While at this year’s E3, I got the opportunity to try out the still-in-development Oculus Rift, the virtual-reality head-mounted rig that was built by the Facebook-acquired Oculus VR. There were several games and demoes to choose from, but the one I couldn’t resist was Sega’s Alien Isolation. Did I survive the encounter (mentally) intact? Let’s find out!
The first thing I noticed was that the Rift itself was quite snug. I had on glasses, but that didn’t affect how the Sony Morpheus rig fit on my face. No matter; after some small adjustments to clear up the 3D ghosting, I was good to go. The dimly lit interior of the Nostromo (from the original Alien) booted up right in front of my face. I could look left and right, while independently controlling my lateral movements with the PS4 controller.
Ultimately, the snugness helped for the claustrophobic feeling of the game, though I suppose that wasn’t intentional. The point-of-view of the game was true to form for the first Alien film. I had no weapons, only a motion tracker for avoiding the creature and using crates and boxes for cover.
It was to no avail, however. As soon as I saw the alien, I froze in my tracks, or at least my avatar did. In real life, I swore openly in the booth (during a correspondent taping my playing; I apologized thereafter). It was a super creepy feeling I got from the game, stronger than any horror game I’ve ever played. I must admit I don’t play survival horror much since, as a rule, I try to avoid super creepy feelings. I’d much prefer to be a Colonial Marine in Aliens than Xenomorph Chow in Alien, even though my chance for overall survival would be one and the same.
After getting stabbed through the frikkin’ chest, I took off the Oculus Rift and headed on my way. The Morpheus was more comfortable, but the Rift’s graphics were far superior, playing a full-fledged game with a powerhouse engine and pumping 3D stereoscopic VR straight into my eyeballs.
As the games went, Sony’s Street Luge was more my speed and more enjoyable. Alien Isolation was more of a challenge, and visceral, leaving a bigger impact. It’s too soon to develop a true preference, though it’s safe to say in either case, the future has arrived.
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