Code 51 Review
Code 51 is a mech combat game intended to bring intense combat-focused gameplay to the PSVR. As you take control of new mechs you will use their different abilities and various strategies to dominate the competition and increase in experience to unlock new and powerful mechs. The game features a practice and multiplayer mode where you can battle against bots or other users online.
Game Style: First Person Mech Warrior Game Price: $19.99 Game Length: Indefinite (Multiplayer) Controller: Dual Shock Controller PlayPSVR Score: 6
Code 51 has been on a lot of player's radar for a while now. It had a delayed release all while we were teased with game play footage that looked to be top notch. I was very anxious when starting the game and looked forward to combat driven game play. The PSVR has a couple other games that utilize mechs such as Rigs and Archangel, but Rigs focuses too much on those stupid games rather than combat and Archangel doesn't have multiplayer. So Code 51 really has an opportunity to fill a hole and be the premiere mech game.
First impressions were very favorable. The game looks very good even on the original PS4 with crisp graphics, detailed atmospheres and overall is a great looking game. On the Pro it looks a bit more crisp and definitely gets a two thumbs up on graphics and atmosphere. The tutorial is detailed and nothing short of awesome. As you hover over the land and shoot little people shooting at you and running behind rocks it is as if you really are in a mech fighting in a battle-infested land. The first mech battle is pretty awesome and although simple, scratched me right where I itched. I was ready to rumble and start the campaign.
Except there wasn't a campaign mode. Which still confuses me. The tutorial had a single player campaign mode feel and was incredible. I loved it (honestly, it was my favorite part of the whole game). But the realization set in after I scoured the main game screen only to notice a practice mode and multiplayer mode. This was extremely disappointing to me, but they could still add one. I just doubt they will. I figure if you don't add a single player campaign right off, it wasn't your intention to have one at all.
Before I discuss the game play I want to give you an overview of the controls. So you move translationally with the left analog stick but to rotate you have to move your head that direction. This isn't easy and often is very cumbersome. It is easily the worst characteristics of the controls and honestly, partially ruins the game play. Why not use the right analog stick!? Also to complicate it, you aim by looking at your target. So it is very very difficult to rotate yourself to get in the right position and be able to shoot your target simultaneously. While you are doing this, the enemy is pummeling you. R2 and L2 shoots your standard weapons, the square button uses a special ability such as boosting and triangle uses the upgraded weapons, such as a missile, fast firing machine guns, etc. The controls are very simple but work well and I certainly give them a pass in that regard (with the exception of rotating by moving your head).
I am going to start off with some positives about the game play then discuss some of the issues. First, the level design is fantastic. I haven't seen a ton of variety in levels, but regardless they are awesome. The environments are detailed, crisp, relevant and give you plenty of options to hide, strategize and maneuver. These levels really increase the intensity and enjoyment of combat. Most have a junkyard type of feel and adds some physicality to the game. It's not like they started having you fight in space, a city or some other area that doesn't really make sense. The level design is very well done and one of my favorite aspects of the game.
One thing I don't like as much is that when you move your mech, they make a noise like metal rubbing against each other. Which makes sense and initially I was thought it was a nice touch. But every single time you move you have to hear it. After 30 minutes of playing it gets old pretty quick and seems unnecessary. Another huge problem (and probably the biggest) is the slow combat. And I mean slow. Different mechs have different speeds, but even the fast ones are very very slow. When you choose a heavy armored mech it is almost unbearable. I mean it takes forever to move and it is really detrimental to the game. Not only are you praying that there is an enemy nearby so you don't have to walk around for 5 minutes trying to find something, but it ruins any type of combat related strategy. When you see another mech, both of you are too slow to maneuver or dodge or get out of the way of fire. So essentially it turns into who shoots first is the winner. Really, this absolutely ruins the game and makes it almost unplayable. I can't relate to you how boring the game play is because of this.
The good thing is that I feel like this can be fixed. As I am writing this review it is the day before Code 51 is released. Without doubt, people are going to complain big time about this issue (as they should) and demand changes or just admit the fact they wasted their money. However, before the game has even been released people have complained a whole lot about the fact that the blinders can't be turned off (which I don't really understand why this is such a huge deal) and DeerVR has already said that the developers are working on it and it will be corrected. So they listen and are making a game plan to alleviate the issues fans have discussed. Kudos the them! Seriously, that is awesome and I respect that so much. Now, taking blinders out and fundamentally changing a pretty big aspect of the game are two different things, but hopefully they can just increase the speed on these things and the game will be 1000X better.
I know I have been pretty harsh, but I think as a player considering the purchase you should be informed of the truth. However, the game does a lot of things well too. I already mentioned the level design, but also they used their head when developing the multiplayer mode. So many other games like Sparc, VRFC (until the recent patch) and others had multiplayer modes where you could only play with other users and if there weren't any then you were outta luck. Code 51 automatically adds in bots if there are not enough human players, which is a very clutch move. Thank you for having the foresight to understand this.
Code 51 has the potential to be the premiere mech combat PSVR game, but missed the mark on too many critical details. Game play is entirely too slow and ruins the experience all together. I didn't like Rigs because it wasn't focused on combat and I thought Code 51 was my answer, but they butchered the combat mechanic. If you took Rigs' controls and speed and Code 51's levels, mechs and combat you would have the perfect mech game. Code 51 also struggles with the controls in terms of rotating the mech and other key features of combat. I just can't honestly suggest it unless you are looking for a slow version of Rigs. If so, Code 51 is worth looking into. For the rest of us, stay tuned for potential patches to correct these few issues that would take this game from very average to one of the better titles on the PSVR. Let's just hope it doesn't take long.