If you haven't noticed, the Planet of the Apes movies has gotten an extremely successful reboot trilogy that just wrapped up recently. Despite this, there hasn't been much in the way of video game tie-ins with it. Last year we finally saw the first attempt with Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, a Telltale-style narrative adventure game. It seems like the apes have come back for a second attempt, this time with Crisis on the Planet of the Apes. A first-person shooter made for VR devices, does this game manage to improve on what came before or is it little more than a lame movie tie-in?
I'll admit beforehand that I haven't actually seen any of the recent Planet of the Apes movies. Thankfully you don't need to do so to understand the basic plot of Crisis. You play as 139, a captured ape imprisoned in a human camp. Thankfully it doesn't stay that way for long, with 139 breaking out with some other apes. That's really all there is to the story of Crisis. There's nothing in the way of twists or new plot threads, this is just a simple escape tale.
Crisis breaks easily into three distinctive gameplay sections. Walking is a bit weird, as the game is almost entirely on rails. You can only walk to specific preset points. To move, you have to look at the ghostly outline that shows where you're going next, select that spot, then swing your arms back and forward like you're physically moving. Strangely you can only move to specific predetermined locations.
One predicament early on hints at future choices by offering a possibly fatal result. Try to leave camp, and you’re gunned down like the animal you actually are. Eventually, I tired of picking the only place I could move to and swinging my arms. By the end of the game, I started to reach for an auto-walk button that wasn’t there.
Things get better when it's time to climb. When you reach these points 139 grabs onto objects and you pull yourself around using your Move controllers. The climbing is surprisingly fluid, allowing you a good range of movement. It's easy to get myself from one location to another, and Crisis does a fantastic job of keeping the climbing interesting by providing all sorts of weird things for me to grab onto. The only spot where the game fails is when it requires me to grab an object mid-leap. The controls never quite work as well as they need to for this segment and it ended up more annoying than anything. Thankfully, this is only a one-time thing.
Naturally, the humans aren't eager to allow apes to escape, so you have to pick up a gun and shoot your way out. When you enter combat, you can dash around several cover points by pointing to one and pulling your hand towards you. This makes 139 move quickly to the spot you signaled. With an assault rifle in his right hand and a shotgun in his left, this monkey is heavily armed. I had a lot of fun with the shooting, and I enjoyed how much I needed to move around and duck into cover during combat. The game manages to be fast paced without being uncomfortable. Much of this is due to the ease I had combining dashing and shooting. You can also move around your cover points easily, letting you pick off enemies from various angles.
While the climbing and combat are enjoyable, Crisis ends way too soon. The game only clocks in at a little under two hours long. None of the mechanics get enough time to settle in and grow. Worse, there's absolutely nothing to do after rolling credits other than start a new linear playthrough. It's a shame, as some extra modes or a longer campaign could easily have set Crisis as one of VR's better games. This is a set of concepts that didn't get enough time to shine.
At least a lot of effort went into the looks. While the game's color palette leans on the overly dark side, this is a technically impressive game. Detailed and well-animated character models help sell the game, as does some nice environments. I spent a good amount of time impressed by what I was seeing.
I can't say I expected much from Crisis on the Planet of the Apes, but I found myself pleasantly surprised by what I did play. I'd hope other VR games will take notes on the shooting and climbing mechanics. However, awkward movement and a short run time does drag the game down some. Still, I think there's enough here that it's worth checking out for both fans of the movies, and anyone looking for something new with their VR headset.
Crisis on the Planet of the Apes was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
While I wish it was longer than it is, Crisis on the Planet of the Apes provides some fun gunplay and neat climbing mechanics. Easily one of the best VR movie tie-ins.
- Fast Paced Gunplay is Fun
- Great Climbing Sections
- Good Technical Work
- Barebones Story
- Awkward Movement System
- Extremely Short