After Farpoint’s release last month, I’d been eagerly anticipating the next Playstation VR shooter that really took advantage of the Aim controller. Sure, it has been supported in other releases, but so far only Farpoint had really used it for both navigation and shooting purposes. Arizona Sunshine, the popular virtual reality zombie shooter that wowed Oculus Rift and HTC Vive owners last year, has finally made its way to Playstation VR though, brining with it Aim controller support for those who really like to feel true immersion when wearing the headset. It makes for one of the most enjoyable shooting experiences I’ve had in Playstation VR so far, with Arizona Sunshine offering a riveting full-blown adventure that sees you getting up close and personal with a deadly zombie apocalypse.
There’s no big introduction to Arizona Sunshine that introduces you to the zombie-infested world. In fact, it actually opens with a zombie head rolling down to your feet and the main character acknowledging it like it’s the sort of every day sight you’d expect to see. The zombie apocalypse is already in motion by the time you get started in the game and it’s something that the world is used to; so much so that the main character is able to make quips at their expense and has affectionately nicknamed them ‘Freds’. If you can’t have fun during an outbreak of zombies, when can you?
It sets the tone of the game early on though, with Arizona Sunshine clearly not taking itself too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, the zombie threat is very real and you’ll quickly find yourself dying if you aren’t too careful. However, this isn’t a serious affair that’ll see you desperately fighting for survival, but rather an enjoyable one that allows you to relax and take down as many undead as you can whilst having fun – and believe me, you’ll have plenty of fun.
Arizona Sunshine comes with full Aim controller support, with the game actually introducing thirteen new two-handed weapons to help make the controller feel more immersive. Not only that, but you’ve got the option to use free movement, meaning those perfectly placed analogue sticks can be used to work your way across the deadly terrain. Those who haven’t quite found their bearings in virtual reality can use the game’s default teleportation method if they prefer though, allowing them to quickly move around the map via a nausea-free movement scheme. It’s a little less immersive though and I’d definitely recommend free movement (if your stomach can handle it). Whilst the Aim controller is great to play with, I did actually have a couple of tracking issues at first, but once I set up the camera to find the sweet spot it was fairly issue free; it’s certainly something that some players might have trouble with if they don’t have a lot of space to play in though.
Of course, you can play the game using two Move controllers or the Dual Shock if you don’t own the Aim controller, though both schemes make for a totally different experience. The Move controllers for example allow you to dual wield one handed weapons, something which is both incredibly useful and very cool when taking on enemies from all angles. There’s something satisfying about popping shots at enemies from multiple directions and it’s something that can only be done with the Move controllers. They come with the downside of only allowing you to use the default teleportation movement scheme though. The Dual Shock controller on the other hand gives you the freedom to use the analogue sticks to move around, though you’re only able to use one gun at a time. It can feel a little unnatural to actually use the Dual Shock to aim too; at least the Move controllers can be imagined as guns, whilst the Dual Shock is clearly a controller. Either way, there are plenty of different ways to control Arizona Sunshine, so just about anyone can pick up and play it. My recommendation would always be to use the Aim controller though.
Arizona Sunshine’s main campaign will see you venture across the likes of abandoned towns, train tunnels and eerie caves during its roughly four hour play-time. Whilst some of these locations may not seem all that original in a video game landscape, Arizona Sunshine brings them to life by having the game take place in a highly sunlit locale. Most zombie apocalypse video games I’ve played have featured dreary colour palettes and see you working in the dark, but that’s not the case here. It’s incredibly refreshing and makes the whole experience feel a lot more enjoyable.
It’s never just all-out shooting either, with the game forcing you to explore the environment as well as take part in a few set pieces. These typically consist of things like using a fixed turret or picking off enemies from afar, but they vary things up and add a bit of extra excitement to the experience. It can feel like the odds are against you at times with the amount of enemies heading your way, but Arizona Sunshine feels intentionally designed to always offer you a satisfying way to get out of any tricky situation. Sure, they may seem like run of the mill situations as far as first person shooters go, but when it’s all done in virtual reality it becomes a hell of a lot more enjoyable. Seriously, you’ll have a smile on your face from start to end in Arizona Sunshine – even if you are taking part in an epically gory battle against the undead. Best of all, you can play through the entirety of the campaign in two player online co-op. It’s not something I’ve had a chance to try yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to blasting zombies apart online with a friend…
Outside of the main campaign there’s also a Horde mode that sees you taking on wave upon wave of zombies. It doesn’t do much out of the ordinary; I mean, everyone has played a form of Horde mode in their favourite video games, and it’s more of the same here in Arizona Sunshine. It does add a little extra for players to sink their teeth into when they’re done with the story mode though, plus it can be played online with up to three extra players.
No matter what mode you’re playing in Arizona Sunshine though, the one thing it always manages to nail is just how satisfying it is to take down the zombies. Shooters have quickly become my favourite genre to play in virtual reality and Arizona Sunshine has continued the trend of making it a lot of fun to blast away at enemies with its wide selection of firearms. The more you play the game, the more enjoyable it becomes – at first I’d be carefully lining up each shot to ensure I’d land those headshots, but after an hour or two with the game I was confident enough to hit accurate free-aimed shots that’d see me popping one skull after the other with ease. It was a hell of a lot of fun to do and something I can see myself coming back to time and time again in the future. Whilst Resident Evil 7 brought a serious survival horror adventure that prioritises scaring the player to Playstation VR, Arizona Sunshine instead prioritises outrageous arcadey action that guarantees you’re going to have a good time.
Arizona Sunshine brings a whole new shooting experience to Playstation VR’s ever-growing catalogue that not only gives players a full-fledged zombie-killing campaign to blast through, but also just so happens to be a hell of a lot of fun to play. I thought we might be waiting a while for our next shooting adventure that utilises the Aim controller meaningfully after Farpoint, but Arizona Sunshine’s arrival has shown that it’s just as much fun to pop zombie’s skulls as it is to kill aliens in Playstation VR.
Add to that the fact that the game has expansive multiplayer options as well as multiple ways to play and it’s easy to see why it’s already proven so successful on other VR headsets. Whilst I’ll admit that it is at its best when played with an Aim controller, I more than recommend giving Arizona Sunshine a purchase regardless of whether you own one or not – it’s easily one of the meatiest and most enjoyable experiences available on Playstation VR so far.
Developer: Vertigo Games, Jaywalkers Interactive
Publisher: Vertigo Games
Release Date: 27/06/2017
Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift