Tag Archives: Oculus Rift

Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality Review

If you’re a fan of Rick and Morty and have a HTC Vive, chances are you’ve already played Accounting. If not, go play it, it’s ok, I’ll wait.

Right, great wasn’t it? From the writers of Rick and Morty, Accounting combined their zany and tasteless humour with some interesting uses of the VR medium to create something truly special. Virtual Rick-ality promised to be an authentically Rock and Morty experience in the same vein, and that’s exactly what it is. It’s just a shame that Accounting was actually better.

We won’t spoil anything but in Virtual Rick-ality you are a character within the Rick and Morty universe and the whole game takes place almost entirely within Rick’s garage lab. There’s three areas you can move between, and there’s even a mechanic to interact with things you can’t reach, but can see. The game is very aware of its own limitations, highlighted by restrictions like trying the door to get out of the garage, only for the door handle to fall off.

In the garage you can interact with plenty of objects from the show, most of which work exactly the way you’d expect them to. There’s plenty of hidden items in the way of tapes that can be played, and there’s loads of hidden achievements for doing particularly strange things with the tools at your disposal.

There’s also a campaign of sorts, a series of missions and quests that involve you searching the garage for the right tools, or taking part in a few minigames. Some that involve shooting are pretty dire, like the most bare-bones shooting VR games, one that involves a kind of Simon-says is actually a lot of fun and could almost be a game by itself.

The thing that holds this title back is that you’ve seen it all before. Despite VR being a relatively new medium for gaming, this title seems to borrow lots of other ideas without really introducing its own. The licence is leaned on heavily to make stale mechanics feel fresh, but even the writing just feels like a Rick and Morty clip show, with beats from episodes of the cartoon, rather than a real story in its own right. Generally the jokes are likely to raise a smile rather than a laugh and just like the Simpsons 3D games, seeing Morty’s family in three dimensions is unnerving more than it is familiar.

There’s some little moments in this title that any Rick and Morty fans will really enjoy, particularly the inclusion of a reasonably hefty game within the game, and once you’ve finished the campaign you have access to everything to do what you want with, but after the two or so hours you’ll spend with it, there won’t be that much more you want to see.

For £22.99 – there’s not a lot of value in this title. Two hours to see almost everything and no incentive to go back to it after that. I imagine there’ll be a lot of Steam refunds because it’s possible to get everything you’re ever going to get out of it so quickly. This feels like a missed opportunity. If this was a single episode, with more taking part in other locations, or if there was some kind of multiplayer side based around the multiverse, they could have made something really special, but this is just another little VR sandbox to play with, but this one happens to have a hefty price tag attached to it.

If you’re a big Rick and Morty fan, wait for a sale, if you’re not interested in the show, this is a VR title you can safely give a miss.

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GDC Europe – Roccat’s Power-Grid and a HD Oculus Rift

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We’re at GDC Europe today ahead of Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. While Gamescom is the huge, flashy and open to the public games exhibition, GDC is focused squarely at developers and members of the industry, with allowances for press too. It’s less about playing games and more about moving the industry forwards, whether that be through technology, careers, or marketing.

Several of the larger companies are here such as Valve, Nintendo and DICE – but there’s just as much interest with some of the smaller technology providers. Here are a couple who have caught our eye today.

 

Roccat

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Roccat are known for creating gaming peripherals for the PC. Purveyors of incredible light show producing keyboards, they’re moving in an interesting new direction over the next few months with ‘Power-Grid’. Power-grid is essentially a program that runs on your PC in conjunction with an app on your smartphone or tablet. It lets you run macros, display information or receive notifications on your mobile device while you play. So far so Smartglass right? Well Roccat are going one further, within the PC side there is an easy-to-use editor that will allow users to create profiles for certain actions or games, and then upload them to a kind of free marketplace where they can be shared amongst users.

Roccat demonstrated apps that provide extra functions for Borderlands 2, letting you access your inventory or skills menu or map from your phone. They had a version for Civilisation V with commonly used shortcuts bound to big buttons on the screen. While there is certainly potential for some useful things there, more interesting was a version that sent your PCs running information to the phone screen. While playing you could easily see temperatures, clock speeds and voltages as well as frame rates and CPU/RAM usage. All of this is customisable on a clear grid and could be of benefit to anyone who is interested in all that kind of technical information about their PC.

Power-Grid will be heading into an open beta in the next few weeks and will be completely free, so we look forward to seeing what we can do!

 

Oculus Rift

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We’ve used the Oculus Rift before and sung its praises. It’s incredibly immersive and completely different from anything we’d seen before. It’s the true next step for gaming. One of the big problems when it was being shown at Rezzed was that the screens were in an irritatingly low resolution. Nothing was clear within games and while the 3D effect worked, it was hard to believe you were really in those environments due to the abundance of jagged edges and muddy textures.

At GDC OculusVR have brought along a special new model, the HD version. Running at something along the lines of 1280×800, the screens make a world of difference and coupled with the lenses that shape the world around your perspective, the technology is much more convincing. Framerates seem perfect and everything looks crisp and clear.

We were treated to a demonstration of iRacing – a hardcore racing simulation title. Apparently due to the difficulty of the game, turns would take too long if visitors were allowed to get behind the wheel so instead there was a demo where you simply sit in the passenger seat as a driver takes you round the track. That might sound boring but it gives you the time to appreciate the technology. Driving is a natural fit for the Rift, since you’re sitting down anyway there’s less nausea-inducing disconnect between the way you move and the fat your legs are doing nothing. 3D works brilliantly in a way that it never has in all of our experience with cinema and home-based 3D glasses. The world looks just like you could reach out and touch it, only the presence of crowds around me prevented my arms from flailing wildy at buttons on the dashboard to see what they did.

The increased resolution brings about new problems for designers, chiefly that the uncanny valley suddenly seems very apparent. For those who haven’t heard of it, the uncanny valley represents the idea that as artificial humans look more and more real we get more comfortable with them. As realism goes up, so does comfort. But when you get very close to real, it suddenly drops away horrifically. You can watch Soap in Call of Duty move in an unnatural way without blinking an eye, but when you’re sitting net to a life-size race car drive who never looks at you and only moves in jerks and twitches, things start to get very scary. I sincerely hope OculusVR never provide the makers of Amnesia with a devkit, it’d  be horror beyond imagining.

I’m sure as games are specifically programmed for the Rift it won’t be an issue, but it’s an interesting example of how fidelity in design needs to keep pace with technology, and that technology has just made a colossal leap with the HD version of the Oculus Rift. We can’t wait to get our hands on one.

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Day One of Rezzed

Today we’ve been at Rezzed – the PC games show at Birmingham NEC. After the break are our thoughts on a variety of titles we got a chance to play including ‘Sir You are Being Hunted’, ‘The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot’ and the Oculus Rift with ‘Undercurrent’.

Continue reading Day One of Rezzed

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