Review – Eve: Gunjack – Pew, Pew, Pew

So I just finished up Gunjack by CCP, made famous by the incredible Eve Online, Eve: Gunjack takes you to a deep space mining operation and it is your job to fend off pirates and Asteroids alike from the comfort of your 5 ton turret.

Though taking place in the Eve universe, outside the name itself this could simply be any alien spaceship hoard mode game.

Don’t get me wrong,  I think CCP did a good thing leveraging the Eve name as they did with Eve: Valkyrie for the Oculus Rift, but if you are looking for any ties to the Eve universe you will not find them here.

What you will find however is a decent shooter with a cool control scheme that sets it apart from any other titles currently available for Rift or Vive.

The version I played through was for the HTC Vive, though from what I understand the difference between the Rift and Vive version is minuscule.

The control scheme in this game is often slammed in reviews, as it does not use the Vive-motes for anything other than the trigger buttons to shoot and touch pad to reload.

Personally I found this to be perfectly fine, the turret direction is determined 100% by the direction you turn your head, and while it may be a little jarring at first to some, it ends up working very well long term.

Though it is recommended you play seated,  I found it much more enjoyable to play standing, giving you a much greater sens of presence and allowing you to feel like you were actually in the turret.

The game spans 20 levels and will offer about an hour and a half of game play for a single 20 level run. There is scoreboards and the ability to get a “Master” level rating on each level if you get a high enough score, this will be required if you intend to get all the Achievements available. You can also find 2 boss fights and 2 “bonus” levels which are destroying an endless onslaught of asteroids until you turret is damaged enough to have to pull out.

My only gripe is that, as with most VR titles, this game is really short. Given the simplistic nature of the game itself, CCP could have easily made this 100 levels had they chosen to do so at very little extra expense.

The level are all fairly similar with wave after wave of enemies showing up in varying patterns and formations. Enemy types continue to get more and more challenging over the 20 level by adding attacks that will disable your turret, or scramble your radar, etc.

You also have additional power ups to add to your arsenal that are dropped by destroying green ships, they will include things like homing missiles, a powerful focused laser and even a stasis bubble that will slow ships down in time.

The game retails for $10.99 Canadian and I can easily recommend it. It will make for a good demo for friends if you plan on showing off the VR HMD you own. Controls are intuitive enough that in a minute or so even non-gamers can jump and feel comfortable.

All in all a worthwhile endeavor and a solid 7/10.

Review – Light Repair Team #4 – Beam me up!

So I just finished up with Light Repair Team 4 by Eerie Bear Games, this is their first foray into the world of VR and it is a solid start.

The game sell for under $10 cdn on Steam and will offer you about 2 hours of game play  depending on your puzzle solving aptitude.

Puzzle games have taken on a whole new dimension with the inception of VR, offing a scale we have never seen before in traditional puzzlers. What would have been small room puzzle now in a traditional 2d puzzler, now become a whole world of its own when you are standing amongst the  beams of light that make up LRT #4.

The concept is simple, and so are the first 10 levels of the game, get a beam of colored light to a small circular receptacle on the other side of the area you are in. This will light up the building around you and let you move on to the next level.

You have small mirrors at your disposal to reflect the beams and bounce them in the right direction. This grows in difficulty as the level progress with the addition of beam funnels that can take 2 or more colors and combine them. So if you need a green beam, you will have to get a yellow and blue beam focused into the funnel.

It is a simple concept the by the end of the 25 levels grows to a complex web of lights and mirrors.

The game functions in full room scale, so you will be walking around an elevated platform and placing mirror and the like all over the place, checking for line of sight and crawling on the ground to reflect a beam just right.

As levels go by they introduce more complex mechanics like moving platforms which throws a whole new spin on things.

All in all this is a decent game for the price and offers a lot more than most similarly priced VR games, at under $10 you cannot go wrong for the 2 hours of time you will get out of this game.

While it is basic and offers little in the way of replayability, it will make for a decent VR demo for any friend you may have that are into puzzles.

One of the shortfalls though is, as with most of the Vive’s offerings, this still feels a little more like a tech demo than actual complete game.

While the Vive boasted just shy of 100 titles in the VR library for launch, I have yet to play any that serve to be more than a couple hour romp showcasing what VR can do, more so than offering anything of substance.

While that is not necessarily a bad thing, the gamer in me is craving a more meaty experience. I am a hardcore gamer and tend to play primarily for the story, so sadly this is where most titles fall short, with the exclusion of a few gems like The Gallery, there is little to no story to be found in the majority of VR games as of yet.

I am sure this will change as time goes on and we get past the honeymoon phase, but until then, we need to take what comes along and enjoy the little gems like LRT #4 for what they are, simple showcases for what will inevitably become much greater titles in the coming months and years.

Review – Vanishing Realms? More like Vanishing Reality…

So I just finished up Vanishing Realms Chapter 1, available now on Steam early access.

