Lethal VR is a soothing salve for an itchy trigger finger.
Lock and load, gamers! Lethal VR is the latest entry in the PSVR’s fast-growing collection of virtual shooting galleries. Putting players in the role of an FBI recruit, the game plants players behind the iron sights of a variety of unique weapons as they complete a series of challenges to test their speed, accuracy, and decision making skills. It’s a simple premise, and one that lends itself brilliantly to the benefits of VR with its satisfying shooting mechanics and convincing sense of immersion.
Lethal VR’s formula isn’t exactly new. Hell, Hogan’s Alley for the NES scratched a similar itch three decades ago when it released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. And since then the recipe has been further refined with games like the arcade classic Police Trainer. However, while those games are simple light gun shooters that task players with using a mere handgun to spew lead into menacing paper silhouettes of gangsters and other ne’er-do-wells, developer Three Fields Entertainment gives players access to a veritable smorgasbord of devastating weaponry. You’ll gain access to semi-automatic pistols, throwing stars, Bowie knives, and machine guns, and some more exotic weapons like the Golden Gun made famous in by a certain martini-sipping secret agent. The wealth of weapons is satisfying, and mastering them in the game’s numerous challenges is both challenging and, most importantly, plenty of fun.
The challenges you’ll have to complete start out easy enough. You’’ll typically have to destroy a set number of targets within a given time. Simply hitting a target usually gets the job done, but skill shots – hitting two targets at once with dual-wielded weapons or striking marked parts of a target – will reward you with more points. However, before long things get more complicated. You’ll quickly find the once-stationary targets will begin to move erratically, becoming much harder to hit. Other times you’ll have to quickly identify between civilians and hostile targets and take them out before you’re greeted with a “Game Over” screen. Some challenges even have you wielding two different types of weapons, with kills only counting if you meet certain conditions such as shooting red targets with your SMG, while shooting white targets with the pistol in your other hand. At first these challenges can be a bit hard to wrap your head around. But when it finally clicks these missions are incredibly satisfying to overcome. And you’ll want to, too, as Lethal VR features online leaderboards to entice you to earn that coveted ranking as the #1 agent.
While the Move controller handles the gunplay quite well for the most part, Lethal VR’s controls can sometimes be a bit inconsistent. I encountered the most problems during the game’s knife throwing challenges, which could prove to be pretty frustrating when the knives would seemingly go tumbling through the air far from where you had intended to throw them. Tossing knives at targets positioned above the player proved to be especially bothersome. Additionally, while shooting targets in front and to the sides of you feels great, targeting enemies at a 90 degree angle could often cause some pretty serious jittering of your guns – a problem that wasn’t remedied even after adjusting the camera and adjusting the lights in the room. Still, this issue pops up so infrequently that it does little to mar the experience. It’s also worth noting that the game is designed to be played both standing or sitting. And over the hours I spent blasting my way through Lethal VR I found both positions to be perfectly comfortable. Though I did find it to be a bit better suited for standing play.
In terms of visuals, Lethal VR is a pretty utilitarian game. Set within a simulated shooting gallery, the sterile arena certainly looks the part. Still, everything is sharp and in focus and moves at a very respectable frame rate. Little touches, like shell casings raining from your weapons and targets shattering into clouds of sparks and debris are also a nice touch. All of the gun models are exquisitely detailed. In fact, there were numerous times where I simply stood there marveling at the little details in each weapon – no surprise considering the studio’s founders had a hand in crafting BLACK, a shooter known for its lovingly-crafted firearms.
Though there isn’t much music to speak of, Lethal VR does sport some superb sound effects. Each sound, from the whir of targets popping up to the staccato song of a pair of dual SMGs sounds incredibly convincing. In fact, the sounds are so punchy and realistic that if you’re sporting a quality pair of headphones you’ll swear you can smell the gunpowder in the air. The game also features some impressive use of 3D audio, which is incredibly helpful in identifying where targets are appearing from. Overall, while the sounds are relatively sparse, every piece of audio serves a purpose and does a great job of pulling you into action.
There are plenty of shooting galleries on the PSVR, but Lethal VR manages to stand out from the pack. Though some nagging control issues do pop up from time to time, they’re never so bothersome as to ruin the experience. The game’s wealth of interesting weapons, challenges, and simple yet addicting gunplay make Lethal VR a soothing salve for your itchy trigger finger. If you’re looking for a new shooter to test your skills, this is certainly one title that deserves a spot in your library.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Team17 ; Developer: Three Fields Interactive ; Players: 1 ; Released: December 20, 2016 ; MSRP: $14.99 ; ESRB: E for Everyone
Full Disclosure: This review was based on a PS4 copy of Lethal VR provided to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.