Windows Mixed Reality - Reviews

Open Beta Pre-Release Review - Great so far

A quick review of Swords of Gargantua, which is currently in Open Beta on the Oculus Store, though the devs sent me a key to join via Steam.

The sword play in this game is great, and felt very realistic and the better you got the more immersive it became. I especially loved the parrying/blocking, it felt spot on and you could feel the connection of sword against sword, or sword against shield, and it made the fighting even more immersive and exciting as you battle your way through wave after wave of bad guys, some of them absolutely huge.

Movement was good too, and the lock-on helped you to circle your foe whilst in combat. I really liked the dash mechanic, but haven't yet quite got the hang of it yet, though to survive some of the bosses special moves you really need to be able to dash proficiently, as they pull off some extremely cool looking yet powerful moves that can destroy you in one shot if you don't manage to evade, so dash is pretty much essential.

The graphics and animations were very nice indeed, and I love how the developers have gone for a game with incredible scale, which in VR adds an additional wow factor to everything. Some of the bad guys were absolutely massive and very frightening indeed, especially when you consider this is a melee combat game, so you're more often than not right up close in their face!

The art style is excellent too, a sort of mix between futuristic sci-fi and the ancient Egyptian world, reminding me a little bit of the movie the Fifth Element, where you see the friendly alien species called the Mondoshawans (the big bulky metal guys with small heads) get locked inside the pyramid.

You need a fairly good sized play space if you don't want to be breaking anything. Mine is pretty much minimum for games like this, so I have to be fairly careful, which does have a bit of an impact on the gameplay as I can never relax, too worried I'm going to hit something. My space is around 2.3 metres squared, but is enclosed by a tall glass display cabinet and a large old piano! so not the best area to be swinging a virtual sword around, and I did have a mishap where I knocked a lamp off the piano after getting carried away fighting one of the big guys in the game, so be warned.

The tutorial was good, and was pretty much a game in itself, giving you tips for you to try things out against various bad guys in an arena. I was pretty much sweating buckets by the end of it, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Multiplayer was a simple affair of human players vs the NPC enemies who were trying to destroy a large structure in the middle of an arena. Your job, along with the other human players is to protect the structure by eliminating wave after wave of bad guys, with each wave bringing something new, such as a mini boss with special moves. It was a great feeling teaming up with others and fighting together side by side, and luckily you can resurrect any player that gets killed in combat, which happened to me more than once.

My only concern was that there wasn't a great deal of variety in the multiplayer as far as locations were concerned, as it all seemed to happen in the one arena, with not much else to it, though this will likely be because it was open beta and not the final game, so hopefully there will be a lot more by release day.

All in all, extremely impressed with what there was so far, especially the combat which is what the game is all about. I just hope there is a lot more gameplay elements to come, which I am sure there will be.

7 out of 10 at this stage.

Reviewed by on 17th May 2019 on HTC Vive

A Fun, Solid, VR Racing Game with competitive leaderboard.

A very enjoyable VR racing game with nice easy controls (simply leaning left or right to turn) good graphics, and fast, often exhilarating gameplay.

Everything about the game was easy to pick up, and after a quick tutorial at the start I was up and racing in minutes. My first race was against 3 opponents (bots) and the level of difficulty was just right, not too easy and not too hard, but allowed for a steady progression in skill level, and by about my fourth quick race my handling was beginning to improve and I managed to get to 2nd place.

The hoverbikes look great, as did the tracks, which were a good length and well designed, being challenging but never too hard. One even has a 'Loop the loop' section which is incredible, especially if you manage to hit all the boosts on your way around it!

The graphics were great and well optimised, with no stutter at all on my ageing I5 3570 / 980GTX, just a perfect constant framerate ensuring the racing was smooth, fast and uninterrupted.

