Having launched on the HTC Vive earlier this year, Phaser Lock Interactive’s Final Approach was warmly greeted as a light-hearted virtual reality (VR) experience clearly inspired by popular mobile title, Flight Control. In this first release the videogame made great use of the roomscale technology and motion-control input of the HTC Vive, though a port to the Oculus Rift, using Oculus Touch, was not a great showcase of comparative capabilities of the hardware. Instead of pursuing with this potentially lack lustre rendition, the development team have gone back to the drawing board and rebuilt Final Approach for different hardware, coming soon as Final Approach: Pilot Edition.
The major changes in the videogame, birthed by differences in the target platform, are highlighted by that subtitle. Final Approach: Pilot Edition is still about asset management – ensuring planes are brought to land, putting out fires and rescuing survivors – but instead of simply commanding planes indirectly the player now takes the pilot’s seat, guiding vehicles to safety manually.
The change is one of viewpoint and control. Opposed to directly taking on the role of a pilot, looking at a vehicle and pressing the Xbox One controller’s A button will place the camera behind that plane or helicopter and give you direct control using the controller’s two analog sticks. The overview of the map is limited to a single position opposed to allowing the player the ability to move wherever they so wish, due to the lack of roomscale technology with the Oculus Rift, and as such the adaptation of the videogame’s core mechanic has been deemed necessary by Phaser Lock Interactive.
The changes are likely to be considered a matter of personal preference. Some will welcome the idea of having direct control over the vehicles entering and exiting your small virtual world, while others may suggest it takes away a lot of the immediacy of the simple, arcade-style fun of the HTC Vive original. Indeed, the pace and urgency placed upon the player appears to have been lessened in the early preview build VRFocus received, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that later levels won’t up the challenge.
The ‘toy scale’ elements of Final Approach: Pilot Edition – zooming-in to ground level to extinguish fires, man turrets of throw life preservers to men overboard – all exist as they did in the original Final Approach. The accommodation of different technology has been limited to exactly where it needs to be. Its adjustment where needed, opposed to fixing something that isn’t broken. Phaser Lock Interactive has been careful not to overcook Final Approach on HTC Vive, and here on Oculus Rift it may be a different game, but the studio is clearly determined to keep it within the same ballpark.