7.0
REVIEW: Grapple Tournament
Reviews

REVIEW: Grapple Tournament

7.0
Score

With so many VR titles feeling obliged to restrict the player’s movement in an effort to reduce the amount of VR sickness that many newcomers may encounter, Grapple Tournament opts to embrace its inspirations in every way possible, with a frantic movement system that immediately hooks you (pun intended). 

Every passing month, the market for a competitive virtual reality shooter only grows, with the recent releases of Medal of Honour from EA and the ever-popular Pavlov being just a selection of what titles are out there. Yet even in the infancy of VR, military-style shooters are already being done to death, with each game—while being ambitious in their own right—beginning to feel somewhat stale. That is where a game like Grapple Tournament comes in; it takes a concept that so many shooters have left behind—being an arcade experience that encourages as much chaos as possible, combined with an energetic and exciting movement scheme while expertly implementing it into the VR medium. 

You are immediately thrown into the game’s hub area, the location that will allow you to choose your mode, as well as tinker with any settings you may desire. Thankfully, there is also a tutorial that can be easily accessed from the hub menu, providing a short yet detailed exploration of how to control your avatar as well as maneuver them around the world. The tutorial also implements some quality of life details that VR games benefit from, with various screens appearing throughout that allow you to tweak a setting related to the task you just performed. For example, if after turning a corner you felt the angle was too sharp, you can quickly change this to your liking. It is a simple yet warranted addition to a tutorial that could surely push less experienced VR players away once the movement scheme is dived into.

That brings us nicely to the star of the show: the grappling mechanic that the game gets its name from. With the option to change your preference of hand, you are given the ability to raise your hand in any direction and grapple onto seemingly any surface, as you immediately rush towards the location you grappled. Even with my multiple years of VR experience, the initial feeling of grappling was both immediately gratifying and stomach-churning—as one would expect from being lifted off your virtual feet at a rapid pace. The mechanic is coupled with the ability to climb surfaces, all the while always being able to use your given weapon at any time—regardless of what motion you may be performing. It makes for an invigorating experience as soon as you get the hang of things, being able to move around the maps at a brisk speed as well as always having an eye on the enemy. 

For anyone who has ever found themselves in a game of Quake or the equally excellent Unreal Tournament, you will certainly feel right at home upon entering the cell-shaded world that Tomorrow Games have constructed. Although the graphics may not share similarities in terms of their visual style, the entire construction of the game feels wholly nostalgic. Upon entering a match online or against bots, these mentioned inspirations become apparent very quickly with the simple game modes and the weapon selection. The game offers three modes that would be expected of an arcade shooter: Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, and Point Capture, as well as two other bonus additions seen in the Practice Range and the Parkour Arena. The latter two options serve as an extra way to hone your skills as you get to grips with the movement and the weapon functionality before potentially taking a beaten online.

The weapon variety covers all the basics you would expect, ranging from heavy turret-like miniguns to a classic shotgun. Every weapon feels unique and, more importantly, incredibly fun to wield. Unlike in other PvP shooters created for VR, the mechanics are all simplified to an excellent degree, allowing the reload mechanic of simply moving your gun-arm to the opposite under-arm to feel both satisfying and easy to execute. This allows each match to feel frantic but never overwhelming, as you make your way around one of the five maps, picking up weapons that spawn intermittently at specific locations. Frantically grappling up to an elevated level to grab some needed health packs, all the while shooting your machine gun below you, is one of those experiences that reminds you why VR is just so special to begin with. 

Grapple Tournament is striving to emulate the short-burst arcade shooter of yesteryear, taking the best aspects of its inspirations and expertly implementing them into the VR medium. While the online servers are sadly somewhat barren as of now due to a lack of player base, the option to play all modes and all maps against your desired difficulty of AI Bots while waiting for an online match completely negates this. With continued updates being pushed by the developers, and a core gameplay loop that is absolutely thrilling, Grapple Tournament is one to get excited about.

[A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes]

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