We begin with my death.
“Wh’t’th’fck!” I said. “There was nothing even shooting at me!”
“You killed yourself,” the demonstrator said. “You shot into your shield, and the bullets bounced back and hit you.”
As a toddler, I once required medical help removing a Lego I’d shoved so far up my nose. Firing bullets and having them bounce back into my own face seemed a very Frank-tacular way to go. I felt my face redden, and I muttered through clenched teeth.
This was all Newegg‘s fault for bringing an HTC Vive presentation to Wizard World’s Minneapolis Comic Con. It’s exactly like you’d imagine: you strap on a face-hugging alien helmet, grab your controllers, and voila! Now you’re a space pirate waging eternal war against laser-spewing eyeball contraptions.
I perspired, muttered, rage quit, and demanded more turns. I loved every second of it.
Here’s how it works: Two wireless motion controllers are your “guns;” and a pair of laser-emitting boxes, stationed diagonal from each other, scan the room lay out your boundaries. The boundaries are indicated in the virtual world with a series of green grids, and the machinery tracks your motion within.
Does that make sense? If not, CNet explains it much better.
The “world” in the machine was vivid, gorgeous, and the gameplay was intense. The AI learned me as I learned them. If I hunkered down in the back behind my shield, they zipped around and fired at my sides; if I faced one way for too long, they’d suddenly end up behind me. They fired from extra-long range, then zoomed in and flew right over my head. It kept me moving, that was for sure.
In between waves, I was able to admire the ships and stars all around me. The detail was —
“I killed that one!”
Three hits and you’re toast. You see the offending shots after you’re dead, their paths laid out in a fabulous rainbow motif. It’s enough to make a fella hungry for unicorn flesh.
My games were, in sum, “spray and pray” gunfire and flopsweat. My scores were okay, though. With a high score of 3800, I didn’t quite make the top 10 for the weekend but I was only a couple of waves off. Confident, I told the demonstrator before leaving, “When a lady in a Deadpool costume comes in around 3, tell her good luck beating that score.”
I went to CHS Field for a few hours, and guess what the first thing she said to me was when she saw me later that day?
“Of course you did.” She had scored 4400.
Eschewing my “pewpewpewpewpewpew” triple-shot laser show, she turned her gun to the single-shot rifle setting and blasted eyeball apart with precision. Videos are coming up on the Skinny’s Facebook page later today because they’re too large to load here. You’ll notice she moves like she’s used to being on skates; you’ll notice I move like I’d just gotten out of bed after leg day.
While I never got back to my original best, she dropped a 4500-point biscuit right there as I watched. I couldn’t even trash-talk. All I could do was try to contain the rage nosebleeds.
I could have played all afternoon, though. I almost did play all afternoon. I even booted “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actor James Marstens out of the game so I could get a few more sloppy deaths in.
The Vive’s virtual world is smart, beautiful, and challenging. It’s not a bad workout, either. When this becomes accessible to the everyman, it might be the last time you ever see me.
My last words will be: “Wh’t’th’fck!”