I tried several racing modes, such as time trials and combat racing which allows for some fun power-ups such as missiles, turbo boost, shield, and my fave (mainly because of the excellent graphical effect) the EMP, which when activated sends out a blue/white electrical shockwave shooting forward along the track, which looked absolutely awesome. The time trials were excellent, allowing you to race against other players 'ghosts' who are near you on the leaderboards, and you can even select how many ghosts you want to race against. This was my favourite game mode, and I found it really rewarding when I managed to jump up the leaderboards by a few positions, and I kept going back for just one go, especially as I felt I was 'In the zone' which is credit to the immersion and fun the game provides. I really can't wait to go back in and have another shot at jumping my way up the pack a bit more, as I get to learn the tracks a bit better with each race.

All in all I found V-Racer to be a highly immersive, incredibly fun VR racer that I'm looking forward to putting much more time into over the coming weeks.

Highly Recommended.

Reviewed by Chris P on 10th May 2019 on HTC Vive

An extremely fun and highly polished sci-fi racer with fantastic arena combat combined.

The following review is based on a pre-release demo version of the game JetX, developed by Singularity Lab.

I'm not sure when I first heard mention of the sci-fi racing game JetX, but it seems like it was at least a couple of years ago now when I first read about the concept and saw some early images of it, so I was extremely excited a few days ago when I read on Steam that its release was imminent, with a launch date set for sometime this month, during March 2019.

A quick look over the Steam store page to refresh my memory of what the game was all about was then enough to convince me that I really needed to try it, and so I quickly reached out to the developers to see if they wouldn't mind sending me a review key, and that's exactly what they did, kindly sending me a code for a limited pre-release version of the game so that I could review it for the VR Explorer website. As the key code dropped into my email box my excitement levels went through the roof, and before I knew it I was downloading the game, prepping my play space, and removing any distractions that might interrupt my planned playtime with this awesome looking sci-fi racer. Please note: no people, pets, or phones were harmed during this process!

As per usual, a few PC problems decided to arise right at the exact moment I was about to play, and almost put paid to my planned night of VR sci-fi escapism, but a few restarts later, another couple of cups of tea to calm the nerves, and the PC was back up again on its feet and I was raring to go, and with fingers crossed I hit that play button.

I must say even the JetX logo on the loading screen impressed me, and without getting too ahead of myself, I felt confident that I was about to have an awesome time and felt very privileged to be about to play the game before most, it just felt like a real honor.

As the loading screen quickly vanished, I was suddenly staring around an impressive looking lobby with the start menu in front of me, and the low-poly graphics and effects were instantly impressive. It felt very polished, and after a quick look at the menu options I headed straight into the tutorial eager to get into some high-speed action, and I found myself in a large open tunnel where I was immediately met by a friendly bot who gave me a few basic instructions on how to move, and how to shoot. This is when I first experienced the method of locomotion and it instantly blew me away - it just felt so incredibly smooth and responsive, as you controlled your thrust with the triggers of both controllers, allowing you to almost hover perfectly, or if the the need arises, zoom off at really high speeds, turning and twisting with a good amount of control - it just felt really good and I wanted to keep zooming up and down the corridors, but felt obliged to follow the hovering robot who was trying to show me other things that the game had to offer, such as rockets to obliterate a huge set of doors blocking my way further ahead.

After demolishing the doors, I followed him/her in to another large room, which contained a couple of portals, one being to the advanced tutorial, which is where I headed, and this is when me and the bot parted ways. I can't say I'd miss him much, but I was grateful for the quick introduction, and maybe I'll bump into him further down the road.

The next section of the tutorial placed me in a large see-through dome area, which had some giant rings floating in a set course inside, allowing me to practise some precision flying. There was also a large screen at one end which showed me more things I needed to know, such as how to lock on to targets, what different power-ups did, and also taught me about energy management, as flying around at speed and shooting, all uses energy, as does your shields.

I really enjoyed this tutorial as it gave you some free rein to zoom around and take it all in at your own pace, and again the graphics were highly impressive, with some of the effects really taking my breath away, such as the ball of Dark Matter that suddenly appeared, which also has its place in the game under one of the many different game modes. From here, once the tutorial was over and I felt it was time to leave the dome, I went back to the lobby and I was presented with two options - Arena, or Race, and so I headed straight into my first race.

