VR!

Adel Gabot

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1:01PM

Having nothing much to do this morning (despite it being a bit rainy), I went to see if I could still catch the Playstation Virtual Reality demo they’re supposedly having at the Sony Showroom at SM Megamall. I only found out about it from a PS4 thread on the regular Mac users’ forum I moderate, PhilMUG.

I wanted to kick myself for not knowing sooner and getting a chance to try out the VR for myself, but I said, don’t get your panties caught in a bunch just yet, it might still be there.

So I went this morning, and it was.

I was pleasantly surprised. I was half expecting a blocky, pixellated demo with lousy head tracking. Instead what I got was a smooth, flowing, detailed, immersive experience you can actually get lost in. Bravo, Sony. Worth every centavo.

There was a small crowd when I got there, and there was a wildly expressive, demonstrative teenager trying the VR out. You’d think he was on the moon, from his crazy, albeit unconscious antics there on the show floor. I’m sure he felt embarrassed and sheepish the minute he took the headset off.

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I had worked my way to the front of the crowd, and immediately asked if I could try it as soon as the teenager stepped off. The demo guy obliged and asked me to sit down. I took off my baseball cap and was about to remove my glasses when he told me I could keep those on if I wanted. (It was great of Sony to make allowances for us glasses people.) Aside from the visual headset, he made me put on a big pair of cans to complete the picture.

I saw a five-minute shark VR demo, and boy it was fantastic! I was supposedly in a shark tank being lowered into the water, and I saw the various flora and fauna of the deep on my way down. I looked to my right and left, and up and down and around to the back—it was seamless and fluid. The headset tracked my every move. I saw fish, coral, turtles, jellyfish, everything. I really felt like I was there.

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It was like that until I reached the dark deep where the sharks were. Then it became scary. A great white shark loomed out of the depths and proceeded to stalk me, then attack. It bit at the cage and proceeded to tear it apart until I was out there and exposed. The great white prepared to lunge at the now-bare me and then, all of a sudden, it was over, and I had to take the headgear off.

I’m sure I looked as stupid as that teenager.

But I was pretty impressed by the demo. I’m sure in retrospect there were a lot of things lacking, like it wasn’t really that realistically rendered, and the whole tableaux was a bit dark, but I was caught up in the heat of the moment. I was sure the much cheaper and decidedly less advanced PS VR certainly couldn’t match the superior technology of that other major VR gear, the Oculus Rift, but it seemed to me today that PSVR held its own. It was just fine.

And here I was, thinking Sony was releasing the newer 4K PS4 as a way to patch the technological hole left by VR, that the older units couldn’t really handle it reliably and they needed the extra oomph to really make it shine. Yet here it was, running off a first-generation PS4, and it was doing great.

I was sold.

The problem was, Sony was only releasing 100 units in the country this year, and they’ve been sold out for weeks already. Even at the slightly higher price. I could buy it abroad, but it’s also sold out there. I can always get from the gray market, but at exorbitant prices for sure. I left my card with the demo guy just to be sure, but it’s a very long shot.

Hmm. How to do this?

 

 


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