Whether you are into video games or not, this is something you must try. Before I get into how amazing Zero Latency’s VR Arena is, I want to take a moment to mention where I played it.
Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos of PA was probably my second favorite vacation of all time (Second only to Disney). The décor, food, water park, arcade, shops, and comfort of the rooms are only part of the experience. We stayed from Friday through Sunday, and it served as a perfect little get away.
Now onto the gaming experience. I was privileged to try the Arena and given a selection of which scenario I’d like to try. As of right now there are only a handful, but this is just the beginning of an era in VR technology. I’ve tried the headsets you can buy in the store, but they don’t even compare. The arena is in a full sized warehouse. It is an empty dark room with some circles on the floor and walls. You wear a vest, headset and VR helmet, which puts you into the game using a series of motion capture sensors.
I had the honor of meeting Andre, who works with the company responsible for the games. We spoke a bit about the two available games (they run about 20 minutes each), and what is on the horizon for the company. Hint: They are opening more locations around the country and the world.
You must be 13 to play these games and that is for a safety aspect. The one game I didn’t try was called “Engineerium.” It is a cartoony world where you solve puzzles to progress. There is no shooting or action, but the bit that I saw was out of this world… literally. It works in an M.C. Esher manner where you can walk on walls and upside down. In real life you are standing and walking in a room, but your mind sees and tells your body something else.
Since I just did the Escape the Room experience a few weeks ago, I wanted to get into the genre where I first began writing books. Since FLESH AND LEFTOVERS was my debut novel years ago, I felt it’d be good to revisit zombies. So, I played “Survival.”
I was warned before hand that this can be an overwhelming and downright intense experience. I’ve tried military simulators in the past, so I wasn’t worried. I now retract that line of thought. This is something way beyond that. Picture yourself inside a video game, able to walk around in a place that responds to your body movements.
The survivalist in me didn’t need the four weapons supplied. (You are given a shotgun, sniper rifle, assault rifle, and heavy assault rifle.) You only actually carry one weapon in your hand, but a button on the side allows you to switch back and forth. I’m a person who likes to make every shot count, and conserve my ammunition. I stayed mostly with the light assault rifle for short controlled bursts. It paid off.
Myself, and 4 others were put into the scenario together. I was the only person who hadn’t played it before, but was able to figure out a plan immediately. In this game you must defend your position from a horde of zombies. Not only is it important to make your shots count (headshots are the best), but to utilize the explosive barrels, and keep your defense barriers erected to prevent an onrush.
Andre played with us, and he took a sniper position on an elevated platform. (In reality he was really on the level we were, but to us and him in game, he was up high.) We worked well together for the first ten minutes. Our base was heavily fortified. But then it became frantic. More zombies came, and this is when the stress began to kick in. Andre called down to tell us that he was coming down to help out. The zombies started finding a way up to him, and it was becoming harder to maintain our borders.
Then someone shouted, “We’ve got a breach!” and as I turned around I saw a zombie within a few feet of me. I ran. Yes, literally ran away as I fired into its face. My flaw was not thinking about what was behind me, and the surround sound told me I needed to turn fast. A massive beast of an undead man towered over me by a few inches and I managed to dodge in the nick of time.
At this point in the game, I actually felt anxiety. I kept telling myself this wasn’t real, but when I say I could feel fear build within me, I’m not lying. I breathed slowly and tried to act calm to concentrate on the task, and not the flurry of emotion. One of my squad mates was then “eaten.” When you die, you stay in place in a neutral state until you are respawned ten seconds later. I did not die, but when your team mate does, it becomes even harder.
Movement is the key. This is not a shoot em up game. This is survival… and shooting is only part of that. Communication and agility help as key factors. Once the helicopter arrived to lift our platform, we ran to the extraction zone. This was very difficult because you need to remain relatively confined at this point. The good news is that you are all back to back, so you can cover each other and all sides.
Once our platform was lifted, I switched to my sniper rifle and began picking off the horde from a distance. This was more calming and was a good wind down to the whole thing. There are people who have run out on the scenario and have asked to be removed from the game for its intensity. It is only a game, but your mind does a great job of taking you into that virtual world.
If horror isn’t a thing for you, then you need to try the Engineerium. It won’t scare you, or get your anxiety up, but will force your perception of reality into another world.
They also rank you in the game. I scored the highest kills in my squad, and among the thousands of people who have played, I placed #115 in rank. Apparently I’m a way better survivalist (though not the best) than a gamer, because if this were on a TV, I wouldn’t have the benefit of being able to see all my surroundings.
I can see this as a more improved training device, not just for fun, but for running special training for police and military at some point. (Of course nothing will prepare you for the real thing, but this is an amazing step toward that)
I’ve attached a pic of my score, and if you head over to my Instagram page @rickpipito, you’ll see a little video clip of me being calibrated into the game. I’ve also embedded a trailer of the game I played (below). Picture what you see there, but up close and personal, and all around you. The visuals and audio provided really take you to another place. Also, head over to http://www.zerolatencyvr.com to learn more about it and all their games/locations.
