Arizona Sunshine 2 offers up satisfyingly tactile gunplay, a brilliantly well-paced campaign that’s filled to bursting with wonderful environmental design, huge hordes of zombies to slay, and some of the most impressive set pieces I've seen in a VR title.
Superb gunplay with a varied arsenal of weapons
Memorable set pieces
You can pet the dog
Utility belt takes some calibrating and getting used to
Occasional visual bugs and oddities
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Platform reviewed: PSVR 2
Available on: PSVR 2, Meta Quest, Steam VR
Release date: December 7, 2023
Some of the best sequels feel familiar but with everything amped up, dials turned Spinal Tap-style up to 11. Arizona Sunshine 2 is one of them, and nearly everything about the VR zombie shooter is remarkably bombastic, from its varied arsenal of guns and environmental synergy all the way to its crude sense of humor. The Walking Dead, this ain’t; if you’re looking for a high-octane zombie shooter that doesn’t take itself even remotely seriously, then Arizona Sunshine 2 is very easy to recommend.
Arizona Sunshine was a trailblazer in virtual reality, and so is Arizona Sunshine 2. Plenty of VR-centric mechanics are present here, and all work incredibly well. Expect manual reloading, climbing, dual-wielding, and a highly interactive environment. It’s all just pushed up a notch thanks to the impressively large hordes of zombies (or Freds, as our plucky hero affectionately coins them, bound by the standard video game agreement to never, ever, ever call them zombies), intense chase sequences and a wealth of stunning set pieces that never failed at making me crack a smile.
Some universal VR frustrations do show themselves here; you’ll most likely need to fiddle with your utility belt’s positioning, and the busy inventory system is at odds with the breakneck pacing of Arizona Sunshine 2’s combat. But these small irritations don’t take much away from the excellent experience Vertigo Games has crafted here.
Fred’s (un)dead, baby
Your adventure in Arizona Sunshine 2 begins straightforwardly enough. A relatively easygoing first level introduces you to shooting and reloading with a simple handgun while peppering in opportunities to explore your environment for extra goodies.
Arizona Sunshine 2 instantly does a brilliant job of teaching the player to be keenly aware of their surroundings at all times, and constantly incentivizes you to explore beyond the critical path. Not just because zombies can emerge from a shadowy nook at a moment’s notice, but it’s also how you’ll find the bulk of ammunition, crafting items, and - crucially - new weapons to try out.
Curiosity is strongly encouraged, which is great (banned word), because poking around the arenas highlights how much care and attention has gone into crafting the game’s environments. You’ll be finding all kinds of resources under stairwells, in fridges and desk drawers, suitcases and car seats. Basically, if you’re looking at an area and thinking to yourself, “I’d probably hide something there,” chances are the devs are way ahead of you.
Your canine companion, Buddy, is easily the best part of Arizona Sunshine 2. This adorably vicious pup can help fetch items, explore smaller crevices, and tear zombies to shreds all with one context-sensitive button. Oh, you can give him head pats and play fetch, too!
Onto gunplay, Vertigo Games has nailed it with a wide variety of weapons - of the ranged and melee variety - that feel universally fantastic to play around with. There’s a strong sense of realism here, especially in regards to accuracy and recoil. Continual firing will knock your aim off-kilter, and that’s nowhere more apparent than with the AK-47, which appropriately kicks like a mule. That feedback is brilliantly realized in the PSVR 2’s Sense controllers, too, with their haptics lending weapons a tactile feel.
Actually fighting zombies in Arizona Sunshine 2 is a joy. When met with a bullet, their heads pop like watermelons with the sound design to match. Dealing with faster zombies? You can shoot out their legs as an effective means of crowd control. If you’re careful, you’re also more than a match for larger hordes; a well-placed grenade can immediately blast them into orbit and the flamethrower is an efficient method of sowing fiery chaos in their ranks.
It’s all brought together by how you’ll manually handle each gun in the game. As mentioned, reloading is tactile and involved; you’ll need to eject the clip, reach to your utility belt for a fresh one, load it in and cock the weapon all by hand. It sounds like a lot - and it is - but it quickly becomes second nature and adds no small amount of tension to combat. You can also hold weapons with both hands, enhancing accuracy and stability and something that’s practically required for the larger, more unwieldy guns.
And Buddy was his name-o
By far my favorite addition to Arizona Sunshine 2 is Buddy, the protagonist’s dog companion freed from a downed chopper in the game’s first chapter. Not only is Buddy beyond adorable, but it’s clear that so much care has gone into animating him realistically and having him act, well, like a dog really would. So much so that you could almost class Arizona Sunshine 2 as a dog-walking simulator. Just one with guns and Molotov cocktails and nasty bitey zombies. Sorry, yes… Freds.
Buddy’s fantastic when it comes to crowd control, as he’s able to eviscerate basic zombies and keep more threatening ones away from you for a while. He’s also fitted with a utility belt of his own; you can fit extra weapons and items to Buddy if you’re fully loaded. And while you never really feel godlike or invincible in Arizona Sunshine 2, Buddy’s versatility does lend an element of power fantasy as you carve your way through the encroaching hordes together.
Also noteworthy is Buddy’s AI, which seriously impresses. Buddy feels extremely intelligent and is very responsive to commands. Between telling him to explore the surroundings and attack zombies, I never once encountered any delays or ignored commands. If I told Buddy to do something, he did so almost immediately every single time.
By comparison, the zombies’ artificial intelligence isn’t quite as sharp. To a degree, you’d expect that; they are zombies, after all. But I did encounter zombies snagging themselves on scenery or shambling, not towards the nearest source of brains, but into a wall. In larger hordes, it was also quite common to see zombies clip through each other, which did temporarily harm the game’s otherwise phenomenal level of immersion.
Ultimately, though, oddities like this do not detract from the fantastic experience Arizona Sunshine 2 puts forward. Its relatively lengthy campaign is loaded with variety, from intense firefights to plenty of over-the-top setpieces like driving an airplane staircase through an infested runway or interrupting an undead pool party with a flamethrower. Arizona Sunshine 2 is essential for VR headset owners, and it’s a much-needed addition to PSVR 2’s library, especially after a rather concerning drought.
Arizona Sunshine 2 is very accommodating for VR players of all kinds. The game supports both standing and seated modes of play and includes helpful motion reduction features like teleport movement, vignetting, and the ability to skip climbing sequences. UI and utility belt calibration are also here, allowing you to set in-game elements to best suit your needs.
How we reviewed Arizona Sunshine 2
I played through Arizona Sunshine 2’s campaign on PSVR 2. Exploring each level thoroughly as I progressed enabled me to finish the game in just over eight hours. I also mixed up my playstyle between sitting and standing, while also toggling features like vignetting and climbing skips to aid in reducing motion sickness.
Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.