There were 5 or 6 of us on the course - myself, and then the rest were bots, and before I knew it I was zooming down the track, my fingers locked on to the boost buttons, draining energy like there is no tomorrow. The tracks are an open sided tunnel which it's easy to fly out of until you get the hang of the controls, and once you leave the track the speed does drop significantly, so straight away I was struggling to keep up with the bots.

The course design was excellent though so I didn't mind stopping (or rather crashing) to admire the view, which again was a stunning sci-fi affair, with cool backdrops to be admired and even alien creatures flying around but never getting in the way of the racing.

I crashed more than once, and also found myself slightly disorientated a couple of times and heading the wrong way, which slightly spoiled the enjoyment as I really am a high speed freak in these sort of games, but after a couple more runs, with my level of control increasing, the course suddenly got faster and faster and I was enjoying every moment of it and couldn't wait to race again and increase my speeds still further. However, after a few races I decided it was now time to check out the arena combat, as I was recording and knew that is probably what the viewers were now waiting for, so in to the arena I headed, and wow, another highly impressive setting that reminded me somewhat of the nightclub location 'The Distracted Globe' from the book 'Ready Player 1' - which is a great book BTW if you haven't read it already, and it is a million miles better than the film, which is best totally avoided, or at least until you have finished reading the brilliant book.

From the moment I spawned in to the arena, which I assume is a dome, I could instantly see its potential for excellent multiplayer mayhem, with walls to hide behind, platforms to launch from, holes to ambush through, and power-ups a plenty, and I suddenly wished the place was full of real people and not just bots, which although the AI wasn't too bad, it never compares to other human players. However, it was probably for the best as I was soon getting my arse handed to me on a plate by the bots and realised that just like the racing, I probably needed a bit of practise, though even as it stood it was immense fun and before long I was zooming around getting a few cool kills as I learned to manage my weapon heat and energy better.

I can only imagine how good it would feel if they had a team mode for this, or a coop mode, though even the all out death-match is going to be awesome I am sure and I really can't wait to play against other humans, whether they are on PC screen or in VR, it's going to be a lot of fun that is for sure, and I am quite confident that the game will attract a lot of players, especially as you don't need VR to enjoy it.

One round in the arena was enough for me, as I was eager to get out of VR and check my recording worked, which thankfully it did, and you can now find the whole play-through on the VR Explorer YouTube channel to watch whenever you like. Please give it a thumbs up if you enjoy the video, thank you! and when you get to play the game please come back to VR Explorer to leave a review and rating, as the more reviews I can get, the more it will help my site to get off the ground, which is always hard when a site is brand new.

Now, for my rating of JetX. To sum up my whole experience, I can honestly say that I have found JetX to be a highly polished, extremely fun experience, though I really feel like I have just scratched the surface of it with the single player game, as I believe this game is heavily focused around its multiplayer element which I really cannot wait to play.

The graphics are excellent, often bordering on the stunning, especially with some of the backdrops and the in-game effects which I really love, and together with the pumping tunes, it all blends to create one super-cool highly playable game that I know I will be playing a lot more of over the coming weeks and months. See you in the arena, or on the racetrack.

Highly Recommended - 9 out of 10.

Reviewed by Chris P on 14th March 2019 on HTC Vive

Fast, Fun, and Thrilling - A new fave casual shooter!

When I first saw the trailer for Beat Blaster, with it's neon graphics, pumping music and fast-paced gameplay with guns, I knew it was something I wanted to play, and as the launch of the game almost coincided with the launch of the VR Explorer website, I decided to reach out to the developers with a request for a key so that I could review their cool looking game for my website. They kindly said yes and sent me one, and today I managed to find a bit of time to give it a go.

