When I was a kid, there was this Star Wars arcade game that you could find at Disney Quest. It was the kind where you sit in a seat and stare at a huge screen. It had these amazing levels where you were dogfighting against enemy ships amongst the stars.
When I first saw End Space for PlayStation VR, it reminded me of that sensation. Thus far we've had some dogfighting experiences in VR, but End Space looked like a contender for the best one yet. Now that I've done my fair share of intense maneuvers and shot down countless ace pilots, it's time to find out if this space combat game lives up to its potential, or if it makes your stomach do more loops than your ship.
A Trigger Happy Contractor With Plenty of Work
The premise in End Space is simple, but it gets you into the action quickly. You are a contractor pilot who has been hired by the UTC (United Trade Consortium) to fight back against the Tartarus Liberation Front (TLF) and their attacks on the UTC’s warp-gate network.
The UTC is in this sector of the galaxy looking for resources that are plentiful in the sector. The hit-and-run guerrilla tactics of the insurgents are interrupting the supply lines and mining operations. This sets you up for the game’s main menu where you’ll hear short briefings from a fellow soldier as you select your mission from the galaxy map.
There’s not a ton of developments or detail from the story, but you do get a nice and quick set-up before you dive into each mission. It would have been interesting to learn more about these two warring factions, and the exact nature of the resources of the Tartarus sector. There’s potential there for political intrigue and a strong conviction from the insurgency, but these things aren’t touched upon during your adventure.
It doesn’t seem like a contractor would get involved or particularly care about the reasons behind the fighting. Like any mercenary, they are primarily concerned with their bottom line. As it stands, the story in End Space is very surface-level, so don’t expect any kind of sprawling space opera here.
On the one hand, I would have loved to see that, but on the other hand, it gives the game a quick pace that focuses on the gameplay. Let’s see if the focus here is well-deserved.
Tight Controls and Fun Combat
In the game’s main menu, you’ll have the option to spend your hard-earned credits for simple upgrades that enhance your ship and its weapons. Beyond that, you have the galaxy map open to you to select and play missions.
When you jump into a mission, you’ll find yourself in the cockpit of the Minos starship. You’ll have a full suite of holographic screens in front of you at all times that show your ship and weapon status.
You fly your ship and control things like boost and steering with your DualShock 4. Aiming is done by looking around and moving the cursor with your head. Once you lock on, a simple tap of the trigger will launch missiles. If you get in close, you can also use your automatic weapons to try and land hits manually.
You have to be careful, though, because the standard weapon can overheat if you try to lay it on thick. Burst fire is smart, and carefully expending your missiles is a must. The missions place you in vastly different environments and set you up for intense dogfighting action.
Chasing down enemies and dodging objects in the environment is fun if a little on the slow side. Your ship doesn’t move terribly fast, so there’s some lost intensity there. Even so, getting into dogfights where you’re chasing your prey and pulling crazy maneuvers always makes for a great time in VR.
The responsiveness of the head-tracked aiming is perfect. There’s a very natural feel to the aiming where you look and lock-on. It’s far more accurate than a standard control scheme could ever be, and it gives End Space a great edge in VR.
If this were a game played on a standard TV, it would be a decent, but ultimately forgettable experience. This is one title where VR really adds the extra punch that makes it different than anything else you’ve played.
An Inconsistent, But Admirable Presentation
End Space started life as a mobile VR game, but on the PSVR with enhanced PS4 Pro graphics, you wouldn’t know it.
The sense of presence in the cockpit is exquisite. The graphics in your immediate area around you are sharp and crisp. Clever effects, like the shimmer of glare on your windshield, go a long way towards making your ship feel like a real place. The ability to see your body in front of you also adds to the immersion.
Everything looks great in the immediate area, but once you look past the cockpit, the presentation starts to falter somewhat. Other objects and enemy ships look good, but environments themselves are 2D backdrops that lack any real depth.
It’s worth noting that this game was developed by a team of two, so what we have here is incredibly polished for such a small team. Additional depth in the environments would have added that final touch to the presentation, but plenty of effort was put into the cockpit that you spend your time within, which is arguably the most important aspect of the game’s graphics.
Despite doing crazy loops and tight turns, I never found myself getting motion sickness while playing End Space. The point of reference that is your cockpit and digital body seemed to keep my mind grounded, despite the world outside the cockpit spinning around me.
When you boil it all down, End Space is a really fun arcade space flight game. The missions are fun, the controls are simple yet effective, and the graphics look great where it counts on a PS4 Pro.
With a solid selection of missions in widely varied environments, high scores, and ship upgrades, there’s plenty to keep you coming back. To anyone looking to do some interstellar dog fighting, I would definitely recommend End Space to scratch that itch.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of End Space was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 10/19/17