The world is an unforgiving place. In the first Arizona Sunshine title, our character awakened in a cave in the Arizona river valley. Zombies are everywhere, but after a quick check of the radio, it seems like we aren’t alone. Further and further we push into the rough Arizona landscape, finding stronger radio signals to follow until we are ultimately rescued by a helicopter and whisked off to safety. Happy ending, right? Well, just because we escaped doesn’t mean everything is sunshine and rainbows. Our character wakes up in this title in their filthy travel trailer. Stepping outside, we see a few zombies in the cliff across the way. Shooting a few of these for fun and practice, we are surprised to see a helicopter in distress, careening into the ground and leaving a plume of smoke in the distance. Grabbing our trusty pistol we set out on our impromptu rescue, because if somebody is coming to look for this chopper, it might be our ticket out of the little scratch of desert we’ve holed up in.
First off, our character has lost their mind, just a little bit. They frequently talk to all the “Freds” they see – zombies are all apparently named Fred now. They talk to themselves on a fairly constant basis, chastising the Freds for being bad zombies. Upon finding the chopper (I’m not spoiling much – it’s about 5 minutes in) you also find a dog that you name Buddy, turning this into a Buddy comedy, literally. You’d think the constant banter between our character, Fred, and Buddy would wear thin, but the writing is stellar. VR has frequently been entirely too quiet, devoid of charm and memorable characters, but that’s not a problem for Arizona Sunshine 2.
The best thing about VR is that you really don’t have to explain the controls very much. Once you find them, you’ll have a gun on each hip, as well as a rifle on your back. You’ll swap these out with various things like flamethrowers, a fast-firing Mac-10 knockoff, an assault rifle, shotgun, and much more. Just like Arizona Sunshine, you’ll be manually reloading all of these weapons, so learn how to drop in a new mag and where the charging handle or slide release is on all of these weapons before you have bitey Freds up close and personal. I’m glad to say that I didn’t have much difficulty with reloads. They work like they are supposed to, and you can adjust your belt height if you find you have problems.
Also around the levels are axes, machetes, and more that you can use to filet some Freds. These are very temporary, breaking after a half dozen uses. Still, there’s nothing quite like taking a rock pick and using it to core out some skulls by hand.
Where you could whip through Arizona Sunshine in about 3 hours, I’m happy to say that you’ll have a lot more meat on this bone. Arizona Sunshine 2 is roughly 9 hours to complete, and somehow in all of that, doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you are inclined, you can even bring your friends – up to four players in the Horde mode, and a partner for the campaign. You can check out David and I carving up some Freds right here:
The connection and setup for Arizona Sunshine 2’s co-op couldn’t be simpler. David just dropped directly into my game, eezy peezy. Switching to Horde mode we took on waves of zombies, just like in its predecessor. Each round brings stronger and faster Freds, but you’ll get better weapons with each cycle. 9mm gives way to .50 cal pistols. You can craft tripmines, grenades, and other Fred surprises as many of the Freds you kill will also give you some crafting goodies for that purpose. It’s nice when things just work, and this just does. We didn’t have a copy on Quest 3 to test, but I suspect the code-based multiplayer connection works like a charm there as well.
Our only complaint with Horde is that it’s a slow burn. You have to move through a lot of rounds with crummy weapons before you get to the exciting stuff. We also did run into a handful of issues where fog would descend on the area, then disappear, then reappear. It’s a bug, but thankfully not a frequent one.
Graphically, Arizona Sunshine 2 is a stone cold looker. The foveated rendering on the PlayStation VR 2 is working overtime, keeping this game sharp and with gorgeous textures. While I don’t see any gaze-based mechanics here, looking at the gameplay footage in our own videos, I can say that it’s much more sharp than what you can see there. Let’s check out the first level, running in solo mode.
There are a number of options for ensuring you don’t get sick while playing Arizona Sunshine 2. You can obviously use smooth rotation and teleportation, but you can also mix and match. I personally use snap turns at 45 degrees (also configurable) with instant turn instead of smooth turn. I then use natural movement to move through the space. If you need vignetting, that’s available as well. I suffer from nausea pretty badly, but I had no problem whatsoever with Arizona Sunshine 2.
When you do get Buddy, you’ll be able to unleash him on the Freds with the press of a button. He’ll happily take down, chew on, and rip the throat out of anyone you command him to, making him invaluable for taking down the high speed Freds you’ll find. You can also load him up with two additional firearms for storage, as well as petting him all over because he’s the very best boy. You can even put hats and masks on him as well as yourself, because of course you can. Here’s a mission a bit further into the campaign that showcases the full range of weapons and Buddy attacks.
If you are looking for a fantastic zombie shooter, look no further. Just like Arizona Sunshine, the sequel is the perfect example of what VR can do. Sure, it’s a paint-by-numbers zombie shooter, but that doesn’t stop it from being an absolute blast to play. Whether you are playing with friends, or just with Buddy, this is a system seller.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
Arizona Sunshine 2
An absolute blast from start to finish, Arizona Sunshine 2 outdoes its predecessor in every way, and that’s high praise indeed.