Platforms: Oculus Rift, Vive, PSVR
Reviewed On; PS4 Pro
Developer: The Binary Mill
Publisher: The Binary Mill
It’s easy to criticize the amount of wave-based shooters available for VR, but the genre is especially suited to virtual reality, perhaps even more so with PSVR where real-life movement is limited. Gun Club VR is yet another wave-based shooter, sure, yet it wants to set itself apart with an emphasis on realism. Give it a few hours and you’ll feel like John freakin’ Wick. Just with, y’know, that gun-fu part. Or the dead puppy. Or the smashed car. So kick back and read my review of Gun Club VR.
Before you get your hands on a gun the game quickly asks you to adjust your height until you feel happy, which is a great option to have included. You can also tweak the grip angle of weapons until you find the exact right setting for you. It’s not exactly as extensive as the raft of options in Borderlands 2 VR, but it’s solid enough.
There is only one method of control in Gun Club VR on the PSVR; dual Move controllers with which you’ll fire off all manner of realistically depicted weapons from pistols to assault rifles. At first glance it would seem perfectly suited to the Aim controller, but the reason for the Move controllers becomes apparent the first time you hit the firing range. You see, developers The Binary Mill want to replicate the experience of firing a gun properly and that means you must manually reload and charge whatever weapon you’ve got. With a tap of a button you eject the clip, then you reach down to your belt to grab a new one, slot it into the gun then cock it before you can finally pull the trigger and….ah crap, forgot the safety. With a bolt-action rifle you’ll have to pull back the charging lever after every shot.
It all takes some getting used to and the tracking can prove problematic, especially when using the two-handed weapons. My tip is to position your Playstation camera up high which allows it to more clearly track your movements. Even then, though, it’ll muck up from time to time, and you’ll find yourself accidentally grabbing the gun when you meant to cock it, for example.
But once you get the hang of it Gun Club VR comes into its own. There is something wonderfully satisfying about nailing a head shot, ejecting the magazine, slamming a new one into place and then pulling back the cocking lever, all in one smooth motion. Shotguns are a blast, too, since you get to actually pump them which immediately makes you feel like a badass.
With that said, I’d love to see Aim support patched in. Sure, it would mean having to give up the manual reloading, but the sense of immersion could be fantastic when it comes to using the two-handed weapons.
The actual gameplay is fairly basic stuff. You get dumped into one of a handful of drab shooting ranges, some more dressed up than others, and must simply shoot the targets to score points. Said targets are just wooden cut-outs painted to resemble terrorists, zombies, Nazi soldiers and other things, but they can actually move around and sometimes even shoot back. The zombies will shuffle toward you, for example. This helps bring more life into the otherwise boring levels.
A couple of gameplay twists can be found here or there, too. You might have to be wary of accidentally shooting a hostage, or if you’re battling Zombies then body shots will take much longer to finish them off. There’s also a Allied series of missions that have a couple of fun ideas such as using a sniper rifle to take out some soldiers once they’ve grabbed a package. The trip back to WWII, along with a small selection of weapons from the era, is pretty cool and makes me wonder if we could see some DLC down the line.
The presentation lets it all down, though. Very basic textures and the use of such exciting locations as a warehouse or a street don’t exactly bring the wow factor. The moving targets bring a touch of variety into environments, but it would have been nice to see more visually interesting locations. As it stands Gun Club VR looks servicable but dull.
In terms of sheer content you get a decent amount for your money in Gun Club VR. Each type of gun has its own missions to work through, plus you have Zombies, Action events and random shooting galleries. Action offers up the normal experience but with a small addition in the form of teleporting to different parts of the map. Admittedly, it’s all pretty much the same; the same couple of locations, the same goal of shooting everything. Still, if you’re the kind of person who likes to do everything then Gun Club should keep you busy for a while.
Every mission offers up a cash reward based on how awesome you are at shooting targets in the head and then you can take that cash to invest in more guns. Simple stuff, but it works. You can also use the money to customize your guns, adding rails, scopes, bayonets and other stuff to them. The developers smartly chose to let you click everything together, too, so you can grab a rail, slap it on the gun then pick up a scope and choose exactly where on the rail to seat it. It’s cool stuff and I never got bored with turning a simple MP5 into a Frankenstein’s monster.
What really makes the game work is the attention to detail in regard to the guns. When you pick up any of the 24 guns you can twist it round and admire every detail. While the game is aesthetically boring most of the time it makes up for it with the weapons. Every time I bought a new gun I’d spend awhile just looking it over. Who doesn’t want to stare at an M1 Garand or G36?
The sound design helps polish the illusion. Each weapon seems to have been faithfully sampled from its real-life counterpart and so with a good set of headphones they can sound great. Sure, it’s nowhere near the level of something like the Battlefield series where you can hear gunshots bouncing off the environment, but when you couple it with the immersion factor of virtual reality it’s more than enough to get the spine tingling. The only hiccup is that you can sometimes hear the audio sample end. A little more work there was needed.
Ultimately Gun Club VR is a very straight-forward game. Its appeal is it’s goal of realistically recreating guns for you to play with and I think it mostly succeeds. It may not be a particularly deep game and holding two Move controllers will never truly replicate wielding an assault rifle, but this is probably the closest you’ll come to an actual shooting-range in the comfort of your own living room.