Also On: Meta Quest, Steam VR, Pico
Publisher: Vertigo Games
Developer: Vertigo Studios
When I first played the original Arizona Sunshine back in 2017 on the original PlayStation VR, I was intrigued with what it was trying to do with it’s presentation and gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, my personal experience fell rather flat as I really didn’t enjoy my time with it. Most of the issues stemmed from glitchy control and awkward in-game movement that lead to some aggravating moments. Now, with Arizona Sunshine 2, I can say that the problems from the original game have mostly been addressed, and very welcome gameplay elements have been added for a much more enjoyable experience.
You are once again in the shoes of our nameless, yet sarcastic protagonist. As he awakens from a drunken stupor and stumbles around his home base for a little while as you get reacquainted with the controls. The game tells you very little on how to do certain things, but with a little trial and error you begin to figure things out. You can either play standing or sitting and while standing gives you a better feel for the weapons belt, it can get tiring very quickly. After you get a feel for the movement, a little light target practice will help you get used to the weapon controls and the weapons belt in game. Soon after you begin, you witness an army helicopter crash and have to make it to help the pilots before the zombies or “Freds” get to them. This begins your quest through a Fred infested world to complete missions, find new weapons and survive to the next checkpoint.
The story isn’t really all that deep and can be summed up as a typical “save yourself, but save the world too” B-movie plot. After getting to the helicopter, the real game begins as you find your new best friend, Buddy, a Fred killing Army Dog that never leaves your side. Buddy is loyal and is vital to your survival as he can be used to fight enemies, move objects out of your way and can even find hidden items. Mastering using Buddy can really help you in heated situations, and you will have quite a few of them.
Getting a grip on the controls is a little difficult at first. The VR2 controllers are good, but can sometimes be a burden with more complex moves. I found myself fumbling with ammo clips and reloading my gun at first but after some practice I got a good rhythm going. Picking up items can sometimes be difficult as you have to be in a good spot to grab anything. Many times I would pull out a weapon or clip while trying to grab a collectable and have to pick up the stuff I accidently dropped. This is NOT a good thing when you are surrounded by a large group of Freds and you will die due to this. Giving yourself plenty of room and adjusting the weapons belt does help with everything, but it will take some time and patience.
One thing I hated in Arizona Sunshine 2 was the climbing aspect. There are times where you climb ladders or shimmy across bars which can be insanely difficult to pull off at times and can really frustrate you. Thankfully, the developers thought of this and provides an option to skip climbing sections which makes everything so much better. You don’t have to use the skip option if you think you can handle the climbing, but this is still a very welcome option. Opening doors and boxes is a lot easier than the first game with no glitching, and you can either use teleport or free movement when moving through an area. Turning your perspective can also be done with snapping or head turning, but there are occasions where this feature did glitch on me and I found myself stuck.
Using weapons is way easier than the first game as well. Previously, I found it way to hard to nail headshots and was wasting ammo on one Fred. Now, everything feels more solid and I was pulling off headshots from quite a distance away. This is great when you are confronted by a seemingly never ending wave of the dead. Combine the tighter controls with using Buddy at the right times and you can survive when against the most incredible odds. Another nice change is the availability of ammo seems to be increased from the last outing. I found myself being not able to carry any more ammo because I was actually full up, and this did NOT happen in the first game and I found myself running out of bullets at the worst times. Needless to say, having more ammo available is always a good thing.
Visually the game is a step up in every way from the first. Shooting a Fred has never been more satisfying as you watch chunks of their bodies fly everywhere. Using the different weapons will result in different splatter and it’s always a site to behold when you down a group of them. The environments look nice but there is very little to interact with outside some material pickups and item boxes. Speaking of material pickups, you can use supplies like glue and scrap metal to create other one time use weapons if you find a crafting box in random spots. There were no instructions on how to use these boxes and I spent a while trying to figure them out. What the game does not tell you is, if you have the right materials, you need to pick them both up and smash them together to make the weapon. An onscreen guide would of been nice here, as I feel many people will be confused by this as I was originally. I think a few post launch patches can address this and some of the other odd behavior I ran into while playing.
Arizona Sunshine 2 is leaps and bounds better than the original game. If the issues from that one put you off, then this one will bring you back for some good ol’ Fred destroying goodness. There some areas of the game that are not perfect by any means, but as I stated, small post release patches can fix those minor issues, and I am sure Vertigo is working on them. After experiencing the first game, I can safely say that playing the sequel was a way better experience overall and can recommend it to anyone with a PlayStation VR2.
Note: Vertigo Games provided us with an Arizona Sunshine 2 PS5/PS VR2 code for review purposes.