Playstation VR is Simply Fantastic: ‘Rush of Blood’ pushes the market to a new game changing standard that is simply amazing

Even though the topics range often from one extremity to another, the basic theme of this information site is that of culture building—what makes us who we are in the realm of science, politics, art, history, and philosophy.  And these days one of the strongest influences on our culture is the video game industry and I find it infinitely fascinating to watch how innovation and achievement is transforming our society in very positive ways.  For instance, I am very impressed with the Leap Frog tablets which my grandchildren use for pre kindergarten learning.  I think it’s an amazing device that really is a game changer in the field of education.  I’m also very keen to get my hands on a Nintendo Switch which is next on my to-do list in the realm of video gaming.  But for the last six months I have been all about the new Playstation VR which I think is simply amazing.  It far exceeded my expectations upon getting it and now that the smoke has cleared my current favorite game over any of the personal entertainment systems is Until Dawn’s Rush of Blood VR.  What an experience that is and after playing it now since October of 2016 I think it’s time to talk about it in a very macro way—the impact it has on our culture going forward and what it means—because there’s a lot going on with it that I haven’t seen reflected in any review of the game as of yet.  It’s such a new thing that I don’t think anybody quite knows how to articulate the phenomenal impact that is going on with Playstation VR.

It started innocently enough, my wife and I during lunch one day in October just a few days after the official launch of the hot new Playstation VR game system which supplements the PS4 base unit, picked one up because I wanted to play two of the games, the upcoming Battlefront game for Star Wars where you get to fly an X-Wing into battle and this arcade shooter Rush of Blood which was kind of a mix of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom mixed with John Carpenters, The Thing from what I could tell.  Being a guy who likes to shoot guns, I thought this game would be a great way to try shooting in a virtual environment because Playstation has these cool little motion controllers that simulate guns very well.  We spent about $600 getting everything needed which was cheaper than a new gun, so I thought it was a pretty good deal.  I went home and set it all up not really sure what I was going to be experiencing and after playing Rush of Blood the first time my jaw was on the ground.  It was an incredible experience.

I don’t think the game is for everyone, but it does reflect the way I think—so I enjoy it immensely from a conceptual level.  For my readers, it you want to take a journey through my mind, play Rush of Blood levels 5 and 7 and you’ll know.  Watching videos of the events of the game really don’t pay the technology justice.  For instance, as seen on the level 5 video, the giant spider which is the main antagonist specifically designed to exploit the arachnophobia in all of us at a primal level, physically looks like it crawls up and over you.  The closest thing I’ve ever seen to something like this was in Orlando’s Universal Studios at the Spiderman ride.  For me that ride is a benchmark in 3D technology and physical effects because Spiderman physically interacts with you on the ride and it’s very convincing.  I’ve always been amazed by what they’ve done with 3D projections at Universal Studios and look forward to every visit there.  But Kings Island is where I spend most of my time in Cincinnati during the warm months.  I love the place and after hundreds of rides on The Adventure Express, I still like the feel of riding in those wooden roller coasters.  I particularly enjoy the October Haunts that they have at Kings Island where they combine haunted houses with roller coaster riding and if you combine that with the shooting gallery type rides they have at Universal, Kings Island and Disney World you essentially get what you experience with Rush of Blood mixed with the Spiderman ride at Universal Studios.  On that level 5 round the spiders climb into your car with you—the little roller coaster that you ride in during the game—and they are very convincing.  They look a lot better in VR than they do on a 2D YouTube screen.

And that’s what makes Rush of Blood so amazing—I’m comparing it to my experiences at Kings Island, Universal Studios, and Disney World yet the whole thing is available for the home entertainment market.  You literally get to bring an amusement park level experience to you PS4 home game console.  Also, keep in mind that I’m a guy who shoots real guns every day—literally, so the gun work in the game is very good.  The Playstation motion controllers work extremely well, shockingly so.  With all those elements combined, the technical leap that Supermassive Games utilized to make such a thing a reality is simply jaw dropping to me.  The graphics are just superb, the physics of the game amazing, and the sound design is insanely good.  What Playstation VR does that the big amusement parks in Orlando can’t is completely put their guests into an immersive environment.  Playstation VR covers your entire face comfortably, so you forget you are wearing a head set.  Then they have these stereoscopic 360 degree ear phones which provide sound from all around you in pure projection meaning there is no spillover noise the way you might get from a home theater system with surround sound. This is piped perfectly into your ears with great effect so noises behind you, or to your right and left are unnervingly realistic.

