How does this VR arcade shooter stack up in its second round? Find out in our Crisis VRigade 2 review.
Note: This review strictly applies to the PSVR version of Crisis VRigade 2, as the PC version is still officially labeled as Early Access.
By all accounts, Crisis VRigade 2 shouldn’t work. Sumalabs’ gallery shooter is so set on the straight and narrow you’d think an AI designed it for a Twitter meme. You might even mistake it for a 2016-era VR wave shooter; take out scores of enemies from a fixed position, reload and move on. Grab a power-up and you can dual-wield two pistols. Not exactly a breath of fresh air, is it?
Anyone that’s worn through their knees taking cover in the original game will know, though, that’s only half the story here.
Crisis VRigade 2 is tough, tougher than almost anything else you’ll find inside a headset. Its handful of levels — each one like a mash up of Time Crisis with direct nods 80’s action movies Scarface — last between 10 to 20 minutes each, but getting to the end of them requires either herculean feats of gun-fu or enough accumulated points to buy some helpful upgrades. That’s not to mention the space to play and only the most optimized PlayStation VR setup (which is absolutely necessary to play the game on Sony’s headset).
Is this unforgiving brand of difficulty a means of covering up that fairly primitive structure? Most certainly. Does it work? Absolutely.
Bones are tossed your way sparingly in Crisis VRigade 2. On the Normal difficulty, which has to be played first before unlocking the truly masochistic Hell Mode, you’ll have three lives to see through a level. One hit means one life gone, lose all three and it’s Game Over, unless you have enough coins for a hasty continue.
Taking cover is all on you, too, and you’re not often given much to play with. Crisis is a game of shimmying up to a slim bit of wall and daring to momentarily poke your head out, or hugging a pair of garbage bins and trying to negotiate a few cowardly shots from between the two. As if that weren’t enough, a strict and perhaps too short time limit ensures you can’t get comfy for long. It’s that combination of unforgiving physicality and palpable risk that makes this collection of pedestrian set dressings an addictive treat. Hunkered down behind a banister, taking a breath and popping out with an eye squarely trained down your weapon’s iron sights really reminds you exactly what VR can do for shooters when they’re not too concerned with aping their flat-screen siblings (especially, I should add, if you’re playing with the PSVR Aim Controller).
On occasion it revels in its macho mentality a little too much; one moment deep in the second level can send you all the way back to the start with no continues unless you notice a power-up out of the corner of your eye. Plus the power-ups range in usefulness, leaving an unnecessary touch of luck to it. But suffer through the first few rounds of pain and you’ll soon gather enough cash to buy some stress-destroying upgrades, like extra lives and a laser-sight which, conversely, might be a bit too much of a life-saver. Some will no doubt reject these handouts, but their inclusion makes Crisis VRigade 2 a fairer, more rounded game.
Not much has changed, then; much of what you can say about VRigade 2 could be directly applied to the original game too, right down to your sassy radio guide verbally butchering you as you fumble clips and miss shots. In that sense, it’s a bit of a shame this isn’t an addition to the similarly-short first game, instead of forming two titles with half as much content as you’d expect. That said the bump in visuals here is significant; Crisis is one of the better-looking VR games of the year which is a surprise given the original’s blocky-graphics.
Crisis VRigade 2 Review Final Impressions
Just like its predecessor, Crisis VRigade 2 is as simple as VR shooters get. And yets its back-to-basics philosophy, paired with devilish difficulty that demands attention and rewards risk makes a compelling case for VR shooters to rediscover those roots. One session spent ducked behind a desk, scoring lucky headshots from beneath a barrage of fire can be enough to make you forget the call for the complexities of upgrade trees and open worlds. Crisis VRigade 2 still needs time to grow into a better, more feature-rich game, but if you’ve got the space and composure for an hour of street shootouts, it won’t disappoint.