I had some pretty cool toys as a little kid. Now that I’m a big kid, I still have some pretty cool toys, but those toys sitting on a shelf and looking cool doesn’t do as much good as it should. Obviously, video games are the solution to this, but games that feel like playing with toys are oddly rare. Final Approach gives you the feeling of being a kid in one of those toy commercials with a huge and detailed playset that you can’t even find in your local toy store.
Final Approach is available for Vive, Rift, and PSVR, uses motion controls, and lets you play while seated, standing, or in full room-scale. The most immediate comparison that can be made is that Final Approach is much like the game, Flight Control, but with an added Z axis of control. However, to leave it at that is much too reductive. Final Approach adds quite a bit to the formula.
Each stage of Final Approach is like a new toy playset but with incoming and outgoing aircraft and tasks like putting out fires and rescuing people in danger. You tower above each stage like a child above their toys, drawing paths for aircraft with your hands, stopping reckless vehicles, and even teleporting down to toy-size in order to shoo away birds or blast malfunctioning drones with a turret. Those are just a few of your tasks.
Despite being like a playset, the game is challenging. Planes are often buzzing around your head, and it’s very easy to neglect them, resulting in a crash, running out of fuel, etc. They also behave with somewhat realistic physics, so trying to draw a path to make a plane do an immediate 180 won’t work. They’ll do their best to follow your path, but if your turns are too sharp near obstacles, they’ll likely crash. Helicopters are more maneuverable, but slower, and will be required to do a lot of grunt work. Combine these tasks with ground work like putting out fires, and you’ll have your hands full. Getting three stars (the top rating) in a level is pretty doable, however, as long as you stay vigilant.
The game is pretty robust content-wise with hours worth of gameplay, and isn’t in Steam Early Access like many current VR games. There’s apparently more content coming in the future as well. It’s nice to play a VR game that feels so fleshed-out with gameplay mechanics, colorful and detailed environments, and full voice acting. The voice acting is a little too repetitive, however.
While I don’t experience much VR motion sickness, those who do may find this game is pretty comfortable for them, as I don’t recall any forced movement. Final Approach is a great VR game for both young and old, and it’s good at making the old feel young.
Bonus!: Purchases of Final Approach include the Final Approach: Pilot Edition, which features gamepad-based controls and requires you to pilot the planes yourself from a third-person perspective (probably to combat motion sickness). I don’t have much experience with it, but it seems to be the same levels as the base game, and the controls worked pretty well. It also seemed less hectic to account for having to pilot each plane individually.
Final Approach was played on the PC with review code provided by the publisher
Platform: PC with HTC Vive or Oculus Rift
Developer: Phaser Lock Interactive
Publisher: Phaser Lock Interactive
Release date: April 4th, 2016
Price: $14.99 via Steam