In Tumble VR and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Supermassive Games brought us two highlights of the PSVR's launch line-up . But that was then and this is now and Bravo Team, Supermassive's latest release, fails to impress on pretty much every level.
It comes hot on the heels of The Inpatient, another severely disappointing release from the studio in what's turned into a bit of a stinker of a run. From the very first moments, you sense that something is just off. You feel gigantic inside your virtual body and it takes a good while to adjust to these new dimensions. Unfortunately, this is just one of the many ways in which Bravo Team fails to provide a believable or immersive experience.
As a cover based shooter, akin to a VR version of Time Crisis, Bravo Team offers an incredibly limited range of movement. You can stand up or crouch behind cover at the touch of a button - other than that, though, your avatar's position remains completely static. Whilst hiding behind cover there is a semblance of immersion; you can peek around corners, duck behind cover or hold your gun above your head to blind-fire at targets but all that falls apart once you decide to advance to a new piece of cover.
When you select the new location your avatar will automatically run to that spot, instantly snapping your view from first to third person. The way Bravo Team wrestles control from you like this is obviously an attempt to eliminate nausea, but the effect is jarring and prone to camera glitches. Often I'd find myself facing a wall, looking away from the action and unable to alter the positioning other than by turning my whole body 180 degrees. Completely pulled out of the moment I was only able to regain my bearings once the avatar had reached their destination and the gameplay snapped back into first-person.
Even the added novelty of the Aim Controller doesn't help. In 2017's mediocre Farpoint, using Sony's plastic peripheral was the highlight of the game; in Bravo Team however, aiming down virtual iron sights feels like a chore. It's unwieldy to use because the position of the gun on screen often feels detached from the position of your hands in real life. This makes it hard to aim anyway, but I also detected some controller lag which made it feel the reticle was trying to play catch up with my movements.
Your arsenal is limited to four firearms only (the absence of grenades is notable), all of which lack punch and feel ineffectual even without the aiming issues. Worse still is that the two guns with sights, the rifle and the sniper, come with a litany of bugs. Occasionally, when crouched behind cover, the rifle just won't fire, even if you have have a clean shot on an enemy through the sights. During the times this happened to me, the gun would return to firing as normal once I changed its position in 3D space or toggled my avatar to a standing position. The sniper rifle is even worse; its scope is utterly broken and will often go black for no discernible reason.
And the bugs and glitches don't end there - the AI is also in desperate need of a good talking to. The long list of flaws I encountered range from enemies just straight up ignoring you even though you're stood right next to them, through to your AI partner suddenly passing through solid objects. It's scruffy at best, but at worst it's just plain broken.
At least it's all kept brief, running to about three hours for a playthrough. To pad out the campaign and trick you into thinking it's a lengthier experience, Supermassive commits one of the biggest sins in first person shooters by giving the game infinitely spawning enemies. One after another, Bravo Team vomits out cut-and-paste bad guys from dead-end corridors. They follow identical routes and crouch behind exactly the same pieces of cover that tens of their friends have only just died behind. They pop up and down brainlessly like whack-a-moles and when they're finally dispatched, another clone quickly comes along to take their place. The only way to stop this from happening is to push forwards, at which point your foes will helpfully fall back to another position so the conveyor belt can start all over again.
Playing with a human companion elevates this dire experience by a tiny degree, but not enough to salvage it all. Bravo Team sells itself as a cooperative tactical shooter but anyone expecting a Rainbow Six vibe will be sorely disappointed. Here, tactics and teamwork boil down to nothing more than deciding who flanks to the left and who flanks to the right. Considering the levels are almost completely linear, bar a few very short detours here and there, this is a choice you'll hardly ever need to make.
Visually the game is a dreary mess. If the primary colour in a level isn't one of five depressing shades of grey, then it's the type of video game brown that ceased to be fashionable at some point in the late 2000s. You know which one I mean - the kind of miserable brown that reduces distant objects to a smudge and makes you feel as if you've had shit smeared all over your eyeballs.
Bravo Team is a disastrous effort, a low budget shooter that I'd group with Rogue Warrior, Turning Point or Hour of Victory as one of the worst examples of the form, all from a development team that, in the past, has proven itself capable of brilliance. It fails to provide anything more than a threadbare feeling of immersion and it actually does the cause for VR as a credible platform more harm than good. I don't know what went wrong here and to be honest I'm not sure I even want to. I just want to draw a line underneath Bravo Team and forget it ever existed.