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Review: Headmaster (PC)By Chris125 At 04.02.2018 21:15

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Initially, this subject probably seems rather niche even for the niche audience of the virtual reality consumer. However, it doesn't take long to realise that this is such a simple but well executed idea. Believe it or not, there is actually something of a story here. Now this is in the loosest sense of the word, but even still the expectation of some bland throwaway game knocked out by the developers in a few hours couldn't be further from the truth.

The protagonist (the user) is locked in some 1984 parody prison in which the sentence is served by completing 47 challenges involving heading footballs and earning scores and stars to progress. It is a simple concept used by many times before. What makes it unique is that this is presented with a thick layer of humour that straddles the line somewhere between Portal and Monty Python surrealism. It is genuinely engaging, never overbearing and it keeps the challenges ticking over through the four to five hours that it takes to get through them.

The narrator is voiced with quintessential British charm in that 'B-Movie' villain style of being delightfully evil while still sounding friendly. There are plenty of other characters who are introduced over the speaker system throughout the challenges. There is plenty of gameplay imagination employed in said challenges. It starts off naturally with just a net and some balls being launched and soon transforms into: giant bouncing balls, cranes, bowling alleys, construction sites, and ping-pong tables, just to name a few.

What it is all very reminiscent of incidentally is the FIFA skill games, which actually end up being some of the best parts of those titles, in terms of giving an addictive challenge mode that keeps up the reasons to play. Getting the three stars in each stage is tough and requires a lot of persistence. This persistence can take a lot of physical effort, as well. It is interesting because there is not a lot of actual movement required here. Certainly the camera is mostly static, and most of the actions happen independently of the headset user.

However, Headmaster does still provide a good workout as everything is done with the head, without any other controlling required. This means positioning and hip and neck movement is essential. Impressively, this is underpinned with a really excellent physics system that very naturally picks up that movement and positioning and accurately reflects what way the ball would move if hit like that in real life. It does feel remarkably life-like in its way.

Of course, it isn't perfect and in some of the harder challenges it can be maddening when the ball just will not fall the way the best intentions demand it to. If there is one disappointment, it would be that there is no online component in any way. There is multiplayer but it is a local multiplayer, which involves physically passing the headset between people in real life. Certainly this would be fun at parties but the scope is certainly limited. It would be great to see if some kind of online multiplayer could be introduced in the future, maybe in a follow up. Who knows if this would be feasible but multiplayer sports titles have at least been demonstrated in VR.

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Final Score
For a budget title, [i]Headmaster[/i] is definitely worth a buy and is great at demonstrating some of the best aspects of VR. Certainly this is not the most epic of the medium, but what it does provide is an addictive pick-up-and-play style of game that is always welcome on any gaming apparel or add-on like VR. Very solid graphically, as well as being humorous, and underpinned with a realistic physics engine, [i]Headmaster[/i] is a good introduction into VR for developer Frame Interactive. Hopefully, it now follows this up with some more great ideas using this as a base.



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