Shootin’ Dinosaurs in their Faces
Wave shooters. You either love them or hate them. In most cases, a wave shooter features a character in a fixed position, which means less bobbing and weaving, which is great for folks who suffer from VR motion sickness. But for the folks that have their VR legs, that fixed position leads to another feeling – constraint. You could allow the player to “warp” to different areas, but that usually ends up taking them out of the experience. How do you keep the VR veterans from getting bored? You throw every wave shooter type of enemy at them! They want dinosaurs? Give them dinosaurs! They want zombies? What the hell, give ‘em zombies! Robots? Sure, why not! Spiders, bats, giants! Give them it all!
Keep the player busy with new enemies at every wave. That’s the path that developer Wales Interactive decided to take with Time Carnage, and it works to a point. I lost count how many different types of enemies that I had to blow away at about halfway through the game’s story mode. Yes, there is a story mode, and it’s a fairly long one. You may be wondering how zombies, robots, and dinosaurs fit into a storyline, but don’t bother. I’ll give you the rundown: You travel through time and shoot things in the face for fun. I’m just kidding. There’s a bit more to it than that, but there really doesn’t need to be.
Keep ’em Coming
So, does the steady drip of new enemies keep things entertaining? Well, yes…and no. Throughout the first half of the story, it is fun to see all different creatures running toward you. It starts off with zombie dogs that eventually lead way to zombies that eventually lead to extremely large Swamp Thing-like creatures. The prehistoric age is filled with little flying bugs, followed by velociraptors, and then a T-Rex comes charging in. Same goes for the Terminator-like robots that roam the future. They all start off small and then something BIG makes an appearance.
This may sound awesome, but all of these enemies can be killed the same way without any real type of strategy. Just fill them with as much lead as possible. Sure, you COULD pull off headshots. But there’s no reason to, other than the oddly satisfying “cha-ching” sound effect that follows every shot to the noggin. But why do that when you can simply shoot anything anywhere and it’ll die?
If you are entertained by the different creatures and could care less using any type of strategy to kill them, you might still run into parts of the game that are, to put it gently, boring. Like most wave shooters, the player is given a break in between each wave of enemies. This time is usually used to reload weapons or catch a breather. These breaks are all well and good, but Time Carnage inadvertently throws breaks at the player mid-wave. I believe this happens because the enemy actually gets caught up in the environment. Standing around waiting for them to find their way toward you is rather boring. Eventually, they’d come out, get pumped full of bullets, and then the game would resume.
Ya’ll Got Any Guns?
Similar to the steady drip of enemies, Time Carnage also offers a steady drip of firepower. Handguns, shotguns, flamethrowers, rocket launchers. They’re all here and unlock at a nice pace. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to play around with each one too, thanks to Time Carnage’s loading mechanic. Before each round, the player must choose four weapons to bring into battle. Want to mix and match? How about keeping them all the same? Doesn’t matter, just choose four.
During gameplay, each weapon is attached to different waist high pillars that surround the player. Two can be equipped at a time, no matter how big or small, but if one were to run out of ammo, it must be placed back one its pillar to reload. This leads to a constant pick up/put down mechanic that makes the gameplay fast and frantic, and will also make you feel like a total badass. The mechanic works well when it needs to, but sometimes the guns that are reloading get in the way of the action. They’re supposed to turn transparent, but occasionally one will not. It’s an unfortunate bug that hopefully gets squashed with a future update.
As the story progresses and more guns get added, some strategy undoubtedly goes into gun choice. Reload time, damage, and rate of fire being the most important factors to pay attention too. All of this firepower is handled well with the motion controller vibration function. It sounds corny, but I did feel like I was firing some real weaponry.
Since this is a time travel game per se, there is a slowdown mechanic that shows up occasionally. This comes in the form of an orb that randomly appears somewhere in the environment. Simply shoot the orb and everything will slow down for a few seconds. Sounds awesome, but they don’t seem to appear when the action is getting heavy, which seems like a wasted opportunity.
When the long-winded campaign does eventually end there are a few other options to play around with. The arcade mode lets the player choose whatever enemy they’d like to kill in any environment they’d like to kill them in. Want to kill dinosaurs and zombies in a cyberpunk future setting? Go ahead! This is really fun at first, that is until the larger enemies get caught up in the environments that they’re not designed to be in. It’s a great idea but seems like an idea that wasn’t fully fleshed out. There is also a challenge mode that requires the player perform certain tasks, such as “only headshots” or “survive with limited armor”. These modes will also let you utilize perks (extra firepower, extra ammo) that the player unlocks during the campaign.
Dino Zombie Robots
The version of Time Carnage that I received for review was the PSVR version. The visuals are surprisingly crisp, although the enemy models have a last-gen look to them. Lush jungles, destroyed cities, cyberpunk streets, they all are fun to shoot stuff in. The environments are really fun and beg to be explored, but as I previously stated, this is a stationary wave shooter, so you’re unfortunately stuck in one position. While the visuals did surprise me, the sound, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. The guns pops are decent enough, but the sound effect the accompanies a dino stomping is downright laughable.
If you haven’t tired of the waves (no pun intended) of wave shooters, I strongly suggest giving Time Carnage a go. It has its problems and gets stale halfway through the story, but it’s a hell of a ride up until that point. The arcade and challenges do help prolong the experience, but they too are full of problems of their own. Think of it this way – if you enjoy shooting zombies, dinosaurs, and robots, all at the same time, there is no other game in town!
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PlayStation VR (reviewed), Vive, Rift; Publisher: Wales Interactive; Developer: Wales Interactive ; Players: 1 ; Released: April 10th, 2018; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Time Carnage provided to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.