Have you ever tried Virtual reality like this? let me know what you think. Comment with your thoughts on where gaming is going or anything else you want to say.
We get in touch with our inner geek in this episode, as we chat about our favorite video games. What games do you think are the best? Check out the episode and feel free to comment and share.
You can follow Roberta @homemadedelish and myself @rickpipito on social media if you already aren’t.
For today’s installment of my 31 days of Halloween I made a top 5 list of my personal choices for film, book, etc. These are stories that not only have entertained me, but inspired me to continuously try exceeding what I did and topping each previous book I write. I tried to keep them as Halloween related as possible, and even though some aren’t horror, they fall into the thriller category and have spooky elements. What are your personal choices? Feel free to comment below.
TOP 5 NOVELS: The “Area 51” series by Bob Mayer (writing as Robert Doherty), Dan Brown’s “Robert Langdon” series, Thomas Harris’ “Hannibal Lecter” series, The “Atlantis” series by Bob Mayer (writing as Greg Donegan), Dean Koontz’ “Frankenstein” series (please don’t watch the movie because it’s terrible the books are great though. *Bonus All novels in the FLESH AND LEFTOVERS SAGA by Rick Pipito (had to add them, sorry.) 😛
TOP 5 TV SHOWS: Once Upon a Time, Arrow & The Flash (I put these as one because they crossover and exist in the same universe), 24, Law And Order SVU, Hannibal
TOP 5 GAMES: The “Tomb Raider” series, The “Resident Evil” Series, “Silent Hill”, “HeroQuest” (This is a board game I had growing up, and I just remember how awesome it was. I recently found it in my parents’ attic), The “Doom” series.
TOP 5 SONGS: Dragula by Rob Zombie, Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett, Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr, Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult (because everyone needs more cowbell), Mz. Hyde by Halestorm
TOP 5 MOVIES: Ghostbusters 1 & 2, The Goonies, Monster Squad, Van Helsing (Kate Beckinsale, Huge Jack Man, and monsters? I don’t care if its cheesy. It’s awesome), The Brendan Frasier Mummy Movies.
BONUS—-TOP 10 COMIC BOOK Movie List (in numbered order):
1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2) X-Men Days Of Future Past
5) Captain America: The First Avenger
6) Guardians Of The Galaxy
7) Man Of Steel
8) Spiderman 2
9) Thor The Dark World
10) Batman 1989
*This list is current as of 10/29/14 of course. It will most likely change, but it is the order I believe works. I wanted to put both Punisher movies in there as well just for pure fun, but they didn’t make the cut.
The moment has arrived. I had reviewed the prequel comic previously, and now that the game is here, I am following up. In the words of the Mortal Kombat announcer, “Excellent!” Okay, it isn’t Mortal Kombat, but this is a damn good replacement for this year. Netherrealm took the same engine as Mortal Kombat 9 and made it better. This time, each character has their own unique set of abilities that make playing with each character different. You literally need to learn individual characters, as button mashing won’t really help you here (much).
It is fun, the story is perfect, and the STAR LABS missions are a blast. Let’s start with the bad….
The story, as I mentioned, was amazing. It takes place in an alternate universe, where the main universe of DC is brought into it. This works really well, BUUUT I feel it was anti-climatic. The final boss fight with the Evil Superman seemed just like the others. Doomsday was more of a threat, and I was hoping for some surprise boss (ala Dark Kahn from MK vs DC). I’m not saying that Dark Kahn would have been good, because he would never have fit. What I’m saying is that the final battle should have been a tag battle or something. Fighting Superman alone was easy. They could have had Superman and Doomsday as a tag match or something.
The only other bad thing I can say is that in the STAR LABS missions, there are some near impossible levels that you have to hit the button combinations in a certain order really quickly. I found my blood pressure getting up on more than one occasion with these. I love a challenge, but when a game has me angry that I can’t do it, I get discouraged slightly.
…On with the good. There is nothing else bad I can say about this game. It has taken me away from playing Halo 4 online with my friends, and Bioshock Infinite. I can’t get enough Injustice. Other than the few impossible levels, STAR Labs is perhaps the highlight of this game. In addition to the overall story mode, each character gets ten levels of their own separate story. There are minigames gallore, and a replayability that seems to have no end. It is well worth the money.
Even if you defeat story mode and ALL the Star Labs missions, you still have the battle matches. Under the classic ladder, each character will be rewarded with their own story ending. But there is more. There are different types of ladder matches. Also, like the classic Krypt from mortal Kombat, there is a reward system that allows you to gain character art, alternate costumes etc.
Design of the main and alternate costumes is fantastic, and while I hope they bring in the classic skins, it is more than enough for me the way it is. Cameos gallore in the backgrounds, as well as some great DLC coming our way, you cannot miss out on this one. If you are a DC comics fan, if you are a Mortal Kombat fan, or if you just like fighting games, this is the game for you. Did I mention that the first coming DLC character is Lobo? 🙂 Can’t wait.
I give this game a 9 out of 10. It was a near flawless victory. Kudos to Netherrealm!