There are some perfect sounds in this world. They settle into your mind when you are a child and become associated with feelings and moments that you cannot help but grin at. Star Wars naturallly has perfect sounds, more than its fair share I have to say.
The EA Game Village offered chances to play around with a number of games and for today I decided to spend some time with Star Wars Battlefront and the upcoming Death Star. Loading in, I had a choice, TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor. Either way, there is was. That scream as the twin ion engines do their job, that horrible wonderful perfect sound. I was a bad guy and there were X-Wings to shoot down.
We only got to demo the first phase of three. Phase One consists of Rebellion versus Imperial with the Death Star floating in the background. The Rebellion needs to destroy the shield generators protecting a Star Destroyer and help the Y-wings on their bombing runs. Imperial? When has it ever been anything but purge the Rebel scum?
Phases Two and Three sadly were not available but were described in broad strokes and are sure to please anyone who has ever wanted to live out their Episode Four fantasies. Phase Two has you helping or opposing Rebellion inside the Death Star itself, culminating in R2D2 working his magic against the Imperial systems.
Phase Three? Phase Three is the stuff of childhood dreams made as real as possible. Its back into space for people as they try to line up and pull off their ultimate Use the Force moment. It's the Trench Run along the Death Star.
While other games have had a go at it, the power of the consoles these days and love lavished on Battlefront make this so very appealing. I flew and ducked and dived around a Star Destroyer. I fought (incredibly badly) to keep the Rebel scum from breaking through. Every one of those perfect little sounds is present. All of those nostalgia notes are hit. The only way it could be better is if I could be immersed in it all. Surrounded by the world.
Of course that's where PSVR comes in.
We have the technology now to really get into the space of our games, to be all but there in our worlds. Naturally someone was going to try that for the various VR options on offer and naturally Star Wars would come up. The X Wing alpha test is the result of melding the desire to be in the game with an overwhelming passion for both games and Star Wars. After the calibration of the test, you find yourself in a Matrix like white space. This hanger isn't yet something you can completely move around in, instead there are vantage points offered and you can hop from one to the other to really get a good look at your X Wing.
Once you decide to launch the mission, your Astromech hops in the fighter and it's time for the mission. If you're anything like me, you grew up on Star Wars and you dreamt of flying your fighter on the missions. As good as Phase Three of the Death Star sounded with the trench run.... this PSVR experience tops that. Flying my patrol around the armada, I got to feel part of the Star Wars universe in a way that I never have before. I got to drift close to the ships and turn to watch them pass by, to look over my shoulder at my trusty droid companion Blue 2 and to really get into the headspace of the demo.
The full experience for me was a bit short. Not a comment on the demo itself, it's almost entirely down to my inability to take down enought TIEs. Perhaps it was scripted and always would have ended this way but the Blockade Runner that jumped in with Grey flight was destroyed. Still there were TIEs to take down, enemies to fight.
The beauty of VR is in those moments where they take advantage of you not looking around. Other games might give you a hint something is coming. This time? This time my heart got to stop. I have no idea where that Star Destroyed jumped in from but it almost got me. The movies love that shot, that behemoth hanging in the void making you feel small and under threat. Imagine it just outside your window, just off to your side.
Hands down, that moment sold me. The threat was real, the demo sadly was over. However it was worth every moment. Every missed blaster bolt and every shot down fighter.