Half Life: Alyx - Is it the title VR has been waiting for?

Mar 27, 2020 at 01:03 pm by Warlord720

By now there have been loads of reviews on this much-anticipated release. Prerelease videos and the first few minutes of play have been online for all to see for some time and now we can add the run and gun reviewers that go through quickly to get their take posted.  

From what I've seen it's all positive too. And apparently for some a bit of horror genre. From a "terrifying logo" to being "Scary as Hell" with all sorts of assorted jump scares or whatever you want to call it this release is being pegged as the AAA game VR needed. 

Wow. That's a hell of a lot of praise for a franchise that's been in limbo for over a decade. 

Does it live up to the hype? 

That is an easy one to answer with a resounding yes. If you want to know more about the mechanics of the game or a standard review then there are plenty to choose from out there in Google land. For this "review," I'll be looking at it from the standpoint of the experience, the game immersion which for some us is what VR is all about and the hype. 

Half Life: Alyx 

Never tried a game in VR? Remember you are IN those areas and rooms, not looking at them.

For this title, I decided to play a certain amount of the game on three HMDs (head-mounted displays) with two tethered and one wireless. The Vive and Rift are legacy versions... 2017 releases with lower resolution and the Odyssey + is Windows Mixed Reality. There will be an article with more detail posted soon on the differences in the three HMDs. 

Now you'd think that having to start the game over each time and run each HMD through a certain part of the game would ruin the experience. The controllers were mapped differently, the resolution would vary and so would tracking. 

I am happy to say that I was still having loads of fun after several runs through the same area. While the differing controllers were a bit of a pain sometimes, I always looked forward to getting back "in-world" to see what was around the next pile of rubble or doorway. 

The experience is as immersive as you want it to be. Depending on your level of difficulty, which includes a story mode for easy combat (I won't tell you I'm using that mode but I do love a good story... ahem) to whatever level you think you can handle.  

As to the FPS part of this title... it is better than I expected. The aiming is more real-world iron sight type of aiming. You can just point and shoot but you might not last long with that strategy. The gun physics are as good or better than any out there today which is not surprising when you consider how good Valve physics is in general. 

Half Life: Alyx

In fact, those physics make the game more immersive as you have to put away your pistol to use both hands for moving a large object. You can toss bottles around and watch them break. The gravity gloves are far more fun than the old gravity gun was. They allow you to lock onto things you need like extra magazines and magically pull them through the air where you deftly catch the item with the same hand. 

It's awesome and not as hard as it sounds. Soon you will find yourself flicking objects to and fro while catching resin, gas cans and other items. 

And here is a tip for folks who are just about to start. RESIN is important in that first area. Once you get the gravity gloves... wave your hand about to see what you might lock onto including resin hidden in other items. 

I can tell you without spoiling anything that you will need at least 10 resin when you reach your first "upgrade" station to get any benefit of Combine tech you find. 

Half Life: Alyx

As to the terrifying or horror aspect of this title... I don't find anything so far to be in that league and I'm generally not one to be scared like that in VR.  I have, however, been startled several times by turning around and there "it" is.  

All in all, this is a must-have if you have a pc based HMD that will work with the game. So far there is no downside that I can find in this release. While I might not wax on poetically about it being the game VR needs... there is little doubt it is just that. 

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.  

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