Several virtual reality shops have opened up across Los Angeles. These locations offer interactive experiences, ranging from live–action video games to scenic explorations. With so many options, it can be hard to choose which shop is worth the time and money. Two shops, Dreamscape and IMAX, offer incredible and strongly contrasting experiences.
“Lavan’s Magic Projector: the Lost Pearl“ is one of three experiences at Dreamscape in the Westfield Century City mall. Up to six people take part in this 15 minute adventure, during which players enter a movie via a magical projector and search for a pearl in an underground temple. To start off, each player picks an avatar and steps into full–body virtual reality gear. This full body interaction makes the experience incredibly personal and realistic. The adventure then begins as the projector turns and each player steps into the movie. The plot of the experience is intriguing, drawing players in with a search for a lost item and several setbacks along the way. This experience itself is full of beautiful and realistic imagery. Several objects, such as rails, torches, the projector and the pearl are all tangible, which made the experience feel much more real. Players are able to physically walk around, and yet stationary experiences like falling or driving also feel incredibly real.
However, the experience is not perfect. At several points, the next step becomes unclear, and players may become confused as to which action they are supposed to take to progress. Furthermore, there players cannot explore the scenery; trying to explore can result in going out of bounds, and the game tries to push the players along as fast as possible. Finally, while this adventure is the most thrilling experience offered at Dreamscape, it failed to provide a true thrill and mainly focused on scenery. While Dreamscape is excellent for those new to virtual reality or those who are looking for a cool but not necessarily thrilling experience, it is certainly not the place for adventure seekers. Overall, however, the visuals are stunning and the plot of the adventure is interesting, therefore making the experience enjoyable.
Raw Data and Arizona Sunshine are two experiences of several at IMAX virtual reality. Both are exhilarating adventures meant for pairs. Raw Data resembles a robot takeover in which a pair has to fight back and win. Arizona Sunshine imitates an apocalyptic zombie takeover in which a pair fights for their lives while searching for items if they wish to. Both of these experiences closely resemble video games, as players must beat several levels to win. While the visuals are not as realistic as those at Dreamscape, the adventures still feel very realistic, as if one had been transported into a video game. These experiences are both survival–based and incredibly thrilling and provide more options for the players than the experience at Dreamscape. While the adventure at Dreamscape is a previously contrived journey, there is no precisely dictated path for the adventures at IMAX, simply an objective. Although this experience is not full body, it didn’t make much of a difference, as controllers acted as the hand sensors, and the avatars are able to teleport instead of walking. Furthermore, due to the headpiece, the avatar ducked as the player ducked and turned as the player turned, so the experience felt full–body.
Overall, IMAX provides more enjoyment than Dreamscape. The thrill, adventure and choice in Raw Data and Arizona Sunshine provided more excitement to the player than Lavan’s Magic Projector. Ultimately, a player’s time and money are better spent at IMAX, but both are worth visiting.