RIGS review code provided by the publisher.
The PlayStation VR launch line-up of games feature many titles that should be described as ‘experiences’ rather than ‘games’, but RIGS: Mechanized Combat League certainly fits into the latter category, with a single player and multiplayer experience that captures the intensity of some of the best combat sports games.
Set in the distant future, RIGS places you in the confines of a mechanized suit, complete with huge robotic arms and dual-wielded weaponry. In single player mode, you sign up to a team and begin your career competing in a league of six teams as you attempt to finish top and progress to the next division.
The team game you play is “all-out combat” as you seek and destroy the opposition in a variety of sci-fi themed arenas. Before you begin there’s some decent customization options to filter through, allowing you to change the look of your helmet, uniform and even your podium celebration, and there’s a ton of stuff to unlock as you complete objectives, such as gaining promotion to the next division, or achieving ‘X’ amount of melee takedowns.
You also earn credits during each match which can be spent on better mechs. Similar to other first-person shooters, you choose from a variety of different classes that handle and perform differently. There’s a good bunch to choose from too, all impeccably designed by developer, Guerrilla Cambridge, with each rig sporting a different look and style that makes them stand out from the crowd during matches, as well as a unique passive ability.
There’s the Nuke rig, for instance, which explodes when it’s destroyed, damaging enemies and teammates standing close by, or the Vampire rig, which restores your own armor when you take an enemy down. With various attributes like melee power, armor, speed, as well as rigs that have different weapon loadouts – from beams and railguns to missiles and cannons – there’s plenty of scope for switching things up according to your preferred playstyle.
Each match also features two A.I. team-mates, and you can also choose their rigs based on your preference during matches. You might want to put an emphasis on power and aggression, for example, or mix it up with a combination of attributes designed to create a balanced team of rapid runners and heavy hitters.
Once you sign up to a team, your career in the Mechanized Combat League begins, and it’s all very cleanly presented with a big sports broadcast feel (with commentators introducing you to the arenas and fireworks exploding as you make your entrance), as well as maps that span across the four cities of Rio De Janeiro, Macau, Dubai and Nevada. The arenas offer a variety of platforms to leap from and tunnels from which to sneak up or trap enemies, so there’s plenty of opportunity to apply some strategy as you fly around causing carnage.
In VR, RIGS looks really sharp and clear with great detail on the mechs, while arenas feel spacious and are easy-on-the-eye with various shades of pastel colors providing a simple yet stylish look. The feeling of controlling a mech is spot on too with a nice balance between weight and movement. Using standard first-person controls makes it simple to pick-up-and-play immediately, but the added bonus of being able to survey your surroundings in 360 degrees with the PlayStation VR headset (you can also switch settings to control the target reticule with just your head) draws you right into the action and adds an extra level of intensity.
With the ability to boost, double jump, melee attack at close quarters, and hover in the air, it’s good fun moving around the arena hunting down opponents and blasting away with a decent range of weapons. Finding your perfect rig is part of that enjoyment and whether you’re using the smart missile to home in on opponents, or dishing out pain with twin energy beams, shooting away with the dual weapons is a blast.
On the downside, it took us a while to get to write this review as RIGS made us feel a little sick. Some people are going to struggle with games that require constant movement with PlayStation VR, and we found initially that we couldn’t play the game for more than 10 minutes without taking a break. The good news is that RIGS can be played in short bursts like this due to it being a series of matches, and you do get acclimatised to the movements the more you play.
The depth of RIGS really comes down to its range of mechs and unlockable content rather than the base game, which consists of just four arenas and three game modes: Team Takedown and Power Slam and Endzone. Nevertheless, the action is fun and frantic. Team Takedown is a destructive combat mode where you earn a point for your team each time you make a kill, while in Endzone you need to deliver a ball into an opponent’s goal.
Finally, Powerslam requires you to jump through a ring in the centre of the arena once you’ve activated Overdrive mode by collecting power-ups from downed opponents. There’s just about enough to keep you going for a while, but without a fully-fledged online multiplayer offering, more game modes would certainly have been welcome.
RIGS does offer an online multiplayer option, though it’s kind of disappointing that it’s only 1 vs 1 with two A.I. teammates on either side rather than a 3 vs 3 battle with real people (Battlezone offers a better team-based multiplayer game in this respect). Consequently, we found ourselves enjoying the spectacle and competitiveness of single-player mode far more than multiplayer battles.
Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had with RIGS in short bursts with intense matches, a silky smooth control scheme and impressive-looking mechs and arenas that suck you into the action and make you feel like you’re actually part of its futuristic combat sport. There’s likely better first-person shooters to come for PSVR, but RIGS: Mechanized Combat League sets a solid foundation that gives us hope that there’s real potential for the genre on Sony’s virtual reality headset.