I was nervous to start with, as some games play nothing like how they might be portrayed to in the trailer, and I admit to building up a bit of hype for this game, as I thought it looked very cool and extremely good fun. Just from watching the trailer it reminded me of one of my favourite VR demos from quite a while back called TRANCE VR, which was very similar in a variety of ways, including the locomotion, fast-paced gameplay with guns, and a pumping soundtrack. So I fired up the game and jumped straight in.

The game gives you a choice of 3 types of locomotion - two types where you use your head to guide you through the courses, and one where you use the thumbpad. I tried both head locomotion systems to start with but soon found both to be a little bit tricky so I finally settled on the thumbpad movement, which was a lot easier and less stressful, helping me to stay alive longer with each attempt at a level.

The gameplay itself is simple - you speed through a futuristic course trying to avoid obstacles and shooting the myriad of enemies and targets that pop up for points, trying to stay alive long enough to reach the end of each level, which is easier said than done as you are also racing against time, as you must finish each level before the song finishes, which ensures you don't hang around, and also adds to the adreneline rush you feel with each attempt.

I loved the shooting in this game. You get the choice of either two handguns or a submachine gun, and seeing as I had one hand busy with locomotion, I eventually opted for the machine gun, which with the trigger held down let out a constant stream of bullets enabling me to literally blitz my way through the level, destroying everything I could in relentless waves of machine gun fire - it felt awesome! and on moments made me feel like I was Neo during the lobby scene of the Matrix, as I literally sped my way through the course with shards of the enemy raining down on me as I blasted them into tiny fragments. It really was a cool feeling especially when things get fast and frantic. The level design is just brilliant, as one minute you can be firing across a vast area, and the next shooting enemies right in front of your face, but it never gets too overwhelming or too hard, with the balance seeming to be just right.

The graphics in the game are a cool retro neon style, which I like, and which suits the game perfectly and ensures little chance of low frame rates even on low end machines. I have a i5 3570 and a 980ti, put settings on high and it was as smooth as butter without any problems at all. The graphics are also music reactive, with things moving and bouncing around to the beat of the songs, which looks really good as you're racing through the levels, and along with the music itself helps you to become really immersed.

The game also boasts 'Ambisonic Audio' on its Steam page, but I have no clue what that is or what it does, however what I did notice was that each time I played, the level was slightly different than the time before, which is another thing I think the developers mention on their Steam page. This kept the game feeling fresh and I never had that feeling like I'd seen it all before, even after many attempts at the same level. It never got tiring or boring during my 40 plus minutes of initial gameplay.

Each level (I got to level 3) also introduced new cool enemies (some really big ones) and different ways to kill you, which again made you want to keep playing to see what was around the next corner, and I found myself wanting just 'one more go' even when I knew I really should be quitting.

Watch the trailer or my gameplay video, and if you think this sort of fast-paced arcade action looks like fun, then I highly recommend that you give it a go. I'm not sure how many levels there are, but the game boasts 30 different songs, so my guess is it's quite a few.

8 out of 10 - Highly Recommended.

Reviewed by Chris P on 12th March 2019 on HTC Vive

A wonderful game that I can't wait to play more of

From the moment the game started up, I was immediately wowed by it all. From the gorgeous scenery surrounding the beautiful tranquil lake I was on, to the wonderful ambient sounds of insects and birds all around, it was like a sudden soothing of all the senses, and I knew already that this game was going to be something special, which is exactly how it turned out.

You start off the game sat in a small wooden rowing boat containing all you need for an enjoyable day out on the lake, including refreshments of beer and sandwiches, a radio that lets you tune into different local stations, an ice box to store your fish in, and of course a rod and line and some bait to catch your fish with.

Fishing is instinctive and easy to get to grips with, being a simple case of putting the bait on the hook, and then casting out into the beautifully clear waters, where your float sits on the surface waiting to be pulled under by any of a variety of nice looking fish.

Once the fish bite, it's a fairly uncomplicated affair of not letting the line get too taut, so giving line out when the fish pulls, and then reeling him in as he tires, just like you would in real life. Pop him off the hook and straight into the cooler if he's big enough to sell, as every time you close the lid on a fish, your money earned goes up allowing you to purchase upgrades and items from the shop, including more refreshments and a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. The shop is accessed through a book contained on the boat, which is a handy little feature.

