UPDATE! New content update Overrun brings new level, new gun, new fun!
February 28th brought the awesome new OVERRUN update to ROM: Extraction. With this update, we get to see more of the ROM universe, expanding on the first level that was initially released. We also get to see some new flavors of alien bots, along with new stances/animations for the current bot models, a bit more polish, optimization and even a new audio track, “Kill Room” by Delta Heavy.
From the Steam Page: “Overrun is a whole new level for players to master, featuring several unique twists on VR gameplay. Your journey to the escape pods continues through the depths of the extraction vessel. The ship has been overrun! Systems are malfunctioning, and you must face highly dangerous enemies on the lower levels of the ship–and escape to the planet surface with your life.”
At the end of the first level, when the 3:00 minutes runs out, the platform you are standing on drops away from the action, just as you become overwhelmed and surrounded by alien bots. The new Overrun update lets you play out the rest of the story, picking up where the first level left off.
You are on this same platform, but as you progress downwards, the platform, of course, gets stuck. But First Contact decided to switch things up for this level, as we also see a bit of a different gameplay format. There is no longer a three-minute countdown. Instead, the display that normally shows the countdown now displays an “Offline” message. It appears the alien bots have regained control of the platform and are making your escape more difficult. You are left to fight off the bots while your deployment team is trying to override the platform controls to get you out of there to safety.
Unlike the first level, Overrun is made up of a few different scenes/locations. You start on one level of the building and after eliminating a set amount of enemies, your team manages to get control of the platform back and you progress further down to a lower level, where you once again get stuck and have to hold off the bots until your team gets back in control of the platform. One cool change in this new level is that we get up close and personal with the alien bots, whereas in the first level they tend to keep their distance. Towards the end of the Overrun level, things get a bit more interesting as not only do the bots get close, they get in your face close. You really need to experience it yourself, as it plays out awesomely, especially when you use your reflex ability to slow down time, but be prepared to yelp.
As for the new weapon, the EOS-15 is a 2 handed plasma rifle with orb launching capabilities that comes in the form of a pickup. As you are playing through the level, if you see a holographic portrayal of a gun floating around somewhere, shoot it and you will be equipped with the EOS-15 which is much more powerful than your standard pistol. Although, it only lasts for a little bit and eventually times out and you are back to your normal pistol.
The Overrun update, as a whole, definitely adds some fresh, intense fun to the game, and even adds a few twists to the gameplay itself. It’s great to see the devs playing with a more dynamic level format, and I am more eager than ever for the next glimpse into the bigger ROM universe as I’m betting we’re still only seeing a small glimpse of what’s in store down the road. In what form it will come, and when — those are the questions we are left with.
I happened across an article about a month ago, that was an interview with developer First Contact about their upcoming debut entry into VR, ROM: Extraction. There really weren’t any gameplay images, just a model of one of the enemies. But off the description alone, “A fast-paced homage to the classic arcade shooter,” and the fact that First Contact is made up of former COD devs, it piqued my interest to say the least. I was definitely eager to finally see and try it for myself.
You are a member of an Orb Extraction Unit in the year 2076 on a mission to extract alien eggs from chambers on the moon. The gameplay places you in the moment after successfully extracting those alien eggs, but your dropship is still being prepared for launch. Thus, you’re left to survive on your own, while waiting to be extracted from the situation. The problem is, the aliens are aware of your theft and have sent an onslaught of extraterrestrial bots to stop you from getting away. The dropship will be ready in two minutes and 30 seconds, but will you still be alive?
In ROM, the bulk of the fun comes from the unique gameplay mechanics, which truly separates it from other FPS titles.
Your combat suit is equipped with an Orb Dispenser that provides you with unlimited orbs which have the power to essentially invert space-time in an explosive flash. There are quite a few varieties of power-ups that give your orbs special characteristics such as “Tracer” or “Homing” further demonstrating the arcade nature of the game. You’re also equipped with a Direct Energy Pistol, which has a special ability of its own: the power to bring time to a slow crawl, aptly named “Reflex.” You have a limited amount of “Reflex” power, displayed via a meter placed above your pistol. To enable Reflex and bend time to your will, simply click the trackpad and watch the fireworks in slow motion. With Reflex enabled, you will witness some of the most stunning visuals that VR currently has to offer.
