My first VR zombie killing experience was the first Arizona Sunshine game. I loved all the looting mechanics, great graphics and funny story beats. I did not like some of the zombie hoard scripted sequences, but I survived them to reach the finish. Arizona Sunshine 2 managed to improve on the first in pretty much every way, including zombie crowd control.
Zombie Killing Never Looked so Good
Right from the start, Arizona Sunshine 2 looks better than the first. It’s not a super realistic interpretation, but a great stylized version of reality, similar to Half Life Alyx. The environments are much more detailed in the sequel, as are the weapons. Sometimes it was weird that cars, crates or other items seemed like their scale was a bit off.
They sometimes appeared larger than I’d expect, but it doesn’t distract too much from the other details in Arizona Sunshine 2. Performance is much better in this sequel, but that might be my RTX 4090 doing the heavy lifting. Regardless, I only dealt with truly noticeable hiccups and/or motion sickness 2 or 3 times through my 11 plus hours of playtime.
What I will complain about is the same thing so many VR games have issues with, janky interactions. I’d often accidentally grab my gun when I was trying to open a door or grabbing something else. It’s possible the Valve Index controllers are the issue, but they are popular enough they should work well with any VR game.
Despite that annoyance, it mostly melts away with the great Arizona Sunshine 2 gameplay. Chopping or shooting limbs off zombies is fun. Beating a zombie with a frying pan or putting a grenade in its mouth are things everyone should experience. That’s fun and all, but the guns are even better.
Guns, Guns and More Guns
One of the things I loved about the first Arizona Sunshine was opening car doors, trunks, drawers, cabinets, etc., to scrounge for ammo. All that returns with even more places to loot for those precious bullets. I wanted all the ammo and it’s fun to roleplay like that.
There’s plenty of ammo if you look for it. Which helps, because there’s a ton of different weapon varieties throughout the game. I was pleasantly surprised with the variety. When I ran out of ammo or wanted to save bullets, there’s great melee weapons.
I found a hammer, machete, skillet, crowbar (and there’s an achievement tied to it) and probably more. It was a bit weird that the storage area for them was in each glove. It’s sort of like HL Alyx, so no big deal.
Handguns I found were Beretta-like pistols, a burst fire variety, Glock, Desert Eagle and several different 6 shooters. If there’s more than one pistol, there’s an option to dual wield, it’s great. Shotguns were a ton of fun. The power is great and all the reloading is realistic.
I loved popping out the old shells and loading in new ones, except when a zombie horde was after me. The pump action shotgun was my favorite though. I’d pop off some shots, then breach load more shells, ready for more.
Bring in the Big Guns
Larger weapons like rifles included things like an M-16, AK-47, machine gun, grenade launcher and more. Their storage spot was over the shoulder, but only room for one. It was a great feeling to have plenty of ammo with 2 one handed weapons and the big hitter on my back.
There were grenades, mines and Molotov cocktails. Fire is where it’s really at. That’s why the single handed flamethrower was my favorite weapon in Arizona Sunshine 2. Reloading was as simple as popping in a new canister and the flames are perfect crowd control.
I could tap some flames at crowds of zombies and it would often catch multiple on fire with a chance for it to spread to another close zombie. Before I picked up the flamethrower, most crowd control efforts involved me running away while reloading. Back pedaling eventually led to death, but no more with the flamethrower.
The gunplay is great in the game. There’s even a bit on a roof top with hordes of zombies and a bolt action rifle. It was fun to pick off zombies, but not the most practical weapon with all the tight spaces. The mini gun from the trailers mowed through zombies and reminded of World War Z.
The grenade launcher was fun also, but not my favorite, as well. I just could not get away from my flamethrower.
Buddy, the Dog, is the True Star of Arizona Sunshine 2
Buddy, as the player character calls the dog, is the best idea in this game. I was nervous to play the game so close to the one of the worst things I had to do in my life. Our old dogs reached the point where the only humane thing to do was put them down.
They were both around 14 years old and it very bad condition, so they lived a long life, but was hard for us. Playing a game centering around a dog risked opening that fresh wound. I knew there was a point where the dog was hurt from the trailers, so I was a bit hesitant.
The good news is the experience turned out to be very therapeutic. Trying to care for the hurt dog was a bit rough, but I deeply related with the character cursing at zombies to get his injured dog some help. The scene at the Vet was especially weird for me and a bit with other dogs at the end I rushed through.
Buddy is like a coop partner I ordered around. The game does have online coop, but the dog is a great partner, even when playing alone. There’s just so many good ideas Arizona Sunshine 2 throws into the dog gameplay. I could pet him. He plays fetch, even with zombie parts.
If there’s ammo or a key out of reach, he will fetch it when ordered. I loved using Buddy to attack zombies to conserve ammo and serve as a stealth kill. He also has a bullet proof vest (I guess in case you miss zombies and hit him) that has two spots to carry hand guns.
It’s a fantastic idea to have him carry those fun guns I found along the way, instead of discarding them. As far as ordering Buddy around, I could order him to a spot, fetch, attack, sit or even lay down. He’s able to help solve puzzles by moving bodies blocking doors or fetching needed items. It’s fun.
The game starts as a search for patient zero in hopes of the Army creating a cure, but it all becomes about the dog and I love the developers for that. If they chose to kill the dog for some type of dramatic reason, I’d want to hurt them. Thankfully for all of us, they chose wisely.
What’s Next for Arizona Sunshine?
After rolling the credits after 11 hours, I was so happy I played Arizona Sunshine 2. Despite the loss of my dogs, it proved a great getaway and almost tribute. The different chapters and scenes are iconic to me now. They are very well done and I’ll never forget hanging from the side of a speeding train.
I’ll cherish all those memories killing Zombies with that trusty dog, Buddy. I’m hoping the game sells well enough to encourage the developers to create a part 3. The only requirement from now on is that the dog stays. I’d also prefer it stay available on PCVR, but who knows what I’ll be playing on in a few years.
Now that they’ve introduced Buddy, they can’t take him back. Keep him in there and I’d 100% preorder a future Arizona Sunshine part 3.