Vertigo 2 review: VR game between Half-Life, genius, and madness
Vertigo 2 is the successor of the SteamVR cult hit from 2016, winning us over with almost perfect gameplay.
When there is a lack of AAA shooters in the PC VR space, indie studios have to fill the void. After 2016's surprisingly compelling game Vertigo, lone fighter Zach Tsiakalis-Brown is back with a sequel. He also developed Vertigo 2 largely on his own. This is not a disadvantage, as our review shows.
Vertigo 2 review in a nutshell
Vertigo 2 brings old-fashioned, uncomplicated fun back to the VR shooter! There's no crafting or waymarkers in this homage to Half-Life, just challenging gunfights with gorgeous weapon handling, varied puzzles, and endearingly dorky humor. Action fans with PC VR headsets should not miss this insane trip!
You should play Vertigo 2 if you ...
- want a shooter with a wild storyline and whimsical humor,
- are looking for excellent weapon handling and exciting battles, and
- like extensive and varied story adventures.
You should not play Vertigo 2 if you ...
- are allergic to memes and silly humor,
- expect technically elaborate high-end scenery, and
- expect modern role-playing elements or loot-hunting.
A new shooter hit for SteamVR?
The story comes across in the tried-and-true fashion of Valve classics. A variety of crazy characters with sometimes dubious motives send you on a journey to a broken quantum reactor. On the escape home, all kinds of bizarre creatures and plants from other universes invade the world.
After the way-too-easy demo, I was downright shocked at how challenging and finely balanced the gunplay is in the rest of the game. If you're skilled enough, the submachine gun clears out heavy guard robots or dinosaurs with a lot of power and a focused alternate beam. Hidden guns, hordes charging through space, and other surprises consistently bring life to the game.
The handy weapon upgrades are also useful. With a ranged revolver and laser attachment, a shot from the hip can reliably take down even entrenched sniper robots. The weapon handling is so straightforward and grippy that the use of evasive maneuvers is pure joy!
The wrist inventory for grenades and energy syringes is strongly reminiscent of Half-Life: Alyx. No wonder: The developer contributed significantly to Valve's exceptional shooter. Free movement and teleport jumps also complement each other very well here. Gamers with sensitive stomachs can switch completely to teleportation if they wish.
All of this meshes with ease that indie titles like Bonelab, Hubris, or Lonn can only dream of. Instead of struggling with physics every now and then, I rush elegantly through the levels.
Vertigo 2 is full of variety
Technically, the experience is also much cleaner. Some rough textures or "angular curves" are reminiscent of Valve's old flatscreen models, but this hardly detracts from the imaginative art design.
The game even runs smoothly on older computers. There are also high-resolution details to discover here and there, such as the lovingly animated grin clock, which serves as an energy indicator.
The virtual reality shooter, which takes about ten hours to play through, does not have to hide from big productions in terms of scope and variety. Dive through caves via motion control, shoot lava monsters on boats and rafts, use the sword to knock flashing bullets back at one of the big bosses, and help liberated security robots in a civil war.
Escape scenes from the rising lava and tricky puzzles are also not to be missed. These include searching for security codes and hidden ladders. Spatial, holographic mini-games like rerouting a train with switches almost like a model railroad are also represented.
Charming companions in the VR game
In all the confusion, I don't even know which of my scheming companions I can trust. The cocky but clumsy mastermind Brian and his hovering spherical drone are pleasantly reminiscent of Half-Life: Alyx. Wild twists in the style of Rick and Morty don't make it easy to follow the story at first.
But after some time to get used to it, I began to appreciate the abundance of ideas. From Gordon Freeman's crowbar to Call of Duty memes to a temporary ally made of pitch-black slime, countless wacky details are lovingly integrated into the story.
Despite his hulking form, the faithful Blob is amazingly reminiscent of a dog. Of course, before reaching the elevator, he awkwardly squeezes through the bars instead of using the open door. The comfort settings are also exemplary. They offer settings for standing and sitting play, vignette view while moving, and many other subtleties like snap-turn angles.
Vertigo 2 review conclusion: Great job!
I'm still amazed at how polished and fun this solo project from an indie developer is. Developer Tsiakalis-Brown only got support with small art and gameplay details, but he implemented his vision better than many a big studio could have.
You can buy Vertigo 2 here
You can read all about the Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro in the linked reviews.
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