This review was originally created in October 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
First person wave shooters are among the most common gaming genres in virtual reality. This take on old-fashioned shooting galleries commonly features many different types of weapons, various defensive capabilities like ducking and dodging, and a limited player movement area as waves of typically fast-moving enemies intent on your demise emerge from on- and off-screen locations. It’s a straightforward concept to implement and works particularly well when paired with virtual reality’s inherent immersive properties.
Unfortunately for developers, since we see this the type of game so much, whenever there’s another release in this genre, our expectations are sky-high. And rightly so. If a first person wave shooter isn’t up-to-snuff, and in fact doesn’t elevate itself well above the average, we may as well just play one of the other countless options that are available. That’s the challenge that Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR is up against.
In the game, you take on the role of Grandpa Bill, regaling his grandson Robbie with wild tales from his younger days. In the stories, Grandpa Bill is a legendary cowboy who uses increasingly powerful and fantastic weapons as he battles countless enemies on his way to ultimately rescue his beloved Charlotte in a Hollywood-style Wild West. Your job is to play the young Grandpa Bill as the stories are set up and unfold, all while keeping Robbie’s skepticism in check. It’s a great conceit for what might otherwise be just another action-packed shooter and helps to set up a lot of the game’s cheeky humor, as well as helping to give each of the three acts more purpose, meaning, and interest.
While the fun backdrop might be enough on its own to keep you playing to advance the story, the gameplay is fortunately just as engaging. Although it’s still just a first person wave shooter at its core, the variety of weapons, defensive actions, and precise control put it at the top of its genre in those areas. A variety of modes and difficulty levels doesn’t hurt either.
Designed for Vive, Vive Pro, or Oculus Rift, Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR can be played standing or seated in just about any size room. The Vive controllers are used to dual-wield various weapons, which are used not only to take out enemies, but also to shoot at and bat away projectiles. Combined with the usual ducking and dodging, this game can be quite the multi-tasking workout, particularly in the later stages of the game and when playing on the higher difficulty levels.
Like the well-written, humorous story that book-ends the three levels and boss fights, and the excellent controls, the audio-visuals are also top-notch. Detailed environments, stylized character models, and smooth action all come together with strong sound design.
Did we really need another first person wave shooter? Prior to Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR, I might have said no. Fortunately, this game proves there’s still plenty of life left in the genre. When a game like this features such high production values and clearly pays real attention to what makes a game in this genre great, it’s proof you can still beat the odds and stand out.
Score: 5 out of 5 stars.
Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.