The Ark: Survival Evolved series has received a lot of praise for its lush and rich world, filled with all manner of creatures and dinosaurs. The survival experienced it created has since spawned countless other games within the same genre. Ark Park is the VR spin-off experience that seeks to bring a taste of this world to PlayStation VR.
While the game received criticism at launch for a lack of locomotion controls and blurry graphics, the developers have addressed these issues through several major patches. With new content also recently added for the low price of free, I decided it was time to review this VR title. Let’s find out if Ark Park has come back from extinction, or if you should leave this title in the folds of history.
Close Encounters of The Jurassic Kind
Ark Park is designed to be a simpler and more streamlined version of the larger Ark experience, so don’t go into this expecting a fully realized survival game. Instead, this VR title takes place in a fictional theme park where visitors can get up close and personal with a variety of prehistoric creatures.
The opening of the game takes you on a linear tutorial that explains the basic mechanics. From the initial ride into the park to the rundown of the game’s various activities, the first impressions for me in Ark Park were very strong.
With the option to learn more about the various dinosaur species in the main lobby, to the exploration and gathering mode, to the dinosaur riding and raising, and the wave shooting, I was pleased with all of the different options available to me.
One thing the game was criticized for at launch was a lack of full locomotion controls. The latest updates have added this feature for use with PlayStation Move controllers and it works perfectly fine. I do agree that this is the preferred way to play the game, as the teleportation can become unwieldy very quickly, so this addition really helped improve the experience for me. The developers have also recently added a free DLC pack entitled “Pterosaur Hill.” This is a meaty expansion to the base game that adds three new maps, land vehicle rides, hot air balloon rides, and even a Crystal Sky Lift ride.
This expansion also added flying creatures which were largely missing from the base game. I must say, flying on the back of a Pterosaur for the first time was a pretty exciting experience. Unfortunately, the sluggish head-tracking controls for turning quickly turned the ride into frustration as I was having difficulty directing the dinosaur through the canyon we found ourselves in.
A lack of direction in this mode also caused me to hit dead ends more often than not. In the end, the experience was exciting at first, but ultimately shallow when I took a step back to think about it.
This sentiment can be applied to a lot of the activities in Ark Park. While things like resource gathering, wave shooter levels, and crafting all function perfectly well, they quickly show their lack of depth and ultimately lead to repetition far earlier than I would have liked.
Everything is very exciting the first time you do it, but once you’ve scanned a few Dinosaurs for DNA, broken a few crystals, and gathered some berries, you start to realize that’s all there is to the experience.
The variety of different activities and the additional content offer new creatures to see and places to visit, but the mechanics themselves remain largely the same. Those who have a high tolerance for repetition will find a lot of things to see and do in Ark Park, but players who want a deep and engaging experience will soon find themselves bored with the offerings here.
Even so, the improved control scheme and additional content go a long way towards making Ark Park feel like a meatier experience, and while it can feel shallow at times, there’s enough here to keep you busy for a while if you play in short bursts or check out the multiplayer options.
Improved Visuals Through Consistent Updates
Ark Park’s visuals in PlayStation VR at launch were less than ideal, with many users saying it was too blurry to enjoy the world. With the latest update, the developers at Snail Games have managed to tweak the rendering engine for the game and achieved a significant boost in graphical fidelity as a result.
While I didn’t play the game at launch, I was very happy with the graphics on PS4 Pro with the latest update installed. There’s very little blur in the visuals, and the detail on dinosaurs holds up to scrutiny, even at close proximity.
Of course, the scale and scope of seeing these massive creatures are one of the game’s strongest characteristics. There’s most certainly a sense of wonder and awe in Ark Park that takes a while to wear off. Casual VR players, fans of dinosaurs as a whole, and even younger VR players will find a lot to love about Ark Park.
Hardcore gamers like myself will enjoy it for a time but may find the shallow mechanics to be too repetitive for long-term play.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A copy of Ark Park was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
/Insert date - 7/25/18