PSVR Hands On

A new di­men­sion of con­sole gam­ing looms large, writes An­drew White­head

Hyper - - EDITORIAL -

Sony is in a unique po­si­tion when it comes to vir­tual re­al­ity. Of their con­sole ri­vals, only Mi­crosoft has ex­pressed in­ter­est in ac­tu­ally en­ter­ing the space, and that won’t be un­til the end of next year when its Project Scorpio con­sole is re­leased. Sony's near­est com­peti­tors, Ocu­lus and HTC, both have qual­ity head­sets of their own, but they’re re­ly­ing on the high-end PC mar­ket and are far more ex­pen­sive de­vices.

Mean­while Sony has sold around 40-mil­lion PlayS­ta­tion 4 con­soles world­wide, and each one of those units is a po­ten­tial PlayS­ta­tion VR cus­tomer. And if gam­ing his­tory has taught us any­thing it’s that vic­to­ries aren’t dic­tated by su­pe­rior tech­nol­ogy: just look at the PlayS­ta­tion 2 ver­sus the Xbox and GameCube.

It’s about con­nect­ing with an audience. And that’s some­thing Sony is clearly aim­ing to do.

THE HYPE TRAIN

The first thing to get out of the way is the hy­per­bole that sur­rounds VR and the three ma­jor head­sets com­pet­ing for gamer eye­balls. The most telling dif­fer­ence is the screen. The Vive and the Rift have a screen res­o­lu­tion of 1080x1200 per eye, while the PSVR runs at 960x1080 per eye and uses a sin­gle 1920x1080 screen.

But PlayS­ta­tion VR is on equal foot­ing in terms of build qual­ity. The head­set is well-built, fu­tur­is­tic-look­ing, and com­fort­able. And it comes with a bunch of quick-re­lease but­tons for fast ad­just­ments and a clicky tight­en­ing wheel that keep the hunk of plas­tic firmly on your head.

TAKE ME BACK TO HELL

Sur­pris­ingly, what sold me on PlayS­ta­tion VR was Res­i­dent Evil 7: Bio­haz­ard. By now you’ve prob­a­bly down­loaded the demo from the PSN Store or seen the re­veal trailer and know this isn’t the same Res­i­dent Evil fans know and love. With a re­newed fo­cus on hor­ror and a shift to a first-per­son per­spec­tive, it’s a re­mark­ably dif­fer­ent game then what the se­ries has be­come of late.

Even on a TV screen it’s a tense game, but as I was walk­ing around that creaky farm house in VR, there were times when I had to stop and re­mind my­self where I was in the real world. I know how bizarre that sounds, but there’s some­thing about true one-to-one head move­ment that im­mersed me into the world of Res­i­dent Evil 7 more than any other hor­ror game has be­fore.

Ini­tially, all I could fo­cus on was how the edges of ev­ery­thing had that low-res­o­lu­tion jagged­ness to them, but by the end of the demo I was fran­ti­cally hur­ry­ing to the back door exit. I lit­er­ally jumped out of my chair dur­ing the fi­nal jump scare and gasped as a crazy old man pulled me back into his run-down home af­ter I thought the night­mare was over.

I’d heard talk of peo­ple who played Res­i­dent Evil 7 on PlayS­ta­tion VR feel­ing sick and nau­se­ated af­ter­wards. Even the help­ful PR rep­re­sen­ta­tive let me know it’s okay to bail and to give them feed­back on how I felt. But I didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence any­thing like this. The only part that made me feel sick was the fear I felt from play­ing the game in the dark and not want­ing to go up to the at­tic to see what was mak­ing all that noise.

It was a group of man­nequins and, no, I don’t want to talk about it.

IN­FIN­ITELY UP-REZZED

Way down on the other end of the emo­tional spec­trum is Rez In­fi­nite, a game that con­tin­ues to be rel­e­vant some 15 years af­ter its ini­tial re­lease to the point where I’m con­vinced Tet­suya Mizuguchi’s mas­ter­piece was made for the PlayS­ta­tion VR. My demo was an ab­stracted ver­sion of Area Four, which fans will re­call is the one with the most vis­ually stun­ning boss bat­tle of the game, the ‘run­ning man’ made up for hun­dreds of trans­form­ing cubes.

Rez was al­ways a sim­ple on-rails shoot­ing game, but VR gives it a new-found sense of depth and scale. A nice side ef­fect of the VR head track­ing is the abil­ity to aim wher­ever you’re look­ing. Hold­ing down the X but­ton, I was able to chain groups of at­tacks much quicker than I could with the thumb­stick, though I could switch be­tween the two at any time.

Then came the area boss. As the game pulled me around tight corners and threw me down long tun­nels, I couldn’t help but feel like I was fall­ing, then be­ing pushed for­ward like on a roller­coaster. And I loved it. This feels like how this Rez In­fi­nite was meant to be played: a fully im­mer­sive jour­ney through a bizarre early-2000s vi­sion of cy­berspace.

DEAL OR NO DEAL

So should you buy a PlayS­ta­tion VR? That’s a hard ques­tion to an­swer, but I strongly en­cour­age ev­ery­one tries it. Per­son­ally, and de­pend­ing on how fi­nances are at that time of year, I plan on get­ting one. And not just be­cause it's the more af­ford­able VR op­tion. Sony ap­pears com­mit­ted to its new de­vice with a num­ber of big ti­tles con­firmed for PlayS­ta­tion VR in­clud­ing Far­point, Bat­man: Arkham VR, Un­til Dawn: Rush of Blood, 100ft Ro­bot Golf, and Gran Turismo Sport.

Early adopters of new tech­nol­ogy know what it’s like to be burnt and know to be scep­ti­cal of bull­shit claims about prod­ucts claim­ing to re­de­fine en­ter­tain­ment. (Re­mem­ber 3D TVs?) But I can con­firm PlayS­ta­tion VR is no gim­mick. It’s a step for­ward in gam­ing as im­por­tant as the in­tro­duc­tion of op­ti­cal stor­age, thumb­sticks, or on­line mul­ti­player, and it’s one I want to be a part of... af­ter my new credit card ar­rives, nat­u­rally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.