Hey Freddie! Remember me? Of course, you do. We first met in Arizona Sunshine, released way back in 2016 when VR was still finding its footing and the Meta Quest didn’t even exist. Well, Freddie, I’m back, and I’m not here to mess around.
Our Intrepid Survivor
When Arizona Sunshine 2 begins, you wake up in a dingy trailer, thirsty and looking for a drink. The opened beer bottles around you are variously empty, used as ashtrays, or contain your vomit—a good intro to the game, quickly establishing the pathos of the character you embody for the next 8-12 hours. Soon, a helicopter you hoped might rescue you crashes nearby. You rush to it in desperation, but it’s too late for the pilot. However, you gain a new canine companion from this ordeal. Without knowing his name, you decide to call him Buddy, marking the start of a beautiful friendship and a new quest as you realize the military is trying to locate patient zero, your potential ticket out of hell.
The gameplay in Arizona Sunshine 2 follows a straightforward single-player, narrative-driven campaign. As a fan of such campaigns, I’m all for it. The gunplay, a standout feature of the original game, is wonderful. It’s immensely satisfying to land a good headshot and hear the mushy explosion of a zombie’s head. Along your journey, you’ll find various weapons—pistols, machetes, semi-automatics, Uzis, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, and more. Each feels good to use, has its strengths and weaknesses, and allows you to approach zombie killing in your unique way.
Your holster is adjustable; you can carry two weapons at your waist and another slung over your shoulder. You also have two Half-Life: Alyx-type inventory slots in your wrists for consumables, grenades, mines, Molotovs, or stick grenades. As if that wasn’t enough, Buddy himself has two holsters, allowing him to carry two extra small weapons for convenience. Buddy isn’t just there for company. You can order him to take down zombies and fetch objects. He’s the heart of Arizona Sunshine 2, as in this world, a dog is not only man’s best friend but perhaps his only friend.
The writing in Arizona Sunshine 2 is a standout, with Rob Yescombe’s pitch-perfect writing and Sky Soliel‘s wonderful portrayal of the main character. The character’s range of emotions—frenzied desperation, gallows humor, enthusiasm, tender loving care, and even toilet humor—is all perfectly balanced and appropriate to the story’s context.
And it is a great story. Unless you’re dead inside, you’ll fall in love with Buddy. The last time I felt this emotional about an in-game animal was in The Last Guardian, which had me in tears by the end.
Arizona Sunshine 2 features a fantastic story, with twists and turns, highs and lows, and it will emotionally captivate you.
Oh, Ye Pretty Armageddon
While the first Arizona Sunshine never excelled graphically and relied on its gunplay and wit, the graphics in Arizona Sunshine 2 are atmospheric and superb. They portray a variety of environments and locations and comfortably overwhelm you with on-screen zombies when necessary. The art direction is on point, and the game is frequently just pretty, if your idea of pretty includes rotting corpses and splattered brains.
There are occasional glitches, like zombies’ heads and limbs tearing through doorways and walls, and sometimes Buddy’s body partly tearing through a wall, but it’s hardly a problem.
The graphics on PSVR2 are superior to those on Meta Quest 2 or 3, but they suffer from noticeable reprojection on PSVR2. I hope Sony finds a way to improve this across the platform, as it detracts somewhat from the overall immersion.
Can You Hear Me?
The audio’s standout is Sky Soliel’s beautifully nuanced voice acting, taking you on an emotional journey through the game. The sound design is fantastic, playing a huge part in the feel of the weapons. The guns sound different and satisfying to reload and shoot. The sound effects—from the zombies’ growls to barrel explosions—are great, and the music sets the mood effectively, ranging from suspenseful to action-packed.
The story can be played single-player or co-op, taking around 8 hours on normal and closer to 10 on hard. Arizona Sunshine 2 also brings back the horde mode from the original, where up to 4 players can fight off
increasing waves of zombies in various environments. Your enjoyment will depend on your affinity for replaying story campaigns and wave modes.
There’s not much to complain about with Arizona Sunshine 2. It excels in areas where other VR games struggle. Opening cupboards and drawers is easy, climbing works well (though it’s only used in a few areas), and aiming is precise. There are a couple of sections where the difficulty spikes, but remember this tip in times of need: aim for the legs.
There are minor issues, like wonky trolley physics and a potential memory leak causing increased loading times the longer the game runs on your system.
Overall, the positives far outweigh the flaws. You’ll be drawn in by the writing, laugh with the main character, empathize with his loneliness and newfound enthusiasm for Buddy, and appreciate his moments of reflection. Meanwhile, you’ll enjoy action-packed gunplay, varied environments, and well-paced set pieces.
In summary, I had a fantastic time with Arizona Sunshine 2. It’s a sequel that surpasses the original in every conceivable way, setting a new standard for single-player narrative-driven campaigns in VR, especially on Quest and PSVR2. It’s focused on what works, providing a fluid experience from start to end, and is easy to recommend to anyone with a beating heart who hasn’t been bitten by a brain-eater. Stop reading this, get the game, and enjoy it!
Arizona Sunshine 2
TLDR : Summary
I had a fantastic time with Arizona Sunshine 2. It's a sequel that surpasses the original in every conceivable way, setting a new standard for single-player narrative-driven campaigns in VR, especially on Quest and PSVR2.