Robo Recall has been created by Epic Games and uses its famed Unreal engine, making a completely immersive experience of the sort the technology has been crying out for ( Epic Games 4/5 stars). Ever since its Kickstarter campaign, launch and then its update for the Touch controllers, the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset has been searching for that killer game exclusive, and now it may have found it. Robo Recall is an Oculus game that is finally worth playing.
It’s made by Epic Games, creators of the famed Unreal game engine, which underpins a big chunk of the virtual reality content available on Facebook’s VR platform. Epic started with a solid demo of its engine with Bullet Train, but Robo Recall takes that arcade shooter and turns it up to 11 – and for free to anyone who has Oculus Touch controllers.
At its heart, Robo Recall is a light-gun game dragged kicking and screaming into a 21st century VR world. If you’ve ever played Time Crisis or similar you’ll know the score: shoot anything that moves.
The story is pulled straight from Will Smith movie vehicle I, Robot: in the future humanoid robots walk the streets, do chores and help people in their day to day lives. They’re all shiny plastic and metal, interconnected and semi-intelligent, but something goes wrong and our helpers go from being nice, friendly, almost charming robotic servants to leaping machines of death.
That’s where you come in: a recall agent tasked to bring in rogue robots in the only way you know, blasting them or (more fun) ripping them to bits.
There are three sections of the city with three missions in each for a total of nine separate levels to play. Two missions in each sector are multi-chapter mini-stories, the third is your typical boss battle.
You’re guided through your missions by your robotic-sounding female AI assistant and later by a random male AI assistant that sounds like he’s been ripped straight out of a 1990s American TV show, who becomes your comedy voice-over.
There are four standard weapon types in the game. A semi-auto handgun, a more powerful revolver, a shotgun and a plasma rifle. Each starts off fairly standard, but as you play you can unlock attachments and upgrades that add things such as a laser sight, recoil dampeners, fast chargers and magazine extensions.
One of the best things about the game is that the weapons feel like they have real weight to them. Their accuracy is wholly dependent on your accuracy. You have to aim down the sights and pull the trigger gently – or frantically if a horde of bots are bearing down on you.
The only thing more fun than loading up with two pistols with extended magazines and blasting as fast as your fingers can pull the triggers is the second element to the game – everything has a handle and can be grabbed.
Robo Recall uses a teleport system to move around the place, which helps avoid VR sickness and becomes another weapon in your armoury. Press the thumbstick on the Oculus Touch, point to the place you want to jump to and rotate the stick to point in the direction you want to face. Normally that means jumping to a new location up the street or on top of a building or car, but you can also jump right up to a robot.
Without guns in your hand you can hold anything with a small white circle highlighting its grab point and then use and abuse it. You can punch it, bash it into things, use it as a robot shield against your enemy’s gunfire, hurl it at a wall or another robot, or into the vortex if that’s your mission.
Bullets and missiles can also be grabbed and hurled back at any robot in your way, or if you’re skilled with using a gun as a table tennis bat, you can spank the bullets back at the shooter. It’s not quite a lightsabre deflecting blaster fire to kill other stormtroopers, but it certainly feels like you’re wielding the Force.
Although you have set objectives in each level, you don’t have to do it the way the game makes obvious, which means there’s quite a lot of replay value after your initial play through. The arcade elements of the game also lend themselves to pick-up and play – just jump into any mission from the level select map and blast away for a few minutes.
It could also work well as a party game, as a running score sidebar is displayed next to a full-screen view of the action on the monitor attached to your PC. Given you can pull off trick shots, funny moves or straight-up pushes for the high score, it’s a potentially interesting game for spectators as well as players.
Robo Recall demonstrates everything that can be good about a great VR experience. The Oculus Touch controllers come into their own in hand-to-robot action as much as they do as gun analogues.
Right from the off, it’s an adrenaline-pumping arcade experience that replicates everything people used to love about light-gun games, and adds a level of immersion not seen in many other VR experiences.