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Back To Dinosaur Island 2 - gamescom Preview

Back To Dinosaur Island 2 - gamescom Preview

Virtual Reality had a big showing at this year’s gamescom, with developers demonstrating demos on Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus and more. I had a chance to sit down with Crytek and experience their VR tech demo, Back To Dinosaur Island 2. My experiences with VR before this had ranged from good to nauseating so I didn’t know what to expect from this demo. I had an inkling it would be immersive and picturesque as it was being made by Crytek but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

The title, Back To Dinosaur Island 2 should give a clear idea of the demo’s setting. I was using the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay and whilst the build quality wasn’t at retail standard, I was told the image quality was. Sitting down in a swivel chair I was able to rotate my body to take in the scenery without having to stretch my neck. This helped avoid any awkward body motions, that being a particular problem that has occurred in the past with other VR demos. I was given an Xbox 360 controller and was told to only use the left and right trigger buttons which controlled my hands. I was tasked with scaling a mountain using a system of cables to hang onto. Before starting I was warned not to let go of the triggers, as falling was not a nice experience.

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Beginning the demo I was instantly placed in front of one of the cables suspended in mid-air near the bottom of the mountain. The visuals were a pleasant mix of lush greens from vegetation and red and browns off of the mountain wall. The setting had a real sense atmosphere, a river ran in the background, flowing with white wash that cascaded vividly down the rocks on the riverbed. A crashed spaceship rested in the distance and a strange alien-like structure was also positioned in the landscape. I was immersed and the demo had yet to truly begin. To climb the mountain I had to use the cables provided, grabbing onto the connected bar with both hands. The simple concept was made enjoyable as my view required me to lean in to reach the bars. If I was too far away I would have to lean closer. It was a novel use of VR that engaged my field of view and the surrounding environment.

Further up the mountain I had to switch cables which required me to let go with one hand and then find the next handle. At first this was fine as the handles were close together, but as I scaled higher, certain handles became harder to reach. Vertigo kicked in and a sense of dread came over me at the idea of falling. I knew it was a mind-game but the setting and height of the mountain made it feel very real.

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As I got higher I saw movement on the mountain wall and pterodactyls dropped into the sky, swooping within the clouds. Certain ones attacked me as I climbed and I had to attempt to dodge them. At another point rocks tumbled from above, making me stop climbing to avoid them. Eventually I reached the summit and clambered over the edge. When before I had been too preoccupied with climbing and avoiding the dangerous pterodactyls, now I could bask in the scene before me. I turned around first, to see where I had climbed from, and saw the dizzying height of the mountainside and the gorgeous view that ran far off into the distance. The river was below, a waterfall ran parallel down one side of another cliff face, it was stunning to behold.

Behind me was a vast canyon which was littered with what looked like a crashed alien spaceship which could very well be my own. My last task was to scan points of interest. Small beacons appeared on the screen and I had to look directly at them and hold the triggers to complete the scan. The scan would detail facts about the points of interest and a robotic voice would tell me when the scan was finished. It was the least engaging part of the demo but seeing a wide field view of the alien planet was astounding. After I finished all the scans the demo ended and I was brought back into reality.

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The Back To Dinosaur Island 2 demo made me a firm believer in Virtual Reality. There’s great potential for an immersive setting and story and the demo showed me that Crytek are on the right path to this. Speaking to Crytek after the demo I was told that it was part of a large project their working on called Robinson: The Journey. I wasn’t told much but the premise is that you play as a 12 year old boy who has crash-landed on an alien planet. I asked about the limitations that Virtual Reality has on gameplay and they understood my concern. I was told there would be 7 methods of traversal during the game and considering how engaging the climb had been, I am definitely eager to see more.

Robinson: The Journey proved to me that Virtual Reality is a very plausible gaming tool. Crytek understand this and see it as a home product, to be used by gamers everywhere. One noteworthy point is that during no time in the demo did I feel nauseous. The experience was smooth and comfortable, merging the right amount of joy and fearful sensations, resulting in an exhilarating ride. Virtual Reality is something to be aware of, now more than ever and Crytek may just be the biggest contender coming with it.

Reece Armstrong

Reece Armstrong

Senior Staff Writer

Just a musician and geek all rolled into one who spends his days watching sandcastles melt into the sea

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