April 13, 2024
Is it all sunshine and rainbows for apocalyptic zombie shooter Arizona Sunshine 2? The Finger Guns review:

The sun shines once again on the undead as Arizona Sunshine 2 is out now for PSVR2, Meta Quest 2/3 and Steam VR. I’ve been on a personal quest this year to take in a whole manner of VR experiences, as my purchase of the PSVR2 is my first full foray into a reality that is virtual. So what better way to expand my experience, than to headshot the undead without the actual threat of an apocalypse?

The library for PSVR2 has been gradually increasing as we’ve seen some stellar titles launch this year. Arizona Sunshine 2 might not be the game that anyone pulls the trigger on getting Sony’s PSVR2. However, it’s a perfect addition with a unique experience that may just stand alongside some of the best. So let’s get into some of the hell I raised in Arizona, shall we?

The Good, The Bad And The Fred

The campaign is a linear narrative as you assume the role of the nameless but quippy survivor from the first game. As the name suggests, you’re in the desert-like state of Arizona. The blistering sun beats down on you as the orange mountains and sparsely sprouting fauna express how vast and unpleasant of a place it is to be. You awaken in your trailer hungover, looking to shake off the grog by taking in the apocalyptic scenery. As a newcomer, I immediately got the exasperated and lonely tone from the protagonist’s dialogue, delivered brilliantly by voice actor Sky Soleil.

Exiting your trailer, you’re immediately met with your first Fred (the protagonist’s name for zombies), a bit of barbequed sausage (with full jiggle physics) to eat and a pistol, thus setting up the basics of the game. You’re tasked to shoot a range of targets before a wave of zombies turn up, making it a perfect non-threatening way to get to grips with the focal point of the gameplay. Very quickly you learn that you’re a bit of a glass cannon that’s only as good as your handling of weaponry.

The shooting is precise, making headshots on one of the Freds an endlessly satisfying moment. By default, Arizona Sunshine 2 highlights the process of reloading your gun as you tap one of the face buttons to release the empty clip of your pistol, grab a fresh one from your holster, jam it in and cock back the barrel. This step-by-step process of reloading proliferates throughout the arsenal you’ll gradually encounter. I was instantaneously immersed by the mechanic due to its perfect execution and the deliberate nature of every gunfight. Planning, precision and the fluidity of your reload are essential to survival, making each shoot-out exhilarating.

Buddy Systems

After the initial shootout, you’re tasked to chase down a crashed helicopter in the hopes that you’ll find a fellow survivor. Luckily for you, you find Buddy, a German Shepherd who has the same thirst for taking down Freds as you. This opens up more of that quippy dialogue I mentioned, adding more dimension to the main character. He’s finally not alone and it subtly revels in that as you go on various missions to find others.

Buddy is more than just a good boy who likes a pet and to play fetch though, as you can command him to specific spots or even to take down a Fred or two. On top of that, he increases your gun-holding ability from 3 to 5 as he can carry two small weapons on his tactical vest. Buddy is more than just a neat mechanic to justify a sequel, as it opens up more opportunities for good storytelling. You can also play the campaign in co-op, which doesn’t change anything outside of having a friend to shoot Freds with as the same one-liners of existential loneliness just don’t land as well shouldered up with a co-op partner.

There is a distinct lack of variety when it comes to some of the Freds you’ll be painting the walls with. You have two variations in size, some may have mutations that take more shots and others may just have SWAT armour on, forcing you to change up from the delightful headshot. It never gets old though as to make up for variety there are a bunch of scenarios that change up the pace during the course of the action. AI Behaviour changes, making them faster and more vicious, numbers slowly increase per encounter and in some instances there’s nothing to do but run.

Shooting Where The Sun Don’t Shine

There are some technical nitpicks I have with Arizona Sunshine 2. Environments whilst varied from backyard suburbia to sewers and even a moving train are a little plain in detail, relying on the light to do most of the heavy lifting for the atmosphere. Your torch turns on by the game’s choice, not your own (similar to the Resident Evil 4 remake), making some rooms without a light source hard to explore. On top of that, I’m yet to find a solution to the movement speed.

In those moments where I mentioned you have to run, it felt like a bad dream, running at full velocity but only moving inches at a time. This doesn’t feel intentional and again could be a me problem, so take that with a grain of salt, but it really blew the wind out of the sails in those moments. The graphics aren’t hyper-realistic and I don’t think that’s ever Vertigo Games intention as there’s an inherent slapstick quality to what you can pull off when killing hordes of Freds. Be it shoving a grenade in one’s mouth to blow up a pile, mowing them down with a Gatling Gun, or stabbing their heads with a melee weapon, only to pull it out to an explosion of giblets.

As well as that, you have a crafting system for throwables like grenades and molotovs to help disperse some of the crowds. Annoyingly you can only hold one in each wrist as storage, and that goes for all items too, but it does add to the tension in the bigger moments. Ammo is in abundance though as there are always magazines lying around, I never was low to the point of frustration and it takes some of the edge off difficult encounters.

You’ve Awoken The Horde

The campaign can be beaten in 5-8 hours, depending on the difficulty and if you don’t spend time exploring. There are collectables to look out for and trophies to unlock that implore you to sift through all the environments, but outside of the campaign, there is also a horde mode. You and 3 other players can take on waves of zombies, gradually getting more difficult as you progress.

It’s a fun mode, albeit a little on the simple side of execution. However, if you’ve got a few friends who are looking for a new splattering of zombie matter then Arizona Sunshine 2 has got you. The art of killing really is the driving attraction to the game and whilst there are tactical shooters on the market that might have a similar understanding of weapon usage, Arizona Sunshine 2 is just a blast to play.

Some of the larger weapons felt difficult to manoeuvre which may well be another me problem, but the overall execution of the simple act of shooting has never felt so satisfying in a zombie apocalypse game, making Arizona Sunshine 2 a great addition to the PSVR2 library.

Arizona Sunshine 2 may not have the depths of its neighbouring Grand Canyon, but it’s more than made up for due to the sheer satisfaction of clicking Zombie heads, in what has got to be one of the more immersive shooters on the market. The slapstick charm and snarky protagonist gain a heart as your fantastic canine companion improves the story as well as gameplay.

Arizona Sunshine 2 is available now for PSVR2 (review platform), Meta Quest 2/3 and PC via Steam.

Developers: Vertigo Games

Publisher: Vertigo Games

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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