Farpoint Review – Great gun, bland game

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As Resident Evil 7: BioHazard and Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood have proven, Sony’s PSVR is capable of giving an edge to developers who want to terrify and unnerve players.

Scenes in games that would appear rather sanguine in a traditional setting take on a sense of urgency once a PSVR is strapped to one’s head – more so if a player is using a decent set of headphones to block out any remaining traces of the real world.

Farpoint is further proof of this if any were needed. Impact Gear’s sci-fi FPS adventure would hardly raise an eyebrow without its VR component. With it, the action that unfolds becomes far more immediate and tense… at least initially.

Farpoint Review – In your face

For the most part, Farpoint’s story takes place on an alien planet filled with a variety of multi-limbed, hostile creatures. The game’s protagonist is part of space mission that crash-landed and the lion’s share of the plot involves tracking down a couple of lost compatriots. There’s not much else going on in this narrative; it’s simply a framwork to give the player a reason to shoot a lot of alien beasties. Without the VR it would all feel rather pedestrian.

So the VR, in conjunction with the game’s decent visuals and an admittedly superb soundtrack, elevates the experience significantly. Up close and personal, forward progression feels tense and eerie, and some segments that make the player feel like they’re caught in an alien dustbowl that diminishes their draw distance, give the game an almost Silent Hill-like quality.

When the aliens start appearing, all concerns save survival go clean out the window. This is because as they hurtle towards the player, a nail-shredding sense of terror is almost inescapable – especially in the case of the smallest variety of alien, who’s preferred tactic is to fly at the player’s face.

Farpoint Review – Shallow planet

Over time, though, this visceral reaction the player has to their surroundings starts to wane somewhat as their skin can’t help but thicken. Once this starts to happen, Farpoint’s shortcomings are thrown into very sharp relief.

For a start, the player’s range of movement is laughably small; sure, they can look around in a 360 degree arch and drink in alien vistas or hide behind the odd rock, but they’re only able to move forward and backwards and sidestep to either the right or left. After a while, they’ll realise that the ‘planet’ they’re on is really just one very long corridor.

Furthermore, the variety of actions on offer is tiny when compared to other FPS games. Yes, the primary way most games of this genre have players interact with their surroundings is through the barrels of their guns, but Farpoint offers only two actions; shoot or scan. In the case of the latter, players can emit a beam at certain points to reveal the past activities of the people they’re searching for. In the case of the former, they’ll get hold of a few more weapons, but that’s it.

Toss in bland environments, the limited number of enemies the game provides and the fact it takes roughly five hours to complete and Farpoint would be laughed out of town were it not for its VR component.

Farpoint Review – Hey man, nice gun

To top it all off the best part of Farpoint is the peripheral it comes bundles with, the PS Aim Controller – and even this praise comes with a couple of caveats. First, punters need to be willing to shell out R1 399 for the bundle (the game on its own costs R845). Second, the Aim Controller is one of the silliest looking peripherals ever made; visually it looks like someone stuck a glowing ping-pong ball on the end of a couple of pieces of plastic piping.

It looks so daft that it feels weird admitting the Aim is the best thing about Farpoint. Once players have it in their hands they’ll notice it feels a lot more solid than it looks and that all its interface options are incredibly well set out.

The thumbstick, D-pad, Share button and Options button are set inside the foregrip, while the L1 and L2 triggers are situated on the outside. The face buttons surround the rear-end of the controller, which also houses a second thumbstick, with the home button and touchpad on top. The R1 button sits either side of the trigger (which is R2) so southpaws needn’t feel ignored.

In-game, the Aim looks and feels like a real weapon thanks to the VR visuals replacing its ridiculous appearance with a futuristic-looking gun, which players can examine from pretty much any angle by turning the Aim around in their hands. When fired, rumble-motors inside the device give a satisfying kick and really, the only thing missing to make the experience feel more real is the smell of cordite.

Farpoint Review – Verdict

One hopes that there are more FPS experiences on the way for both the Aim and the PSVR, because Farpoint is just too bland and shallow to recommend wholeheartedly. In a way, it feels like a tech demo for what may soon be possible on the PS4 with this set up. Farpoint is only the best experience on PSVR and Aim because right now it’s the only game in town. It’s likely that in a few years it’ll feel like a relic. Better to save your money for the time being.

  • Farpoint was reviewed on a PS4. A retail copy (complete with PS Aim peripheral) was provided by the publisher.