Games based on movies are generally viewed with much skepticism, and rightfully so. They’re often rushed onto shelves and never reach their potential. Occasionally, this topic has come up in conversation, and I’m always quick to cite the Chronicles of Riddick games (developed by Starbreeze) as good ones. John Wick Chronicles is another movie-based game from Starbreeze (this time in VR) that shows Starbreeze has still got it… sort of.
I’ve seen the first John Wick, and despite its cheap kill-innocent-creature-to-get-audience-mad trick, I enjoyed it for what it was: an unrelenting choreographed action movie. It doesn’t really do anything original, but it does it well. John Wick Chronicles is similar. It’s a wave-based (currently Vive room-scale exclusive) shooter like we, VR fans, have seen too often already, but it’s a pretty good one.
Why just pretty good? When I saw that John Wick was kicking down the door of VR gaming, I imagined shooting, yes, but just as much hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately, there aren’t even melee attacks. John Wick Chronicles plays it pretty straight as a wave shooter with a choice of a few guns, some grenades, and a bunch of baddies running at you, taking cover, wielding riot shields, tossing grenades, etc. It’s fun. It’s intense. I broke a mean sweat… but it’s unoriginal. It was missing that special something to set it apart from other similar games.
Like most movie games, it does seem it was a bit rushed out the door. It’s a little buggy (e.g. grenades landing outside my bounds when I’m expected to throw them back, and having to force quit the game when the game won’t quit on its own.) There’s a lack of content too. I played the training area a couple times, completed the three following missions the game has to offer, and saw the credits roll in less than two hours. That’s including the fact I had to retry the second stage a few times because I didn’t understand I was supposed to move some planters to act as better cover than I had. The game told me, but it sounded like the accented voice actor said “platters”. “What platters?”, I thought. My bad, I guess?
Which leads me to another point. I felt the game was pretty lacking in feedback. Some of the enemies take a lot of hits, and I could almost never tell I was hitting them until they dropped. I also played through the whole game without the submachine gun, and I’m still not sure why. I think I was expected to complete its training mission first. I don’t want games to hold my hand, but why not nag me about that? Instead, the game repeatedly nags me with how to pull pins on grenades, when I already know how.
I’m willing to give Starbreeze the benefit of the doubt, and say this game probably just needed a little more time in the oven, but that doesn’t change anything. If you want a wave-based shooter, John Wick Chronicles is good, but for $20 USD, you probably are better off getting one of the other myriad wave-based shooters or SUPERHOT VR (playable on Vive with Revive) for a few bucks more… at least until they add more content and polish it up.
John Wick Chronicles was played on PC/HTC Vive with review code provided by the publisher.
Platform: PC and HTC Vive
Developer: Starbreeze Studios, Grab Games, GamecoStudios, and Big Red Button
Publisher: Starbreeze Studios
Release date: February 9th, 2017
Price: $19.99 via Steam