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Review: Farpoint

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Space age arcade

PlayStation VR is in a weird spot. It has the userbase, the pricepoint, and Sony has a massive industry lead.

Can it stay in for the long haul? What about the second wave of modern VR (cordless), which, according to a few industry experts and developers I've spoken to, is coming sooner than we think. For now, the Aim Controller will have to do.

Farpoint (PS4 [reviewed on PSVR])
Developer: Impulse Gear
Publisher: Sony
Release: May 16, 2017
MSRP: $49.99 (game), $79.99 (PS VR Aim Controller bundle)

Oh, uh, the PlayStation Aim Controller? Yes, it's a thing. It's a very Sony thing, in fact, as only several games are confirmed for it so far. If history has taught us anything there's a small chance it could be abandoned in just under a year with only a few experiments to its name, but if Farpoint is any indication, it's not just a useless hunk of plastic. In theory.

That piece of plastic is going to be its main selling point too, as the setup of Farpoint, a sci-fi bug-blasting adventure, is pretty throwaway. In an overzealous quest to discover a limitless energy source (sound familiar?), everything goes wrong, and a pair of scientists (as well as a third party, which is where you come in) are stranded on a deadly planet. You follow in their footsteps, wasting alien lifeforms as you watch video logs of their findings and their adventure.

From start to finish nearly every campaign hit is just a means to an end, an excuse to get from setpiece to setpiece. But the way the story is told through the lens of VR is interesting in and of itself, as cutscenes allow players to look around and experience what's happening, even if you can't alter the events. It's not a wholly unique world worth diving into on a larger scale, but the little spurts of panache here and there were fun to see.

While it's possible to play it with a DualShock, most of Farpoint's high points are irrevocably linked to its inventive use of the Aim Controller. It's not just a Move wand stuffed into a plastic shell -- it's a full-on remote with every DualShock button included, which is a decidedly forward-thinking way to ensure compatibility. It feels right using it as a chimera of munitions (mostly machine gun and shotgun related), but Farpoint's use of iron sights blew me away.

If you're so inclined, you can actually bring the [virtual] sight up to your eye and aim down it for far shots. It's like all of those gimmicky Wiimote light gun games of old have been finally realized, albeit in a less intriguing shell. Even little things that would normally be a pain on other systems like reaching out to grab ammo, or flipping the Aim Controller on your shoulder to swap weapons is wonderfully done. It's not as advanced as, say, the Oculus Touch controllers, which have advanced sensors to distinguish where your fingers are on a trigger, but given the vastly lower price it makes sense.

The world itself mostly follows a linear path, but managed to draw me in nonetheless. It's not scary per se but it is tense, especially with a good pair of directional, booming headphones. I was taken off balance a bit when moving around, bolstered by the opportunity to eschew any training wheels (like teleportation) and take advantage of a full analog stick-helmed freedom of movement. Even some of the more advanced VR games on other platforms still use teleportation as a crutch, so the chance to run and gun (literally, while shooting behind your back with the Aim Controller) felt remarkable.

Sounds great right? Well, the biggest problem is that all of these technical advancements aren't backed up by a setting that does it justice. Farpoint's universe is best described as innocuous and sterile. While the hook was just enough to get me to care, it doesn't really have anything to say on a narrative level, and there are so few enemy types (mostly melee or artillery variants) that it's tough to even fully describe them. By the time a more interesting (non-bug) third party enters the fray, it's far too late.

I know a fair few of you will cry foul at the four to five-hour campaign, but that's just as much as I was willing to take before I started to feel strained. There is two-player online co-op (with four arena levels to boot), that I was able to briefly test out before deciding that it's nothing but a fleeting  fancy. Given that it's a platform exclusive on an already exclusive sub-platform, you might not be able to try it without a friend or a dedicated meetup like I did.

My enjoyment of Farpoint is inherently tethered to my experience with it in VR. As a shooter it's only slightly above average. But the team was able to incorporate various elements of sight, sound, and touch (by way of the Aim Controller) to elevate it. Here's hoping that more games actually make use of it.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game and the Aim Controller bundle provided by the publisher.]


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Farpoint reviewed by Chris Carter

7

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more + disclosures


 



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