A game that I have been looking forward to playing for a long, long time. Firewall: Zero Hour. This is a true VR game experience with a run and gun feel. I was keen, I was ready. I fitted my PSVR to my head like I was an elite soldier donning his helmet for the first time, prior to going “in”. I could not wait to get started.
Once the game loads, you are taken to the main menu. Four options appear, these are Tutorial, Training, Contract and the PlayStation Store. Wanting to get the grips of this game fast and with my friends literally shouting at me to “hurry up”, I jumped into the tutorial to get a feel for the controls. I noticed straight away when you are sent into a training area that this feels right. What I mean by this is that, what you can see and feel via the PSVR Aim Controller, is what it should feel like when playing an FPS with a weapon in your hands. Now, you are not going to get the true resemblance of a 3.4Kg M4 carbine rifle in your arms as the aim controller weighs significantly less, but in my honest opinion, in the gaming world, this is as close as it is yet. Graphically, it’s of a good quality and the detail in the level design clear and well presented. Movement was automatically set at 30 degree turns, but I recommend turning this off and going for the more soft turn approach. The only niggle with movement is when turning, using the aim controller (recommend sitting down as motion sickness is common), it’s not as fast as I would have liked. This may be a way of combating motion sickness possibly, but I would have liked for it to have been a bit quicker. But firing my weapon for the first time and throwing grenades felt good and I was happy to jump straight in.
When you are ready to play, you will want to start by gathering your pre-made team of crazy gun touting militia friends, if you do have three who have PSVR. Or, you can tempt your luck with finding three highly skilled, ex-military special forces guys and girls who also possess PSVR and a talent for first-person shooters, that you might come across in the lobby. Unfortunately, I had my mates.
Once you have your band of brothers and sisters, you can select a few options here; Public, which takes you into the PVP world; Private, which lets you take on your friends; Contractor, which lets you pick your person/avatar and their respected perk; Loadout, which lets you customise after level 4 (I will speak about this later); Challenges, which gives you, well, challenges and finally, Leaderboards, which weren’t working while I was writing this review. I decided to jump in to Public and see what the competition was like and how the gameplay faired.
Waiting in the lobby for others to join was an experience and this is where the game is hot and cold. You join a lobby as you would have done in Call of Duty for example and you can see the members of your team, the map you are playing, your loadout and if you are the attackers or the defenders. If everyone has a mic (which I highly recommend for this game), you can have a general chit chat and plan out you’re aggressive of defensive tactics for the upcoming game. But the big issue is if you are waiting for one person, you can wait for a good few minutes. Now I get there are only 3 million PSVR players and not every single adopter of the PSVR own Firewall. You can literally be staring at the lobby screen and your buddies for some time. You do have your weapon in hand, but you can’t do anything with it. It’s purely for you to stand there and move your arms around with it. The nice thing about this though, is that when you go to customise the weapon, you can see the attachments attach and detach from your primary. What would have been nice would be that you can fire the weapon at targets or just free fire everywhere and if you have a few custom classes created, they could be already pre-selectable underneath the lobby screen, so it is easy to switch between them all instead of selecting loadout and then clicking one. Its minor, but it would be a great addition.
When you are in the game, it is fantastic. You start with a small countdown and then you are off. It just feels great having the aim controller and the ability to look down sight while you move. The aim of the game though is to find the other teams computer and hack it, but first, you need to knock out their firewall. The game lasts four minutes and you can approach it whatever you want. However, rushing or going gun-ho will probably lead you to a quick game. You can play as defenders and set up traps and support functions or play as the attackers and send in explosive rounds or flashbangs. A great addition to the game is that it is very much like Rainbow Six Seige. What I mean by this is that, when you’re killed off, you don’t sit there waiting to be returned to the lobby, you can still communicate with your team as you have access to the cameras. These cameras cannot be destroyed and again, makes great use of communication with your team when trying to hunt down the attackers or defenders.
With only one mode, Firewall Zero Hour may be become a bit repetitive, but the experience alone keeps you engaged for hours. That’s the hot part. The cold part, however, is the games last four minutes, that’s it. Once it’s complete, you are back in the lobby. If all members of both teams remain, the game will countdown from a minute and you are back into another game. But, if someone leaves, you have to wait until someone joins. In my last 48 hours of playing the game, I have waited as little as 30 seconds for someone to join and as long as 25 minutes. Now I don’t know if the latter was due to some sort of issue with networking from the server end, but the night before I had no issues finding parties to join or games to start, which makes me think there is still some teething issue with the game since its release. But what game doesn’t?
The other thing to point out, when you do complete a game mission, you earn credits. There are some hidden credits in the game you can find, but you earn your bulk at the end of the mission. Failing a mission gives you a minimum of 100 credits, but winning gives you a minimum of 500. With these credits, you can unlock perks, attachments and skins. With customisation, you unlock this at level 4. However, there is very little you can buy at this level and takes a long time to acquire enough to buy a new weapon and a decent amount of attachments. This isn’t the end of the world, as I and probably like many others, will keep using the default classes as they do a pretty good job for now.
All in all, Firewall Zero Hour is great. I have made some great acquaintances while playing, as having open communication with other players is key. There are some issues on the matchmaking side of things and maybe the idea of doing a best of five rounds in a game before it takes you to a lobby would have been better, as you are playing more and that’s key. But I see Firewall as a work in progress game, as it really does need more game modes and other opportunities to kill time waiting for games to start. However, the key component of the game works well and I recommend this to anyone with a PSVR and it looks like Sony does too, as they have started to bundle it with PSVR starter kits. I see so much potential and I hope this really does grow into a much bigger title.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*