Arizona Sunshine follows an unnamed character on his journey to find anyone left alive during a zombie apocalypse. While the story is by the numbers, it’s significantly saved by the witty one liners. He calls the zombies “Fred,” and talks to them like he’s friends with them all. Right before a large gunfight on top of the train, he yells at them for not buying a ticket. Following that same fight, he mentions he feels like an action hero for having a gunfight on top of a train. The dialogue isn’t perfect, but when it’s scattered throughout a fairly generic story to lighten the mood after a large firefight, it helps provide a comic relief to an otherwise serious tone.
Arizona Sunshine leaves a strong first impression. Not for the sprawling vistas, the witty dialogue, and frantic zombie killing action that should have been front and center. Instead, it was a lasting migraine that kicked in within the first few minutes of playing the game. Luckily, Vertigo Games added a few different navigation and movement settings into its zombie PSVR shooter that completely alleviated any motion sickness that I had in the first few sessions of playing Arizona Sunshine.
There was one particular motion setting that when turned off, removed any motion sickness I had encountered. This was fixed by switching from smooth navigation to incremental turning when trying to rotate your character. Unfortunately, coming off the heels of Farpoint, which did not give me any motion sickness when playing on the smooth navigation setting, this was extremely disappointing. Fortunately this was not a deal breaker, because Arizona Sunshine ended up being a lot of fun to play, it just required a bit of setting tweaks before my head would stop feeling like it was going to explode.
Vertigo Games added several different control options to Arizona Sunshine. Every PS4 peripheral is compatible with Arizona Sunshine. Players can use Dualshock 4, the PS Move motion controllers, and even the PSVR Aim controller. The standard Dualshock works well enough, but was a little more finicky than the Move motion controllers. Even though support is there, I couldn’t get the PSVR aim controller to work with the game, even after going through control options in the settings menu. Which is fine really, because most players will likely be using one of the first two options, especially since the aim controller was only available in the Farpoint bundle, which is getting near impossible to find at this point.
Using the Move controllers was easily the best control option available. Holding the controller up, aiming down the sight, closing an eye to line up the shot, and pulling the trigger to watch a zombie’s head pop off was a delight. Arizona Sunshine’s aiming is precise, and the controls are responsive. However, when facing a horde of zombies, and needing to turn quickly, the incremental turning made things difficult at times. Against the larger groups, it was trial and error to see where they would come from, and generally resulted in my death. Using the smooth navigation option would have helped in these instances, but the motion sickness trade off wasn’t worth it.
Another drawback to not being able to use the smooth navigation option was the the X button propelled the character forward, and with the incremental navigation, oftentimes, the main character would turn too much in one direction, and players would end up finding themselves turning completely around, backing up, and then turning all the way back around again in order to navigate past a low ledge. Actually moving your character was a bit too difficult, and would have improved player experience dramatically if patched. I did find the reload mechanic to be innovative. When a clip runs dry, players hit the reload button to eject the magazine, and then move the controller to their belt to reload, which is where all extra guns, ammo, and hand grenades are kept. This was a neat addition that brought an added level of tension during larger fights.
Graphically, Arizona Sunshine is great. The colors popped, the environments were beautiful, and there were some really great lighting effects. On the other hand, textures were drab, and most of the interiors of buildings were way too similar. The zombie character models oftentimes were reused, and often the same exact model standing right next to each other during a fight. Environments and lighting were clearly given the most love during development.
Vertigo Games could have packaged just the single player mode and sold Arizona Sunshine as a standalone, but they also packed in a really fun multiplayer horde mode and co-op campaign.
There’s real fun to be had in Arizona Sunshine, just a handful of glaring control and motion sickness issues. The motion sickness problem won’t be a blanket issue, as it will affect people differently, but it is worth saying that this is the first PSVR game to give me any sort of motion sickness. Funny dialog, and incredibly strong control options help bring Arizona Sunshine to life in a world of the dead.
Arizona Sunshine is available now on PSVR and Steam. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided by the publisher for that purpose.