I will start by saying this is by far the best VR game I have played yet. I will be putting out more reviews shortly, but I had to rush here and let you all know this is worth buying right now, if you have a Vive, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

The game itself is a melding of classic adventure games by the likes of Zelda or even old school dungeon crawlers from the 90’s like Eye of the Beholder or the much loved Elder Scrolls: Arena.

You begin your tutorial by traversing a series of floating rocks that serve to teach you the controls and start the story through a few scrolls and books. From then on you are on your own.

You are thrust into a dungeon with nothing but a torch and your wit.

Now that is one of the things I am loving most about VR at the moment, there is very little hand hold, much like in real life, you do not get a pop up telling you to turn a doorknob, so in virtual reality (for now at least) there is very little in the way of guidance.

Some may find this daunting, but personally I find it very refreshing. In a sea of inequity that is video game challenges it is a breath of fresh air to find games that actually want you to figure things out, not hand you the answer on a silver platter.

This game is filled with riddles and does not feel the need to baby the player. When you purchase your first sword there is no tutorial, because the game just assumes you are not an idiot and know that the pointy end goes in the other man. Same goes for the shield and bow. These are basic things in life you should know how to use, or at least seen a movie in the last 50 years to understand how the items work.

Take a torch and touch the flame to a sconce and it lights up, this actually gave me a great sense of joy, more than it should have I think, I have pretty much set everything that can be lit on fire aflame thus far.

It is these little bits of detail that sets Vanishing Realms apart from the other VR games out there, the world, though cartoon like and stylized, is quite interactive, from crates and boxes to break, to the health system. Whereby if you are low on health you can eat to replenish your low HP, to do so, grab a piece of food and hold it in front of your face. Again, this is the intuitive side of gaming that can only be achieved in VR. There is no “Press the trigger to eat” you simply mime eating.

All in all the first chapter will take you about 2 hours to finish, longer if you are aiming for a 100% clear and it will leave you longing for more content.

No word from the dev yet on when chapter 2 will be out as he is still working on refining the bugs from chapter 1.

I did not encounter anything game breaking and the experience was very smooth for an early access game, the game is way more polished than I would expect for something on EA.

All in all well worth the price of admission. The game sells for 21.99cdn and include the future Chapter 2 when it launches.

A solid 9/10.

Check back soon for my review of Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed, theBlue and Light Repair Team #4 coming this weekend.

Also coming soon is the Vive unboxing and setup videos.



Back to reality…

So it has been 4 days now since I was able to step into virtual reality and man what a ride.

I have been to the bottom of the ocean, looked a whale in the eye, fought off hoards of evil robots, flown spaceships, shot off fireworks, made popcorn, met an old friend and made some new enemies. All from the comfort of my basement.

So then I ponder, when does the virtual world, become my reality?

In theBlu you travel to the depths of the ocean and watch as a blue whale swims past a shipwreck, stopping for a moment so close that you can see the pupil in his giant eye, close enough to touch, close enough to make your heart skip a beat. Now as a real life scuba diver I can tell you this, theBlu was so real I found myself breathing through my mouth, I felt the weight on my chest of the water, the quickened heart rate that comes with the excitement of being in a foreign place.

So when you combine all those things together, was my mind not at the bottom of the ocean? And if your reality is no more than your perception, then was I not truly somewhere other than my basement for I did just perceive I was somewhere else?

That is at the end of the day the crux of virtual reality, we are tricking our minds into believing we are somewhere other than here. And how this differs from regular video games is you ARE the person in the game, you are no longer a silent observer subtly manipulating the actions of your onscreen avatar, you ARE the on screen avatar.

In The Gallery – EP1: Call of the Starseed each controller you hold is represented in game as a pair of hands in some stylish gloves. You squeeze the trigger and your hand closes and opens. You can fully interact with your world, pic up bottles, fireworks, jiffy pop popcorn, the list goes on, and those disembodied hands actually start feeling like you own, it is hard to explain, but your mind simply accepts what you are giving it, the controller vibrates when you break a bottle on a rock, giving you the sense you actually smashed something.

So I ask, was I not just on a beach rummaging through washed up garbage? My mind sure seems to think so, so then does that not mean it really happened?

I have yet to spend any sustained period of time in VR, thus far my visits have been about an hour each, but the more time you seem to spend, the harder it is for me to accept I have not actually been somewhere else. Now I know as a sane person, sure, I have not been magically teleported to the cockpit of a spaceship trying to save humanity, but that does not make it feel any less real.

VR games are so much more than video games, and comparing the two is akin to saying a junior hockey team is the same as the NHL. They quite literally are in completely different leagues.

So then I have to wonder, should we even be calling them VR games anymore? What virtual rality is selling you selling you is experiences, life and mind altering experiences. You are no longer the omnipotent overseer of a hero, you are the hero, you are slaying the dragon, you are saving the princess and you are humanities last hope. So to call them a games, is in reality an insult to what they really are…

So why the “Compulsive” Canadian Gamer?

