The homage to Snake continues, if you are ready to pay for it.
VR Mission EXT is the sequel, or rather the extended version of the original VR Mission. There isn’t much new added besides the new missions making it more of a mission pack than a proper sequel. Nevertheless it comes with enough content to warrant those hooked on the original to grab it. What might be putting those invested a lot of time into the original is the fact that developer Sphinx Entertainment is heavy on In App Purchases. Both versions of VR Missions, as well as their Bio Crisis have more IAP options than usual. To me this is a big downer. In VR Mission EXT you can revive your character instantly upon death for a fee of $0.99 for example instead of retrying the level. There are also extra characters with special abilities, as well as some weaponry that you won’t afford using the in game money no matter how much you grind. The in game money that you find in boxes, or get awarded when killing foes is needed for ammo and health kits.
The gameplay of VR Missions EXT is close to what I remember from Metal Gear released ages ago for the NES. You control a special agent from a top down perspective. Stealth is in focus, and resorting to shooting should be the last option. Enemies have a field of vision, and as long as you avoid it you can sneak behind them. The AI isn’t that good, and if you stealth kill a couple of guards the alive ones won’t care about their fallen comrades scattering the ground. The field of vision is quite sloppy as well, as it goes through objects. It should change shape, and distance depending on the environment. Too often I hide behind boxes where I should be safe, but the guard manages to see me anyway.
Other disturbing flaws can be seen when having to block off lasers to avoid getting zapped. The lasers can actually move the boxes if placed to close to them. Overall the box-moving aspects of the game are rather boring, and especially when you have to retry them later on upon death. I do understand that the revive instantly option for IAP is tempting. On the other hand I don’t think a game should have long boring segments just to force someone to additional purchases.
The most fun parts of the game are when you have to zig zag between guards slitting throats as you go. Finding quick routes between safe spots when searchlights, and patrolling guards are everywhere is really exciting. Boss fights are also quite fun, but at the same time they are generally quite hard. That is due to not having enough ammo to just throw everything at them. If you die after firing away like a madman that ammo is lost, but the boss still has all health left.
The controls are quite good, and respond well to the action. The slow movement of the hero on the other hand makes some stretches excruciatingly slow. Of course there is speed boots to buy at a high price. Another one of these built in flaws to the game to entice you to IAP.
One really enjoyable aspect is the extra objectives, or rather achievements in Jetpack Joyride fashion. Beside the mission parameters you can gain extra bonus by for example not killing anyone, or setting off any alarms. This in itself can motivate me to replay some levels, albeit not those with too much crate pushing.
VR Mission EXT is a mixed bag combining exciting stealth action a la Metal Gear with slow crate moving puzzles and too much focus on IAP. To fully enjoy the game the price tag of $0.99 is just the beginning. I would rather have seen a $4.99 price tag with everything balanced to allow the player to enjoy the game fully. Snake would never grind for better boots, would he?
VR Mission EXT $0.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Sphinx Entertainment