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I Had a Heart Attack and I Liked It – Hands-on Preview with IMAX VR in New York

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Almost over a year ago I was attacked and left for dead by VR. I was found in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, whispering to myself “spinning…so much spinning.” While I recovered (three days later), I vowed to never do VR again. So of course that meant when I heard about IMAX Virtual Reality, I just HAD to experience that pain on an even larger scale.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead of the expectant projectile vomit, I spent the day screaming like a child who their lost parent. Oh yeah, I also killed the shit out of some zombies.

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The IMAX VR Experience Centre at AMC Kips Bay 15 in New York City is billed as a state-of-the-art installation that combines premium VR technology and content to allow guests to experience virtual worlds that go beyond the average video gaming experience. By using 360-degree, 3D vision with the headset, you feel like you’re one with the environment instead of just watching something onscreen. The visuals are crisp and every moment feels real.. for good and the bad. However, it’s far superior than the VR experience you can get while playing at home and there’s the added bonus of immediately watching the movie in the theater after playing the game.

At the event, there were eight vastly different video games and a roller coaster experience that involved sitting, standing and walking around — or in my case — running into a wall (damn you, zombies).

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Eagle Flight – I took to the great skies in an unnamed location as an eagle — a bad ass Eagle. Why a bad ass eagle? Because I was the eagle and no matter how many times I died, I died bad assily. Ducking, diving and soaring into the vast blue openness, Eagle Flight is a wondrous VR version of Capture the Flag. Using your head to navigate, the goal is to capture the other eagle team’s flag while also trying to prevent them from stealing yours. In your arsenal, you use the strength of your wings to blast the other eagle away.

The game was beautifully designed with bold and bright colors that are both inviting and pleasant. The landscape is worth exploring above and below as you soar through trees and fly closer to the ground. Luckily, if you ever get lost, there are always navigational arrows there to point you in the right direction. However, not all is perfect; it’s very confusing to figure out how to steer your eagle, there’s no way to communicate with your other team mates (which would have made for a more in-depth experience) and an attack can come out of nowhere. Practicing is the best. Until then, you’re literally playing a game where you have no idea whether you’re winning or losing.

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Tilt Brushing – I’ve never taken LSD but I have seen many movies of what an acid trip is supposed to look like… and this was a fun trip. Tilt Brushing is an interactive painter’s dream. Using controls as your vessel, you’re able to create all kinds of artistic creations that come to life in an open black space. Waves actually wave, stars shoot from the skies, and as you twist and turn your body to paint, your creations become animated around you. From there you can transport yourself from one space to another within the game, so you can see your creations from afar and create art in a different space.

Other features allow your drawings to rain a multitude of colors from above, save your artwork for others to enjoy. However, I would have preferred if this was a two player game. Just imagine the fun of painting with others. The ridiculous interactions and heightened experience makes for a better time.

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The Mummy Prodigium Strike  – I hated The Mummy and according to the low box office sales in the US, so did many other people. So why not create a game from a scene in the movie in order to entice people to watch the film? Be the Tom Cruise. The problem? No one wants to be. However, they should because this game is what VR was created for.

In The Mummy Prodigium Strike, you are in a helicopter that flies over land in order to provide protection for an ambulance travelling below. Sounds simple, right? Well, there’s also a hoard of zombies that are trying to stop this mysterious ambulance and kill your AI team. As I moved around the space feeling like a the coolest sniper on the AI block, my heart literally jumped out of my chest and I feel my soul leave my body. There are zombies falling out of the sky trying to attack you without warning. I looked like a fool screaming, ducking diving and praying for my soul while screaming for Jesus and my mamma. I had to shoot from above, below; and despite physically dying, it was the most fun I ever had playing a VR game. I was completely involved in this world, despite it becoming too overwhelming at times with its tension and relentless attacks.

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Raw Data – Have you ever wanted to kill a bunch of killer robots? Raw Data takes place in the future with a lot of technological jargon. However, the goal is simple. Kill as many robots before they kill you. The problem? You’ll have no idea what you’re doing and reloading your gun by performing hand movements similar to Doctor Strange’s portal is frustrating.

The gameplay will find you being attack from every angle, at various speeds by robots intent on filleting you in the blink of the eye. You can shoot them or try to duck and dodge their unlimited bullets, but that juts makes them angrier. At the end of the day, I bashed them in the head with my gun and took off running.

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Knockout League – While my goal in life was never to be Mike Tyson, virtually punching people in the head sure had me feeling like Mike Tyson (minus the ear biting). Knockout League is powered with your sweat and your ability to not pass out from exhaustion. I sucked at this, and the game wasn’t even that impressive to begin with. I was never really good at boxing but the game just refused to compute my body movements, resulting in me looking like a penguin determined to fly. When you’re not dying of a heart attack and gasping for air, the game does become a glorified Wii Sports. But for those with boundless energy who have never experienced Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, it’s a nice upgrade.

The VR arcade is currently only available in Los Angeles and New York locations, but 10 pilots are expected to launch by the end of the year in IMAX movie theaters.

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