So here’s the deal, about 6 months ago I was talking to a friend of mine from work (Dave), this was around the time of all the big fall releases in 2015, I was telling him about the ton of special editions I had on order, Just Cause, AC: Syndicate, Fallout, etc, etc, etc. Pretty much all the major swag filled special editions.

He looked at me and told me that I have a bit of an addiction to gaming, or more like a compulsion. It kind of stuck in my brain and came flowing our once I started to think more about this hobby of mine.

I am an all in gamer, you will very likely never find another gamer as hardcore as I am. Now that is not said out of ego, or wanting to wag my e-peen in peoples face, it comes from a place of truth and I can back it up with the list of games I play and the hardware I use.

I own all the current and last gen platforms, a Vita, a 3ds, Samsung tablet, a gaming PC, you get the point, there is no platform I don’t have because I like to make sure that if there is ever a game I want to play, I can. I average about 60 – 80 games completed each year, and by that I mean I play from start to finish story mode, and some multiplayer in every game, there is no game left unfinished once I dig in.

So yeah, a weeeee bit compulsive you may say.

So tonight I sit on the eve of 20 years in waiting, tomorrow ushers in the dawn of the VR revolution. My Vive will be here and I am beyond thrilled to finally dig in and it has become my new obsession. All the pieces are in place, the room laid out, the cables run, and all the games purchased that I need for a thorough test.

Where am I going with this? Well see, the problem with a compulsion of any sort is there is no shut off valve, now this can be a good thing when it comes to a lot of aspects of life, but when it comes to a hobby? Well that is a dangerous gambit. Tonight I perused over the Steam store through all 96 available games / demos for VR. I ended up picking up 27 titles, 11 of which were free, and the other 16 came to a whopping $296 cdn. Just like that, poof, habit sated. For now….

That is the problem with a compulsion, there is never quite enough, there is that next gaming fix just around the corner. On a positive note though, there is no game left unfinished here. So sure, I do buy a lit of software, but unlike most of the “buy it and shelf it” crowd, I actually play 100% of my backlog. Last year I decided it was high time to finish my PS3 collection, of which I had 108 games. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT. That is insane, who does that?

So after a very busy year, and a few busy months in 2016, that total is now just under 30 titles.

So this endeavor into VR will put a pin into my PS3 backlog, but only for a while, only long enough for me to race through the 27 new games I just bought.

So what does this mean for you dear readers? All 3 of you…. It means you can expect a review of all those games over the next couple weeks. I am hoping to post here every night with new impressions and reviews, as well you will be able to check out my Youtube channel with an unboxing and set up vid coming Friday or Saturday.

There are great things on the horizon and you found a guy just crazy enough to jump in with both feet.

Stay tuned!

VR, VR, Where for art thou VR…

So here I sit, with anxious anticipation, much like a kid on Christmas eve, daydreaming of the wonder that are hidden away in virtual worlds, except… it has been Christmas eve for 8 days now…

You see, herein lies the issue, both Oculus and now Vive have seemingly bungled what could have been one of the most amazing launch days we have known. But here we are, 8 days since the Oculus Rift was suppose to be in our hot little hands and nothing, nada, zip. Just a solitary email late last week saying “Oops, we messed up, the shipping is on us, talk to you again on April 12th…”

Rumors have spun, shipping issues, missing components from the box, an elaborate hoax that claimed they shipped some with the wrong lenses and have to check each unit, the list goes on. The only constant in all this is the colossal lack of communication from Oculus, other than the obligatory PR speak or “We are doing the best we can and shipping units daily”, when in fact there is next to no confirmation on the forums that anything has left the warehouse since March 28th.

This took the wind out of my sails, I should have been knee deep in VR bliss right now, but hey, there was still the Vive on the way for April 5th, so no worries right?

Well here we sit a scant 2 hours away from April 5th and still nothing, no confirmation email, no shipping info, nothing. They took my hard earned cash on Feb 29th, and have not emailed me once since. Well that is not entirely true, I got the same email that every other pre-orderer got no matter what shipment they are in.

It sure is hard to stay excited for the VR revolution when there is nothing but delays and lack of information, and for the time and trouble we get to spend piles of money.

Here’s to hoping that tomorrow at least brings a tracking number, frankly I don’t care when it arrives now, just for heaven sake let me know something is coming…



Opening Soon

So on the long road to becoming a freelance video game and VR blogger, here we are. Day one, no followers, no fanfare, just a man in his basement with a dream. A dream and an empty wallet.

That’s right folks, VR is not cheap, not by a long shot, the price of admission for a fully tricked out PC, and VR HMD (head mounted display) can set you back 3000 – 4000 all told (in Canada at least)

But, it is time to run a hobby into a career, because as they say, if you love what you do for a living, you will never work a day in your life.

More to come soon, we will have video blogs, and I will be re-posting all my Youtube unboxing vids here as well.

You can expect reviews on video games across all platforms, but primarily focusing on VR this year, with all the new content coming out, and not many pioneers to test it there is a nice little niche market to carve out.

So stay tuned, I have great things on the way!