A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Farpoint is a sci-fi first-person shooter designed specifically for Sony's PlayStation VR kit, which is required to play. It immerses players in gory rifle-based combat against robots and extraterrestrials of various shapes and sizes, some of whom are humanoid. Defeated enemies often disappear in explosions of orange and green blood, chunks of their bodies raining down and littering the ground. The first-person virtual reality perspective tends to make most encounters extremely intense. Dialogue contains strong but infrequent profanity, including "f--k." Parents should also note that this game supports a "gun" peripheral called the Aim Controller. This controller functions and looks like a real gun when viewed within virtual reality, but in the real world, its tubular white plastic body and ball-tipped muzzle keep it from resembling a real weapon.
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What's it about?
FARPOINT puts players in the flight suit of a space pilot who gets sucked into a wormhole and dumped on a distant planet. He embarks on a search for survivors from the space station that was pulled into the rift along with him but instead finds a mix of alien animals, robotic drones, and intelligent humanoid creatures, all clearly intent on killing him. He defends himself with a variety of weapons, ranging from a relatively familiar-looking assault rifle and shotgun to the more exotic plasma rifle and spike thrower. As he progresses, he runs across recordings of a pair of other survivors who document their search for additional crew while slowly coming to terms with being stranded on an alien planet. Players experience all this from an immersive first-person perspective via Sony's virtual reality system, PlayStation VR. Farpoint also supports the new PlayStation VR Aim controller, a white gun-like peripheral that appears little like a real weapon but which takes the form of a variety of realistic-looking rifles when viewed in virtual reality.
Is it any good?
Virtual reality fans looking for the medium's first true blockbuster won't find it here, though they'll get a taste of what such a game might be like. Farpoint is surprisingly successful in creating a traditional first-person shooter experience within VR, with players able to move and look freely while intuitively wielding a range of sci-fi weapons that are satisfying to fire. It's a deeply immersive experience, easily and impressively creating the feeling that you really are standing on and exploring an alien world. And the Aim controller -- which comes bundled with the special edition of the game -- only enhances the sense of immersion by allowing players to physically look down holographic sights and feel the rumble and recoil of each shot. It's far better played with the Aim controller than without.
But while Farpoint delivers the basics of a good first-person-shooter experience -- and even throws in an unexpectedly moving story (though, oddly, it's not the story of the playable hero but rather two other survivors) -- it delivers a bland campaign and archaic level design. The environments explored are extraordinarily linear, typically offering only a single, narrow path forward. If the terrain does open up a little, you know you're about to start a major encounter. There's also a woeful lack of variety in the enemies we face. Worse, each one is clearly designed to be dealt with using one or two specific weapons. If you don't happen to have one of them equipped, you'll be in for a long and hard fight. And while combat requires players to take cover frequently, there's not really a covering system. You just have to stand behind a piece of the environment and hope for the best. Perhaps most problematic is that the whole thing wraps up in only five or six hours, and offers little replay value beyond some timed level challenges and a friend-based co-op mode. It's a hard value proposition -- especially if you're thinking about buying the edition that comes with the Aim controller. Farpoint clearly wants to be the first big hit for PlayStation VR, but it's only about halfway there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in the media. Virtual reality can make violent scenes much more intense, especially when players are provided a first-person perspective, so how did you react -- both psychologically and physically -- when the game's enemies rushed forward or blew apart right in front of you?
Talk about Einstein's theory of special relativity and how subjects traveling at different speeds experience time differently. In Farpoint, some characters age more quickly than others due to wormhole travel, so would you embark on a mission to explore space if you knew everyone you loved would grow old and maybe die while you experienced time more slowly?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $49.99 - 79.99
- Pricing structure: Paid ($49.99 for just the game; $79.99 to buy the game + Aim controller bundle.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: May 16, 2017
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: October 21, 2020
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