Review: Crisis on the Planet of the Apes VR (2018)

An immersive and exciting VR game with dodgy tracking and no replay value.

The new Planet of the Apes films have been developing a role reversal over previous instalments with the apes as the good guys and the humans as the villains. The hatred and persecution of the former by their descendants is a core element of the story and something Crisis of the Planet of the Apes manages to get across quite convincingly.

Benefitting from the VR technology you’ll find yourself thrust into the body of an ape complete with primate paws. Arriving at a concentration camp of sorts you’ll be guided through checkpoint gates by armed guards – who with their extra foot in height can be very intimidating as they approach you. Once you’ve been imprisoned in a cramped cell, your fellow incarcerated neighbour will speak to you in subtitled sign language to distract the guard so he can steal the keys. Cue thumping your chest, literally, as you make enough noise to attract some attention. From here starts a thrilling escape attempt complete with climbing, swinging and shooting.

Gameplay and controls are both ingenious in their creativity, but also frustrating in their execution. Walking is done by swinging your arms one at a time, much like an ape would walk on all fours. It’s a nifty control scheme that allows some freedom of movement without the issue of motion sickness, but also heightens the immersion as you do feel like an ape. Climbing and swinging simply consist of reaching out to highlighted ledges and pipes and pressing the ‘Move’ button to grip.

However this is a game that needs plenty of space as you’ll find yourself turning almost completely around as you navigate the levels. Whilst this does an impressive job of supplanting you in the world, tracking for the Playstation camera becomes problematic as the Move controller’s lights will be blocked and you’ll find your virtual hands disappearing. Not an enjoyable experience when you’re hanging from a roof with one arm, trying to get your other arm back into the camera’s view.

Shooting is done in a very similar way to some other VR games particularly I Expect You To Die. Holding down the move button will allow you to grip and pick up a weapon with the trigger button acting as the gun’s trigger, naturally. However the way in which the gun is gripped will force you to hold the gun more on its side in order to aim precisely. You’ll find yourself raising your arm up in an awkward fashion, much like the apes do in the films. Whether this is purely accidental or by design, it certainly builds on the feeling of being an ape as you struggle to get the weapon straight. Luckily a laser sight makes targeting a simple proposition and you’ll be gunning down humans very easily.

I managed to get through the game within 90 minutes and despite its short length there is enough action and excitement to keep you invested in one sitting. However once you’ve finished that’s about it. Unless you’re interested in replaying on a harder difficulty there’s not much else to the game. At £11.99 it’s reasonably priced, but for a game with little replay value you’d be better off renting.

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