With the help of VR I became John Wick

first_imgStay on target We couldn’t become Prompto at New York Comic Con, but we became someone even better: John Wick.John Wick Chronicles is a new virtual reality game for HTC Vive by Starbreeze Studios, of Chronicles of Riddick fame. It’s set to launch on Steam around the same time as the movie sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2. I got to try out a demo, titled John Wick Chronicles: An Eye for an Eye at the Lionsgate and Starbreeze booth, and it’s probably my favorite VR experience. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be the Baba Yaga, the most feared and respected assassin in the world?That said, playing games with the Vive headset is a trip. An assistant at the booth helped me strap on the headset, so I couldn’t see. Then he put headphones on my head, so I heard nothing except his voice through a microphone. He handed me, a two gun-like Vive controller, started the demo, and I entered the game’s world, a dark void with a big John Wick logo floating in front of me.A handgun hovers in close proximity. I reach out, pull the Vive controller’s trigger to pick it up, and the pistol’s mine. I turn the gun around so I can soak in its detail. The hammer, the slide, the trigger, even the bullet casings and exhaust that jet out when I fire it. The muzzle flare is right in my face. I aim at the floor and fire—a bullet hole. I fire multiple times—multiple bullet holes. Coooool.via johnwickvr.comThe assistant tells me to shoot the logo and a Loading screen later; I’m in the familiar hotel from the first movie. Lance Reddick, or someone who sounds a lot like him, welcomes me back. I’m standing in the hotel bar. To the right, shelves with a variety of liquor. Behind me, a set of white doors at the far wall, and in front of me, a credenza with a glowing red button. Lance Reddick directs me to press it, and I reach out my hand, and the teaser trailer for John Wick: Chapter 2 plays. Now that’s some synergy.Immediately after the video ends, a bunch of bad guys start shooting at me through the windows behind the movie screen. Laser sights zip and zap around the air, and I duck behind the desk. And I mean actually, physically crouch. With my knees. I would remain crouching, thighs screaming for relief, the rest of the demo. Keanu Reeves must kill at spin class.On the floor, I notice a Payday 2 clown mask—more cross-promotion. I flip it over in my hand and notice numbers written in red ink on the back. I figure this must have something to do with a puzzle, but nope, it’s just an Easter egg. I juggle the mask in my hands, catching it back and forth, left and right, as I pull on the Vive triggers. I do this mainly because I’m unsure what to do, and it’s fun to just toss an object around in virtual reality. But also, the game’s objective is unclear at this point. Bullets are flying above me.via johnwickvr.comUntil I notice another glowing red button, this time beneath the desk. I motion the controller over in its direction, which means I’ve “pressed it” (I didn’t have to pull the trigger) and an elevator rises from the floor behind me. I crouch-walk inside after the doors open and wait for them to close. The lift, somehow, takes me up.Now I’m on the roof. The Empire State Building looms in the distance. Then the shooting gallery begins. Mooks come in pouring from all over; the building behind me, on the left and right, crawling up fire escapes and hiding behind chimneys and chest-high walls. I’m still crouching because that’s the only way to dodge enemy fire. But there’s a cache of weapons sitting right next to me: pistols, sub-machine guns, an M16, and a sniper rifle. I nab the sniper with my right hand—pulling the right controller’s trigger—and instinctively bring up my left hand to steady it. I didn’t even know it was something you could do in the game; it was just something I automatically did after watching decades of action movies. But, yes, in John Wick Chronicles, the weapons gain better stability when you use your left hand!I look through the rifle’s scope, and it actually works—enemies appear magnified. From this point, it’s almost too easy. I pick off guys like I’ve been John Wick all along. The death animations are either simple (they just fall down) or over-exaggerated. One bozo flips up in the air and spins like a windmill after I get him with the SMG.via johnwickvr.comAfter remembering I have an arsenal at my disposal, I try the John Woo-style dual-wielding thing with two pistols for a while, before I trade one handgun for the SMG. Then I drop (by pressing the thumbpad on top of the Vive controller) the other handgun for the sniper rifle, and I feel unstoppable. Then, the difficulty spikes; more and more goons pop up, including a helicopter, complete with a mercenary firing a giant chaingun. Shooting the guy in the chopper does nothing—I’m a sitting duck. The ‘copter flies below and behind buildings, but I can tell where it is based on its sound, similar to the Hind D fight in Metal Gear Solid.Finally, I die, and it’s game over. I get my final score. The assistant helps me remove the sweaty Vive equipment and tells me I should’ve shot the green glowing lights on the helicopter—one near the top rotor, another on the tail—but they were so subtle I didn’t notice them. Oh well. I still became John Wick, sore thighs and all.And it was a fun experience for sure, with smooth, responsive controls and decent graphics—the gun detail alone is impressive. But set the impressive VR technology aside, and John Wick Chronicles is basically an update to old lightgun arcade games like Time Crisis or Silent Scope. Or rather, Police 911, an arcade shooter that used motion sensors to detect body movement, so you didn’t have to press a button to take cover, you had to physically duck. John Wick is the same basic idea, but with a Vive headset.via johnwickvr.comSpeaking of which, the usual VR complaints remain. You’re trapped in a sweaty headset, with a pair of headphones on top of that, and you have a long umbilical cable tied to a PC five feet away, so your movement’s limited. And since it’s Vive, you can only go so far in the game world. A grid wall, like the one from the Holodeck, will pop up sometimes to marks the virtual world’s borders. That cable often got in the way of my footing, too, which got annoying.The game as it is now feels a bit shallow, too. John Wick shoots guys really well, but he also reloads like a champ. In the movie, each time Wick runs out of bullets is a moment to revel in—will he slam the cartridge in and pull the slide back in time before the bad guy comes around the corner? It’s so tense and exciting! But that suspense doesn’t really exist in the game. To reload in John Wick Chronicles, you simply drop your weapon to your waist. Would it have been cooler if you actually had to drop your left hand, pick out a new magazine, slam it into the bottom of the weapon, and cock it? Maybe. Or maybe it would’ve been tiring. It also wasn’t clear that I was close to death. There was some reddening of the screen, Call of Duty-style, but I had no indication exactly how much health I had left, or even that I had died until I saw the score screen.via johnwickvr.comOne last nitpick: Starbreeze Studios made Chronicles of Riddick, so they know how to make great first-person-shooter adventures. Which is why I wish this VR game, neat as it is, wasn’t a VR game. VR is tiring! But Starbreeze is perhaps the perfect developer to make games based on a character as dynamic, dangerous, and fun as John Wick. And they made magic out of movie properties before. Hopefully, we’ll see future “standard” games where you can control the Baba Yaga with a mouse and keyboard or regular console controller. Otherwise, you better sign up for some SoulCycle to strengthen those hams.You can pre-order John Wick Chronicles now in anticipation of its release in Feb. 2017. Watch These Movies Before ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’‘Fortnite’s’ John Wick Mode Is The Deadliest Crossover… last_img

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