Who doesn’t love a good mech game? Growing up, I’ve always been fascinated by the mech games of the early 90’s. The first mech game I played, in fact, was the arena battle game called Battledrone – where two mechs enter an arena, with only the victor leaving as the winner. Crude by today’s standards in terms of the graphics, and significantly more slow paced as well, I often wondered how a modernized recreation would turn out.
Surprisingly enough, it comes in the form of RIG: Mechanized Combat League, which comes to us from developer Guerrilla Cambridge, the folks behind the MediEvil series for the original PlayStation. RIGS is a fast-paced, action-packed mech games that forces players to think quick on their feet as they control a mechanized rig in this battle arena of sorts. You can say it blends the traditional mech gameplay with an arena sports match, but the whole thing is experienced in immersive VR, courtesy of the PlayStation VR.
See also – Sony Playstation VR review
There’s really not a story behind RIGS, seeing that you’re essentially a member of this 3-rigs team set in the future where two opposing teams controlling “rigs” battle against one another in this arena-type stadium. For the uninitiated, the game features a lengthy introduction that has players getting acquainted with the rigs. After that’s all done, you eventually join a league and team, recruit your teammates, and subsequently dive into an actual match.
Needless to say, there’s honestly not a whole lot of substance to the story, given that it’s just like any other sports game you might come across – with the exception that you control a rig, of course. Winning matches earns money, which in turn can be spent on making upgrades to weapons, or buying a brand new rig.
It’s really tough to botch the graphics when it pertains to mechs, that’s unless it’s marred by performance issues. With RIGS, we love how it looks pretty polished from a graphics standpoint, as there are plenty of fine details given to the rigs themselves. You’ll see many of the intricacies that go into the designs of the rigs themselves, like the various decals that are slapped on throughout the rigs. And you also get a sense of actually being in control of the rig, thanks in how the cockpit area features joystick controls, a heads up display, and much more, to really added to the immersive nature of the experience.
The overall look and feel of the game is also elevated thanks in part to the bright colors and environments we get to play in the arena. Best of all, the game’s polished visuals are complemented by its relatively smooth performance. In fact, it moves at a ferocious pace due to all of the action, which never dampened in our time playing because of latency or choppiness – it’s just buttery smooth, so we have no complaints.
Overall, RIGS follows in pretty much the same formula as other recent mech games put out in the last couple of year, but with a sports twist. The mechanics here are pretty great, but we wouldn’t go as far to say that they’re the most visually impressive we’ve seen for VR.
As we’ve mentioned already, RIGS very much plays like arena football, which we’ll talk about in a jiffy. First thing first, we have to explain the controls of the game. Those familiar with other mech game will quickly become acquainted with the controls schemes, which rely on the DualShock 4 controller for operating the mech. Everything is seen from the first-person view of our character in the cockpit of the rig.
As you can imagine, the left and right shoulder triggers are used to fire weapons – while the L1 and R1 buttons makes the rig strafe to the left or right. Now, depending on what controls scheme you choose (something that can be modified at any time), the right analog stick is used to rotate the cockpit left/right, and pressing down on it (R3 button) executes a quick speed burst. Alternatively, we can select “headset mode” to rotate the cockpit left/right, in the event we don’t feel like using the right analog stick.
In terms of aiming, it’s done strictly using the headset to move the crosshairs onto targets in the environment. Jumping with your rig is accomplished by pressing the X button, where certain rigs have the ability to double jump. And lastly, the circle, triangle, and square buttons correspond to different modes that the rig can choose – such as gaining a speed boost, powering up weapons, or the ability to repair faster. It’s crucial to choose the correct mode during battle, to better deal with the onslaught that comes with the game.
What sets it apart from other mech games that deal strictly with deathmatch styled tournaments or campaigns, is that it introduces an arena sports-like element to the gameplay. You’re not just strictly playing deathmatch here, but rather, there are three particular sports types to choose from.
The first is powerslam, which requires you to place your RIG into overdrive and jump through a central goal area in the arena to score points. Secondly, the endzone mode very much feels like you’re playing football with the RIGS because you control a holographic ball and try your best to reach the “endzone” to score points. Finally, team takedown is the most straightforward of the bunch, given that the whole premise is to just smash your opponents to score.
Power ups help to mix up the gameplay, ensuring that there’s always uncertainty about which team will win when it’s all said and done. One moment, your team might be projected to lose by a huge margin, but RIGS has a way of turning the tides in a heartbeat. And that’s the thing about it, there’s just that rush of happiness (or sadness) that can envelop us when a match is over – much like the feeling of hitting that crucial play as the clock strikes zero to win it all. There’s both risk and reward here, but we agree that RIGS blends mechs and arena sports almost perfectly!
If you are prone to motion sickness, such as I am, then RIGS will surely put you to the test. The thought of moving within the RIG, all the while rapidly aiming and shooting opponents, can have an adverse effect on one’s senses. And after 15 minutes of gameplay, I found myself feeling quite nauseous with the experience, which seems to happen more frequently with VR shooter games that have players set within an articulating cockpit.
The tracking with the headset is pretty spot on, which can be configured to be just the source of moving the crosshairs on the heads up display – or alternatively, it can be used to rotate the rig in a left/right direction. Factoring in the smooth performance of the game in VR, you wouldn’t think it’d be the culprit behind the sickness, but rather, the rapid movement and action of the game can be especially jarring to motion sickness prone players (such as myself). In comparison, there are other players who aren’t affected at all by this. We had another person play through several matches without a hint of being afflicted by motion sickness, indicating that it’s a case-by-case basis.
Regardless, we will certainly say that the VR experience is quite convincing. You absolutely feel like you’re piloting a powerful machine, something that only VR can do to make for a compelling experience!
On the surface, RIGS Mechanized Combat League plays to the strength of traditional mech games, but differentiates, as well as enhances, the gameplay with a unique arena sports twist. Anyone who buys sports games might quickly find its gameplay a bit too repetitive over time, however, it’s one that has a lot of enjoyment at every corner because of how unpredictable the outcome can be with each match. And that, folks, is the beauty about sports games in general – like how you feel that rush of adrenaline as you make the winning score right at the buzzer.
For virtual reality, RIGS has no shortages when it comes to making you feel like you’re piloting a mech. Add in the power ups, ability to upgrade rigs, and strategy when it comes to the different match modes, there’s no doubt some depth to the game, despite the fact that motions sickness prone individuals will be jarred by its loaded action. While playing against computer opponents can only go so far before it becomes boring, the online play portion can spice things up a bit – just as long as you can tolerate some of the lengthy load times and down time in between matches.
This isn’t the kind of game for everyone, especially when it’s slapped with a $50 cost, which is one of the more costly titles out of the gates for the PS VR. However, it’s fun and action packed at every moment. That, with the introduction of virtual reality, helps to make RIGS a worthy mechs game.