Date: Tuesday , September 20, 2016
Space Pirate Trainer is a Unity Engine VR game developed by a company from Belgium named I-Illusions. I-Illusions promises to bring us "fresh and creative experiences." While we could argue the "freshness" of a 1980s style shoot'em up arcade game that most conjures up memories of Galaga and Galaxian in my mind, there is no doubt that it is an immersive experience that will draw you in. Galaga when leveraged by the HTC Vive in 2016 is a tremendously different experience than it was in 1981 on a CRT mounted inside a stand-up arcade cabinet.
Remember those awesome 80s arcade cabinets? Imagine if those were immersive. Space Pirate Trainer puts you inside the arcade game - fighting off relentless waves of droids with all the weapons and gadgets a Space Pirate would ever need. You had better dodge some of those incoming lasers though, since just using your shields won't get you in the top rankings!
Space Pirate Trainer was one of the first VR games that I actually bought. Honestly, I did not like it that much at first because I bought it without looking into what it actually was. I saw the spaceship in some of the first videos and assumed I would be flying it, but I was incorrect. When I discovered this I soured a bit and put it at the bottom of my list. Last week, Space Pirate Trainer came out of Early Access and officially into Beta status. Going back and starting to replay SPT, I had a much better experience my second time around. SPT and Raw Data are probably the two VR games I have played that make the most of a large room scale setting for HTC Vive usage. Playing SPT gets immersive quickly as it requires you to actively defend yourself and obviously attack. You will be dodging, ducking, and doing a hell of a lot of sidestepping (quickly) and it is easy to work up a sweat quickly. My room scale setup is about 3m x 1.8m, and I think it would be tough to play actively in a smaller space. I did get a chance to knock one of the pictures off the wall in my office spinning around to make a shot on a drone.
Its Beta update is a fairly large expansion with new weapons, enemies, power-ups, and game modes. There were performance updates as well, although there is no specific information about those.
One of the big things that caught our eye about the update was the addition of SuperSampling and AntiAliasing options included. We will be using these in our review here today.
It should be noted that the music during the game is likely not everyone's cup of tea, but can be turned off while in-game.
SPT is as addictive as it is immersive. I found myself wanting to go back in and beat "just one more level" even though I knew I had data to analyze and graph, as well as write up this review. I am glad I gave SPT a second chance simply for the sake of VR gaming. SPT is worth the $15 it costs and goes a good ways towards making that $800 Vive system worth just that much more. I would guess that we will see a lot more added to the game as it moves towards its official launch as well. You will quickly forget about not being able to fly the svelte spaceship you are standing in front of defending as you will be totally focused on saving your own ass and getting onto the leaderboard.