Fracked, yet another PSVR exclusive title, is out now, and it’s a top quality shooter for the platform. Here’s our review.
Developer nDreams gave us Phantom: Covert Ops, and to this date it’s still one of our favorite games on the Oculus Quest. It was unlikely to come to PSVR due to the studio’s cooperation with Oculus on the title, so for PSVR owners it’s great news that Fracked is in fact headed to their headset and was even developed with it in mind – and it shows.
Although Fracked was made almost entirely during a pandemic/lockdown situation, it has all the markings of the quality nDreams brings to their VR titles, pushing the envelope of what’s possible in spite of the restrictions that PSVR (and its Move controllers) impose on them. In terms of delivering an interactive movie experience in VR, this is the most fun we’ve had on PSVR since 2019’s Blood and Truth came out.
And while I originally thought the title Fracked was just a pun, the game actually deals with the process of fracking, and quickly sees you rushing down a snowy slope in between trees as an avalanche chases you – one that was caused by, you guessed it, fracking. It’s certainly a thrilling opening sequence, and one that works well with the controls as you use your head movements to steer.
Although the campaign isn’t terribly long, Fracked does recycle its skiing mechanics, but in a way where it stays fresh. In later levels, you’ll use your Move controllers to fire away at enemies while skiing – which made the fact that I only needed my head in the opening sequence seem far more obvious.
The bulk of the story is not on a downward slope though – most of Fracked is about shootouts that are set in small rooms or arenas, letting you traverse between them using motion controls for climbing, riding a zip line or staying in cover. These sequences have clearly been designed with VR/motion controls in mind, but they’re so immersive that you’ll quickly forget that.
Fracked, like Arashi, is another good example of how PSVR games have matured over the past few years. Reloading and peeking out of cover is all motion/Move-based, and movement doesn’t rely in immersion-breaking teleportation either. Having to pick up ammo by walking over green boxes is a bit ‘videogamey’, but the fact that your arsenal is a bit limited actually works well. Like in Phantom, you have a limited selection of core weapons (a standard gun and an SMG), but for immersion that’s better than having 9 different weapons to cycle between. Special weapons that include a grenade launcher are still available, but are temporary pickups.
The shootouts that make up the bulk of the game are also the game’s highlight, mixing gunplay and traversal as you navigate around the room for cover or a way to flank an enemy and shoot the explosives he’s carrying on his back. Moments where enemies seemingly come out of nowhere can frustrate momentarily, but these moments are exceptions. It’s thrilling stuff, and makes the whole experience feel like a 3 hour long blockbuster movie full of action sequences.
In a way that’s also the game’s weaker point, as it doesn’t do enough with its controls and mechanics to explore other gameplay styles – ones that would have been a great fit are stealth sequences, small puzzles or action sequences that rely more on traversal than shooting. Luckily, that shooting is excellent fun and helped by the fact that the game looks and performs stunningly well. The development team has chosen to go with a cell-shaded look for this one and that doesn’t just help boost the performance, it also does a great job at hiding the underpowered nature of PSVR due to a smaller need for visual details. One of the PSVR shooters yet, and at a time where we thought we’d be waiting for PSVR2 for more quality exclusives.