It took me several months to really think about this exciting new technology and I have to say that if Uncharted 4 was my favorite video game of 2016 this Rush of Blood is my current favorite for entirely different reasons.  It’s really in a category of its own.  It’s a theme park/haunted house right in your living room because you really do forget that you are on a couch instead of an actual roller coaster on a cold October evening at the Haunts at Kings Island.  And what’s even worse—or better in regard to Rush of Blood is that the monsters do invade your personal space they way real monsters at a haunted house can’t legally do—which is certainly unnerving.  I enjoy the chaos because it actually helps me practice staying calm under extreme pressure—because the monsters in Rush of Blood often get right in your face and the sounds that accompany them can be truly scary.  Your mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy when your senses are overloaded the way that Playstation VR can do.  The 3D environments are the best I’ve ever seen—there is real length, width, and depth to them instead of the flat planed look you get from most 3D movies.  In Rush of Blood, as well as other Playstation VR titles the graphics are photographically distinct meaning all the little details look the way they would in real life.  The graphics might look a bit cartoony, but it’s the proximity of things that sell it—such as a long corridor holding its depth in relation to our perspective the way it would in real life.  And as you go by rooms the depth of adjacent structures stream away and toward each other the way they do to the naked eye. I can’t imagine the computer calculations it takes to pull off this effect but Playstation VR so far in every title I’ve seen has pulled this off flawlessly, which makes Rush of Blood that much more terrifying because there aren’t little physics problems to give your mind a hint that this is only a game.  You have to consciously remind yourself of it because your subconscious accepts it as a reality which is a tremendous testament to the game designers.

What excites me as an adrenaline junkie—and let me say that is exactly why I love Rush of Blood—it’s not for everyone.  But for me, it is the perfect thing—just my speed.  I manage my stress in life with adrenaline.  I love taking chances and living on the edge—but to manage a productive life I need to get those experiences in ways that don’t wreck cars and destroy people’s lives.  So I go often to Kings Island to ride roller coasters and I get down to Florida to the Orlando parks when I can—and I play video games often.  I mean I’m an adult professional who shoots lots of guns, spends a lot of time with family and reads at least one book a week.  Professionally I work about 70 hours a week but I still have managed to put in about 840 hours into my Playstation 4 this year.  So that gives some indication of how important it is to me.  Rush of Blood lets me live at the highest adrenaline levels very personably—in a completely immersive environment and that lets me act responsibly in other parts of my life without having to give up that nature in myself—for the benefit of mankind.  This PS4 VR system really lets me live out a dangerous life without having to actually go to an amusement park—its literally in my living room now, so it will be interesting to see how other entertainment venues grapple with this new technology.  I am certainly a believer and I think Rush of Blood is the best of the best in regard to pushing the technology forward.  When I’m playing it, I’m convinced I’m there shooting inter-dimensional beings and giant monsters with all the swashbuckling appeal of the mine car chase from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Playstation was the first to game console market with their VR and it’s difficult to know how they might improve on it because if Rush of Blood is the starting point, where things will be two or three years from now is ungodly exciting.  And for the $600 or so, it was one of the best things I’ve bought in a while just because it feeds my inner adrenaline junkie copious amounts of joy.  The shooting alone is worth the money I’d save in real ammunition if I could ever sit in a real roller coaster and practice shooting from a moving condition at actual targets.  The process of shooting alone is enjoyable in Rush of Blood, let alone all the other elements.  I can only say that it’s a fun time to be alive where options like Rush of Blood for Playstation VR are available for a home market and not some special exhibit at the Epcot Center as a potential technology.  This technology is here and now, and it is just something special that I never thought I’d ever see—let alone to see it available in my living room.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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