The graphics in this game are truly excellent, with a slightly cartoony look rather than something ultra realistic, which is fine and helps keep the frame rate silky smooth which it was all the way through on my relatively old system. The scenery was wonderful, and you couldn't ask for a more picturesque setting to be transported to, all in all helping to keep you incredibly immersed.

The rod and line felt great to handle and the line moved naturally, which again helped with the immersion, unlike some other games where the line has remained rigid and completely taken me out of the game on many occasions. Casting out was superbly done too, allowing you to be really precise with each cast, so you could get your bait out to exactly where you wanted to put it, such as close to a reed bed, or out near the middle of the tranquil lake.

Rowing was intuitive and enjoyable, simply grab the oars and off you go, which really added a new dimension to the game and a level of freedom I hadn't expected to feel. This allows you to completely explore the lake, parking your boat wherever takes your fancy, and it was a really wonderfully relaxing experience simply rowing around the lake for the first time, enjoying the sights and sounds that the game has to offer.

I probably spent almost 2 hours in the game on my first play session in order to compile this review, but I could have easily whiled away many more, as it just felt so peaceful and enjoyable being alone on the lake, doing something I enjoy, surrounded by beauty and the incredible ambient sounds, and I can honestly see myself spending way too much time in this game already.

One thing I think would really add to the ambience and realism is to see or hear the occasional fish jumping out of the water to catch one of the flying insects. This is something all fishermen like to see and get excited about, and was something I really missed whilst playing, and I am really hoping they can add this to the game, as it really would up the ambience another notch or two to incredible heights, but that really is my only negative, if you can call it that.

One small thing that may need looking at is the button press that initiates the tutorial at the beginning. For some reason I did not press the button long enough to move to the next step, which left me with a controller in my left hand in-game for a good half hour or so until I managed to sort it out. Perhaps they should change it to 'Press and hold' instead of just 'Press' on the instructions, which should cure any confusion. Apart from these two small things, and they are only minor issues after all, I found the game an absolute joy to play and hands down the best fishing experience I have had in any computer game. In fact it was one of my favourite experiences in any type of VR game thus far, and I rate it up there with some of the best experiences available today to play in VR.

Score - 8.5 out of 10

Beautiful graphics, wonderful sound, and one of the most immersive VR games to date. Highly recommended and a must-buy if you have even the slightest interest in fishing.

Reviewed by Chris P on 10th March 2019 on HTC Vive

Spoiled by a couple of important things.

Real Fishing VR has some fun elements and is quite polished over all, however, the lack of life-like physics applied to the line really spoils the immersion, and the casting the line out to sea has no real weight to it, so you can't control the cast and place the bait where you want. These two things alone make it hard to recommend the game, which is a shame as the rest is nicely polished and well done, but the bits that matter most are not. Lets see if they improve things in the next few weeks.

Reviewed by Chris P on 6th March 2019 on HTC Vive

Fun WW1 dogfighting

Got really excited when I first saw this on Steam, and it doesn't disappoint at all. Yes the graphics may be very rudimentary, and the game lacks even a main menu at this very early stage, but it's great fun and everything so far feels really well implemented - the controls, the flying and the physics, the sound fx, and the ai's not too shoddy either! A great job so far and a game I'll be following very closely indeed.

Reviewed by Chris P on 30th December 2018 on HTC Vive

Enjoyable RPG shooter

A fairly good RPG. Grab it when it's on sale, you won't regret it

Reviewed by Chris P on 31st March 2018 on HTC Vive

Family Favourite

The first real popular music game on the Vive and still a firm family favourite. Great fun and highly addictive.

Reviewed by Chris P on 26th March 2018 on HTC Vive

A truly moving experience that everyone should try

There are videos of grown men being moved to tears by this experience. One of the first and still one of the best VR experiences out there.

Reviewed by Chris P on 25th March 2018 on Oculus Rift