This review was originally created in October 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
As yet another entry in the extremely popular virtual reality first-person wave shooter genre, where masses of enemies descend upon your position that you then need to fight off with skillful use of various weapons, Crystal War already starts off at something of a disadvantage. The questions around these types of games in crowded genres like this is always the same, is it fun, and, perhaps most importantly, does it do enough to stand out against its plentiful competition?
To begin, the tired sci-fi back story doesn’t give a great first impression. After playing the game and deciphering the rough English translation of the official story provided by Chinese developer, Mechrevo, I think I was able to figure out the premise. In 2517, the earth’s resources were exhausted, so the only option was to look to other planets for alternative energy sources. Mining prospectors found just such a source of energy on the planet Marcus in the form of LALU Crystal. Unfortunately, the miners have been attacked by an indigenous race of insect-like beings, called Bugs, and their minions. Now it’s up to you as a marine accompanying the miners to resist these attacks and help the mining mission succeed in its objective.
Crystal War is designed for the Vive or Vive Pro as a standing, room-scale experience. As is typical for this type of game, you’ll want plenty of room to move about to target the enemies that surround you, as well as to evade incoming fire. The maximum play space supported is a generous 5 x 5 meters, or roughly 16 x 16 feet.
Controls are simple. You use both Vive controllers to dual wield guns. You aim your weapon, then shoot by pressing the trigger button. A click of the trackpad is used to select the ammo for your weapon among four types: Laser Gun, Plasma Gun, Healing Bomb, and Induced Bomb. With no guidance on what weapon to use when or why, there’s definitely some trial and error here as the swarms of enemies try to break down your base’s defensive barriers and start to deal you damage.
Outside of the main game, where you goal is to let the miners finish 100% of their mission by fending off waves of enemies, there’s also an active training mode at the main menu, where you can become familiar with the different types of weapons and some of the attack patterns you’ll encounter. Beyond that, there’s not much more to the experience, although the developers do say to get in contact with them about a more feature-packed multiplayer version. However, what’s actually present is strictly single player and definitely on the limited side.
So, to go back to the original questions, is Crystal War fun and does it do enough to stand out against its competition? Unfortunately, while the game can be fun, other games do what it does better. And its by-the-numbers sci-fi story, average audio-visuals, and short play time do nothing to elevate the experience. While Crystal War might be worth a play or two for those looking for a simple, approachable shoot ’em up, there’s just not enough here for anyone else to really bother.
Score: 2 out of 5 stars.
Crystal War is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.
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