We got to check out Sony’s foray into the virtual reality genre, The Playstation VR at Taipei Game Show 2016 and here’s what we thought of it!
We got an hour to check out a few games but unfortunately, our stint got cut short by an intense bout of motion sickness courtesy of DRIVECLUB (More on that later).
This was the first game that I got to check out. In Rez: Infinity, The player takes control of a character flying through some trippy environments and shooter enemies as he goes. The whole is experience is set to awesome electro/trance music that swells up or dials down depending on how well you’re doing in the game.
You aim using the PS VR Headset and lock on to enemies before shooting them with you PS Move Controller. You can lock on to multiple enemies at the same time then blasting them all in a glorious, flurry of shapes, sounds and colors.
My initial reaction when they strapped me in was to just look forward and play the game how you normally do. It was only when partly through my playthrough that the attendant leaned over and said “You can also get those (enemies) at your side” when I began to understand the true experience of playing a game in VR. I immediately spun around at my 8 o’ clock and locked onto four saucer looking things and blasted them to oblivion. I tilted upwards and saw more enemies coming from above. Blasted them too. Blow away by this sort of mini-revelation, I tried to look at where my feet were planted in real life only to see the ground no longer there. It maybe such tiny minute thing but that feeling stuck with me. I saw the gorgeous stylized environments whizzing below me and I felt fully convinced that I was occupying this actual space in a virtual world.
After that I felt differently about playing the game, like I had to keep track of the everything going on around me. I think I did pretty well because the music kept pulsing in faster and faster beats as I bobbed my head in unison. It was definitely a surreal experience.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
So for those that don’t know, Our girl Denise is extremely squeamish with all manner of gore and blood. However, as luck would have it, The first game she got to try out was actually Until Dawn: Rush of Blood.
Here she is taking it like a champ though:
So, Rush of Blood is loosely based of off the original Until Dawn for the Ps4. The narrative-driven gameplay however, has been chucked out the window in favor of a linear on-the-rails shooter experience.
You ride a rollercoaster through what appears to be a demented theme park filled with all sorts of ghouls and ghosts (and birds) that want to do bodily harm to you. You fight them of with two pistols controlled by two PS move controllers and reload them by shaking.
The control weren’t to responsive in the build that they showed us, the shake feature was laggy and the aim was a bit off. The difficulty curve also seems to spike erratically as some areas with no doubt frustrate players who are none to familiar with shooting games. On top of that the tie-in to Until Dawn is a tad forced and really misrepresents what the original game was really about.
The London Heist
The thing I loved most about the London Heist was that It gives the players a great feeling of progression all throughout the demo. The bit I played was called the Getaway (There was another one available called the Interrogation which I didn’t get to try.)
The Getaway starts off as your in an SUV of some sort driving down a London highway. The wheelman, a bald and burly gangster starts spouting off instructions and fills me in the situation. I begin to look around the car. There’s a softdrink cup on the dash, a bag in the middle compartment and my hands, two brown gloves floating in mid-air, being controlled by the two move controllers in my real life hands. The PSVR Attendant in the real world leans over and tell me that I can reach over and grab the drink on the dashboard. I do just that and I just kind of stare at in in my hand a bit, tilting it around, over and under like a real world object. I am all sorts of amazed. I began raise my other arm upward and stare at both of them moving in the virtual space and in real life at the same time.
Suddenly, we run into some trouble. Some dudes we apparently stole stuff from suddenly began driving up to us and started shooting. Cue the Car Chase sequence. I am told to grab the gun in the bag in the middle compartment of the SUV. I do so with my right hand while throwing the drink to the floor with my left. (I could’ve thrown it out the window mused the attendant but I’m no f*cking litterbug). I start shooting my Uzi in front to nail the dudes in the car. Explosion. Success. Another car drives beside us and I’m out of bullets. I am told to reload by picking up the magazines in the same bag I got the gun from. So I took a mag with my left, instinctively put it in underneath the Uzi and began shooting again. The attendant recognized my discomfort in shooting right and reaching over with my left to reload so he told me that I could switch gun hands. So I threw the gun from my right and caught it with my left. It was quite a surreal feeling to interact with an object that was only in the virtual space using real life movement so I was again quite astounded.
With the gun on my left, I was a much more intuitive feeling to shoot out of the window and rain bloody death on my enemies, reloading as needed with my right hand, sometimes without even looking at the bag of ammo. I was ducking gunfire, shooting back, leaning in and out of the window hitting the cars and motorcycles that fell back for cover. The fools never stood a chance.
The London Heist nails what I think the VR experience should be. I makes you feel like you’re interacting with the objects in the virtual world rather that just playing a game in 360 degrees. When you shoot you feel like you’re taking a gun and shooting it as opposed to Rush of Blood which basically replicates the light gun shooting genre and all its limitations. London Heist is definitely a game changer and I’m really excited for what it will bring to the shooter genre and gaming as a whole.