The idea behind ROM’s dynamic arcade gameplay is to “Throw, slow and shoot.” The challenge is to integrate each of your weapon’s abilities to take out the bots in the most stylistic, strategic, and especially satisfying manner that you can manage. Generate an orb or two and launch them at the enemies, enable the Reflex Slow-Time and use your pistol to shoot the orbs when they are in close proximity to the bots, resulting in a symphony of explosions with light particles bursting in all directions while white-hot embers rain down around you.
First contact has successfully managed to create very fun and tense gameplay. I particularly enjoy how the extraction at the end of your run is handled: the number of enemies coming at you multiplies to an insane level just as your dropship is finally ready and the extraction team pulls you out by dropping the platform you’re standing on. So just as the bots start to overcome you, you slip out of their reach, plummeting down a dark long elevator shaft. As you look up, you can see the chaotic mess of explosions and lights left in your wake recede to nothing. (I cannot seem to stop myself from raising my arms in victory as this happens. Every. Single. Time).
The gameplay gets a huge boost by the awesome audio track named “First Contact,” created by Twin Moons (aka Le Castle Vania). I’m typically not a big fan of the dub-step genre, but this track fits the gameplay perfectly and really enhances the feel of the game. The actual sound effect audio is also top notch, further illustrating the detail that went into the development of this game. The audio is right where it needs to be to both enhance immersion, and intensify the fun.
The in-game menu is very clean and responsive and includes a good deal of comprehensive graphic options, even “Advanced” options which is always appreciated including anti-aliasing, shadows, post processing, textures, effects and super sampling.
There’s a cool social feature included, where on the monitor it displays a map of the level and depicts the bots’ locations as red dots and the player as a green arrow. For instance, when shurl tried it, I was yelling at where the bots were for her if she couldn’t find them. It’s a thoughtful inclusion that helps get anyone watching more involved in the gameplay.
As ROM is primarily an arcade game, there are currently no locomotion options. It’s a standing experience, but you will still be running around your playspace and dodging enemy fire. The pace picks up fast and you’re kept busy throughout your 2-min-30-second window per run. Especially so on “Hard Mode,” the first time I actually made it to the end of the 2:30 on hard, I was begging the in-game extraction team to pull me out as I was getting pummeled by upwards of 30 baddies at once closing in all around me (all while my wife giggled at me, I’m sure). I have only tried the “Survive” difficult a couple of times, but so far fail to last longer than 45 seconds or so, so I’ve got a ways to go before I have the skills to take it on.
Regarding multiplayer, as it’s currently locked, I reached out to the developer to ask about its status and they assured me it’s currently in development and will be unlocked early 2017.
Another important note is that there currently is only 1 map provided with the game. However, there is certainly enough there to make this a game I’ve kept returning to night after night to further refine my skills and earn a spot on the global leaderboard’s illustrious top 10. After each round, you’re met with an in-depth report on total score, kills, and the points accumulated via the various power-up orbs, which helps gives some clarity to the scoring system and allows you to review and improve.
It’s clear this is only a glimpse into the ROM: Extraction universe. This release gives us an opportunity to jump right into the action, master the mechanics and get acquainted with the ROM world.
On the Steam page they do mention there is plenty more to come from the ROM universe in the form of: more modes of play, different levels, co-op multiplayer, character skins for multiplayer, enemies with new attributes, power-ups and orbs with special properties.
Hess Barber, First Contact President and co-founder, along with chief revenue officer Matt Candler, recently spoke about the future of ROM: Extraction with thereisonlyr.com. They discuss where the game and VR are headed and plans for additional modes, levels and more.
ROM: Extraction manages to ooze style, while introducing a fantastic gameplay mechanic with glorious physics and pristine audio, that when combined create a unique VR experience packed with jaw-dropping visuals and explosive, fast-paced gameplay.
Check it out for yourself on Steam. ROM: Extraction $19.99 (HUGE SALE CURRENTLY $4.99! UNTIL MARCH 14th!)