Howdy Gamers! Is your HTC Vive getting a little dusty or are you finding regular use for it? I’m still getting an hour every other day. While I can easily binge a 12 hour session in the chair playing some mindless shooter (FarCry – Primal currently) I can’t do more than an hour or two in the helmet.
Not because of some physical hindrance (although the sweat gets pretty bad after 20 or 30 minutes) but mostly because the games just can’t hold my attention for that long. Nor are designed to truth be told, I think Vanishing Realms is the only game I’ve played so far for any kind of lengthy play session. Although I hear good things and have my eye on Arizona Sunshine.
Today though I’m going to be looking at the Rank17 Game Bundle. Rank17 (a play on Team17?) appears to be a small team based in San Diego, California that are focusing on VR titles. I was kindly gifted a copy for review and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The bundle includes four games; Armed Against the Undead, BladeShield, Boo Breakers: The Ghostening and VR Baseball – Home Run Competition.
I’m going to review each game separately and then I’ll bring it all back together and the end and look at it as a package deal.
Arm yourself with two sabers of light or two laser shields or one of each in either hand and prepare for endless waves of droids from the air, ground and static positions. Typically you’d expect a ranged weapon to shoot back, in BladeShield however you’ll need to reflect enemy shots to destroy your opponents or wait until they get close enough to slash them with your blade. A simple game with a simple premise and name to match. You can jump to Wave 15 or Wave 30 from the main menu which is nice if you’ve become something of a veteran and the game includes an online scoreboard so you can see how you compare to everyone else in the world (terribly). It’s an easy, fun game for younger players that has no blood, gore or foul language and until we get a decent Star Wars VR title from Disney this is probably the best virtual light saber experience you’re going to get for the time being.
I couldn’t see myself playing this for any great length of time as I found it a little too repetitive for my tastes however the scoreboard shows there are plenty of people enjoying the game. It is what it is and it does it well, all for a rock bottom price.
VR Baseball – Home Run Competition
This more than any other game in the bundle feels like a Wii game, with just far better tracking, accuracy and atmosphere. For what it is I’m a little surprised at the $8.98 USD price tag and much like BladeShield I see this title being enjoyed more by younger players or those not too fussed on shooting zombies or slaying ogres. The premise is pretty straight forward – grab a bat and try to hit as many home runs as possible. Three difficulties change the size of the ball and you can also opt to whack tennis balls and beach balls, the latter being super easy. The game works well in both left and right handed modes and you’re able to change on the fly with the press of a button. The game also sports a golf mode which allows you to tee off with a driver, this one I really struggled with though as the hit accuracy seemed a bit off and I couldn’t change from a right to left handed club.
A single play through of this title was enough for me, younger players could probably kill an hour or two here much like Wii bowling back in the day.
Boo Breakers: The Ghostening
This game actually has a little more depth to it and is the only game in the bundle that supports teleport movement around a larger environment. You’re armed with two wands, one to ‘shake’ furniture as you look for ghosts and deflect object hurled at you by said ghosts, the other to grab a hold of the ghosts themselves so you can move them into a trap à la Ghostbusters. You’ll move from room to room, shaking down bits of furniture until you’ve trapped enough ghosts to unlock the doors and continue your journey. You’ll need to explore thoroughly, often back tracking through already cleared rooms in order to find all the keys that unlock the door to a boss fight.
Now bare with me here because I know a lot of you will be thinking “Toby… what the hell?” but the first game that sprang to mind when playing this title was the old Gremlins on Apple II. Move around a room with randomly placed furniture and secure the enemies. Younger players will more likely find similarities with Luigi’s Mansion.
At $4.99 USD there is enough meat on the bone here to satisfy younger players who are looking for something a bit more involved that the previous titles in this package. I’ll more than likely return to this game for another bout to see if I can finish it. On my first playthrough I was thwarted in a particular savage room with an endless tirade of books being hurled at my head. I noticed a few bits of furniture clipping through walls, hopefully a small patch in the future fixes this minor bug.
Armed Against the Undead
Armed Against the Undead looks to be Rank17’s premiere title, although it’s still in Early Access. It’s a static shooter (like many other VR titles) that sees you fighting wave after wave of undead using a variety of weapons. Occasionally you’ll need to doge a gob of poison spit or turn around and shotgun blast the creepy little girl sneaking up behind you but for the most part just chain gun and chain saw your way to victory. It’s not a bad game, although there are other static shooters out there that do it better (Serious Sam VR springs immediately to mind) however most of those games are more than double the price, especially when you consider the bundle price.
I’d be hard pushed to recommend this title at $19.99 USD, especially being that it’s Early Access and there is clearly still plenty of work and content to be added. At it’s bundle price of $9.79 it’s a bit more agreeable, overall though having it included with the three other games for $13.57 USD is a bit more justifiable.
I played this game the longest, probably because it’s more my cup of tea. Unlocking the super weapon was a nice touch, although the floating ghost boss that kept spitting at me was annoying and where my game ended. A tutorial warning to dodge would be a nice touch, as would a ‘wave your hands to clear the gas’ rather than finding out through blind luck. I couldn’t manage to kill the beastie either, despite emptying endless shells into it.
Speaking of which the accuracy seems a bit hit and miss, quite literally. Pulling the trigger multiple times without moving my hand at all resulted in bullets firing pretty wildly and often not on mark. While perhaps a bit expected with a shotgun it felt a bit sloppy firing the pistol or revolver. Again though, it’s an Early Access title so this may get tightened up over time.
Rank17 Game Bundle
$13.57 USD ~ $18.84 AUD
So in summary can I recommend the Rank17 Game Bundle to budding VR enthusiasts? If you’ve got a family, perhaps a couple of little ones around 8-12 who want to enjoy VR then yes, definitely there is some value to be had here and something for everyone. VR Baseball, BladeShield and Boo Breakers should keep younger players entertained for a weekend or two while teens and older will enjoy Armed Against the Undead. If you’re the more typical or experienced HTC Vive customer then there are better titles to spend your $13.57 USD on in the VR market.