Virtual Reality (VR), long a topic of science fiction, has arrived in the world of video games. For the uninitiated, VR allows the user to enter a simulated environment through a headset. Rather than the usual experience of playing a game on a screen, you are playing a game inside the game itself. So, when I heard that Uptown Alley – a full service family entertainment center in Midlothian (6101 Brad McNeer Pkwy.) – had a VR attraction, I was anxious to check it out.
Hologate, a German media and VR company, creates exclusive content and accessories for VR, delivering an experience free of problems, such as motion sickness and latency that plagued early users. Currently, the Hologate system features two games: Simurai, a team-based cooperative shooter game; and Cold Clash, a snowball-fight simulator aimed at younger players and those looking for a more family-friendly game. With several game modes and new games on the way, there is plenty of content here.
So, does Hologate deliver the promised experience? Yes! Within seconds after donning the hardwired HTC Vive head set, I found myself immersed in the world of Simurai. After a few seconds of target practice, I bought into the illusion and completely forgot about my surroundings. The headset includes noise cancelling headphones and a microphone to communicate with your teammates, ensuring complete immersion. I found myself defending a futuristic bunker from robot attackers. After defeating wave after wave of drones and mech-spiders, we faced off against the Sumo-bot mid boss and finally the Dragon-Boss. The sense of scale and depth of field was what really impressed me. Not only did everything look big, it felt big too in a way that a conventional video game just isn’t able to convey. When those robots are running towards you at 90 frames a second, the sense of urgency is real because you get the impression that they are covering some actual distance and closing in.
The game was easy enough to get a grasp of with only three buttons (shoot, reload and power up), but challenging enough to keep you on your toes. Whether you are a seasoned gamer or a beginner, this is a great way to experience VR. Everything is optimized and professionally calibrated. Afterward, enjoy a meal, bowl a game or two, or take in another of the many attractions at Uptown Alley.