Arizona Sunshine 2

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Arizona Sunshine 2 (PS VR2) – Review

Back in 2016, Vertigo Games introduced us to the ever-gory world of Arizona Sunshine, becoming one of my favourites for the PSVR, as well as a multi-year top-selling VR Game. VR technology has advanced a great deal since then, and now the pioneers at Vertigo Games are back with their next-gen sequel, Arizona Sunshine 2.

How does one improve upon an already gory VR apocalypse? The answer is simple – pack even more gore-filled zombie action! Narrated by the unmistakable quips of our dark-humoured unnamed protagonist, Arizona Sunshine 2 sets you on an all-new limb-strewn adventure in search of answers.

In this post-apocalyptic world where every bullet counts, experience the thrill of realistic combat as you wield all-new and fan-favourite weapons, including Uzis, pistols, assault rifles, crowbars, machetes, and flamethrowers. What’s better than braving the end of the world? Surviving it with your new best friend – Buddy. If that isn’t enough company for you, making its return is fan-favourite co-op mode.

Our adventure begins by waking in a dilapidated, dirty, litter-filled caravan/trailer. Hungover and thirsty, you quickly hunt for a drink and fail miserably. Realising you’ve recycled your empties by either turning them into an ashtray, peeing in them, or puking into them, you head outside for a little target practice. While taking out a few Freds, more commonly known as the undead, you spot a helicopter flying overhead.

Instantly renewing your hope of finally being rescued from this apocalyptic nightmare, you rush over to our potential rescuer. Our protagonist soon discovers that the military is searching for patient Zero.

Devastated, he decides to take it upon himself to seek patient Zero to get out of this hell. Before departing, he hears faint sounds of whimpering coming from the rear of the chopper. Investigating, he discovers a battle-scarred dog who is quickly named Buddy. This intro scene sets the tone for the campaign so well that it’s hard to not fall instantly in love with our new companion.

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a linear, narrative-driven campaign so much. No tedious side quests and thankless grinding. Just straightforward objectives of slaying Freds, and an incredible story filled with plenty of laughs, all with man’s best friend, Buddy.

Some familiar mechanics have made a return, like eating sausages and burger patties to heal. The gunplay has also received some extra love with the latest edition, making what was already incredible even better with manual reloading. You must now eject your magazine, insert a new one, and pull back on a slide or lever. Some weapon reloads are a little different, like reloading the sawn-off shotgun, where you need to pop out the shells, insert new ones one at a time into the barrels, and then snap the gun barrels back into place.

I loved the sense of urgency the manual reloading added to a gunfight against a horde of Freds. Players can carry three weapons at a time, one on either side holster, and one over the shoulder. Even if you find yourself being overwhelmed by Freds, you can opt to switch weapons and reload when it’s a bit safer to do so.

Whether you are stoving Fred’s head in with a crowbar or dismembering them limb from limb with a machete or clever, getting up close and personal has never felt so good, but melee weapons will degrade and break with use.

This is balanced very well, adding to the immersion of surviving the onslaught. On top of scavenging for ammo, players will also be able to gather alcohol and metal. These can be used to craft throwable items like grenades and molotovs, and these can be stored in the handy glove pockets on your hands.

Enemy variety is just as extensive as the ways that you can take Freds down, all of which are equally terrifying in design. I even managed to come across a wonderful nod to the late great Freddie Mercury donning his Iconic Pilot outfit.

Incredible gunplay and gruesome melee combat aside for a moment, I must talk about the thief of my heart, Buddy. Buddy is so much more than just your companion throughout this journey. He is also an asset and guide, and you can interact with your canine companion by giving him pats, playing fetch with Fred’s severed head, or sharing our protagonist’s story with him, and it sells the bond of friendship well.

Buddy is also able to carry two additional weapons for you, attack Freds at your command, and even fetch ammo and items that would be otherwise unreachable. The only other animal companions that I’ve ever felt this close and attached to are my dogs, and this same sentiment seemed to resonate very well with other friends when I joined co-op games, often hearing, how good is Buddy? He’s incredible!

While on the topic of co-op, I thoroughly enjoyed teaming up with a mate, sharing some of the twists and turns in the story and lots of maniacal laughter as we tore shreds off Freds. Even with a bit of latency connecting with someone in the USA, it was still an overall fantastic experience. The same could be said about the wave-based survival mode. Difficulty scales nicely and feels very well-balanced, and once the story is over, this certainly adds hours of more fun and chaos. Players can also look forward to three more free DLC expansions in the first year, so there is plenty more carnage and chaos to come.

There is so much happening here graphically and it’s all extremely impressive. The downside, however, is that this has led to a hefty load time. I feel further optimisations could leverage more power from the PS5’s SSD, and hopefully, this will reduce some of that load time. On very rare occasions, I would come across the odd Fred clipping through a wall, but nothing game-breaking.

The environments remain in the same art style as Arizona Sunshine, but they are much more detailed and provide a way better atmosphere throughout the levels. Freds are terrifying by design, and the dismemberment system is truly a chef’s kiss. I was left in complete awe as I held onto a severed head, observing the jaw swing as it was barely held together by pieces of skin. It’s that kind of amazing attention to detail that I’ve grown to love from Vertigo Games.

Arizona Sunshine 2’s audio is just as impressive as the graphical presentation, delivering a brilliant blend of atmospheric background noise and incredibly intense action. I can’t speak highly enough about the attention to detail because it all matters. Picking up a full bottle and giving it a shake, only to hear the liquid inside swoosh around really is such a nice touch, and hitting a headshot and hearing that all too-satisfying squelch of brain matter brings so much joy.

All the audio is top-notch, but the true star here is Sky Soleil’s vocal performance as our protagonist. The delivery and timing of every quip landed right on point every time, and it was made even more amazing when they landed as I was thinking those exact words.

Arizona Sunshine 2 is an incredible journey of friendship and survival against all odds. A magnificent spectacle from beginning to end, full of dark humour, witty quips, and incredibly gory zombie slaying violence. Do yourself a favour and don’t miss out on this incredible title, and give our best mate, Buddy, a pat for me.

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The Good

  • Incredible story
  • Brilliant attention to detail
  • Visceral gory combat
  • Weapon variety
  • Outstanding audio and vocal performance

The Bad

  • Occasional zombie tearing through walls
  • Lengthy load time

Written by: Gary Nielsen


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