Shooting galleries have always been fun, whether it's with fairground air rifles firing down a tin can alley, going to a clay pigeon shoot, or blowing off steam at a real gun range. The world of video games has also tried to mirror this enjoyment, and Duck Hunt on the NES and Point Blank on the PlayStation are two great examples. Even the arcade emulates it with hundreds of on-rail shooters giving you every enemy, animal, and monster under the sun to fire countless bullets at.
Now Lethal VR, brought to you by Three Fields Entertainment and published by Team17, brings the shooting gallery into your own home. Here you can step into the shoes of an FBI recruit and be put through your paces as you shoot your way through various scenarios including some classic film-inspired moments.
The game takes place in a 360 degree arena and has an eighties computer style menu system that looks like it could have been used in WarGames. On the PSVR we tested for this review, the Move controllers let you hold your weapons, and a simple point and shoot will navigate you through the menu panels. Choosing your challenge opens up the shooting gallery in different scenarios, starting with "beginner" where you are put through your paces, first firing with a single handgun at simple pop-up targets. As you progress the targets change, as do the weapons. For the majority of the game you'll be using handguns, but as you make your way through the levels you will acquire sub-machine guns, knives and throwing stars... and a few little extras.
Point your controller at the target and squeeze the trigger to fire, and either the Cross, Circle or Move button to reload. This is all simple enough, but the throwing stars complicate things a bit. We found these the hardest weapons to use and wildly inaccurate. It works by pressing the trigger, pulling your arm back, and releasing the button as you throw it forward, which seems easy enough, but for some reason something isn't quite right. We found it particularly vexing when challenged with hitting specific targets with either the gun or the knife while holding both, but in a strange way it did add to the fun.
The challenges are varied, which is a big positive. Some are as simple as destroying all targets quickly and efficiently, while others require a little more resolve. Civilian targets mustn't be hit, with one stray bullet ending your run, and when the bad guys take a hostage you'll find yourself praying that your aim isn't off.
The action film theme is brought into each level. Finishing the first set of challenges rewards you with a bonus challenge in the form of a golden gun, letting you wield the deadly weapon from the Bond film, firing a single bullet at a time and timing your reloads to make sure you hit the right targets. These film challenges are really fun, adding a great twist to the game, and each level has its own cinema-inspired weapon, each one different to anything you have used previously. There's the huge machete from Crocodile Dundee, Dirty Harry's revolver is there from Magnum Force, there's throwing stars from Kill Bill, the razor-edged hat from Goldfinger, and our personal favourite, the OCP automatic machine pistol from Robocop - that had us shouting out "Dead or alive, you're coming with me!"
The scoring for the challenges is well thought out. Simply hitting the targets will get you through, but Quickdraws, Bullseyes, and Headshots will earn more points, and chaining these together gives bonuses that will help push you up the scoreboards. Each challenge score is then rate; hit the top band and you'll earn the coveted "lethal" rating. The tables for scores are local only and kept old school, with just three initials for your name, which is a nice touch. So if you're playing in a group, you can change the initials for each player and keep track of the best players in your house.
There's a healthy assortment of weapons and the addition of film-themed specials really gives it an edge, with each looking superb. The sound effects for the weapons are also genuinely very good, but we did find that the sound direction a bit weak, hearing a target pop, but unable to tell from which direction, was a little off-putting.
With 31 challenges in all, the game may be a little short, but score chasing is where the fun is at and that should keep you coming back to earn those "lethal" ratings. There's a lot of fun to be had, and the film references will no doubt make people smile as well.