Preview: ArmZ VR – A Brutal Hands-on Wave Shooter

Remember the third Matrix film? It was definitely the weakest of the trilogy but it did have an epic scene towards the end where the humans were trying in vain to defend Zion by using mechs which had highly manoeuvrable arms to grab the guns mounted on their backs. Playing Televisor’s new virtual reality (VR) title ArmZ VR felt very reminiscent of this cinematic moment, hordes of enemies and giant flailing robot arms.

While ArmZ VR describes itself as a first-person mech shooter, you can’t think of it along the same lines as Vox Machinae or Archangel: Hellfire. There are robot arms but there’s a complete lack of body or legs, with these arms acting as stationary sentries which can hold guns, or simply grab enemies to crush them.

ArmZ VR is set in some weird screwed up future after another world war has taken place. Those who managed to survive humanity trying to destroy itself to the millionth time are now living in desolate ruined cities, protected by giant steel walls. These walls are needed as what lives in the wasteland can only be described as abominations, twisted creatures made up of metal and flesh. And of course there are lots of them, thousands in fact, and they all want to climb into the cities and slaughter the living.

Which is where the ArmZ defence system comes in, giant remotely controlled arms that protect the steel gates. Like you’d normally do in any dual-wielding VR shooter both are completely independent, allowing you to focus firepower on one area or shoot multiple targets across the 180-degree battlefield.

The current Early Access version has six levels with several enemy types, from the bog standard grunts to grunts with bombs on their backs to heavy types brandishing shields for protection. What’s nice to see is the AI  responding differently depending on the enemy, rather than them all charging at you like a lot of wave shooters. So the grunts will try and get around the side of your position for a melee attack – true flanking isn’t quite possible – while the more advanced red versions will actually use cover, standing behind debris as they try to get close.

To start with all you have are pistols and your bare hands. before each level you can select which arm does what, pistol in the left and hand on the right, or how about dual wielding those guns? While you’d have thought two guns are better than one, having an open hand enables you to use the Harpoon option. This allows you to grab enemies at distance, to either hurl them at the landscape or crush them in a vice-like grip. Crushing also has the added bonus of scaring the lesser enemies, making them freeze on the spot for a few moments, excellent cannon fodder. Then as progression is made a mini-gun and rocket launcher can be unlocked.

ArmZ VR is a very visceral gameplay experience, there’s plenty of blood and gore, and the hordes of monsters do have a rather satisfying pop to them once a barrage of bullets is let loose. It certainly leans towards an arcade-style videogame experience, instant gratification but gameplay depth is a little lacking. If Televisor can build more sustenance into Armz VR during Early Access then it could well be one of the better wave shooters to arrive this year.

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