If I said to you “here is a game that does the best parts of the Return of the Jedi Death Star run” and then handed you a VR headset, I predict you would do one of three things:
- Say “FUCK OFF, NO WAY” in an excited manner and grab the headset from me.
- Say “That can’t be right,” and grab the headset from me.
- Grab the headset from me.
Space and VR are a match made in heaven because the very nature of space travel and flight is claustrophobic and expansive. The VR environment both incloses you and gives that grand open scale that we’ve come to expect from years of games, great science fiction and HD camera on probes and the International Space Station. This is why the opening offers from many of the available headsets are including space games from the veterans at CCP.
The Collider 2, by comparison, is all action and simple. The space fighter sim by Shortbreak Studios (which is an internal subsidiary of Dead Island/Dying Light developer Techland) doesn’t have a massive amount to it in so much as you fly a ship across levels and occasionally shoot things. But it does those things, the simple things, really, really well. You are in control of a space craft which has a mission to fly in to the Mothership, a giant space craft that’s currently hammering your home planet in the same way those nuclear blasts in the Terminator movies do. To stop this from happening, you must fly your ship in to the spaceship and through its inner workings in order to destroy it.
There are six mission sections with a total of fifty-four actual runs for you to do in the story mode, along with “Endless Clash” mode that will just keep going for the best scores. During the runs, you’ll navigate various obstacles whilst collecting stars which you can use to buy upgrades and new ships, and power ups to make your run a bit easier. It is fast, smooth and very responsive. You shoot just by aiming at obstacles, you can boost your speed and you can change your view to a rear follow or the spaceship version of a bonnet camera. Effectively, apart from your stick work on a controller, there’s two buttons to press. Simple, easy and accessible.
So how does the VR work? Very well. I experienced it using the Oculus Rift (you can use the HTC Vive as well) and, whilst you have a controller in your hand for the buttons, the motion sensor in the headset controls your movement. This makes the experience very immersive and if you ever go off centre, a simple click of your right stick will set you back to where you’re supposed to be. Just like using the controller you look to where you want to shoot and if something is shootable, then the ship will automatically fire.
One of the best things about the VR mode is being able to feel close and the rush/blind panic of speed. At times you will have timed levels and whilst the game gets incredibly tricky, the fear factor of having this flash literally right in front of your face gets the old blood pumping. It also didn’t give me any motion sickness because, much like driving a car, you’re concentrating on things ahead of you, rather than the blur of everything moving. You’ll also be able to look backwards to see what you’ve traversed/blown up in a 360 degree view, although I don’t recommend doing that whilst going through the level unless you’re brave.
Each run will last around about a minute or so, so you won’t be playing the actual game parts for long. This does give you the perfect break for your eyes and for your head if you decided to only do this in short stints. You could play and finish this game in a day and that’ll be fine. But it’s best enjoyed with little bits and going over previously completed runs to try and max out your star/coin collection. As the levels get progressively harder with spikes, moving passages, weird tubes, laser firing ships, circular vents and the like, you will take longer to get it perfectly down. That’s no bad thing though and because the levels are so quick, you’ll quite happily sit there and get what I call the “RIFTS” – the weird lines on your face from having the VR headset on for too long, and no one will tell you that you have them. Everything is a very conducive length for VR play.
Ultimately what the game does well, the simple things, is why it actually transposes over to VR rather well. Star Wars-esque fan-boying aside, the concept is easy to understand, the movement is incredibly easy to pick up and the shorter play times won’t have you nauseously falling head first into the floor. Shortbreak Studios game is fun anyway, even more fun on VR and at an entirely acceptable low price of $9.99/£6.99/€9.99. Which I honestly feel is quite a steal. I mean look at the face in the picture. That’s my face, playing the game. Look how happy I am! You can actually buy that. So if you’ve got a VR headset, why not do so? It’s available for use on both Oculus and HTC Vive so there’s plenty of options and even if you don’t have a VR headset, it’s a great arcade space game that will keep you on your toes.