One of the biggest genres we’ve seen on PlayStation VR is the wave shooter. There are plenty of games on the platform that fall into this category. Typically you sit in one place and defend yourself or a precious item from waves of enemies. An occasional boss comes to mix things up, but otherwise, that’s about it.
While we’ve seen some pretty interesting variations on this formula, Raw Data is here to give you a little more substance and excitement in your wave shooter. Does this concept come out as a fully realized evolution of the genre, or should it have stayed in the oven a little longer?
The Road to The Truth is Paved With Robotic Corpses
Raw Data takes place in the far future. You play as one of four different characters who are infiltrating Eden Corp; a mysterious company that seems to be hiding dark deeds behind their walls. Your goal is to make your way through ten levels of the tower and secure data that can be used to expose them.
In terms of wave shooters, Raw Data offers a lot more to go on than your typical experience. There’s an entire universe here that expands into comics and other types of media that developer Survios has released.
Not all of this made it into the game, but there’s enough here to catch your attention and make you curious about the rest of the science fiction universe. The majority of your story will come from the narration that you hear during and in-between missions from various characters.
You’ll also have access to an intel tab in the mission hub where you can read emails and articles that further flesh out the world. The attention to detail in both the lore and the dialogue really makes Raw Data feel like a cohesive sci-fi world that is brimming with conspiracies and hidden truths.
It goes a lot farther than any other wave shooter on PlayStation VR in terms of telling a strong and engaging story. It also helps that both the writing and the voice acting are very sharp, with great deliveries from your fellow human allies and the A.I. who will sometimes glitch out and pitch you an Eden Corp product.
It’s an eclectic mixture of humor, conspiracy theories, and corporate greed. I was not only pleasantly surprised by the depth and detail in the game’s story and lore, but I also thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
When you look at it through the lens of this genre in VR, it’s easily one of the most comprehensive stories we’ve seen in a wave shooter. That, in and of itself, is a welcome change. With this milestone aside, I could tell there was more to this world than the game was letting on, and I would love to see an expanded sequel that devotes even more time and energy into the world. As it stands, this is the best story you’ll see in a VR wave shooter by far.
Flexible Mobility and a Great Mix of Playable Heroes
Raw Data places you in VR arenas that allow you to move around freely during combat to dodge attacks or obtain better angles. You can opt for both teleportation and free movement. If you go for the latter, you’ll still be able to teleport quickly across the level, so it offers the best of both worlds.
Free-motion uses two Move controllers to get around, and the control scheme is similar to what we’ve seen in other recent titles. You’ll press the Move button on one controller to walk forward, while face buttons are used to turn and strafe.
It can be clunky, especially at first when you’re learning, but there’s not doubt in my mind that it’s the best way to achieve full locomotion with the PlayStation Move controllers. Obviously, analog sticks on the controllers would be ideal, but without that option, developer Survios has opted for the next best thing here.
The first couple levels are somewhat cramped, but the game quickly opens up with more varied and interesting environments. You can choose from one of four heroes when you go into the fray, and each one has their own unique weapons, upgrades, and abilities.
Bishop is perhaps the easiest to jump into as he starts with a pistol and a rapid fire special ability. He eventually gets two pistols to dual wield and offers a great starting place to get your footing. Reloading begins with you grabbing a clip and sliding it in, but a later upgrade allows you to pull new clips from your holster, but holding your hands at your sides.
Boss is similar, but wields a shotgun instead of pistols. To reload with him, you’ll pump the shotgun, which is pretty fun to do, but sometimes the tracking can get in the way of a proper and smooth reload animation.
Saija is a cybernetic ninja who has an excellent energy sword which is very satisfying to wield. The ability to throw it offers some mobility as well. Deflecting bullets with the sword is also a highlight.
Finally, Elder brings us the requisite bow wielding character. Tracking works well for his setup when you have your camera placement right, and that honestly applies to everyone. You’ll need to be standing, with enough space and a good angle to really get the smoothest experience in Raw Data.
So long as you can get this setup in your living room, you’ll have an absolute blast. The enemy types don’t vary much from robots or larger robots, but some variants keep things interesting. I would have loved more enemy types, though, as seeing the same ones gets repetitive after a while.
Beyond the occasional tracking hiccup and a bit of fatigue with the enemy repetition, I really enjoyed my time with Raw Data. The characters, multiple difficulty settings, and upgrade paths kept me coming back again and again for more.
The mission hub ties everything together, as you return to it between missions via an elevator in the center of the room. Coming back from a mission with a briefcase in hand is always satisfying as you deliver the data to the transmitter.
Survios has evolved the wave shooter genre with Raw Data, and I’m not afraid to say that this perhaps the best example of the genre on PlayStation VR.
Occasionally Rough Presentation
Raw Data is a gorgeous game on the PC, but on PlayStation VR it can be a little rough at times. Even playing on a PS4 Pro, you’ll notice a lot of aliasing and rough edges. There’s also a general lack of sharpness at times, but as of this writing, a PS4 Pro patch is planned that could sharpen up the graphics.
Even with these qualms, I quickly forgot about the graphical shortcomings when I was in the heat of the moment. The level of immersion, especially when you can move freely through the areas and mount attacks, is exhilarating and intense.
If you’re a PSVR owner and you’ve grown weary of the standard wave shooters available for the platform, Raw Data is the breath of fresh air you need. With the right setup, the tracking is perfect, and the game itself is one of the most complete and comprehensive experiences I’ve seen in the VR wave shooter genre.
You don’t need an algorithm or a hacker to see that Raw Data is worth a purchase. I would recommend it in a heartbeat, it’s worth every penny.
Final Score: 9.0/10
A copy of Raw Data was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 11/14/17