I’m an avid American football fan, if not as much as I have been in previous years. Even so, I get the occasional itch to play Madden NFL Football, and I generally avoid it because I know I’ll get hooked. There’s something about the strategy of roster management, playbook, and fun that just gets me, and I was curious if that’d be the same with VR football. 2MD: VR Football Unleashed ALLSTAR (or 2MD as we’ll refer to it from here on out) is an interesting experience that glosses over a lot of what Madden does in favor of putting you under the helmet, both virtually and literally.
You start going through the normal tutorial, with a coach by your side in a locker room in front of a whiteboard. This also functions as your main menu, with the ability to watch some tutorial videos, use the whiteboard to edit your plays using a marker and eraser, and choose what modes you want to play. Thankfully quite a few of these modes involve practice, so you’ll have the opportunity to hone your football skills before you take the field. My only qualm; there’s not much more here than some basic football to play, so it might be easy to get bored.
*Quick disclaimer, most of the screenshots and our video of gameplay all capture from a sideline camera POV, even though my playing was from a first person POV. That’s interesting.*
When you do take the field, you start in the main mode which is a two minute drill (hence the name of the game, 2MD). The other team is up 6-0, so it’s up to you to guide your team down the field and score a touchdown for the win. To do this, you have eight plays available to you, all of which are pre-scripted unless you’ve done any editing on the whiteboard. These are controlled by your right and left sticks, with each attached to a directional push. A second tap will also flip the play, allowing for a little more variation in what you’re doing.
Once you’re ready to take the snap, it’s simply an L2 or R2 press and you’re off to the races. The first thing I noticed was how tough it was to see over the offensive and defensive line. Before you make short jokes, I already know, but at least there’s a height slider that can help whether you’re seated or just . Something I didn’t figure out until I’d played for a while is that you can move around the pocket or run for daylight with your thumbsticks, but a reminder that you might take a sack if you aren’t careful. Also, at least the first time it’s going to mess with your equilibrium, so if you struggle with movement in a VR environment, I’m not sure the 90 hz will fix your woes in 2MD.
The biggest thrill 2MD is going for of course is hitting the big play with a pass. While I appreciate what they’re going for, this is still as simple as something you’d do in Wii Sports. You grab the ball, you look toward your receiver, and you chuck it, hoping you’re in the general area. It’s usually pretty close, but more times than none your release of the L2 or R2 is finicky, leading to errant passes. There’s no specific science to it, and as I mentioned in our The Last Clockwinder review, such is the reality of motion controls. One thing that makes me think of a Wiimote is the ole flick, although it may be more of a Patty Mahomes side arm than flick. It’s pretty easy to get extra air under your perfect spiral once you learn how to do it, which will also save your arm from being too sore after a long session. Be warned, the same accuracy issues from your L2/R2 release still apply even with this trick.
After you’ve eventually scored, you’re met in this mode with a “bonus round”. This was a bit confusing to me, as it’s scored and you can skunk your poor 2MD opponent if you make the right throws. It’s your standard “throw a football through a ring” challenge, so it’s not too hard, and the color of them denotes the points you can score. I found it mostly weird, because it’s out of place. It’s still a lot of fun though, so I’d prefer something like this separately with maybe a two point conversion in its stead. That would amp up the drill for sure.
The good news is that you can actually play a full game, although it only extends the experience to twenty minutes and reverts to mostly basic rules (a TD is seven points, field goal is three). You also won’t play defense, with a similar style to Madden’s create-a-player mode in fast-forwarding through the opponent’s possession with a random result. There’s also punting and field goals available, but since the PSVR2 doesn’t recognize your leg, you’ll be throwing them. It’s a limitation that stinks, but it’s probably safer even if it was possible.
Even though it looks really basic, 2MD runs extremely well, as we’ve found with all the PSVR2 games at launch. It’s not going to win any awards for visuals, but the players and field have a Madden 2003 blockiness to them that’s endearing. In the end, performance matters a lot more in VR, and that beautiful 90 hz doesn’t skip a beat. Something I wish was there; banter between players. It’d be hilarious if I had an opposing player start trash talking at me after a sack or turnover, especially since you don’t ever go down when tackled (I assume that’s there to keep you from getting sick).
Something that 2MD isn’t: very approachable or easy to use in small spaces. Not every VR game is going to give people with disabilities an easy route into them since some movement is going to be necessary, but 2MD requires a lot of effort and a range of motion. I’m just unsure it’s something I’d recommend to someone facing those challenges. For the crowd who are crowded, 2MD also tells you off the bat you have to have a 6.7ft by 6.7ft space to play in, with no other options besides closing your game. You can edit your safe space to get the required footage, but you run the risk of bumping into or tripping over something. It sucks, especially if you’re working with small spaces like I am.
After completing this review, I discovered we’d missed something pretty neat. There is also a receiving mode, but it’s easy to look over. On the whiteboard is an option for three different ways to use it; either the CPU does everything, it does some of it (catching the ball for you and you running), or you manually doing everything. The last part is what we want to focus on, doing it all yourself like Davante Adams. You’re still playing QB, but after you throw the perspective switches to the receiver. At this point you have to run to get under the ball (unless maybe it’s a well thrown stopping route), and of course make the big catch. I can say this about it; it’s no walk in the park. There’s a certain amount of awareness you have to have in order to just get to the right spot, and even then to adjust to make the catch. I missed a ton of balls, whether I over or underthrew the route, or I misjudged where the ball would land around the yellow denoted circle of it’s trajectory trying to complete the catch. It’s definitely a cool addition, but it takes a while to get used to. One thing’s for sure, it’s always exhilarating to haul in the game winner, just like it feels throwing the game winner.
2MD: VR Football Unleashed ALLSTAR
2MD: VR Football Unleashed ALLSTAR isn’t going to wow you, but it’s a fun experience. Throwing the game winning pass will always be a highlight (both throwing and catching it), but there isn’t a lot more to 2MD than that. Still, it’s a nice extra when rounding out your PSVR2 lineup.
- Easy to grasp controls
- Stellar performance
- Fun to play
- Can feel repetitive
- Not very accessible
- Requires a larger space to play