Inventive, but lacking in fun
We’re in the final days before 2016’s long political nightmare comes to an end. In between re-viewings of Idiocracy and healthy swigs of lemon-ginger detox tea, I’m doing whatever I can to distract myself from the absolute madness going on in our country. Virtual reality, despite its early-era flaws, is the first perfect example of interactive media for anyone looking to really tune out of the surrounding world. So I’ve been playing my Vive quite a lot this week. If you’ve got quality content to dive into (some of which I’ve reviewed previously), VR gaming is wonderful. But it’s is also a breeding ground for one-off, uninspiring demos and experiences.
Two recent Vive releases re-activated a common debate I’ve been having with myself—over whether these narrow, experimental VR games are good or bad for what is still a very niche wing of gaming. Read on for my short review of Head It! VR Soccer Heading Game, and you can view my thoughts on Destroyer at this link.
Head It! capitalizes on what I like to call “gimmick mechanics,” or, the propensity for a developer to correlate the quality of their game directly with a new and (sometimes, though not always) inventive input scheme. Virtual reality, for obvious reasons, is a fertile ground for these experiments. During the first few months, when just about anything on the Vive captivated me, I found myself a willing and forgiving participant in the process. Now, when I see a game that looks badly thrown together, I’m a lot more critical.
You’ve got one job in Head It! – score header goals. Rather than refer to it as a soccer game, I’d prefer to call it what it is: a headbutting game. It’s up to you to wrap that noggin around a rudimentary physics-based system that sets you up with a team mate at one corner of the pitch, a shot lofted in your general direction, and finally, your ultimate victory when you land the perfect skull-smash against that virtual ball.
That’s the idea, anyway. There are just so many issues with the presentation. The game’s audio (both the ambient sounds before you start and the booing noises that come after a miss) is terrible. Even after lowering the Vive’s audio output considerably, I just couldn’t believe how loud it was. It’s a bad distraction, and made me cringe every time I got blasted through my headphones.
The head-butting mechanic is consistent enough, but there’s no real way to gauge if the vertical angle of your head makes a difference in where the ball ends up. There’s a goalie guarding the very center of the net, but I couldn’t pick out any sort of pattern determining what areas of the net led to more successful shots. The animations for both the goalie and your team mate are serviceable, but they could still use a lot of work.
Head It! does provide some requisite difficulty modes, but there are no other modifiers or game settings to speak of. The game would be much better served if released as a free demo, but at a $5.99 asking price, it’s simply not worth picking up.
Final Verdict: 1.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed) ; Publisher: Degica ; Developer: CFlat ; Players: 1 ; Released: October 19, 2016 ; MSRP: $5.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Head It! given to HeyPoorPlayer by the game’s publisher.