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Megaton Rainfall Review: Google Earth Meets Man Of Steel

by Jamie Feltham • October 17th, 2017
Platform: PSVR
Positives

- Brilliant concept elegantly realized
- Fun, frantic gameplay
- Incredible destruction

Negatives

- Not especially immersive
- Slippery controls
- Story gets in the way

When I first saw Megaton Rainfall it was running on a PS4 Pro on a standard TV screen and I was blown away. The ability to explore an entire planet combined with some stunning city-wide destruction seemed overwhelming. As impressed as I was, though, I was sure the game probably wouldn’t hold up on PSVR, especially running on my standard PS4. Well, I’m very happy to be wrong.

Developed by Pentadimensional Games, Megaton Rainfall is sort of like a superhero simulator inside Google Earth. You control a supernatural being not too dissimilar to Superman, with the ability to fly across the globe in seconds, shoot energy blasts from your hands, stop time and more. You’re also invincible, which comes in handy as you take on waves of alien invaders that threaten to level entire cities. Cleverly, your success isn’t measured on your own health but instead the casualties you avoid as you fight.

In a way it feels like a direct response to the climactic battle of 2013’s Man of Steel, in which Superman tore through Metropolis with seemingly little concern for its citizens or the destruction he was causing. In Megaton Rainfall, you’re at liberty to cause that same amount of chaos; your own attacks can topple a skyscraper or outright flatten a city center, but it’s up to you to take care and responsibility with your powers and save as many lives as possible. There’s more story to it than I’m outlining, though to be frank it riffs on The Talos Principle a little too much and often feels like a speed bump to your progression.

After the nauseating superhero insanity that has populated the box office over the past few years, though, the focus on saving lives is an incredibly refreshing take, and it’s one built with a lot of consideration. Your enemies, faceless UFOs of all shapes and sizes, usually have weak spots that will take them down with one hit. You’ll be pressured to remove them as quickly as possible, as they’ll tear through buildings at an alarming rate, but if you miss your target chances are you’ll cause just as many casualties on your own. Heck, if you strike them at the wrong angle they’ll even rocket off into the side of a structure and cause yet more death, all audible through Rollercoaster Tycoon-style screams.

As such, the missions (which last around three hours played straight-up but there’s plenty of extras) adopt a new type of frantic panic I’ve rarely felt in a game. An objective marker will spawn halfway across the world and you’ll rush there in the blink of an eye, arriving with such speed you might well shoot past the invaders at first and have to backtrack. Ultimately the casualty meter might drop just a bit too quickly; it’s often simply impossible to take care of all enemies without major loss of life, but that inevitability gives the game an immediacy and challenge rarely felt in VR.

It’s often the story that indie developers have one great idea for VR, but then stretch it out to the point of monotony. Megaton Rainfall smartly avoids this not only in its enemy variety but also with a constant supply of new powers. Within the first hour of playing I’d seen some of the most wildly different enemy types that I’d seen in a game for some time. Some ships pound into buildings like a jackhammer, while others slowly grind through them with improved armor. Better still, disc-shaped enemies camouflage themselves and attach to the side of buildings, while others are able to morph into their own structures and need hunting down.

I was constantly surprised and delighted by the game’s keenness to deliver new enemy types. The same goes for the new powers, which let me use telekinesis to throw bombs back at some foes, and even take a whirlwind tour of the galaxy at another point.

Control-wise the game can be slippery and a little frustrating, especially considering the precision required to pull off successful missions. Enemies zip around the world with little care for the fact you move like you’re on flying ice skates, constantly overshooting your trajectory or needing to fine-tune your position to perfect your aim. You will adjust over time, but it never feels perfect.

And, yes, this really all was on a standard PS4 with PSVR. Sure, Megaton Rainfall makes a few cuts to squeeze onto Sony’s headset, and it isn’t the most optimized of experiences. But, similar to discovering that all of Resident Evil 7 really was playable inside the headset, I was astonished to find the complete experience intact as I played through the game. That said, I never really felt like the game especially benefitted from being in VR; there’s a large disconnect between your virtual avatar speeding through the world and you sitting on your couch with the DualShock 4, but its support is still appreciated just in terms of having something fun to play with the headset. And if you’re worried about the comfort, there are a range of options to suit your needs, though if you’re a strong sim sickness sufferer this likely isn’t the best choice for you.

Like Google Earth, though, it’s not something that stands up to close scrutiny. The planet you protect doesn’t have much variety to it; generic city landscapes are connected by miles of featureless fields and deserts, and only a few landmarks in certain locations will differentiate one urban sprawl from the other. Go down to street level and you’ll see character models that make Rollercoaster Dreams look like Uncharted 4. That said, I was honestly just impressed there were people in the cities at all.

I also noticed a very generous example of foveated rendering in place. The game was only fully rendering the world in a very large circle at the center of the screen, with blurry outlines always visible once you realized there were there yes. It’s not ideal, but an understandable concession. I was less accepting of the game’s dance-styled soundtrack, which seemed ill-fitting and repetitive.

Final Score: 8/10 – Great

Megaton Rainfall may not be the most immersive VR experience out there, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun to play and often jaw-dropping to behold. It’s a new type of superhero game that comes up with an elegant solution to the problem of giving the player too much power and is always waiting to show you new ideas. In terms of sheer playability, it’s one of the best games to hit PSVR in a while.

Megaton Rainfall is now available on PSVR for $15.99 and will launch on other platforms in 2018. Check out these official review guidelines to find out more about our process. 

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