One thing I’ve been waiting for since the launch of PlayStation VR is a good on-rails shooter similar to the likes of Time Crisis or House of the Dead. I know, I know, titles like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood have done something along those lines, but never in a pure arcade-like way. Drone Striker looks to change that, with it putting you in a battle to save the world from hordes of robots in on-rail shooting action that’s meant to evoke memories of those light-gun shooters from the 90s. In many ways it succeeds too, though it’s a little bit light on content to be considered a must-own title.
So the first thing worth mentioning is that the game is on-rails (duh), meaning you’ll automatically find yourself moving through levels whilst stopping at specific points to take on an assortment of enemies. The PlayStation VR catalogue has plenty of wave-based shooters that focus solely on shooting from one spot and not actually traversing the environments around you, so it’s a breath of fresh air to play a game in this style again.
However, whilst the formula works, the movement is a little bit too slow to feel as action-packed as titles like Time Crisis and House of the Dead did. An obvious explanation for this would be the fact that some player’s stomachs might not be able to handle fast movement, which is fair enough – it would’ve been nice to have the option to have a sped up mode for players who’re more acclimatised with virtual reality though.
At least it’s a step in the right direction and it’s good to see that developers are starting to toy around with it. Drone Striker probably isn’t going to be the best example of on-rail movement we’ll see on VR platforms, but it still made the shooting feel more exciting than a lot of other recent releases have.
You can use either the Dual-Shock controller, a Move controller, or the Aim controller in Drone Striker, so there are no limitations on players who don’t own all of the different controllers. Naturally, the Aim is the best choice, but the others are effective and work well too.
The shooting itself is a bit run of the mill, with the player equipped with a machine gun (the only weapon in the game) with infinite ammo that never needs to re-load. To the game’s credit, the tracking is absolutely on point, so actually shooting with the gun actually felt really satisfying – I could pick off enemies with accuracy, whilst seeing the gun move perfectly in-game was neat too. It’s just a shame there weren’t a few additional weapons, especially since you’ll fight enemies from an assortment of ranges.
Besides the standard machine gun fire, you also have limited lock-on rockets that’ll automatically fire at enemies you aim your cursor over and bombs which can wipe out an area of foes quickly. They both pack enough power to get you out of some awkward situations, but it was a little bit annoying that the rockets would fire automatically – it meant I couldn’t save them for tougher enemies and they’d often get wasted on weak foes who I could’ve easily killed with a few shots from the machine gun.
Whilst the shooting of Drone Striker is decent enough, the level count is a little bit more limited with only three to work through in total. Each level can easily be beaten in between twenty to thirty minutes too, so you could be done with it in under an hour and a half.
The levels aren’t particularly exciting either, with them often feeling a little bit too open and bare. Don’t get me wrong, the developer has tried to make them more interesting by adding destructive elements and there are certainly more than a few neat sights to see, but they also don’t do anything too exhilarating that really takes advantage of the hardware – you can basically tell it’s a budget title. None of them are bad by any means, but they’re all a bit too formulaic and unvaried in design.
At least the enemies are a bit more interesting, with a good selection on offer that’ll attack you from all angles. Their attacks are varied too and sometimes you’ll have to blast away at any projectiles they send your way, whilst each one has a weak point that makes them easier to take down. The bosses are a lot of fun to battle too, with each one bringing something different to each epic showdown.
Whilst I’ve knocked Drone Striker for not offering a lot of content, it’s worth noting that it only costs £7.99 to purchase – I know I’ve put more than that into arcade cabinets to clear shooters in the past, so I didn’t feel short-changed. There are a lack of extras outside of the main campaign (there’s only one additional difficulty and a leaderboard), but at least it doesn’t come with a high price point that’ll make you feel like you haven’t had enough bang for your buck.
Drone Striker is an enjoyable on-rails shooter, but it’s lacking the content and variety to be considered a must-own PlayStation VR title. Don’t get me wrong, the in-game tracking is on point and your varied robotic foes provide some pretty exciting shoot outs, but the short length and lack of diversity in levels makes it hard to feel too enamoured with the title.
It’s certainly a step in the right direction for on-rail shooters on PlayStation VR though and at the low price point you won’t feel like you’re being ripped off – it’s just that Drone Striker doesn’t do anything special to make it feel like a shooter you really HAVE to play.
Developer: Userjoy Technology
Publisher: Winking Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation VR