Beatshapers have crafted their fair share of addictive arcade-style games in the past. With that being said, is their 2011 title StarDrone still enjoyable in virtual reality? Pop an anti-nausea pill and let's take off.
Beatshapers originally released StarDrone back in 2011 for PlayStation 3 and ported it a year later for PlayStation Vita as StarDrone Extreme. I remember playing it obsessively while trying to earn as high of a rank as possible on each of the 60 stages. Now that it's available for PlayStation VR, I just had to try it out. Before starting to play it, I didn't know whether it was an entirely new game or merely a port for VR. Unfortunately, it all felt very familiar once I completed a few stages and upon booting up the PS3 version and comparing them side-by-side, I now understand why. It's basically the exact same game but with VR functionality. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you've never played StarDrone before. Speaking of which, I should probably discuss what StarDrone's all about for those who are unfamiliar with it.
StarDrone is played by aiming and launching a spacecraft from a stage's starting position. You then latch onto nodes that are scattered around the stage in order to steer the craft. Seeing as the ship moves perpetually and there is no gravity to consider, rotating around and letting go of these nodes is the only way to navigate it around the stages. Each stage has a goal which can be to collect all of the stars, make it to an exit, destroy all the enemies, or collect pieces of a star. The variety of goals, imaginative stage designs, and deceptively simplistic gameplay all add up to an addictive formula that makes StarDrone hard to put down.
Seeing as StarDrone is basically the same game that you might have already played on another system, you'd hope that it has some worthwhile features in this VR iteration. On the plus side, you can aim and point at nodes simply by looking at them as well as move your head to scan around stages which is helpful because some of them are massive. Although this new functionality is a welcome addition, the VR visuals don't really pop like many other PlayStation VR games do. It's as if you're just observing a nearly 2D stage in the distance. Once in a while, something may fly towards you and that looks cool but it's just not enough to immerse you in its game world.
StarDrone VR includes 60 stages which is quite a lot. Even if you were to breeze through the campaign, it'll take at least a couple hours to complete it. That being said, you'll probably get snagged on the odd tricky stage which is usually okay because you could always challenge an adjacent stage instead. Even if you manage to beat all the stages, you can still replay them in order to try and earn gold medals. Doing so requires a great deal of skill and efficiency which makes earning them all the more rewarding.
Although I had a fun time with StarDrone VR, I came across some odd glitches that were quite annoying. For example, one stage has a part that's supposed to guide your craft along a path but for some reason, my craft kept going off course only to float away to the abyss of space. Seeing as you have no control in this spot, I could not figure out how to beat that stage no matter how much I tried.
If you've never played a previous iteration of StarDrone then this VR version is sure to provide hours of addictive arcade-style fun as long as you lower your expectations when it comes to its VR visuals.
- + Addictive rotation-based gameplay
- + Being able to look around and aim by moving your head is pretty cool
- + Lots of stages and replay value
- - Doesn't really pop in VR
- - Basically the same game that released for PlayStation 3 back in 2011
- - Currently has some odd glitches