5 years since its outbreak, the Simian Flu has wiped out half of humanity. You are an ape with advanced intelligence, captured and held prisoner in a remote scientific facility. Climb, jump and shoot through the chaos of an apocalyptical world to escape with your fellow apes and return home.
FoxNext and Imaginati Studio have released their first VR experience based on the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, and it’s -- well, as far as movie tie-in games go it’s good, as a game, it’s okay. Be warned though, this one does require a decent amount of space (it says 2x2 metres) and will require both Move controllers.
Crisis puts you in the ape feet of an unnamed fresh captive in a military stronghold. The events of this game take place between the second and third films in the franchise, so Caesar is mentioned several times and, if you’ve watched, know he is off deep in the woods fending off the humans. As you make your way through the game you will begin to really hate the humans and you feel terrible playing as an ape in captivity. Early in the game you are shot directly in the face with a stun dart, or something akin, and staring down that barrel with the scary, fully-clad and armed human terrorising you is terrifying.
Using an interesting movement system, you won’t be blinking around as you do in most VR titles. You don’t have free-roam, but instead of just linking to a spot ahead of you, you are required to move your arms back and forth while pressing the Move face buttons to mimic how apes walk on their front legs. It’s a decent system and a lot more interesting than the default blinking system of the majority of VR titles.
If you’re afraid of any VR title that may give you a slight workout -- Crisis of the Planet of the Apes isn’t for you. The climbing mechanics -- although fun -- will have you holding your arms up in the air as you swing from poles, bricks and an assortment of other objects as you make your way around the outside of buildings and in. It's the part of the game that has you most feeling like an ape and one cool moment I enjoyed was hanging from one hand off a rope, pulling out my gun and shooting as I made my way across, but it is indeed physical exertion that may be too much for some people.
The opening chapters of Crisis are great and seem to be taking the game in a more subtle and emotional approach as you attempt to sneak out of the prison, but things go a different direction when you pick up your first weapon and Crisis on the Planet of the Apes turns a corner into a mediocre cover-based shooter.
Apart from a moment or two like one of the ropes mentioned above, the shooting in Crisis is boring and cumbersome. You’ll work your way through rooms with several generic looking army personnel to shoot at all the while hiding behind cover and moving when you need more ammo for either of the two guns you’ll pick up. The gun handling itself is an odd mix of floatiness and attempts to mimic how the apes hold the weapons in the movie. At times I was like “yeah I’m holding this big machine gun one-handed in an odd way just like the apes in the movies!” Other times: “why can’t I just aim this easier and more naturally?”
I had to take a break at one stage as I began to feel nauseous, but I think it was the constant belting sound of a helicopter throughout the last third of the game that was unrelenting that made me feel ill. The other time I felt sick was when I fell through the world in an annoying bug that will make one of the game's trophies for beating the game in one session tedious unless patched.
Crisis on the Planet of the Apes has moments where it shines and the presentation and character models all look good. The climbing and movement with an initial setup for an emotional prison break story were promising, but from the moment I picked up my first gun, it took a dive into mediocre territory. As far as movie based VR experiences go, this is one of the best I’ve played, but that doesn't make it a good VR cover-based shooter.
Publisher: FoxNext VR Studio
Platforms: PlayStation VR (reviewed), Oculus Rift, HTC Vive