This review was originally created in May 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
As its name implies, PractisimVR is a practical pistol shooting simulator. But what exactly is practical shooting?
Practical shooting, which is also referred to as dynamic or action shooting because of how active it is, is a set of handgun-based shooting sports where competitors compete on the principles of precision, power, and speed. The goal is to score as many points as possible in the shortest amount of time, up to a maximum time set. Each course is called a stage, and each shooter tackles a stage individually. The active part comes into play because a shooter must move and shoot from several different positions, as well as fire over, under, or through openings in obstacles. Because there are no set stage designs, finding thoughtful and inventive ways of shooting as many of the targets as possible, while still missing as few times as possible, is what makes practical shooting place almost as high of a value on quick strategic planning as it does on good aim.
Once loaded, PractisimVR inexplicably starts you out on the second floor of a building in an old west ghost town, at night. From this location you change various settings and preferences, play one of the game modes, enter the tutorial, or select the Stage Designer. You can also target and shoot some of the town’s props, like barrels and bottles, before selecting one of the main options.
At present, there are seven game types and 35 stages to choose from, but the developers continue to work on the game, so there are still regular content additions. Courses are structured in a way that you’d typically find in USPSA, IPSC, and Pro-am sports. And for those familiar with the sport and its organizations, there are also eight official stages from the Steel Challenge discipline. For those not as well-versed in the sport, all this really means is that there’s a high degree of accuracy within the simulation versus what you would see or experience in real matches.
The courses feature many different types of prop targets that follow a reliable physics model. Although you might not know what poppers, plates, plate racks, texas star, swingers, and other props are, when you hit one of these targets, it definitely reacts like how you would expect them to in real life. Using one of over a dozen well-modeled handguns and reliable targeting, you can definitely get an appreciation for the challenge and fun to be had from the actual sport.
You’ll want to play in a larger room to play PractisimVR in an optimal way. Moving quickly from target grouping to target grouping requires extra space and the type of freedom of movement best served by a room-scale setup. There’s location warping, of course, but that’s really only workable from the Stage Designer.
It’s with this Stage Designer that PracticismVR really starts to separate itself from other target-based shooting games. You have access to every in-game prop and a generous build area. Selection and placement of prop elements is simple and intuitive, and you can quickly test out any layout. As a nice bonus, these stages can be saved and shared, and then subsequently reloaded to tweak or play with again.
While the actual gameplay is well-done, there is a certain lack of polish in other areas. The person doing the voice-over is a bit monotone and seems to stumble over a few words here and there, and sometimes lacks clarity. The worst, though, is the live action tutorial video, which is about the lowest resolution and washed out video you’re likely to ever see in a commercial game. This poor quality is compounded by being blown up to big screen VR proportions.
Outside of the mediocre voice-over, the simple environmental sounds, including gunshots and target pings, are well-done. Visually, everything is crisp and clear, although less care was given to other, more superfluous environmental geometry and textures like hills and grass, which are greatly simplified.
Despite being a simulation targeted to practical shooting enthusiasts, there’s definitely fun to be had here for a broader audience. If you like the idea of having to quickly evaluate the nuances of a course to quickly take down the most targets in the least amount of time, and want to work at improving your score, then PractisimVR will definitely satisfy.
Score: 4 out of 5
PractisimVR is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.