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  1. #1

    Vader Immortal [Oculus]

    Finally got around to playing Part 3 of this tonight, and upon having a look, it seems no-one has posted any impressions, so I thought I would.

    Vader Immortal is the Oculus Quest's flagship product (which is the platform upon which I played it; I think you can get it for the other Oculus sets too). It comes in 3 parts, each of which is 7.99. Each part has similar gameplay, and each is divided into two parts - a linear story to play through, and a "lightsaber dojo".

    The story casts you as a smuggler who is captured and brought to face Vader on Mustafar; because you're the descendant of someone important to the plot. I won't spoil it, but suffice to say, you'll meet Vader, use a lightsaber, wield the force, lead an army... The story's typical Star Wars guff but it's very entertaining.

    For those who have played a bunch of VR stuff already, this is basically the Star Wars equivalent of something like the Batman VR experience, or maybe Blood & Truth (though it's nowhere near as long as B&T). Each chapter takes about an hour to play through if you're not in a rush, with combat (which is pretty hard to lose), some simple puzzles and dexterity challenges (such as climbing).

    The Lightsaber Dojo, on the other hand, is an arcadey, wave-based action game, kinda similar to a classic arcade game. You fight waves of steadily increasing difficulty, and can take up to 3 hits each round before you have to retry. Each of the dojos is different; the first one has a focus on using your lightsaber against training droids; the second game's is more about using the force to kill flying foes, and the third game is a free-for-all where you use your saber, the force, blasters, thermal detonators and such to fight a barrage of different foes. To be honest, these would've been worth the cost of entry alone.

    It's not perfect. Despite the premium sheen, there are bugs. At least once in each chapter, I had a blocker where I had to quit to the main menu and jump back in; one of them was an error where the climbing screwed up and I got stuck, while another time the game was convinced I was out of the tracking area, and wouldn't seem to recentre correctly. Not good. That being said, these didn't get in the way of the experience; they were just a bit irritating. Additionally, as it's on Quest, which has all of its hardware within the headset, the game's a technical marvel... But can't escape that it's running on weak hardware, so at times, the texturing and modelling can be a bit low-res; though it pulls out literally every trick in the book to try and disguise that (and generally does well).

    The thing is... Okay, like I imagine a fair few Star Wars fans, as a very small kid, I used to play imaginary games where I was in Star Wars. Then when I got a bit older, I read the books. A bit older still, and I got to play the games like Shadows of the Empire and Jedi Knight, which may not have been perfect, but they thrived on that same feeling. Vader Immortal absolutely nails this. The first time you, without really even thinking about it, reach out and use the force to grab an enemy and fling them into another enemy as though it was the most natural thing in the world - you're inStar Wars.

    There's a moment in Chapter 3 where it all comes together. You're standing on a speeder, pursued by skiffs piloted by groups of Stormtroopers, and you use the force to choke one, while using your lightsaber to block the blaster bolts coming from another. It just feels exhilirating.

    It's not challenging (at least the story part isn't; the Saber Dojo can be very challenging), but then that isn't the point. It isn't a game in the conventional sense, but rather an interactive experience. Sure, it's linear, and I don't feel it should force anything but the most hardcore Star Wars fans to buy a Quest, but if you have access to one, it's definitely worth the time.

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