The primary time I performed Arizona Sunshine 2, I left feeling a bit nauseated, however I quickly realized this was on account of my time spent away from taking part in VR video games. The second time I performed Arizona Sunshine 2, I used to be rapidly overwhelmed by its hordes of undead and left feeling like the sport was maybe unbalanced. By the third time I placed on my Quest 3 headset, I would rediscovered my proverbial sea legs, I would mastered the artwork of zombie crowd management, and I loved the sport for what it’s: an arcadey trek by way of the apocalypse.
Within the VR-exclusive first-person zombie shooter Arizona Sunshine 2, you may tackle the position of the unique recreation’s hero for one more tour by way of an undead hellscape of airports, sewage tunnels, and rooftop parking heaps, every of them loaded with ammo and “Freds”–the too-jokey protagonist’s phrase for zombies–in comparable portions. The sport’s intentions are clear instantly: This is not the form of recreation the place you may want to fret about ammo reserves fairly often. It is a energy fantasy, although not with out loads of rigidity, too.
Arizona Sunshine 2 shines brightest is in these moments whenever you’re tasked with clearing out intimidatingly massive hordes of zombies. As talked about, at first I discovered this so tough that I assumed I did not account for something–a talent transfer, or a management possibility, or one thing. It seems I simply wanted just a little follow. Like lots of VR shooters, you are able to do your self big favors by mastering the reload animation. Initially I fumbled round with that mechanic, which precipitated me to take quite a lot of bites to the jugular, nevertheless it did not take lengthy earlier than I mowed by way of undead like a John Wick Halloween spin-off.
That is thanks largely to the nice taking pictures mechanics. Lining up photographs and clearing rooms is a constant pleasure as a result of it is dependable and highly effective. Strewn about most ranges are totally different weapons with their very own firing patterns. At first, I traded one pistol for one more barely totally different one, or a revolver. However later ranges add SMGs, shotguns, and the kind of selection you’d anticipate from a recreation that hangs its hat (headset?) on dispatching Freds a dozen at a time. On a neater issue, the weapons come geared up with pink dot sights, too, which I really loved as an added mechanic. I discovered myself switching between that and regular issue simply to raised respect the instances I had such a bonus, whereas nonetheless making an attempt to enhance my purpose with out that support. I discovered that this follow really did assist me just do that, too, which wound up feeling actually satisfying.
However the gunplay was already good within the first recreation, so what does the sequel add? The reply to that query rapidly turns into apparent–and it’s two-fold. The extra typical addition comes within the type of melee weapons, that are simply breakable however often serve properly as an alternate assault mode for a number of mushy craniums at a time earlier than they have to be deserted. Not like one thing like The Strolling Lifeless: Saints & Sinners, which tends to skew towards realism to the extent that your screwdriver can get jammed inside a zombie’s cranium, in AS2, melee assaults are extra arcadey, as soon as once more fulfilling that energy fantasy. Right here, beheading zombies feels extra like Fruit Ninja than a punishing lesson in sharpness and physics.
However the change that stands tallest really stands on 4 legs. Buddy the canine turns into your sidekick throughout the sport, and the well-trained good boy is a lifesaver–literally–quite usually. Getting previous these early hordes that gave me bother principally got here all the way down to studying to belief Buddy and sending him leaping for the decaying faces of the zombies heading my approach. Buddy’s instructions behave nearly like a Swiss military knife for the protagonist. You’ll be able to have him assault zombies, thus slowing them down and even killing them so you do not have to. He also can fetch objects you in any other case could not attain like ammo or keys, and he also can assist resolve puzzles, often utilizing an analogous fetching mechanic.
These puzzles by no means transcend simplistic, however they assist fill within the ranges with greater than taking pictures galleries, breaking apart the pacing and giving me much-needed breathers every now and then. It was by way of Buddy that I discovered the best way to tame a horde and enter my John Wick circulate state, sending him to the left whereas I would headshot a number of zombies on the suitable, chop off a number of limbs with satisfying direction-based melee fight, and transfer by way of the now opened path. I would then flip round within the doorway upon my exit to immobilize the remaining few whereas Buddy would bark and return to me like he deserved a treat–and clearly he did, based mostly on the scene we might left in our wake.
The inclusion of Buddy means extra difficult assault patterns with extra courses of zombies are doable, and that selection turns into a power of the sport, particularly when paired with the ample set-pieces that tended to restrict my freedom of motion with a purpose to promote a key second of the motion, like driving throughout an airport on a carry, or performing one thing akin to a live performance for followers who, regardless of their undeath, appeared fairly energetic within the second.
Even with loads of ammo, rock-solid taking pictures mechanics, and the assistance of Buddy, these scenes managed to be tense as a result of as soon as a zombie does get in your face, it may be very arduous to beat. I discovered myself counting bullets as I fired them off so I at all times knew when to reload, which fulfills the form of zombie fantasy I search for in each recreation that includes the undead.
If ever this setup is not sufficient, you’ll be able to as soon as once more play your complete story mode in on-line co-op with one different participant. Nothing basically adjustments, for higher or worse, although it does profit from my common perception that the majority all the things in video games is best in co-op. There are exceptions, however AS2 is not one in every of them. The arcade-like shooter is a pure match for a pal, at the same time as the sport already gives one on 4 legs. The one problem co-op creates is a story one; you are the “sole survivor” in keeping with the plot, which is already rudely dismissive of Buddy’s existence, however this moniker is additional nonsensical when you think about the co-op pal that may accompany you.
Nonetheless, this is not probably a recreation most play for the story, which is an efficient factor because the story is its weakest facet by far. Like within the first recreation, the protagonist is a wise-cracking, foul-mouthed dude whose complete persona is revealed by the use of dangerous jokes that irritated me all through the sport. That drawback is exacerbated by simply how regularly he speaks. AS2 is a recreation that suffers from the very video-gamey factor of getting a personality discuss to themselves far too usually as a technique to information the participant. If he both spoke much less or did not make me cringe, I would have discovered this much less distracting, however these points as a pair soured a number of the good instances I used to be in any other case having. The story can be devoid of any surprises. I mentally jotted down the place I assumed the story would go from the primary degree, and it primarily performed out simply as I anticipated. Given the sport needs to be an journey greater than an precise taking pictures gallery, the dearth of stakes and gorgeous moments winds up dampening the degrees in a approach the gameplay by no means does.
Arizona Sunshine 2 is just not the legendary killer app that may lastly get folks to consider in VR. Nevertheless it’s actually the form of sequel that goes larger than its predecessor and is best for it. It nearly seems like a tall order to ask folks to nonetheless care about zombies and VR in 2023 when so many appear to have shrugged them each off years in the past. However I am not such an individual, and in the event you’re like me, you may discover Arizona Sunshine 2 is an pleasurable, albeit predictable, highway journey by way of the apocalypse.