ARK Park (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 07.04.2018

Review for ARK Park on PlayStation 4

Spin-off games rarely manage to live up to their progenitor, and with ARK Park there's a high bar to live up to. ARK Survival Evolved combined the addictive crafting, open world, multiplayer addictiveness of Rust with dinosaurs. How could that not be awesome? It is one of the most anticipated ports coming to Nintendo Switch later this year. Therefore, when a VR version was announced, hype was high. An opportunity to walk with dinosaurs, or even ride them while shooting machine guns. Now it's here, how is it?

Obviously, the prospect of Jurassic Park in VR is a huge draw and upon stepping into ARK Park it's obvious developer Snail Games has tried to capitalise on this, entering a futuristic world where the first steps look like a theme park. Starting out the game introduces its players to a hub area where they can learn all about the world and its inhabitants, with holograms introducing numerous species of dinosaurs and their characteristics.

From this hub-zone, there are maglev trains out to different types of areas that are split up to cover one of each of the core elements of the original game. There are exploration and investigation areas and there are combat areas.

The exploration areas block the ability to use weapons and instead focus on interacting with the fantastic creatures, along with gathering up materials and using a futuristic scanning device on the various dinos. There are some nice set pieces here and it's by far the best part of the game, although that's not saying much. The scanner gives points that can be used back in the hub-zone to unlock blueprints for crafting, and these usually require heading into more exploration zones to gather up more and more resources. It gets awfully grindy.

Screenshot for ARK Park on PlayStation 4

It feels like the exploration sections were originally planned to be all this game consisted of, with the combat areas tacked on as something of an afterthought. Perhaps if this was all the game consisted of and the team had dedicated all of its time to these elements it could have been so much better. These combat areas all consist of wave shooter sections where various dinosaurs slowly meander in a set direction before trying to destroy an objective. These sections are horribly repetitive and not much fun, not only because of the dull nature of the gameplay but also thanks to issues with the controls and the visuals.

Those who have used their PSVR for watching 360° videos from the YouTube app will know that the technology is amazing… sometimes. That is if the person recording the videos is using a quality camera, ideally a 4k one, otherwise things can get rather blurry. Annoyingly, ARK Park looks like one of these poorly filmed videos. When examining something closely, things look good, highly detailed and sharp, but the promotional materials for this game, along with the opening travel into the park, look far better than the (virtual) reality.

VR game controls often fall back on the teleportation method of travel and ARK Park sadly falls into this category. Worse yet, it works horribly here. PS Move controllers are optional and add nothing to the experience. The game doesn't use the usual spatial tracking they work so well with to interact with objects. There's no reaching or leaning here; instead, the game uses the camera tracking of the PSVR headset to establish what the player is looking at and pressing a button interacts with it regardless of where it is. Using the Move controllers to point and teleport is really poorly done and gets insanely frustrating very quickly.

Screenshot for ARK Park on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

So many VR games are still just tech demos, sadly, but at least when they are just tech demos they have redeeming features. The prospect of ARK Park gave a chance for a VR experience that would show some stunning interactive experiences. It failed… and it fails in almost every area. It tries to adapt each key element of ARK: Survival Evolved and instead gives a horrible pale imitation of each, isolating each into a little slice, which doesn't live up to - or even represent - the original. The gathering is grindy, the crafting unrewarding, and the combat boring and repetitive. Not to mention as a VR game it suffers, too, as the controls are awkward, plus the price of the game is too high and the visuals lacklustre. The developer was so preoccupied with whether it could, that it didn't stop to think if it should.

Developer

Snail Games

Publisher

Snail Games

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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