There’s been no shortage of first person shooters since PlayStation VR launched back in 2016. Straight out of the gates we had, RIGS, and Eve: Valkyrie, soon followed by Farpoint, Arizona Sunshine, SUPERHOT, and Raw Data. It’s been fascinating to watch this space grow, seeing how different studios adapt what many consider to be the biggest genre in gaming.
Way behind the rest of the pack, however, is Bravo Team. Developed by Supermassive Games, who are best known for Until Dawn, it’s a draining, soulless, chore-like facsimile of the modern-day shooter that amounts to nothing more than a series of tepid shooting galleries. Even the added immersion of playing in virtual reality, with an Aim Controller in hand and a co-op partner by your side, isn’t enough to save it.
The game’s attempt to draw you into some kind of narrative falls apart almost instantly following a dull introductory sequence. As the titular Bravo Team, you’re tasked with escorting the president of some indiscernible nation in crisis through a hostile zone, only for her to get immediately snatched by – you guessed it – those naughty, naughty terrorists. Behind enemy lines with no back up on the way, it’s up to you and your partner (who can either be AI or another human) to fight your way out to safety.
As always, the game can lean on the simple joy of playing with a friend and chatting as you play. The world has been designed with two players in mind, letting you alternately lay down some cover fire and move, split up to take some of the minor diverging paths, and using voice chat to call out moves and incoming enemies. It’s easy to say that the game it at its best by far in co-op, to the point that it should be considered essential.
Bravo Team can be played with a DualShock 4, two Move wands, or a PlayStation VR Aim Controller. It’s great to see Supermassive make an effort accommodating as many players as they can, but what many probably won’t have been expecting is for the DualShock to come out on top. While arguably more immersive, getting you to position your arms like you’re holding an actual rifle, the Move and Aim controllers were consistently less accurate and more tiring to use.
Compared to the small list of games mentioned at the beginning of this review, Bravo Team doesn’t allow free player movement. Instead it adopts a cover-based system, allowing you and your partner to advance incrementally, manually selecting where you want your soldier to reposition. Every time you move, you switch to a third person camera, see your character run forward to cover and then snap back into first person.
It’s an interesting alternative and it’s somewhat reminiscent of light gun games as you pop in and out of cover, but it’s a system that quickly loses its appeal. Annoyingly, some points offer no protection at all, even as you physically cower behind them, and are finicky to switch between, especially when constantly under fire. What’s worse is how reliant on cover your enemies are, popping up for a split second before disappearing, like some carnival shooting gallery.
As a result, each and every gunfight is drawn out way longer than it needs to be and to exacerbate things even further, Bravo Team has a penchant for calling in additional waves of goons just when you thought you could move on. It wouldn’t be so bad if every shootout were different or dynamic in some way.
Although it’s a decent looking game, considering the nondescript modern combat aesthetic it adheres to, there’s no real sense of character or atmosphere. This may be easy to ignore if playing online with a friend in chat but there will no doubt be a sizeable number of lone gunmen out there, forced to suck up uncomfortable blandness.
Ultimately, Bravo Team adds nothing to the VR shooter scene and it’s somewhat baffling to see Sony pushing the game so hard considering how it has turned out. If you were considering paying top dollar for that tempting Aim Controller bundle then don’t.