The rebooted Planet of the Apes movies are a trilogy of thoughtful, morally complex blockbusters that pose serious questions about what it means to be human. By contrast, Crisis On the Planet of the Apes – a VR shooter that takes place between 2014’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and last summer’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – is repetitive, old-fashioned (as much as you can be in VR), and often all but unplayable, and the only question it poses is about your tolerance for pain.

The campaign runs about two and a half hours but feels 10 times that long – not a compliment, needless to say. Crisis makes familiar references to Caesar and the outbreak of Simian Flu, but in every other respect it has less in common with the new Planet of the Apes series than with the much-reviled Tim Burton film.

It invites you to experience the world through the eyes of a nominally intelligent chimpanzee determined to escape the detention facility where it’s been confined under armed guard. I say nominally intelligent because it’s so difficult to get your primate avatar to do what you want it to do, and so awkward to perform even the most basic actions, that it’s impossible to believe you’re the astonishing evolutionary specimen the scientists you encounter insist you are.

A random observer watching you struggle clumsily to pick up objects or walk forward would assume you’re nothing more than a regular monkey, and possibly a drunk one. Granted, movement is a problem VR in general has yet to really solve, and Crisis offers a not-uninteresting and thematically appropriate take on it: walking is mapped to the Move controllers, which means you use motion control to lumber forward like a chimpanzee knuckle-walking around.

In theory, this might make you feel more authentically simian; in practice, it simply does not work. Partly that’s because you can only walk in fixed lines to predetermined destinations, each set a few feet apart and indicated by an opaque monkey silhouette in the near distance. Read more from…

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