grips with, but are quite immersive when you become familiar with everything. PlayStation Move has two types of movement including free locomotion to room scale and teleportation. Teleportation works by holding X and moving the Move controller to the exact position you want your character to move to through the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality of the Move controller before releasing X, while pressing square or triangle conveniently manoeuvres your character 90 degrees to the left or right respectively at an appropriate pace, alongside pressing the trigger button to fire a weapon at zombies. An immersive element is the capability to reach out via the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality, then holding the move button to pick up an object and interact with it such as eating a burger or rather impressively looting abandoned cars for ammo by leaning in to look through car windows and opened car boots with PlayStation VR’s head tracking. PlayStation Move’s gyroscopic motion sensing functionality especially comes into its own when emptying an ammo clip only to press O to eject it from the gun followed by moving the hand holding the weapon towards the ammo belt in order to reload, while it is also possible to holster your weapon by moving it to your waist and pressing the move button. Returning to the main menu requires the player to look at their watch and aim at it, while holding start to reset head tracking. PlayStation VR Aim controller allows players to utilise two handed weapons that are incompatible with PlayStation Move and the DualShock 4 controller.
DualShock 4 controller allows teleportation movement through the use of the left or right analogue stick, while firing a weapon is re-mapped from the trigger button to R2 with aiming remaining on the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality and square replaces O for ejecting an ammo clip, alongside interacting with objects being mapped to R1 instead of the move button. However, there is a surprising removal of dual-wielding weaponry during gameplay with the DualShock 4 controller that could have been resolved by having both weapons either side of the screen, aiming remaining the same other than having to lean a little further behind the weapon for an equal accuracy of aiming in comparison to dual-wielding weaponry with two Move controllers, while pressing R2 and L2 to fire the right and left weapons respectively. PlayStation Move or DualShock 4 controller vibration reflects the recoil of the weapon being fired, while vibration also occurs when your character is under attack from a horde of zombies.
Graphically, the enemy models and their respective movements, environments and weaponry all look rather good, although enemy models disappear almost as soon as having killed a zombie which partially detracts from the immersion of it being a genuine zombie apocalypse.
Arizona Sunshine’s presentation is immersive as it relates to your character’s predicament as he stands in a camper van that is surrounded by barricades to protect from the threat of zombies, while the camper van has a screen that displays menus such as the story campaign menu, horde menu, online leaderboards and settings menus. The camper van can be navigated in the same way as gameplay, while each menu can be selected through picking up a cartridge and slotting it into the cartridge slot, alongside selecting an option by firing at it with your character’s weapon.
Your character produces some one-liners such as how he could have talked it out with the zombies instead of them trying to eat him and thinking out aloud about where to find an important item or ammo. Sound effects include nearby zombies, zombies attacking your character, firing at zombies, ejecting an ammo clip, reloading a weapon and ambience such as crickets, howling wind and running water in rivers.
The trophy list includes 35 trophies with 16 bronze trophies, 14 silver trophies, 4 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Charley Horse and Freddy, Are You There? bronze trophies for playing for a total of 2 and 3 hours respectively; and the Steady Hand silver trophy for killing 50 zombies with headshots which is quite possible due to the accuracy of every controller during gameplay. Harder trophies include killing a streak of 600 zombies in horde mode; the Quack Quack %$#@! gold trophy for collecting all ducks; and the Hard Boiled gold trophy for completing apocalypse mode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including easy, normal and hard with the major differences being the more aggressive nature of the zombies in a quicker approach and attack, while there are some enemies that are wearing crash helmets particularly during hard difficulty resulting in having to shoot the zombie in the neck as the head is protected by a tough surface. Meanwhile, apocalypse mode is essentially a permadeath mode in which one attack by a zombie will lead to the player having to restart from the beginning, although if that seems hard enough, then when factoring in a seriously limited amount of ammo and re-edited levels to reduce your opportunity to resupply even further; it seems an impossible task to get anywhere near completing apocalypse mode.
Online multiplayer supports 2 players throughout the entirety of the story campaign mode, alongside 2 to 4 players in a co-operative horde mode. For family and friends situated in the same room; the TV presents what the player is experiencing, albeit without the same quality of depth in comparison to virtual reality. There is no social screen multiplayer which is a missed opportunity to introduce a local variant of the online co-operative multiplayer throughout the story campaign and horde modes. However, even more interesting would have been to completely flip the gameplay for the TV player to control the zombies as they attack the lead character controlled by the VR player in a competitive multiplayer battle throughout the story campaign and horde modes.
Online leaderboards focus on the highest scores set by each player for each map and the quantity of participating players with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); the highest score set by each player; the total amount of zombies killed; the quantity of waves survived; and the quality of the player’s accuracy.
Arizona Sunshine’s replayability stems from a story campaign spanning 8 levels, a horde mode, multiple difficulty levels, a permadeath apocalypse mode and local co-operative multiplayer for 2 players in story campaign and 2 to 4 players in horde mode, alongside post-launch support including horde mode maps, two-handed weapons, a prequel mission and more besides that will collectively have players returning for quite some time.
- Title: Arizona Sunshine
- Developer: Jaywalkers Interactive/Vertigo Games
- Publisher: Vertigo Games
- System: PlayStation VR
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1-2 (Online Co-operative Story Campaign Mode)/2-4 (Online Co-operative Horde Mode)/Online Leaderboards
- Hard Drive Space Required: 12.87GB (Version 1.03)