Games that require less in the way of fast movement can afford to spend more processing power on the graphics, and Batman Arkham VR and the London Heist part of the VR Worlds mini-game package are particularly stunning.
Both games are best played with the Move controllers, which might seem an investment too far considering they cost £69 (RM365) for a pair and the two games last roughly two hours and 20 minutes respectively, but both are supremely immersive, interactive and cinematic experiences. Both also involve getting right in the faces of other characters that are rendered with such detail and solidity as to feel almost real, and both Batman’s batarang-throwing and London Heist’s gunfights feel natural enough to convince you that you really are a badass. Both games also have shooting gallery features that can be accessed after playing through the main story, and their addictiveness is testament to the quality of the mechanics.
Taken as a whole, the launch line-up of games has impressive variation and some stand-out experiences, but at this point it’s it's hard to tell whether any of them will keep you playing for the next few weeks and months. The multiplayer elements of RIGS, Battlezone and Eve: Valkyrie make them potential candidates, but without fully populated servers it’s too early to know for sure (we'll be running full reviews of these at a later date). Many of the other games, while stunning, are short experiences that will rock your world once and will show off to your mates as soon as you possibly can, but that you're unlikely to be coming back to months down the line.
But this is always the case with the launch of a new format. Only time will tell if the games can turn PS VR into an absolute must-buy.
Sony PlayStation VR: shifting perspectives
Unfortunately, I’ve had a couple of other issues when testing the PlayStation VR, and these haven’t been solved by the fresh sample.
The first is that at times there’s a little bit of wobble to the image. It’s not always there and when there’s action on-screen you won’t notice it anyway, but if it happens while everything’s still it can be jarring, particularly when playing a standing game such as Arkham VR. It feels a bit like being drunk, but without the fun drinking bit. You won’t notice it often, but it’s something to be aware of.
The other problem I’ve been finding is that the image is shifting a little bit to the left or right while I play. An example: I start a race in DriveClub VR and look directly downwards so my chin is on my chest. I’m roughly in line with the virtual seat below me. As I race I get the feeling that my vision is turning slightly so that when I hold my head straight I’m actually looking out of the left side of the windscreen rather than directly forwards over the steering wheel. I look down, chin on chest, and sure enough the seat below is now angled a little to the right.
This keeps happening to me, and not just in DriveClub. Another one of the VR Worlds games, VR Luge, has you looking down the chest and legs of your character as you hurtle down a mountain road. While the feet might be straight ahead of me when I start the first descent, by the time I start the second I have to turn my head a little to look directly at them. Whenever a menu is presented in either game it seems to have shifted a little from where it was before.
To be clear, pressing and holding the Options button on the DualShock controller recentres the image (you can do this at any time), but it doesn't rotate it. In other words, I'm still facing slightly the wong direction, but have been shifted an inch or so left or right in the seat.
This is weird, for sure, and I honestly don’t know what’s causing it. Some people may not experience it while others might hardly notice, but it’s an issue that’s constantly niggling at me and I’m spending time fussing over that (moving my whole seat at times to compensate) when I should just be enjoying the experience.
Sony PlayStation VR: the verdict
Without these niggles it would still be hard to give the PlayStation VR five stars, but then, we’re yet to give any virtual reality headset a five-star rating. It’s just too early and there are too few truly killer, long-lasting games for us to not have some reservations, despite the fact that VR, at its best, is mind-blowingly, dream-fulfillingly brilliant.
Despite its comparatively low specs and more affordable price, PS VR is capable of hitting those highs - a playthrough of Batman: Arkham VR will be enough to convince anyone of that - but some of its tech seems to be holding it back a little. A better camera and new motion controllers feel like they would have made a massive difference.
Maybe some of the shortcomings can be fixed through software updates. This is very early days, after all. Plus, new games will almost certainly take better advantage of the hardware.
That’s why we’ll keep playing over the days, weeks and months to come, and we’ll adjust this review and our score if and when things change. Right now, there’s lots of fun to be had with PS VR, but also a fair few flaws to be aware of. The price may be right, but the experience isn’t quite there yet.