The Star Wars Secrets of the Empire hyper reality experience will be open to the public starting on 7 December 2018. It’s held at The VOID, which has prior outlets in other parts of the world. In Asia, though, the one in Resorts World Genting is the first.
While hyper reality experiences aren’t exactly new, they’re also not as common. Additionally, this particular outlet not only lets you move through a VR environment, but also to experience it with your other senses.
I’ve had the opportunity to go for a session of the experience, and here’s what I thought of it.
To start, the gear looks like proprietary equipment. It consists of a backpack that houses most of the processing hardware, and a VR headset which has a pair of headphones attached. There’s a camera attached to the headset as well, plus a microphone probably embedded somewhere in all that hardware.
The vests that are attached to the backpacks comes with a few extra pads. These house a few motors that provide haptic feedback in appropriate situations, such as you getting shot in a shooter experience. Speaking of which, you also get a prop blaster with two triggers.
For a hyper reality experience, it really does deliver on what it promises. You not only move through the short feature story, but you’ll also be able to feel contextual cues, such as hot air for example.
The visor is also pretty amazing. The camera that’s on it is able to track movements of individual fingers on your hands. And from there on, it’s all about crunching the appropriate visuals to be pushed to the visor, so there’s some processing and software wizardry going on as well.
While there are some software hiccups here and there when interacting with another object, it’s generally an experience that’s plenty immersive. You can, for example, give teammates a high five, and most of the time it registers properly. But hand a blaster to them and you see a limb still attached to it as it moves away from you before suddenly vanishing.
For the Star Wars-specific experience that was on, there’s a lot of shooting involved. So it can feel pretty good to shoot Storm Troopers as they charge into position. There is practically no cover, and I found the experience akin to picking off targets in a shooting gallery. On the other hand, there were opportunities to improvise some cover by hiding behind walls. If you do get hit, there pads on the vest vibrate to provide haptic feedback, telling you there are more enemies around.
The overall experience is pretty engaging, even if it’s a little slow. There are sections where you have to interact with the environment, which is what makes this particular hyper reality experience pretty impressive. That said, it’s probably not for the competitive, as there’s no score at the end.
So is it worth its admission price? It really depends if you’re an enthusiast of these sorts of experiences, and being a Star Wars fan does help. In the end, each session lasts about 15 minutes, and while the experience is best with a group of four people, the cost for each participant is RM130.