Bravo Team (PSVR) – a virtual misfire The makers of Until Dawn use the Aim Controller to bring Rainbow Six style action to VR, but do they hit the target?
We may have spoken too soon when we said that Past Cure was destined to be the worst game of the year. As terrible as it was we did feel a little guilty at exposing its awfulness, as it’s by a small team working with an obviously low budget. But Bravo Team is a Sony published game by an experienced developer, and the highest profile first party PlayStation VR game since last year’s Farpoint.
Although you’d never guess any of that when you play it. Like Farpoint, Bravo Team is compatible with the PlayStation VR Aim Controller and there’s even a retail bundle with it and the game for £50. It’s by Until Dawn developer Supermassive Games, who also made the disappointing The Inpatient but clearly know their way around a VR headset and are technically highly accomplished. Or at least that’s what we used to think.
Judging by its box art we’re sure Sony would like you to think that Bravo Team is some kind of exciting high-tech cross between Counter-Strike and Rainbow Six, but it’s nothing of the sort. Instead it’s essentially a co-op version of lightgun series Time Crisis. Which would be fine if the game was actually as fun as those old arcade games, but Bravo Team never gets close.
The thing about VR is that it makes a game’s flaws impossible to hide. If the graphics are bad the whole experience is compromised, if the sense of immersion doesn’t work there’s no pretending otherwise, and if the controls are awkward or imprecise you’ll give up on them almost immediately – even though you might have persevered for longer with a normal game. All these problems, and more, are evident in Bravo Team from the first instant.
Especially the fact that the perspective is all wrong and everything seems too big.
This is a relatively common problem in VR games, especially when human characters get too close, but in Bravo Team the effect is so exaggerated it ruins the immersion. Things get even worse as soon as you try to shoot anything, with the vaunted Aim Controller proving far less useful than it was in Farpoint.
Even though it has less to do now, since you can’t move around freely, there’s an off-putting amount of lag every time you move it and wait for your virtual gun to follow suit in-game. Aiming down sights was one of the best bits of Farpoint, but here it’s not nearly as accurate and doesn’t at all feel like you’re using a real gun.
Embarrassingly, it’s much easier to just use a normal DualShock controller (PlayStation Move controllers are also an option), although the quartet of guns are still no fun to wield and despite being in VR there’s very little sense of heft or feedback. Worse still, the two with sights are completely unreliable, with scopes that keep blanking out and bugs that see the guns, your team-mate, and the camera itself getting stuck behind scenery or phasing through solid walls.
We assume the bugs will be fixed with a patch, but why an earth a game like this has been rushed out the door in such an unfinished state we have no idea. Given the lack of inputs it’s surprising there’s anything for the game to get confused about in the first place, since all you can do is move between cover and stand up or crouch down.
Bravo Team (PSVR) – only play co-op if you hate your friend You can aim manually by peering around in VR, which is where you get a glimpse of what the game could’ve been, but the second you move on the illusion is broken – literally because the game suddenly lurches into a third person view until you’re sat back down in front of the new bit of cover. Which is presumably an attempt to prevent nausea but just ruins the sense of immersion even more.
It probably goes without saying, but the artificial intelligence of enemies is almost non-existent and despite their experience with Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood Supermassive clearly have no idea how to orchestrate a lightgun game in the style of classics like Virtual Cop or House Of The Dead. Enemies pop up and down with all the tactical nous of a plastic duck at an actual shooting gallery, and are absolutely no fun to fight.
As if the game was desperate to fulfil some checklist of total disappointment the graphics are awful (everything is so brown it’s as if you’re constantly wearing a pair of muddy goggles), there’s virtually no story (you’re trying to protect a president of a fictional Eastern European city during a coup), and the game’s barely three hours long.
We would consider that last a positive, but considering the game’s offensively high price it really isn’t. The only actual positive is that you can play with a friend online, but there are no real tactical decisions to be made – bar the odd half-hearted attempt at stealth – and the only real benefit is having someone to share the pain with.
After the excellent Sprint Vector and Moss the PlayStation VR had been off to a great start this year, but in a way Bravo Team teaches the same lesson as those games: that no matter how novel the technology the quality of the game is the only thing that really matters.
Bravo Team In Short: A shockingly poor attempt to make a VR military shooter, that barely seems to work in any aspect and unwittingly exposes just how limited VR gaming can be.
Pros: Peering about from cover does hint at how a more refined version of the game could’ve worked, as does the online co-op options.
Cons: The aiming controls barely work, the movement system is horribly simplistic, the gunplay is no fun at all, and the graphics are ugly. Weird VR perspective and lots of bugs. Very short and outrageously expensive.
Formats: PlayStation VR
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Supermassive Games
Release Date: 7th March 2018
Age Rating: 18