The accessible VR RTS from Phaser Lock, Final Assault, is now out on PSVR. Check out our thoughts on the port in our full review!
When virtual reality arrived years ago, there were a few genres people often expected the tech to benefit most. We heard how horror, racing, and music and rhythm games would be revolutionized once they started to implement headsets, and in many ways they have been.
One genre I didn’t anticipate getting much of a boost from a VR headset is real-time strategy, but play just a few minutes of Final Assault, and it will quickly be evident how virtual reality can innovate even the most unexpected of genres.
Final Assault is a cartoonish take on the RTS genre. With its vibrant battlefields and exaggerated character models, it’s a game that looks as serious as something on Nickelodeon. The sound design is similarly lighthearted. This isn’t a harrowing war story. It’s an animated feature, set in a fictional WWII-like arena but never so much as flying an actual Nazi flag. But what this colorful setup hides is a respectable commitment to its gameplay, amplified in ways only VR can.
Across several game modes including two kinds of campaigns against NPCs, free play, and cross-platform PvP, Final Assault pits players in a tug-of-war for resources. With classic lane-centric map layouts skillfully organized to promote constant tactical considerations, the only thing childish about the game is its color palette. Each side manages a squad of their choosing, split among several Hero characters, and each of them provides a few variations on your available army. Resources must be managed carefully, with cooldown timers affecting strategy as much as enemy movement. Let your guard down too soon or mismanage your soldiers and you’ll be waving the white flag in no time.
A long list of troops, tanks, dogfighters, and more round out a fun roster of war toys and it’s up to you to decide who to deploy as well as where and when to send them into battle. Each unit serves a definitive purpose and part of the fun comes in experimenting to find the right combat strategy.
Have a fighter jet hit the skies and watch as it takes on enemies high above the battlefield. Send in an infantry truck full of soldiers and watch them storm the gates. Your soldiers are reliable enough to wage war on their own should you simply drop them into battle, but the more satisfying moments come when you lead them directly to where you want to focus your attack, even drawing their precise route with the VR controls. Conversely, it’s just as exciting to feel the good anxiety of the genre when the enemy is assaulting your side of the map and your resources are depleted, suddenly seeming agonizingly slow to refill.
These are staples of the genre, and seasoned fans may expect to find these same scenes in any RTS, but virtual reality truly does bring the whole experience to another level. With the headset on, you become the ever-present overseer of the entire battlefield. Combined with the cartoonish style of it all, Final Assault revealed its best but least expected attribute: it makes one feel like a kid with a toy box full of action figures.
Zooming in on over the shoulders of your heroes, dropping cars here, tanks there, hanging an airstrike right over the enemy base, it wasn’t long into my time with Final Assault before I felt like I had time traveled to 20 years ago, like I took a Saturday as a kid, turned my toy box upside down, and let my imagination run wild.
This is all made better by difficulty options that let you ease into the war as slowly or quickly as you want. It can be hectic at first glance, with individual battles happening all over the bombed-out streets, but I found starting on easy allowed me to not only learn the VR controls, but also worry less about my defenses, letting me take in each scene up close, admiring the excitement in every corner of the warzone.
Final Assault uses VR wands, and you can choose which handles troops and which navigates your resource menu, even swapping between them whenever you want to. It’s convenient in that way, but the actual movement may cause trouble. Typically I’ve only ever gotten nauseated while playing VR with first-person games where I’ve walked too closely to walls. But with Final Assault, the pinching and zooming across each map leaves me feeling sick after less than an hour each time. As always with VR, your experience may vary greatly from mine in this regard, but because these motion controls somewhat mirror my legacy issue of walking near walls, I’d caution that you may have a similarly queasy experience if that’s been your problem with VR in the past too.
Final Assault PSVR Review Final Verdict
There’s a fun focus on planning and improvising in Final Assault, making it an engaging, albeit somewhat less involved, entry for the genre even if it wasn’t on a headset, but in virtual reality, the RTS shines as an imaginative chest of colorful toys. Just make sure when you’re planning your attack to call in a supply drop of dramamine.
Final Score: 4/5 Stars | Really Good
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