Prepare to get sweaty hands with the vertigo-inducing JUMP for Oculus Rift.
Heights. It’s the stuff of nightmares for most, the idea of standing on a ledge and looking down into a vast chasm of space; or jumping from one building to another with only gravity and your wits to save you. That’s what JUMP is all about, a first-person platformer that tasks you with climbing skyscrappers to reach a target goal that’s impossibly high.
Created by Endeavor One Inc, a band of former Halo and Destiny developers, JUMP includes five vast cities for players to navigate. They’re roughly based upon Philadelphia, Detroit, Seattle, New York City and Tokyo, each with a recognizable building that you need to scale. New York for example tasks you with leaping to the top of the new One World Trade Center, while Seattle sees you climbing the Space Needle. It’s simple on paper, but once in-game really messes with your senses.
That’s because JUMP uses its first-person perspective to enable you to judge leaps and landings with incredible accuracy. It’s similar to Mirrors Edge, both in looks and in the way the player can leap around its virtual cityscapes, and it generates that feeling of having butterflies in your stomach time and time again again.
Successful progression through the game involves jumping to a fixed point, but you’re also marked on the time it takes and the number of total jumps. That means you’ll need to think carefully about the route ahead. Go the easy way and it might take 100 jumps to reach the target building, but plan ahead and take some risks and you’ll likely half that amount while also saving time. This subtle use of tactics encourages repeat playthroughs, while also rewarding exploration. There’s even a leaderboard, accessible from the main menu, that shows the current top players and their scores.
Expect to find plenty of things to land on throughout each level, including ledges, air conditioning units and spires. As you reach the target goal floating platforms begin to appear. They’re a helpful point in the virtual landscape for plotting a route, but incredibly frustrating to navigate. Often they’re small in size, making it easy to leap over them, while other times you’ll need to jump at the very last second if your going to make a successful landing. There are no save points along the way, making a fall on the very last platform an incredibly frustrating experience.
Running the game on the Oculus Rift is fairly easy, just load the game and put on your Oculus Rift headset. However, we’ve found that setting the Rift to Extended mode improves the framerate, while running the game at the Rift’s native resolution of 1920×1080 improves the image quality even further; to do this just hold down the shift key while launching the game then change the resolution in the dialogue box.
After loading the game you’ll find yourself in a futuristic and Tron-like level selection screen. From here you can try a practice run, check out the in-game controls or jump into a level to begin. Controlling the game is easy enough using an Xbox 360 controller . The left thumbstick controls character movement, while depressing it resets the Rift view. The right thumbstick controls rotation, with the A button used for jumping. Graphically this is a distinctive game with a clean design. Don’t expect photorealistic visuals. Instead there’s a simple aesthetic that means vast cities can be rendered smoothly on all but the slowest PCs. Using our test machine with a GTX Titan we never saw any lag or judders in the framerate. Sound wise there’s nothing special here. You’ll hear the same thud with every landing, but the background music is calming and futuristic.
If we have any niggles with JUMP it’s with the floating physics system that kicks in with each jump. On one hand it gives the great impression that you’re a superhero leaping over buildings, but it’s easy to over jump objects; and if you’re moving quickly during a landing then you’ll slide before coming to a halt, which means you’ll frequently fall off small platforms and ledges.
JUMP is a thrilling game with plenty of vertigo-inducing moments. If you’re looking to get a reaction out of friends when demoing the DK2 headset then it’s definitely worth adding to your game collection, but with only five levels we’d like to see a few more levels added before it becomes an essential Rift title.
Vertigo-inducing, challenging and frustrating all at the same time. More levels would increase the games lifespan, while bug fixes would polish the overall experience. For the price of a sandwich and coffee it's definitely worth checking out.
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