The revamped Wolfenstein games under the helm of Machine Games have been my favourite shooters of this current generation. Its self-aware tone contrasting with deep and emotional storytelling and hilarious dark, humor has been a hallmark of the series since its soft reboot in 2014, backed by immaculate mechanics thanks to the legendary ID engine. So you can imagine my excitement when Bethesda announced they were giving the series the VR treatment. However, the game that they ultimately produced is a dull and disappointing slog through alleyways scattered with dumb AI, little gameplay variety and a very short playtime. This is one Nazi slaughter-fest you can afford to skip.
Burn Beh-Bee, Burn!
Like the other Wolfenstein games, Cyberpilot is a first person shooter that has you gunning down an army of Nazis. However, instead of assuming the role of BJ Blazkowicz or his daughters (in the recent Youngblood) you take control of a French resistance fighter who steals, hacks and remotely pilots the various robotic weaponry you may have become familiar with in the other titles. Each mission will require you to pilot something different and each has its own playstyle, which adds a pepper of variety to the gameplay. You could be piloting a Panzerhund ripping into the enemy in one mission or stealthily buzzing by in a drone later on.
Thanks to the ID Engine the shooting feels great, but it’s what the developer throws at you that makes this affair a forgetful one. Almost every level is set in greyish alleyways with little real estate to experiment and have fun. It doesn’t help that the AI is as dumb as the machines you’ll operate, mowing them down like rag dolls as you stomp through Nazi-controlled France. They barely react to any of the actions you do outside of noticing your presence and firing their guns. The whole playthrough basically consists of moving forward and firing your weapon, which kind of feels insulting at times.
Just going for a joy-ride!
The game does try to break up the action with mission preludes that involve you hacking into the gear you’re about to pilot in the succeeding mission. There are some interesting moments of interactivity, and admiring the scale of a Panzerhund is pretty cool, but I feel they are drawn out a little too much; which is ironic given how short the whole game is. Overall it took me less than two hours to beat the game without any reason to go back and replay.
Now we get to the controls. Like most PSVR games, each option available has its strengths and weaknesses. DualShock control provides some familiarity (and analogue sticks) at the expense of not being able to independently control each hand, which makes some of the hacking segments frustrating. The Move controllers are a lot more natural and better suited in this regard, but poor button layouts and the lack of analogue sticks makes moving and looking around a chore. It’s just a shame these games have no perfect option, and you will need to make some sort of sacrifice with your choice.
This is the calvary? Pfft…
If I can state one thing that stood out to me as a positive, it’s the visuals. Wolfenstein Cyberpilot looks very pretty for a VR game, with some clean and slick visuals and high fidelity. However, a caveat is that the environments themselves are dull and repetitive and don’t utilize the great art direction some of the other Wolfenstein games have exhibited. It would be nice to switch up the environments a bit to add something fresh to my very short playthrough.
Wolfenstein Cyberpilot is a disappointment given its heritage, but its not an overly surprising one. Pre-release footage didn’t excite me and Bethesda’s attempts at fitting its IP around PSVR (like DOOM VFR) haven’t knocked it out of the park. Though, it is worth noting that VR is still in its infancy and games like Cyberpilot are likely a testing ground to see what works, what doesn’t and how consumers respond. In this case, I wouldn’t say no to jumping into the world of Wolfenstein again in VR, but they need to add a lot more variety to the gameplay and a lot more content to play around with next time. For now, I say if you just want to kill Nazis in VR, maybe wait for a sale.
Reviewed PlayStation 4 Pro and PSVR // Review code supplied by publisher