Collecting two old Gear VR gallery shooters, Bandit Six: Combined Arms doesn’t have any right to be as entertaining as it is. While far from the likes of full first-person shooter (FPS) experiences like RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, this simple, accessible set of games is arguably better than CCP’s EVE: Gunjack, though you can’t deny it shows its age.
Combined Arms’ first game is simply titled Bandit Six, and it casts you as the tail gunner on a World War II fighter. Enemies pour in from the rear and you’ll have to use PlayStation VR’s (PSVR’s) head-tracking to aim, assaulting them with a barrage of machine gun bullets. There are a few hours’ worth of levels which try to mix things up with different mission objectives like protecting other craft and surviving for a certain amount of time.
It’s far from the most complex game in VR, and shows its age as one of the first full games for Gear VR, released over two years ago now. Though spruced up for console, the visuals are muddy, and the overall presentation lacks the visceral, gritty roar of real WW2 combat.
While Bandit Six is definitely the weaker of the two games, it’s not without its charms. The game’s upgrade cycle gave me a reason to keep pressing on to unlock more powerful weapons, which I’d then want to go back and use in earlier levels where I hadn’t got three star ratings yet. Without them, some of the later levels are surprisingly challenging, and I found myself completing later levels before I could go back and tackle some of the harder escort missions. It’s a nice change of pace from methodically and stubbornly working your way through levels one-by-one.
Still, there’s no denying Bandit Six is a little too simplistic for this far into PSVR’s life cycle. It’s sequel, Bandit Six: Salvo, fares a little better.
Salvo is a much livelier game, with cel-shaded visuals that really pop inside PSVR’s OLED display. It trades the back of an aircraft for stationary turrets, rooted to beach heads and more. You’ll have access to another machine gun as well as mortar and artillery fire but, crucially, there’s a bit of strategy in the mix. Before a mission starts you can place a selection of turrets in specific positions, and then switch between them in-game to get a better angle on some enemies or tackle foes more suited to their firepower.
When you’re not in control of one turret it’ll be controlled by A.I., and I have to admit I saw this as a missed opportunity. I’d have welcomed some four-player co-op here, even if that’s a much bigger ask than simply porting the game over from mobile VR platforms. I also would have liked to see Climax go back and give the original Bandit Six a fresh coat of paint that’s more consistent with its bigger brother.
All the same, Salvo’s efforts to separate itself from the tons of wave shooters that were appearing on Gear VR during original release remain appreciated here.
Bandit Six: Combined Arms isn’t going be winning any awards for its ambitions, but it’s a harmlessly entertaining PSVR shooter all the same. As simple as it may look, don’t be surprised if you get pulled in by its upgrade systems and accessible gameplay. I’d have loved to see Climax add a few new features to the game, but what’s here is worth a look if you’re feeling a little trigger happy.
Bandit Six: Combined Arms is available now on the PlayStation Store in the EU for £9.99 and hits the US tomorrow for $12.99. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.