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Arizona Sunshine 2

Arizona Sunshine 2

Written by Eric Hauter on 12/13/2023 for PSVR2  
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I never made it through the first Arizona Sunshine. Though it is now considered an early VR classic, something about the game just rubbed me the wrong way. It's been years now since I fired it up on the original PS VR, but do remember having a lot of trouble with the aim mechanics. I was wasting an awful lot of ammo and not hitting very much, which caused me to quit a couple of hours in.

All of that has changed with Arizona Sunshine 2. I'm not sure what magic ingredients developer Vertigo Games has put into the mixer, but suddenly I find myself able to pop off headshots with the best of them, and I've got so much ammo that I often run out of inventory space. I'm not saying that Arizona Sunshine 2 is an easier game than the original, but I will say that I've certainly had a lot more fun with it. 

Arizona Sunshine 2 picks up the further adventures of the nameless protagonist from the first game. For those like me that never finished the first title, our hero manages to insert a synopsis of those events into his never-ending stream-of-consciousness rambling in the first hour of the game. Dude talks, like, a lot. This time out, our somewhat drunken chatterbox intercepts a radio transmission that leads him to believe that the military is close to locating "patient zero" of the current zombie outbreak. This leads him to conclude that if he finds patient zero before the military does, he can ride those coattails right back into whatever is left of civilization. 

Accompanying our hero on his mission for survival and wisecracks this time around is "Buddy", an extremely handy pooch the player character rescues from a downed helicopter in the opening minutes of the game. Buddy is an absolute trooper, able to down most run-of-the-mill zombies all on his own, and those he can't take down he can stall long enough for you to pump them full of lead. He can also come in handy by squeezing into tight spaces and retrieving items the player can't reach. Directing Buddy is as simple as pointing your hand at a zombie and clicking a button. In-game, your character says something like "Go get 'em boy!" and then Buddy goes and gets 'em.  

The player continues forward through a series of linear scenarios with Buddy, mowing down waves of Freddys (all zombies are referred to as Freddy) with a variety of weaponry. I was surprised while playing how fun some of these sequences are - some of them qualify as 'water cooler moments'. For example, in an early part of the game, the player is creeping through an airport lobby full of sleeping Freddys. As I was progressed forward, I didn't even think twice about going through the security scanner, only to have it erupt in shrieking noise, arousing all the Freddy's. Suddenly, what seemed like a fairly simple stealth moment became a desperate fight for survival as Buddy and I fended off maybe 50 Freddys that swarmed towards us. It was a lot of fun, and had me laughing to myself like a loon.

Luckily, ammunition is pretty plentiful in Arizona Sunshine 2, as are the newly implemented melee weapons (which can be stored in your hands, similar to After the Fall's storage mechanic). Melee weapons don't last long when actively hacking away with them, but they are wildly satisfying while they do last. The blood and severed limbs and heads fly quite nicely.

When the action gets heavy, the danger doesn't really lie in rationing your ammo. Rather, the challenge centers around whether or not you can reload your weapons fast enough. Arizona Sunshine 2 has a manual reload action, and while I got better with practice, I still found myself fumbling around when things got intense. And some weapons, like the six-shooter, I found completely unmanageable, simply because I couldn't get the hang of reloading without clacking the PS VR2 sense controllers together. I often found myself retreating from the action to reload, then skip-hopping back into the fray.

Along with the campaign, Arizona Sunshine 2 also includes a horde mode, which I checked out and quickly bailed on. Just not my thing, I suppose. The entire campaign can be played in co-op as well, though I strongly recommend running through it solo first to get the optimal level of tension and thrills. It's just not the same if you have a friend stepping all over the dialogue. It's kind of like watching a movie with your kids - you just want everyone to shut up so you can hear what's going on. 

Despite the story having a constant rat-a-tat of jokes and bullets, there are some emotionally impactful beats. It's not all beer and laughs here, and I appreciate the thought that went into Arizona Sunshine 2's overall vibe of sunny desolation and the fact that the endless patter is our character's way of coping with ever-increasing isolation and desperation. 

VR games have come a long way since the release of the first Arizona Sunshine, which was a seminal title in the format. I'm not certain that Arizona Sunshine 2 is breaking any new ground, despite the improvements to gameplay (and gunplay). This is more Marvel-movie fun than Oscar-award winning innovation. Still, a well-written story and an endless flow of laugh-out-loud jokes make Arizona Sunshine 2 a ride will worth taking. 

Arizona Sunshine 2 might not be the groundbreaking landmark the first game was, but improved gunplay, a fun companion, and rapid-fire jokes make this a ride well worth taking. Often tense, always fun, and sometimes emotionally impactful, Arizona Sunshine feels like big-budget entertainment. Just play by yourself the first time so your friend doesn't chatter through all the good stuff.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS VR2, Quest 3, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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