Having a great idea for a VR game is one thing. But the all important technology around it has to keep up with the creative vision. Espire 1: VR Operative, unfortunately has fallen in to that very trap. Having an amazing premise, but failing to meaningfully deliver a fun game.
Espire 1: VR Operative was touted as a fully immersive Splinter Cell-esque type VR game. Which was music to my ears and the slick launch trailer just added to my hype levels. The game is built around the idea of taking remote-control of a stealthy Espire Robot. Then infiltrating various buildings and factory type levels to take down armed terrorists. An Espire unit can use an array of gadgets, guns and even navigate levels full of verticality with its magnetic hands. Like I said, a really cool premise.
If Espire 1 had come out around the launch of the PSVR, I think I would have given this small Aussie team more of a ‘pass’, as they are definitely punching above their weight. However after playing PSVR games like Blood and Truth, Astro Bot, Farpoint and Firewall, Espire’s low production values, bland story and technical issues are very jarring.
I love the stealth action genre and the vision of what the game wanted to be is impressive. There are cool gadgets, like throwable cameras with PnP interfaces, clever level design and proper player choice on how to attack levels. Basically, Espire 1 could have been my Sam Fischer or Solid Snake simulator.
The PSVR is not a high spec unit by any stretch, in fact in 2019 it is showing its age. Even so, the graphical fidelity in Espire 1 is still well below many other previously released PSVR games. I suspect the grunty PC based VR units will offer a more impressive experience, but the PSVR version I played does not look good.
Once again I bring up issues with the mix of lower spec hardware and poor technical implementation. The PS Move controllers are widely accepted as being sub par, however they can be made to work brilliantly. Blood and Truth and Super Hot show it is possible. Unfortunately Espire 1: VR Operative has not nailed the interface. The annoying movement, unreliable tracking and glitchy environmental interactions are frustrating as hell.
Overall a cool premise with some excellent ideas for experiencing stealth in VR. Unfortunately, and this pains me to say, the technical issues (even with the most recent patch), the low graphical fidelity and very poor enemy A.I. All make this an experience that is hard to recommend on the PSVR.