Review: Pistol Whip

Rhythm games aren’t exactly in heavy supply on the PSVR, but what we’ve got has been very decent so far. Both Beat Saber and Audica are great games, the former being a sword swingathon, and the latter showing off Harmonix’s knack of creating awesome rhythm games with the newer approach of using guns to shoot blocks out of the air.

Well, we’ve now got another contender in the PSVR rhythm arena, with Pistol Whip turning you into some kind of musical action hero, walking through a range of levels shooting and thumping bad guys as they pop out and shoot you. Think of a mix between Beat Saber, Virtua Cop and the Matrix (if it’s even possible to imagine that combination) and you’re getting close to what Pistol Whip is all about. It’s instantly playable, incredibly addictive and has enough to try out to keep you plugging away for quite some time.

Pistol Whip has a very stereotypical VR look to it, akin to the Metal Gear Solid training missions, with great looking areas that you wander through automatically. Bad guys jump out from behind boxes, suddenly appear in place of statues, appear on high ledges and charge straight at you. All the while they might take a shot at you (which travels in a pleasing Matrix-style slow-mo way) which you need to dodge, as well as the various walls and low doorways that you need to duck under or sidestep. How best to avoid the bad guys? That’s right, shoot them. But shooting back guys is so cliche nowadays… when you want to shoot lots of bad guys in style, you need rhythm. That’s what Pistol Whip is all about: shooting, reloading and smacking bad guys in time to the thumping beats that accompany your action. You can, if you choose, just pop off a shot whenever you fancy and just take the music as a nice accompaniment to the carnage, but doing that will severely limit your score, and as most of you will probably know, it’s the high score table that feeds the addiction on these games – it’s almost impossible to move on while that smug friend of yours still sits above you in the leaderboard…

If you feel like you’ve seen all there is by firing off a gun in time with some cracking music, think again. As is par for the course nowadays, modifiers are available which change the way the game plays and gives you additional challenges or considerations while you’re blasting away at 120bpm. You can dual wield your pistols, which as you can imagine means you’re strolling along with two guns instead of one. You get a bit of a hit on your score, but in the higher difficulties where one-shot kills are less likely thanks to increased armour, or even in an easy setting where you might just want to nail someone `on both your left and right sides at the same time, having two guns is a brilliant feeling.  But you’ve got Deadeye as an option too, which takes away the game’s generous aim assist (which helps you hit the bad guys, with a lower score the further off you are) and turns this into a huge, Mad Dog McCree type challenge where you need to be inch perfect to make sure the enemy drops in time to focus on the next. Combine those two modes together, and you’ve got two guns, with no assists, and a tonne of bad dudes to try and shoot in the face.

It is, as you can imagine, quite the challenge.

There are 15 scenes to work through in this version; the original 10 plus all of the extra content released for the PC up to this point. That’s less tracks than you might get on other games, but with more in the pipeline and future support looking promising, we should see a few more tracks dropping into play before too long. But either way, they’re a great challenge and with different guns to try out, the modifiers and the endless push for perfection that these games make you crave, this is a really easy game to recommend. It’s up there with Audica and Beat Saber, and should be sitting on your PS4 if you’ve got a PSVR and even an ounce of rhythm in you.

Reviewed on PSVR

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