(Mech) Suit Up!
How many of you saw Real Steel? You know, that godawful movie with Hugh Jackman that promised us the “Xbox 720”, but focused on a real life version of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots? Well, RIGS: Mechanized Combat League is basically what happens when you take that idea and throw it into a more frenzied sporting arena than a boxing ring. Think Madden meets Titanfall and you’re some way to the premise.
Game: RIGS: Mechanized Combat League
Developer: Guerrilla Cambridge
(Review code provided by publisher)
Set in some far off future, where mankind has presumably grown tired of teams of men running around and trying to pretend that they’re not hurt/fatally wounded (delete as appropriate for whichever sport you’re a fan of), RIGS is, at its core, a sports game. Sure, the human participants are encased in the cockpit of enormous robots, but it’s certainly interesting to see Guerrilla’s first title on the PSVR take this kind of direction. The world of RIGS is pretty much all technicolour mayhem and explosions, which is a far cry from the grey and brown arenas of the Killzone series that the studio (well, its parent studio) is known for.
Let’s focus on how it looks first off. The scale of RIGS is pretty damn impressive, with the VR adding a simply staggering amount of depth to things as you enter your mech, and even more so when you enter the combat arenas, in all their enormous splendour. It is a very colourful game, with the robots mainly adopting a bright, primary colour-focused palette, and the pilots themselves having varied uniforms as well. It reminds me of Overwatch in some ways really, just with giant mechs.
Once you’ve gotten over the slight vertigo that the initial entry into the arena gives you, you’re faced with one of several game modes. The first one, Endzone, is basically American Football. The second, Team Takedown, is a straight fight amongst the other robots where the most takedowns wins, and the third is a weird hybrid of the two, fused with a bit of basketball for good measure. Your rig has three modes, and you can switch between them with the Circle, Square and Triangle buttons, allowing you to change up from healing, to faster movement, to causing the enemy more damage on the fly. Take 3 enemies down in a row and you enter Overdrive, where all 3 of these abilities become engaged together for a short period of time. Entering Overdrive also allows you to score in the Powerslam mode, which encourages you to smash the crap out of your opponents before making a play for the centre of the pitch to score.
If the above sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry. RIGS has an extensive tutorial. In fact, you’ll be spending the majority of your first play session just getting acquainted with the controls and other elements of the game through the not-quite-enthusiastic-enough “Chief” character, who acts as your coach and guide throughout the game. It’s a very tedious start to what is a very fun game, and it feels like even after several hours there are moments when I find myself muttering “Just let me get on with it!!” as he pipes up with yet another “hot tip” or nugget of wisdom in between halves of games.
As of the moment, we’ve only had chance to play the single player modes within RIGS, but there’s a nice progression system within the game, allowing for upgrades to not only your mechs, but also the uniforms and helmets etc that you wear. Sponsorships throughout the season allow you to pick up new skins, new fans, and a whole host of currency to buy bigger and better Rigs to improve your chances during the season. Additionally, you can hire better teammates to fight alongside, but they will take a cut of your winnings depending on how skilled they are. It’s a cool little risk/reward strategy that will allow you to shoot up the leagues at the risk of losing some of your monetary gain, but it’s fun all the while.
Let’s talk, then, about motion sickness. I’ve spoken to some people who are reviewing RIGS for other publications, and they’ve found it an immediate “nope” when they put the headset on for this game. Personally, I didn’t have much of a problem with it on the whole, although there were a few moments when I thought “This is going to make me a bit queasy”. The strange thing was that I could quite happily sit and play for an hour one night, then the next day struggle after 5 minutes. It’s very much a case of “Your Mileage May Vary”, but by and large it’s not caused me too much grief. There are some comfort settings in the game which will allow you to tweak things and try to reduce the level of possibility for feeling motion sick, so try them all out and see what works if you decide to pick it up.
Overall, RIGS is a fast paced, fun and frenetic futuristic sports game. Guerrilla Cambridge have figured out exactly what is needed for a VR sports title, as well as a VR Mech title and somehow fused the two. Immensely enjoyable, RIGS demonstrates what the PSVR can do to truly immerse you in a world that you simply can’t get in actual reality and is incredibly stylish whilst doing so.