This review was originally created in December 2018 for HTC, targeted to their original Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Although the name Bike Rush may bring to mind bicycle courier movie, Premium Rush (2012), the titular bike in this virtual reality game is actually a motorcycle. The movie analogy still applies, though, as Bike Rush plays a lot like the penultimate scene in a typical B action movie, where the bad guys throw all they have at the good guy in one epic battle.
With that said, in this game, you’re not exactly a good guy. In fact, you’re part of a crime syndicate who’s in control of the theft-, robbery-, and murder-ridden fictional desert city of Danbai. The police have already taken out most of the rest of the syndicate and have finally caught up to you and your partner in your stolen truck. As your partner stalls the police, you plot your escape out the back of the truck in your motorcycle to take your revenge.
Designed for Vive or Vive Pro owners, Bike Rush can be played seated or standing. This is one game where seated is definitely the preferred method, though, since you’re on a motorcycle 100% of the time.
Unfortunately, from the start, you’ll find this game is not optimized for the Vive. The opening tutorial, which inexplicably is a projected gameplay movie that’s played before the actual game loads, demonstrates Oculus Rift controls, which in no way map to how the game functions with Vive controllers.
As stated, you start the game in the back of a truck trailer, where, even though there are other objects, you’re really only there to pick up the grenade with your left hand and one of the two guns with your right. You’re better off choosing the automatic pistol, though, as the other Magnum-like revolver is the one-shot-at-a-time variety, which, despite its greater shooting power, is rather out-of-place for this type of game. In any case, it’s in trying to pick up some of the other objects that you first get a sense of how badly this game is optimized. It shouldn’t be hard to pick up objects in a game like this, but sure enough, in Bike Rush, it is.
Once in-game, you finally get control descriptions that are targeted to the Vive controllers, although, like you’ll find with the camera placement at times, the pop-up tips can appear in awkward locations, making them hard to read, particularly once the action gets underway. You use the Grip buttons to pick up objects and the triggers to shoot the gun or release a grenade. Even though this is an endless runner, where your motorcyle moves forward at all times, you still have to steer quite a bit to avoid obstacles. Unfortunately, this function is mapped to the left trackpad, which is awkward at best as you’re trying to multi-task with all the other in-game functions in the heat of battle. You can also lay ramps down to jump over obstacles or use a nitro boost to gain extra speed. Needless to say, Bike Rush’s control scheme not only lacks precision, but is overly complicated.
This complication is not overly surprising considering the game’s baseline setup, where it can also be controlled via keyboard, mouse, or gamepad. Complicated controls are OK when you’re not in virtual reality or in a slower-paced adventure, but can become overwhelming in a fast moving game like this one.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this game, however, is If you’re at all susceptible to motion sickness in virtual reality. Since you have independent steering control, can turn your head at any time, and are constantly moving forward while you’re either seated or standing in place in your room, your brain will have to work overtime to process all the sensory conflicts.
Visually, everything looks OK, with solid models and environments, but little in the way of design inspiration. Audio-wise, the sound effects are similarly competent, with appropriate shooting, explosions, and vehicle sounds. There’s a take-it-or-leave-it “angry music” soundtrack in the background, which I suppose is appropriate to the action, but something I found a bit grating with everything else going on.
Considering all of the control options and variety of platforms this game is on, it’s clear that the developers made a generic base game without enough effort put into optimizing for the Vive, or virtual reality in general. In fact, it’s not surprising that this game is playable as a regular, non-virtual reality game. Combined with the generic theme, motion sickness, and overly complicated and imprecise controls, this is definitely one game you should let pass you by.
Score: 1 out of 5 stars.
Bike Rush is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.