MIGS 2015: Hands-On with PlayStation VR

I’ve experienced my fair share of VR demos at various events. I’m not much of a stranger to the Oculus Rift, the Samsung Gear VR, or even Google Cardboard. But one VR experience had previously alluded me prior to attending the Montreal International Games Summit (MIGS): PlayStation VR. Luckily, the device made quite an appearance, and an impact, on the Expo floor, so I spent a lot of time checking it out.

The PlayStation VR booth showcased a different game each day. I tried two of the three demos, the first one was Super Hyper Cube and the second one was a VR party game. Super Hyper Cube is a mashup of Tetris and that game show Hole in the Wall developed by KOKOROMI. From a first-person perspective, players look directly at a shape that is moving towards a wall. Using the PlayStation VR, players have to peek around the shape to look at the hole in the wall, and then rotate the shape in the correct direction so that it travels through the wall without making contact. With each successful clearance, a new piece is added to the shape, making it larger and more difficult to fit through the wall. Super Hyper Cube is very responsive, and the sensation of pivoting in a chair to look around the object and find the hole in the wall works well. My only complaint is that the game is very bright, with flashing, moving neon colors dancing across the screen, that will certainly be an issue for anyone with photosensitivity. I don’t typically get migraines from games, but even I instinctively closed my eyes during some parts for fear they were too bright.

The second game was a multiplayer minigame dubbed “Monster Escape.” While members of the Sony staff played as regular-sized humans, I played as a giant monster in charge of destroying a city. The game is again played while sitting down, so all I had to do was pivot in the chair and use my head to crash through buildings, bridges, and the occasional helicopter. The second phase of the demo had the monster trapped in a fixed position, so I had to dodge incoming missiles and objects as the other players ran around a platform throwing them my way. The game is adorable, with cartoon-like graphics and sound effects. The motion was perfectly responsive, so there were no issues with lag when it came to dodging attacks and destroying nearby buildings.

The third game, which I unfortunately didn’t have time to try, was called London Heist Getaway, and combines both the PS VR and PS Move, thereby offering additional motion tracking and gesture control alongside the VR experience. I imagine many of the most popular VR games will be the adventure RPGs that utilize both VR and the Move to create a deeper sense of immersion.

Overall, the PlayStation VR really impressed me with it’s comfortable — glasses-friendly! — design and excellent motion tracking. I look forward to seeing more developers announce their support for the project. I’m particularly interested to see first party developers create VR experiences based on the most popular PlayStation exclusives. I’ve been worried VR may end being just a gimmick, but PlayStation VR did a lot to convince me that the idea has a lot of potential when it comes to providing genuinely innovative gameplay experiences.

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