Zero Latency has finally arrived in Adelaide with a brand new space on Grote St. Claiming to be the world’s greatest free-roam virtual reality experience, this was something we had to try for ourselves.
From the moment we arrived it was clear the space has been setup to provide a great social experience. Bar tables provide a space to sit back and watch live games with TV screens mounted on neon accented walls. With plans for a bar in the future, this would be a great venue for corporate events or groups of friends looking for something different to check out.
A small window provides a glimpse of what awaits. To the uninitiated, it looks somewhat like a silent disco. People walking and gazing around an empty room, almost comically – headsets covering eyes and ears with the occasional call of “here they come” or “beware on the right”.
The players, however, are immersed in an action-packed virtual world lost in the sights and sounds, oblivious to the room they’re actually standing in.
After checking into our booked session, the game master provided a pre-game briefing before fitting us out with the VR gear – a backpack carrying a battery-powered computer, a virtual reality headset and controller.
Everything is in the pack. No tethered wires or cables means it’s truly free-roaming where you’re able to move however and wherever you want.
From the moment you put on the VR headset, you’re somewhere else. The motion tracking is really smooth and it takes very little time to lose all sense of where you are in the real world.
Before the game starts, you have the chance to get familiar with the feel of a virtual environment and make sure everything works. Avatars representing the other players float in front of you giving an immediate sense of space and interaction.
The game master monitors the game from the control room ensuring the game runs smoothly and everyone is playing safely. If at any stage a player needs some help or feels uncomfortable they can talk directly to the game master. Often a little bit of guidance is all that’s required but the games can be paused at any stage if assistance is required.
The virtual experience is so smooth that it felt quite natural. In fact, across more than 50 centres around the world Zero Latency claim that only 0.02% of players have pulled out due to motion sickness. It was good to know, however, that if there was an issue staff were on hand to support.
The latest addition to the Zero Latency roster comes from Ubisoft, set in the world of Far Cry® 3, so naturally that’s where we started. As the game begins the walls give way to a rich, interactive environment that spans far beyond the room you’re standing in. Zero Latency have finely tuned the game play to maximise use of the limited physical space giving the impression you are moving through a vast, endless world.
Imprisoned on the island you are hunted for sport and need to do everything you can to escape while keeping your sanity. With an assault rifle and crossbow you fight your way out into the jungle holding off waves of small armies. With the ability to move through the immersive environment you find yourself reacting to attacks in ways that can’t be replicated in other games. I’m not a hardcore gamer but I expect Far Cry would test even the most serious of gamers.
Zero Latency is not just for serious gamers though. There are a range of experiences including several that can accommodate 10-12 year olds when playing with an adult.
Engineerium turns players into an ethereal, ancient alien floating within a mystical world. As you move you find yourself questioning which way is up as walkways twist over and the world moves around. It feels real enough to have you wondering if you’ll fall over walking the twisting paths. At one point you look up to find your fellow players standing above you, upside down on their own path looking up at you, when in reality they are standing right next to you in the physical room.
Mission Maybee has you cleaning goo from a neon city that gives younger players the chance to interact with the luminescent woods and underground toxic caverns. The quirky, character driven experience will keep the kids engaged and well entertained.
My 10 year old was still talking about the games hours later and I’m not sure if there could be a better endorsement. She found both experiences exciting and felt like she was really in the virtual worlds. This is definitely something we’ll be doing again.
Zero Latency is located at 162 Grote Street, Adelaide.
Opening hours are Wednesday and Thursday 4:00pm – 9:00pm during the school holidays, Friday 4:00pm – 11:00pm, Saturday 10:00am – 11:00pm and Sunday 11:00am – 9:00pm.