VR is really freakin' cool!
By: Steven Zawodny
It was a surreal feeling when I received an email stating that I and fellow Level 88 Entertainment member Garrett had been granted press badges to attend Wizard World at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. But it was an even greater feeling of pure anticipation when I received an invitation for us to attend a private Virtual Reality demo with Newegg. Newegg is an online retailer that specializes in computers and electronics, so I knew that if they were hosting a VR demo, I had to jump at the opportunity.
Since VR is all the rage now, I was excited to finally get the chance to have my first VR experience. When we arrived at the showroom, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never even put a VR headset on before and neither had Garrett; unless you count the dozens of times I’ve played Virtual Boy from Nintendo. So when it came time to play, I was hyped.
I was amazed at the simplicity of the set-up. The demo consisted of an MSI Vortex computer, monitor, and the VR display. Newegg provided the HTC Vive. The Vive was simply a head-mounted display that came with two wireless handheld controllers. The headset felt like I was putting on a pair of goggles, only much more comfortable and form fitting, and if you’ve played around with the Nintendo Wii, then you should have no problem with the wireless controllers. Once the headset was on and the controllers were in my hands, I stepped into the play area, excited for my first shot at virtual reality gaming.
The title we got to demo was Space Pirate Trainer; an HTC Vive exclusive now available on Steam. Space Pirate Trainer is an immersive first-person survival experience. There is no real story to the game at this point. It’s simply a survival game, pitting you against waves of enemy drones that become more difficult overtime. What makes Space Pirate Trainer so special though is the way they make you feel like you’re truly in space, by placing you literally on top of the world.
Space Pirate Trainer reminded me of the old arcade games I used to play when I was kid; you know, like Space Invaders and Asteroids. It’s an impressive blend of arcade style play with a first-person shooter perspective that truly showcases the capabilities of VR technology. Using the wireless controllers, you can select between a weapon or a shield simply by reaching over your shoulder as if you were unsheathing a sword. You have the option of choosing four weapon types: single shot, three round burst, assault rifle, and laser. When I played, I held my assault rifle in my right hand and the shield in my left, and blasted my way through wave after wave until I finally met my demise on wave nine. Garrett, however, didn’t fare so well on his first try. While sitting on the sidelines, Garrett realized that you have to move your feet and body a lot more to successfully evade the enemy blasts. On his second try, he made it past wave ten. The key to victory is keeping your head on a swivel.
Garrett and I had an absolute blast playing this game! I was completely captivated when the first wave of droids rose in front of me. I turned my head back and forth. I was firing my rifle and blocking enemy fire with my shield. This game made me feel like a true space pirate; like a Han Solo in-training. The HTC Vive and Space Pirate Trainer completely changed the way Garrett and I thought about VR gaming. I would dedicate an entire room in my house to play this game and any other games like it. It’s interactive and engaging and without question, groundbreaking.
The HTC Vive is now available on Newegg.com for $799, and you can purchase Space Pirate Trainer on Steam for $14.99.
Our special correspondent and writer, Tavia Lewis-Castagnozzi