“Some droids are going to come out. There’s one now! Your job is to shoot them and not be shot by them.”
These are the only instructions given before UploadVR’s hands-on demo of the previously under-the-radar HTC Vive game: Space Pirate Trainer from I-Illusions at the Steam VR Showcase in Seattle.
To accomplish these seemingly simple goals the game arms you with a pistol and a shield. You can choose if you want to play with two pistols and one shield, two shields, or one of each. The shield is capable of firing a force field at your enemies and the pistol gives you the choice between several different modes of fire.
You can play whichever way you’d like but in our experience that shield is going to be your best friend in Space Pirate Trainer. Defense is just as important as offense in this game because its three hits and you’re done. The droids fly and are capable of firing their own lasers at you and each wave gets steadily harder. Also don’t forget, this is VR, so enemies will be coming from 360 degrees.
This makes the shield a very valuable tool as you battle through the game. The one drawback is that your vision is blurry when your shield is raised so you can’t easily camp behind it indefinitely.
There is also a handy bullet time effect that slows the game down as enemy lasers approach. This is helpful because you need to be physically moving your body to dodge these blasts and the extra time helps you get in just the right position.
After you’re done getting in touch with your inner Neo, it’s time to start fighting back. The real powerhouse here are the pistols. Each pistol has three fire modes: single, blast and automatic. Single is good for tight aimed shots, blast is a mega-man style charge shot that’s good for taking out clusters, and automatic turns your handgun into an assault rifle as you mow enemies down with rapid fire.
The final weapon in the game is a rail gun mode that fires one continuous beam capable of destroying several enemies at once. Fire modes are switched using the hand controller’s click pad and the pistol is fired with the trigger.
The game is decently challenging and all of the ducking, dodging, and firing really gets the adrenaline up. According to the demo team our playthrough was the record holder at 11 levels defeated before dying. The game will keep going until you fail, making it more about high scores than anything else.
For I-Illusions, the goal going forward is to expand the experience. More gun modes, better shields, and variable strategic options are next on the team’s list to be implemented. Co-op is also on the horizon once the studio is able to get more dev kits and start experimenting. I-Illusions co-founder Dirk Van Welden also commented on the reason for the game’s Vive exclusivity:
“Right now it’s Vive because the tracking is so good and we get full use of room-scale VR,” he said.
The game is currently scheduled for release alongside the consumer version of the Vive in April.