Horizon: Call Of The Mountain REVIEW (PSVR2)
''ITS THE CLIMB''
Published: Playstation Studios
Genre: Virtual Reality
Release Date: Feb 22nd, 2033
*Review copy provided to me by PLAYSTATION*
Horizon: Call Of The Mountain is the latest entry into the fabled franchise, but this time in a brand new way with VR. Developed by Firesprite and published by Playstation Studios, the developers aim to bring the great gameplay and gorgeous graphics of the console games into the world of Virtual Reality. But, do they succeed in this effort? or do they come up just a tad bit short? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
Ascend the towering peaks of the Carja Sundom as Ryas, a disgraced former soldier, and unravel a new mystery surrounding the machines to redeem yourself and save your people. You will also meet Aloy, other familiar faces, and new characters along the way.
''WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT!?''
Call of the Mountain, a game developed by Firesprite, aims to capitalize on the popularity of Horizon Forbidden West and Sony’s foray into virtual reality gaming with the PlayStation VR 2. It places less emphasis on the story of Forbidden West and instead focuses on delivering a visual spectacle. Which is more than you can say about my dumb dumb face. The game is a technical showcase, providing exhilarating combat and breathtaking visuals. However, the game often operates at a relaxed pace, which may prevent it from thrilling consistently from start to finish. Basically its a slow crawl with a ton of gameplay mechanics to keep you engaged in place of the bombastic story you'd expect from the main games. But that's not always a bad thing.
Think about it being similar to a Disneyland ride that's on rails and straight forward, similar to that. This is where Call of the Mountain takes the Horizon experience and condenses it into a more manageable size while trying to keep the same flavor. Flava Flave!, Ok my bad, I had to get that out of my system. The game's opening sequence exemplifies this, with a soaring Stormbird and towering Tallneck dino-bot rudely interrupting a peaceful river cruise. The awesome thing about this scene, besides looking great, is that It just made me want a first person Jurassic Park game in this style. I too want to be able to run away from a T-REX, get eaten, and die a horrible death sitting on the toilet, life goal. Wait what?. Further highlighted by the awe inspiring scenario, just like the main consoles counterparts, the developers seem to put a big emphasis on the game's stunning vistas and detailed machines that populate the world and to me, its such a top tier credit to the work done by Firesprite in translating Guerrilla's original art design into a functioning and breathing of life game on Playstation VR 2. That's no easy task at all.
''MUST GO FASTER, MOST GO FASTER''
The first time players see the scale of some of these creatures is a sight to behold, with the shift to a true first-person perspective emphasizing their true size. This was good and bad for me considering I am scared of heights and there's areas with lot of wall scaling that made me NOT want to look down, otherwise I'll end up being like raccoon in Ace Ventura 2 and wind up falling to my death. No thanks. In regards to haptic feedback's functionality for this title, the way it felt in the controller and headset further enhances the experiences that unfold for you, with the ground shaking as these massive machines pass by or the feeling of weight as you shimmy alongside dangerous cliffs. You feel every bit of it and it only grips further into the world and the immersion it wants to give you. While not the best VR2 game I've played so far, to me though, the game is still a showcase for the PS VR2 - with huge spectacle blending with small details, such as the ripples in the water and the splashes made by the feet of giant machines and even to the way targets break as you use L2 to reach behind your back, grab an arrow, use your R2 button to pull it and yank it back and fire away. You feel the tug of the string and the impact of your wooden targets. You almost feel as great of an archer as Robin Hood in Men In Tights, homing missile and all. Oh yeah baby.
In regards to the games overall length and how long it will take you to blister through the games roughly six-hour campaign, you'll notice it takes the essence of Horizon's gameplay and boils it down into a much more manageable set of tools that work well in Virtual Reality play space. Instead of just one click button presses, now you must physically grab onto you a ledge, grip tightly, lift your arm, adjust and then repeat with the other arm as if you're literally climbing. I personally played this way for my playthrough, and maybe I'm just a little ween weakling, but I started feeling it in my arms after quite a bit of playtime. Heck yeah, now I can go from lifting 10 pounds in real life to 10.5 pounds. I'm She Hulk without the god awful CGI, lets go. Besides intuitive control schemes, there are other things in the game that make it worthwhile as well, such as rocky landscapes to explore, hostile machines to take down, and puzzles to solve. Sure, that experience is a pretty linear one, absolutely, one immensely that stands in contrast to Zero Dawn or Forbidden West's vast open worlds, but to me, that's perfectly fine, not everything needs to be open world or open ended to be great. Look at Star Wars Tales From Galaxy's Edge on PSVR 2 for an example. That title is linear, straight forward, not open ended or super open overworld, but yeah, much like Call Of The Mountain, offers an extremely fun way to play in an already familiar universe for fans of their respective franchises. So yes, while its linear at its heart and soul, there is SOME leeway to do a tiny bit of exploration and every now and then and when you find off beat paths of the sort, you will be occasionally rewarded with fun side activities to take on. They aren't robust, but come on, it's better than paying $70 for game and then realizing everything you had already played in its Beta was 95% of the released game at $70. Right, EA?
