Sitting in a car littered with takeaway containers and garbage, I am told a tale of a previous robbery we are now attempting to escape from. As I slowly get my barrings in the virtual world, I get ready to fight off some gangsters hot on our tail.
This is the start of the PlayStation VR London Heist Getaway demo. Holding my hand out in front of my face, I am greeted by a life-like hand that feels oddly disconcerting. As I clench the controller, the on-screen hand does the same. With this sense of wonder swirling around my head, I fiddle with the glove box and turn on the radio. Everything inside the car seems available to interact with. I look towards the ground as I toss some of the garbage sitting around me to the floor and watch in amazement as it all falls to my feet.
My driver talks about the scene that had just passed—and my super-human like shooting ability—that I had not witnessed. All building a world I would be immersed within.
Suddenly, a vehicle starts pulling up alongside us and a sense of panic wipes over me, where my driver seems to be amused at the idea of more shooting. As he tosses me an automatic weapon, I grab a magazine with my left hand and prepare to take on the coming onslaught.
With the PlayStation VR visor comfortably sitting on my head, the bullets start to fly. Bullets burst through the front windscreen as I get the sense that I have complete control of the gun in my hand. Enjoying precision I would not have imagined from a VR experience, I fire back, taking out the tires of the cars beside me, watching them crash into walls as we crash through our opposition.
This is the sort of demo that shows what VR can be. It’s a short-but-engaging cross section of a game that pulls you into a London crime story. Feeling dropped into the world strikingly similar to that of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, it felt all too short. This is a universe I want to explore more of, one that I want to experience to its fullest.
PlayStation VR has managed to do the unthinkable: make me excited for VR. I have always felt very skeptical of the technology. In the past, it made me feel uneasy, almost sick with the way it dealt with motion and speed. After around ten minutes in the PlayStation VR headset, I felt fine. I had the sense that I could have sat in there for hours and not gotten bored or sick.
Getting back to the demo, I am still fighting off the motorcycles and vans trying to take us out, going through the magazines as if they were nothing. Picking up one after the other with my left hand as I fire with my right, the gangsters on our backs fall one by one. Strategically firing at the drivers as we zoom past was invigorating, and something I never thought possible with a motion controller. The Move controllers work better than I could expect; they are easy to use and master within minutes. They felt like an extension of my hands, tools that I used to take on all opposition in front of me.
Running low on magazines, I witness a van pull in front, the doors open with my driver’s smug mention to get ready. I see a Gatling gun in my view as it opens fire on our little car, and with that, the demo ends. I could easily have sat there for the full experience; it was something that felt film-like. I wanted to enjoy more of the game, and could have sat there for hours had the person demonstrating the system let me. PlayStation has demonstrated what VR can be, using a system you already have in your home (or can be purchased for under $400), and it was fantastic. VR needs systems like this that allow players to be immersed in the world and not need to worry about software or fiddling with hardware.
Sony has thrown down the gauntlet on what VR can be, and how easy and comfortable it is to pick up. Now, it’s up to Oculus and Valve to pick that up and bring something similar to the PC. It is an exciting time for VR, and it’s only going to get more exciting from here.