Arizona Sunshine Review: Just Another VR Shooter
Arizona Sunshine released for the PSVR this week, which is just the second game to support the now hard-to-find PS Aim controller — Farpoint was the first — but it doesn’t quite pack the same quality experience as Impulse Gear’s sci-fi title. Instead of a space setting, Arizona Sunshine opts for a zombie apocalypse setting in the dry desert of Arizona. In the campaign you plod your way from one location to the next blasting the undead with either a two-handed rifle (Aim controller or DualShock 4), or pistols (Move controllers). Movement can be tailored to your preferences for a VR shooter. You can either teleport and step-turn, or go for full on fluid motion, which is the style I elected to use. I did get a bit of motion sickness from this effect, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from playing through the game’s campaign, which lasts long enough to warrant a few sessions to complete.
Visually the game looked polished, and it would look even better if I had a PS4 Pro, but even on the standard PS4 the game looked fine for a VR title. The zombie animations are fairly generic with some moving methodically slow, while others moved more like the undead from 28 Days Later. The environments were mostly desert based due to the game’s setting, but there’s an underground section as well to change up the pace with a darker environment to navigate.
In terms of tracking I found Arizona Sunshine to be hit or miss depending on which controller was used. The most precise experience came by the way of using two Move controllers, while unfortunately the worst experience came by using the Aim controller. It just never felt like the game wanted me to line up my rifle shots as if I were holding a real rifle in a standard aiming position. I mostly had to keep the rifle low and shoot from the hip, which didn’t quite get the job done when hordes of zombies descended upon me and my ammo levels were low enough that I needed one-shot head kills over pumping them full of led. The Aim controller just provided a less-than-immersive experience, so I opted for the dueling Move controller setup, which with handguns is much more precise in nature.
Even with the Move controllers though I didn’t ever feel like I was playing more than a VR zombie shooting gallery. There really is no real story to the campaign, so you more or less plod your way through one environment after the next shooting generic zombie types as if you were at a BB-gun stall at the fair. Nothing felt exciting about the gameplay, and any time the intensity did ramp up it usually led to my death thanks to the fact that moving around gets kind of clunky when you’re under pressure.
Arizona Sunshine also offers a horde-style mode, so it’s not just a one trick pony, which is nice because after playing the campaign once there’s really no other reason to go through it again unless you want to try different difficulty levels. The horde mode is mindless fun, but an experience that is best sampled in small doses. It’s a mode that gets a few more miles out of Arizona Sunshine’s tank, but not enough to keep it in your weekly rotation of games to play.
High-quality FPS VR experiences are hard to come by during these early days of the available VR platforms, and unfortunately Arizona Sunshine isn’t one of them. It just didn’t feel precise enough with its controls to be considered a solid shooter experience, and the rather boring campaign is more of a chore to get through than a thrilling experience you can’t put down. Although, if you’re just dying to blast some zombies in a virtual desert setting, this game is for you, just don’t expect it to be magical and game changing.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a PS4 code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.