''If a bird would poop on it now, it would be all over''
As far as movement goes, cause you know me, Ms. Motion Sickness, players have two movement options: a gesture-based system that moves you around when holding down Square and X and imitating a running motion with your arms, which makes you look as dumb as Loyd in Dumb and Dumber when he's acting like he's running while driving in their van because it makes it look like he's running faster, yup, that was me. But of course, you also have a more traditional analog stick-based system to move around with, which for me was a no go, I didn't really feel like puking this go around like I nearly did when I first tried free roam movement on Star Wars, yuck. Even though you can choose which system in place suits you best, I still recommend the gesture system as the preferred method as it makes players feel less nauseous when playing for long stretches. as I stated before. But it also makes it feel like YOU are physically moving within this world and your character is not just a character in the game - and instead is literally you, especially when climbing through the significant portions of the game, with players asked to climb cliffs, vines, ice walls, and rocky surfaces. The climbing isn't overly challenging, but It can actually get a bit tiring on your arms like I alluded to earlier. Call Of The Mountain? more like Climb Of The Mountain, am I right?. No? ok. Well just for that, I'm just going to play Miley Cryus ''ITS THE CLIMB'' on repeat as your punishment while climbing the mountains in this game because you didn't laugh at my joke. I have to listen to Mariah Carey every Christmas, so its about time I get to punish someone else. Only fair right?
Having said all that about traversal and despite the game's climbing sections, combat against all manner of unfriendly machines in mini-arenas is often the highlight of each mission. It's where the immersion of the game takes hold, and the rhythm of combat is established. The game's signature Horizon weapon, a bow, is the primary weapon, with various arrow types available to players. What shocked me about it was how responsive the handling for the bow actually was. At no point did it ever feel glitchy, buggy or anything cheap and legit felt like I was the one pulling back the arrow along with the strings, and feeling the power of it as I struck a foe. When I would do really well, I'd feel like Gizmo impersonating Rambo or even as great as the Orcs when they shot and killed Sean Bean for the 100th time in his iron clad contract. Yes, even in this review of mine, he is contractually obligated to die. Its just the way it is folks. He like's it that way. If I had to describe Call of the Mountain's combat overall to people who are curious, I guess one word that comes to mind is, exhilarating. I use this word due to the way players are required to dodge and weave between enemies' attacks when they come at you and the further you progress in the game, you gain items such as The Grabcaster, which is introduced later in the game, and to me, it adds more excitement to the combat sections. However, players may feel frustrated that combat sections are less frequent than the climbing sections, which is definitely a head scratcher. Sure, the climbing on vines feels amazing, pulling yourself up cliff walls is awesome as heck, but why would you make a really engaging and fun combat mechanic that is both intuitive, responsive and fast paced and just be like ''meh, its whatever, just put another vine there and call it a day''. Come on, you sound like my lack of creativity when I would play Mario Maker and when I couldn't think of anything smart or enjoyable to make, I'd just go ''ill make the level unbeatable hard and call it a day''. Yup.. and thus began my sadistic levels with 50 bob-ombs and endless pits. I'm a monster.
''Pucker your butt or fall''
At the end of the day, Call of the Mountain is a remarkable technical showcase that's fun to play in VR, with its stunning vistas and trademark machines that populate its world. amazing climbing mechanic, fun combat, gorgeous visuals, immersion of dual sense, all great, however what could hold it back for some is the game's relaxed pace that may prevent it from being thrilling consistently from start to finish like fans know and love from the franchises console counterparts. Another thing that may be seen as a negative are the over use of climbing sections. You can definitely tell they took so much pride in these and I don't blame them, it's fun as a heck, however, the over abundance of them may steer people away from it if it becomes to overbearing for them. But even despite these negatives, I still had a great time playing through it and much like what Playstation has done with their regular console exclusives setting the bar for console quality, so to does Call Of The Mountain set a good standard quality for Playstation VR 2 games. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW