Phaser Lock’s debut title is only available in Virtual Reality, and for all the right reasons. Final Approach is a traffic strategy game set in the skies, replete with A320s, rescue helicopters, fighter jets, WW2 aircraft, and even UFOs. I have dedicated many an hour to comprehensively review gameplay and design, and had so much child-like fun in the process.
Play God or Godzilla
As any sensible airport management game would, you start with instructions given in Queen’s English through an answering machine at a hangar. A floating menu presents options to play in Story Mode, try Challenges or do Free Play.
Mission 1 of the Story Mode introduces you to gameplay mechanics, and happens on a tiny island airport. You play in third person God mode, only represented by two sleek gloves as controllers. This made me feel so giddy, immediately, and slightly overwhelmed by some sense of responsibility for the itty-bitty aircraft committee and their little pilots. I have to say, too, that the first couple of minutes were spent marveling at being the supreme being in this simulated world. Each Mission location has a corresponding “overseer” who tells you what the place needs help with. There’s a good mix of locations, too: small private airport, busy commercial airport, city skyscrapers, and military naval base.
Air Traffic Controls
Pressing the trigger on the right controller juts the index finger out which is what you use to draw paths to land planes and helicopters. There are green brackets that indicate the landing, and the path turns green if you draw it correctly. Choppers also have the ability to pick stuff or people up using a magnet, which is controlled by pressing the trackpad. Of course, obstructions such as hills, buildings, towers, and moving vehicles are all over the landing strips, so strategic drawing is essential. Trust me; the first few crashes broke my heart!
Outside of air traffic management, you’ll need to zoom in to certain parts of the airport to put out fires, scare away seagulls, turn on generators, sort luggage, and so on. There’s more than enough going on to keep you occupied. Plus, you get “Karma” points for every completed task, which drives the overwhelming sense of responsibility mentioned earlier even further. One of the most fun tasks is shooting missiles at drones in the military airbase mission. I personally don’t play shooter games because I basically shut down after getting startled, but this one just made me feel like a badass. It was also my first experience using the headset to control a scope.
Design and Sound
With its cohesive visuals and scoring, there’s no question that Final Approach VR is one of the more sophisticated games available so far. The environment and elements are designed with cartoon-ish inspiration, which can only be described as adorable. My favorite part is the variety of the pilots’ accents you hear when they contact the tower. While some may say the concept works just as well on a touch screen tablet, the room scale experience is just so seamless, I can’t imagine enjoying it any other way. They added Room Layout in the settings, too, so you can adjust your play space to avoid the darned stiff neck and give little ones their turn.
The Vive Report
Final Approach is the type of game you’d recommend to someone who wants to experience room-scale VR for the first time. It appeals to a very wide demographic. Although, some of the negative comments on Steam about the missions becoming repetitive do resonate with me, especially if you have to start over from a failed task. An option to restart at a prior point would help.
So, is it worth the $24.99 price tag? In our opinion: most definitely, yes. Get Final Approach VR here.