Take to the Skies in Megaton Rainfall, VR’s Only Superhero Simulator! (REVIEW)
Virtual Reality and Flight Simulators seem like a match made in digital heaven. Thanks to growing improvements in VR technology, the act can be experienced in a way that’s so immersive, time can fly by as quickly as the player. Seeing as how many people instinctively list Flight as a requested super power, it should come as no surprise the genre has landed the way it has with the home market. What does come as a shock is how until now, no one thought of adding a super-powered spin on the genre. Live out your dreams and save the city (or not) with style in Megaton Rainfall, VR’s only fully realized super-powered action game. Suit up and take flight but beware, for with great power comes great motion sickness.
The primary goal in Megaton Rainfall is to fend off the invaders while doing minimal damage to the surrounding area – you may be all-powerful, but the city isn’t.
Hyperdimensional Games’ Megaton Rainfall is, for all intents and purposes, a “Superman simulator.” Players take on the role of an unnamed individual who up until the events of the game lived as an average human being. After an interstellar incursion from a variety of hostile invaders, a disembodied voice guides you in discovery of your newly developing abilities as you save the local populace from ultimate disaster. Keeping in line with the Superman influence, the voice is almost immediately revealed as the father of the player character. Since the basic plot involves a god-like being coming to understand his burgeoning abilities, omnipotence isn’t conveyed immediately. Instead, players are granted additional power upon completion of each stage, coercing further progression through its nine missions. Beginning with a single shot “burst,” players quickly discover new abilities as the alien threat grows greater in response. Time Manipulation, Telekinesis, even planet-wide destruction with a single attack are available options. (No, seriously. Get your Goku on. You know you wanna.)
Megaton Rainfall plays entirely in first-person view and its gameplay centers around the same flight mechanic. Cities are procedurally generated by the game’s engine and look ever vast, but not once will a mission involve on-foot objectives. The primary goal in Megaton Rainfall is to fend off the invaders while doing minimal damage to the surrounding area – you may be all-powerful, but the city isn’t. Those who played Superman Returns, based on the 2006 Brandon Routh movie should be familiar with the mechanic. The limitation is understandable, though a bit frustrating considering the speed of some enemies in relation to your attacks. The enemy types in Megaton Rainfall are incredibly varied considering there are only nine missions. Aliens come in the standard saucer styled aircraft, to the massive ‘Mothership’ variety, think Independence Day. Things aren’t all flying disks however, some enemies disguise themselves as the very buildings in the city! No matter the enemy, or the method of attack, all enemies can be destroyed by hitting a weak point, the conveniently flashing red area.
With all that Megaton Rainfall offers, it isn’t without its share of issues. The cities are rendered nicely, but they’re largely unpopulated minus automobile traffic. In between missions, players can fly literally anywhere on Earth, and later, beyond our very solar system! The prospect of a virtual reality interstellar Flight Sim sounds promising and has potential, but its novelty wears thin without an end goal for exploration. While the game’s audio does capture the sounds of the overall sense of destruction, it would have been nice to see fully populated civilian areas. As far as music’s considered, the soundtrack in Megaton Rainfall is well done and I find myself listening to it outside of the game given I’m a fan of electronic music. The only real issue I have with the choice in music is that it just doesn’t quite fit thematically. Since Hyperdimensional Games is looking to capture the classic superhero feel, a more bombastic, dynamic score derivative of Hans Zimmer or even John Williams would have help better convey the sensation.
Finally, there’s the underlying issue of motion sickness. Over the last several months, I’ve played a few dozen VR games, but Megaton Rainfall is the only one that forces me to take regular breaks. There are various control options and settings to allow for individual comfort modifications, but after about 3 mission attempts and/or failures, I find myself physically unable to continue. There are settings, for example that allow “VR blinders” to limit the peripheral view, navigation using the player’s head movement, and a variety of turn axis tweaks, so find what works for you. The enemies in Megaton Rainfall are fast and it requires a quick eye and quicker action to track them all. Keep that in mind and monitor for potential symptoms during gameplay. If you do experience discomfort, stop immediately and give it at least thirty minutes in between attempts. On the plus side, the discomfort in my case was limited to only combat, exploration was fine regardless of flight speed.
Megaton Rainfall is fun in concept, and with a little refinement, maybe some developer updates, gamers could have a must-play experience. Currently though, this one falls just short of an instant classic. Megaton Rainfall is available now for 15.99 for PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows. Virtual Reality functionality is currently Sony-exclusive, with a VR update to arrive for PC “sometime in 2018,” per the developer.
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