Note: This review is based on the PlayStation VR version of Eagle Flight.
Perched atop Notre Dame Cathedral, I oversee my domain. This is where my nest is situated. It is built from resources I gathered on my own as I flew over rooftops, under bridges, and through wrecked buildings.
Paris is free from humans and nature has had enough time to take over. Wild animals roam the streets, vines climb the Eiffel Tower, and the Metro is flooded. How you live in this post-apocalyptic city is really up to you. Follow a story, take to the skies with some friends and defend your territory against other players, or enjoy yourself as your soar freely over Haussmann's iconic architecture. It's great to be a bird.
What an impression
I'd seen the trailers for Eagle Flight numerous times and had an idea what to expect, but the opening image blew me away. Seeing Paris on a sunny day from atop Notre Dame Cathedral made me say Woah. And now I get to take off and fly around all I want? Where has this game been all my life?
The artwork is semi-cartoonish — don't expect anything super realistic — and it is beautiful. Giraffes, bears, zebras, elephants, and more inhabit the world, and they're all pleasing to look at. The lighting, especially during sunsets, is perfect. I could continue trying to explain how great this game looks, but your best bet is to try it yourself in VR; trailers just don't do it justice.
No, Ubisoft's Paris isn't a 1:1 replica of the real thing, but all the important landmarks are there, albeit a bit closer to each other than in real life. This allows you to always be near something big while you fly around, rather than wasting your time in a bunch of empty streets.
This is how you fly
I've spent countless hours in flying games, and I must admit I was never much good at them. Some people just aren't cut out to be pilots. A bird, on the other hand…
Eagle Flight's use of the headset and DualShock 4 controller make flying very easy. Look up and down to ascend or descend, turn your head for macro horizontal adjustments, and tilt your head left or right for turns. Hold the R2 button to speed up, and hold the L2 button to slow down for precise movement. It took about five seconds to get used to and, except for the addition of a few combat buttons, it didn't change at all throughout the game.
The ease with which I pilot my bird body lends itself to the overall relaxing feeling of this game. You can sit on the couch and just get lost in the world. There are plenty of collectibles scattered around the city, so even when you're flying to the next marker that furthers the story, you'll have something to do. A bright beam of light shows where the next marker is, and the rest that you've already completed stay mostly out of the way unless you hit a button. When you arrive at a mission, things heat up.
Bird races, bird battles, bird brains
You'll usually find yourself in a time trial, an obstacle course, or a combat mission where you must save your mate or nest. These missions differ depending on their location. A time trial through the Metro is straightforward and your accuracy skills are rewarded, while time trials aboveground see you flying through hoops. Hitting the middle of a hoop grants a speed burst, and you can really get going. The speed is truly thrilling.
Combat missions, introduced slowly over the course of the game, can be very challenging when you near the end of the story. You get one life during each mission — hitting something, getting hit by an enemy's attack, or falling into a trap will bring you all the way back to the start of the mission. This doesn't seem like a big deal until you reach missions that take over five minutes to complete. More than once I had the end in sight and made a mistake the took me back to the start. It's a little frustrating, but you learn from your mistakes and the feeling of accomplishment when you actually succeed is worth it.
Each mission is replayable with the opportunity to achieve up to three stars. As you collect more stars, more special missions are unlocked. This gives you a reason to go back and play over and over without limiting access to later levels. You'll also want to take a stab at the leaderboards for each mission, and there's even a ghost race option — you can see translucent images of competitors — that is unlocked once you've played through a mission once.
Fight for a carcass!
Eagle Flight would be fine as a single-player game, but Ubisoft tossed in a multiplayer feature anyway. It's not much, but it lets you test your flight skills against real people.
You and two teammates face off against three other people in a capture-the-flag style game. The flag is a carcass, and you need to bring it back to your nest. Getting hit by an enemy or crashing into something results in your respawning a few moments later, but even that bit of time can be the difference between winning and losing.
Eagle Flight is hands down one of the best PlayStation VR games available today. From the start, you'll love flying over Paris, and although the storyline isn't gripping, you'll want to see how it ends. This is a game that's suitable for all ages, and it is the title I will now show newcomers whenever they'd like a good introduction to virtual reality.
- Ubisoft's Paris is grand
- Flight mechanic is easy to control
- Good for any age
- Storyline ended after about four hours