Tuesday, 27 October 2015

PlayStation VR hands on demo

PlayStation VR demo

Once Oculus Rift, now PlayStation VR.

Either way, it matters not, because over the long weekend at the Armageddon Expo, there was chance to be part of a demo for the headset and some of the properties which are coming to it, thanks to PlayStation NZ.

Needless to say, the queue for this all weekend was pretty full on, and it's easy to see why.

2 demos were on offer - one a space shoot-em-up game called E-Valkyrie, which induces a degree of dizziness as you scale the space heights. However, I was given a demo of a level of a game called The London Heist.

Firstly, the headset.

I'm a glasses wearer, so the idea of a headset on top of glasses, much like 3D glasses, does little to enamour me. However, it's incredibly light, fits snugly and comfortably over the top and is adjusted to ensure there's no light from outside coming in. Once the initial steam up of the glasses was over, 2 PlayStation Move controllers were thrust into my hand and I was told the demo would begin.

It's immersive to say the least - and once it begins, it's totally likely to envelop your world.

Sitting in a white van, hurtling along a freeway, with a fellow guy, it's clear (also from the title) that I've been involved in some kind of robbery and this is the getaway. The guy next to me looks like a Hitman who's been at the pies, and speaks with a cockney accent that Michael Caine would be envious of. He warns me of future people coming to get us - and that's when things change.

But not because of the shootouts, but because of the depth perception.

Using the move controllers, which become my hands (actual floating hands) I can grab stuff in the car - a takeaway cup suddenly becomes able to be grabbed, though I can't sip at it. Throwing it at the driver in frustration, he calls me a mug. My mentor from Playstation tells me I can open the car door by using the buttons to grab at the door handle. Laughing nervously, I open the door, and suddenly, I am aware of a world behind me, a speeding freeway, the back of the van, the tread of the tyres; it's all suddenly apparent and it's incredible.

There's no time to relax though as speeding motorbikes with people shooting at me and my mate show up. I thrash my hands in front of me, and punch the van's window out, shattering it into a thousand pieces as it flies past my eyes. And then the shooting begins. I grab a gun, open the glove box and load it up, using the move controller's switch to repeatedly fire.

The London Heist is essentially a shoot-out and it ends once a massive black truck speeds up, opens its doors and lets loose with a massive cannon, but the experience is a brief but unforgettable one.

It's incredible how immersive the world is and how much I adapt to it within; once the headset's removed, I've forgotten how many people are around as I've actually been locked in my own world.

It's a light set too, though if I'm honest, I worry about how alienating a social experience it can be - imagine a room full of players with these sets on would look, with nobody talking, nobody reacting. But at the same time, the potential for it and the ease in which it's executed is obvious. If PlayStation could link in with a triple A title, say the likes of Battlefront, the potential for a fully immersive experience is limitless. While the graphics of London Heist are fairly rudimentary, pleasantly executed and seamless, they still feel early generation, like there's more to come.

Based on my first hands-on demo of the former Oculus Rift and now PlayStation VR, there's a heap of possibilities, a world that lives beyond; and the potential for domination is easily obvious to see.

Let's just see where the future goes from here.

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