VR Takes Zombies Shoot-'Em-Ups To Next Level

VR Takes Zombies Shoot-'Em-Ups To Next Level
January 20, 2017

Arizona Sunshine plunges you into a blistering hot, post-apocalyptic Arizona where you must defend yourself against hordes of the gruesome undead.


As I've mentioned on many an occasion, I've never been a big player of computer games. In particular, shoot-'em-ups have held no interest for me whatsoever. In fact, the only games I've really played have been of the MystRiven, and -- most recently --Obduction graphical adventure puzzle genre.


All this has changed since I acquired my precious my virtual reality system; now I'm a gaming fool (don’t say anything).


On a somewhat related note, I've never been much of a fan of horror films, but I've very much enjoyed watching television series like The Walking Dead and Z Nation.


It's not that I've been sitting on my laurels, twiddling my thumbs, and wishing for apocalyptic event to occur, you understand, but I have to say that there is a strange attraction to the idea of not having to pay bills and taxes or come into work anymore (am I the only one who thinks this way?).


At the back of my mind, I think I'm a survivor. Based on this, I've been reasonably confident that I could outwit and out-run any Zombies. After yesterday evening, however, I'm no longer quite so sure.


Why yesterday evening? Well, that's when I played Arizona Sunshine on my Oculus Rift. The extreme visual realism of the graphics and audio track coupled with the physical realism afforded by my Oculus Touch controllers takes this Zombie shoot-'em-up to a whole new level.


Built and optimized for virtual reality, Arizona Sunshine plunges you into a blistering hot, post-apocalyptic Arizona where you must defend yourself against hordes of the gruesome undead. Things start off quietly enough with you in a cave where you learn to load, fire, and re-load a handgun (you progress to more numerous and more powerful weapons later, but you start with a single pistol).


Things remain calm when you leave your cave and stroll up a path to a wire fence with a gate. You quickly realize that the only handle to control the gate is on your side of the fence, which allows you to pause and take a few breaths before opening the gate and moving on.


It's only when the gate bangs shut behind you and you turn around that you realize there's no going back because you can’t open it from this side. "Eeek Alors!" I thought to myself. The first few zombies you meet are somewhat slow and disorientated, which lulls you into a false sense of security (having said this, they do have a nasty habit of twitching convulsively, which can cause you to miss your shots more times than is comfortable).


After a while, you clear the zombies from the local area and you walk on to discover another fence and gate. On the other side of the fence there's a great big zombie who keeps walking into, and bouncing off, the gate. Just as you start to relax in the knowledge that he can’t get through because the handle is on your side of the fence, he backs up, runs forward, smashes open the gate, and comes bounding down the hill toward you.


"Oh dear," you think to yourself (or words to that effect). After a couple of shots, you find yourself out of bullets, but you can’t remember how to eject the magazine and reload. Things are going too fast... he's almost upon... arrgggh! I'm sure you get my drift.


In order to give you a better idea as to what Arizona Sunshine is all about, let's take a look at a few screenshots followed by a short video:

A the end of my introductory session, which took me about 30 minutes because I like to walk around and look at the scenery, the big zombie made me have a very bad hair day (seriously, my hair was standing up when I emerged), and I ended up sweating, gasping for breath, and having heart palpitations, and this is only the beginning. I'm still trying to pluck up the courage to continue (LOL).


While I'm thinking about it, another very interesting game is The Unspoken, in which you are cast as a sort of Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden-esque wizard walking the mean streets of Chicago. As I mentioned in an earlier column.


Thus far I've only dipped my toes in the water with this game, but the graphics are awesome. You use your Touch controller-enhanced hands to create and cast fireballs, grab and hurl objects, and otherwise attack and defend yourself from various nefarious characters. This is a game with so much atmosphere and ambience that it practically drips out of your headset and dribbles down to the floor.


The reason I mention this here is that I just heard about a recent competition in which gamers, streamers, and e-sports athletes were invited to visit Oculus and compete against one another in The Unspoken. As you can see from this video, this competition looked like a lot of fun -- I only wish I could have been there in person as an observer.

So, that's the current state of play (no pun intended). Even though I've had my Oculus Rift-based virtual reality system for several months now, I'm still enjoying playing with it as much as when I first got it, and -- being a bear of little brain with a short attention span -- that's not something I say about many things.

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