Gun Jam VR Quest 2 Review: A Wave Shooter With A Twist
Gun Jam VR, the rhythm FPS from Jaw Drop Games and Raw Fury, is now available for Quest 2 and Quest Pro. This fast-paced wave shooter blends intense firefights with a unique beat-pattern shooting mechanic.
An omnipresent beat dominates the futuristic city of Mubel – forcing the inhabitants to dance to its hypnotic tune. It’s up to you to blast your way out of the controlling rhythm by obliterating your robotic opponents to the beat using a pair of dual-wielded weapons.
As with many wave shooters, the concept of Gun Jam VR is simple – enemies appear onscreen and it’s your job to shoot them before they shoot you. If you get hit too many times you die and have to repeat the stage. However, where you might find this game differs from your average wave shooting affair is in the execution.
Gun Jam VR Review – The Facts
Platforms: Quest 2, Quest Pro (reviewed on Quest 2)
Release Date: Out now
Developer: Jaw Drop Games
One of the most distinctive aspects of Gun Jam VR is the beat-pattern shooting system that relies on timing your actions to a rhythm meter. The meter is synced to the beat of the in-stage music and indicates the best time to fire for maximum damage and points. You can think of the gameplay as a Guitar Hero meets Space Pirate Trainer crossover.
The color of your bullets will change depending on how well you shoot to the beat, with gold bullets indicating a perfectly timed shot. Enemies on the other hand have no such rhythm-based shooting requirements and will consistently rain fire down upon you throughout each stage. The sustained action keeps you moving in an effort to dodge the barrage of incoming flak and results in a decent workout.
However, I did feel like there was a mismatch between my beat-based blasting and the enemy’s actions. It was as if myself and the game were at odds with each other, and lacked the same sense of flow you might feel from similar rhythm-based games where on-screen targets are synced to the music.
As for the music itself – your preference for EDM and Metal tunes will go a long way to making or breaking the experience. I was personally somewhat agnostic about the choice of soundtrack, neither really loving nor hating what was on offer. I also found it could do with a wider track selection to prevent the same song from repeating too often across multiple stages. You can check out the trailer below for a sample of the music style.
The enemies themselves come in a few varieties – from the numerous but weak robot dogs to formidable tank-like mechs equipped with rapid-fire weapons and rockets. Each one has a distinctive style of attack that forces you to adapt to each situation and keeps you on your toes.
When it comes to weapons you get two gun types on each level and the ability to switch between them with the press of a button. Selecting the right gun for the right moment is crucial for success. For example, a cluster of flying drones can be quickly dispatched using an area-of-effect type weapon like the shotgun whilst a sniper lurking in the distance is best taken out using something more powerful and precise like the revolver.
Many of the weapons come with a welcome dose of auto-aim which is much needed as the frenzied action barely leaves much time to line up your shots. I found the auto-aim can take your shot in a direction you didn’t want it to go, while weapons like the shotgun still rely on your aiming skills.
There’s a good variety of level types from multi-story towers and nightclubs to moving platforms and a speeding train. Some of them include environmental hazards that can take out enemies in a number of satisfying ways. Hazards range from classic exploding barrels to events triggered by shooting a target – like a crate that drops down crushing enemies below, or a train that speeds past wiping out anyone in its way.
Gun Jam VR Review – Comfort
Gun Jam VR is a comfortable stationary experience but can get a bit more intense on some stages that involve moving platforms or vehicles. There is a vignetting option with adjustable strength to help improve comfort for the parts that include motion. It is best played standing due to the physical activity required to dodge enemy attacks and also contains flashing images throughout.
Yet the variety isn’t enough to completely stave off the repetitious gameplay. More than once I found myself slipping into a disengaged autopilot as I lazily blasted in the general direction of the enemies and let the auto-aim do the rest. This was partly due to the lack of challenge – I was able to complete the main arcade mode in just over 2 hours, clearing most stages on my first try.
After beating the final stage my journey came to an abrupt and disappointing end without so much as a congratulatory message before I was taken back to the main menu. There is also a free-play mode if you want to continue your journey and replay the completed stages with modifiers that make the game harder (or easier) for a new gameplay experience. But the attraction of playing with modified gameplay mechanics or trying to best my previous score wasn’t enough to entice me back – at least for now.
Gun Jam VR Review – Final Verdict
While some of Gun Jam VR’s gameplay mechanics fall short and the soundtrack may not be to everyone’s liking, it’s still a solid and satisfying experience overall. Gun Jam VR is a wave shooter at its core and suffers from the same pitfalls as similar games of this genre. Standing in one spot shooting waves of enemies can quickly get repetitive. Gun Jam’s weapon variety and unique mechanics aren’t enough to completely save it from the jaws of tedium.
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