The fact that Arizona Sunshine works at all on the PlayStation VR is a feat in and of itself. It’s a complex, full VR game in an ecosystem that is still starved for exactly that, and it can be played with the Aim controller, a Dual Shock or two Move controllers. The game will even tune itself a bit depending on which controller you use, although you can play any version of the game with any controller if you go into the settings.
For instance, the two-handed Aim controller is probably the best way to play — just as it was with the recently released Farpoint — just because it feels like you’re holding a rifle in the manner you would in real life. The game will sense that you’re using the controller, and will only present you with two-handed guns as you play.
I did notice there is a bit more wiggle in the accuracy of the Aim controller versus what I was used to on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but that’s likely due to the single camera tracking of the PlayStation VR. It may be a bit frustrating if you’re trying to line up the perfect shot, but you learn to get used to it quickly, and precision shooting is possible with a calm mind and a steady hand.
The game will also automatically reload with the Aim controller and Dual Shock control modes when you press a button to dump an empty clip, since gesturing toward your belt line just feels weird with the larger controller. Playing with two Move controllers means that you have to bring the controllers close to your gun belt to reload, and to grab the weapon you’d like to switch to.
Each game mode can be played with any controller, but the game’s automatic settings pairs you with the controls that should fit your selection best. You can even angle the gun differently in your hand in settings if you’re using the Dual Shock or Move controllers to make things feel more comfortable. Like most VR games, spend a bit of time in the options to pick the control method and movement options that work for you.
A full suite of movement options, from teleportation to full control, are also available to meet your play style. I would still suggest sticking to teleportation, as it’s much easier on the gut.
Performance is a challenge
Vertigo Games had run an early test to make sure it was possible, but Richard Stitselaar admitted they had been a bit over-confident about how much work it would take to get the game to run well on the PlayStation 4.
They had to lose the real-time lighting, for instance. Almost all of the game’s systems had to be rebuilt to run with less overhead. The bodies of the zombies crumpled to the ground using ragdoll physics on the PC, but to save processing power they ran the simulation of each death on the PC and then baked in the animation on the PlayStation 4 version.
“So it’s still the ragdoll physics,” Stitselaar explained, “but it’s not being done live.”
They had thought one person would be able to do the work in a short amount of time, but it quickly became apparent that this would be a team effort, consisting of many months of work.
But the result was worth it. You can see the decrease in visual fidelity from the PC version if you had already played it, but it’s still easy to tell what’s going on. Your brain does a wonderful job of filling in details once you begin to get lost in the world. There were a few times the scale of objects and things like cars felt a little off, but overall the feeling of being there and being at risk was pleasantly tense.
This is a zombie-based, virtual reality game on the PlayStation 4 with a great variety of controls and movement options, along with co-op play and a horde mode that supports up to four players. The number of game modes, options and control methods, along with the multiplayer, is more than enough to justify the $39.99 asking price.
Arizona Sunshine is available now on the PlayStation VR, as well as on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.