Probably the best sort experience I had at the show was The Deep by Project Morpheus. It was purely a cinematic experience as the Attendant made clear when she strapped me in. I was in a diving cage, being lowered to the bottom of the ocean. I could see schools of fish, swimming past, lean over to see inside some coral while two manta rays glide underneath the steel contraption of that they put me in. Armed with the previous knowledge of the VR experience being and all around immersive experience, I start to look around me. I see more fishes, coral and plant life. Above I see my boat floating ominously far away from me, my only connection to it being the cable that is latched on to the top of my diving cage. Everything was beautiful. All these things I could’ve missed had I just been looking forward.
The scene fades to black and although a little bit jarring, I was relieved to see a faint light going closer and closer to me. A jelly fish elegantly flowly across the water. It is joined by several more until I am surrounded by neon lights and squishy flowing shapes in the dark water. The scene fades to black once more.
It opens up again and I am still in the ocean, surrounded once more in aquatic beauty. Off in the distance a shark flies past. I catch a glimpse of it and mutter under my breath “thank the hea..” The shark doubles back and swims away once more. Everything is silent. There is no sound, no musical score just the sound of water and the clink-clanking of the cage. Everything has pretty much stayed the same since the beginning of the demo but something has definitely, horribly changed. The once serene atmosphere has completely been enveloped by tension. My heart beats faster and faster. The shark reappears closer than it has ever been. It passes by the cage without so much as a glance. I track it across me looking over my shoulder. It circles back again. The tension is definitely mounting up. I sit as still as I possibly can, foolishly thinking that maybe I can trick the shark into thinking I’m not there. It doesn’t work. it notices me anyway. It starts to swim a little more aggressively now. Will it attack or won’t it? The uncertainty is unbearable. It disappears underneath me and suddenly, to my relief and my horror, the uncertainty is lifted and it begins to attack cage. The people on the boat are panicking. They desperately try to hail me through the radio. Naturally, even if I wasn’t frozen in fear, I can’t respond. They begin to pull me up, just as the shark starts headbutting and biting through the cage. I make it partway up to the surface and the cable snags on the rocks. JUST GREAT. The shark comes charging back in methodically taking chunks of off the cage’s door. All the while getting horrifically closer to my face.I try my hardest not to look away from it, I real life I have angled my body away to the side of the couch away from the virtual cage door.I try to kick it until hit the display rack in front of me that is holding the monitor. It rips the whole cage door off. I am exposed now. The shark swims away. I lost sight of it. I try to look away from the open door, I think I even embarrassingly hold my hand up in front of me. Finally I see my assailant. He makes a straight charge at me baring all his teeth. I can’t bear to look..
Suddenly the cable breaks free from the rocks, they begin to pull me up. I don’t think that’s going to be much help now that I’m about to be shark foo.. Thump. The rocks rain gloriously overhead. Bashing the shark’s head in as my compatriots pull me to safety.
They take the headset off. I am surprised to see that a crowd has gathered. A Videocamera right on my face. No doubt all my embarrassing antics were immortalized in a Promotional package somewhere. I have no qualms though. It was definitely an intense and horrifying experience. It was also very raw and genuine. Without controllers, all you could do was look around or look away without noticing the headset. And without holding anything the experience was so naturally and intuitively immerisive. You’re simply just in another world, for better or worse.
We had about 30 more minutes left in our press time and the huge setup they had for DRIVECLUB had me curious. I literally climbed into the driver seat of an awesome sportscar. It had working gears and pedals and a badass steering wheel. Everything felt pretty comfy as I started a race. I leapt off the starting line unelegantly trading paint with my fellow competitors. I came manage to claim a respectable 5th place in the opening moments. Until I get to cute with the first turn. In my mind, I’ve done this before, I played the Daytona USA arcade cabinets, I watched Initial D: I’m gonna drift this sonuvagun. So I pump the brakes downshifted, turned the wheel, (was there a handbrake in there somewhere? I don’t frickin know!) Needless to say: BIG MISTAKE. I spin out fast, over multiple seconds. 2 revolutions, 3 revolutions, 4. I tapped out. I asked the attendant to get me out of there FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET ME OUT OF THERE. I try to collect myself. I start to vommit a little in my mouth the attendant runs over to give me a glass of water.
But hey, at least there was no camera crew this time.
Raffy Leynes is a geek of all trades (master of fun).He loves videogames, comicbooks, movies, cartoons, wrestling, science and art. Lately, he’s been liking his geekery with a dash of “Indie”. He doesn’t know what the f*ck musings are but he is told he does them on his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.