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Comic-Con 2019: Doctor Who, Walking Dead, and Batman VR Experiences

Due to the new Comic-Con Museum off-site and a four-hour wait for one activation, I wasn't able to fully immerse myself in the demonstrations of video games, especially at Future Tech. But as someone who doesn't spend a lot of time playing video games, I can tell you what I liked.

BBC America had short demos of its yet-to-be-released VR video game: "Doctor Who: The Edge of Time." The Doctor is played and voiced by the current incarnation (Jodie Whittaker) and the scenario is you've been taken to the end of the universe and our reality is threatened by a virus. You get to pilot the TARDIS and go into different worlds to gather crystals to repair space and time and save the universe. For the demo, you had to find certain items and bring them together before activating them with the Sonic Screwdriver. Time is of the essence because if you don't work fast enough the aliens will invade (spaceship overhead) and the TARDIS will disappear before you can board.

I didn't get to meet any Daleks, Weeping Angels or any other creature, but the trailer suggests that you'll be meeting some of Doctor Who's enemies, including a new one. I have yet to watch the new incarnation of Doctor Who so it might depend upon how you feel about Whittaker's Doctor. I took the BBC test and I'm actually Doctor Who, incarnation number 11 or 10.

There are many different ways to be a fan of Doctor Who and I'm partial to the Tenth incarnation. So while "Doctor Who: The Edge of Time" was easy to use and figure out, LEGO Doctor Who (2015) in its LEGO Dimensions was funnier and more appealing, but I've become a fan of the LEGO movies, preferring the 2016 "LEGO Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape" to the 2015 "Jurassic World" and I also had to buy those mini figures. In reality ... I just wanted those mini figures.

"Doctor Who: The Edge of Time" was developed by Maze There and published by PlayStack. The game is scheduled to launch in September on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC VIVE and VIVE Cosmos. For more information, check out the BBC Doctor Who website although at press time the link to find out more about this game gives you an error message ("Oh my giddy Aunt! The stuff, it's gone wibbly! (404)).

"Alice Space" is also an easy to enter world, but you need space--the kind you find on earth and not outside of its atmosphere. It's designed for commercial venues with a 23 x 33 feet playing area and up to six people can participate at once. According to the website, there are new space adventures twice a year and their partnership with Opaque Space in collaboration with NASA means that you're working with real data. We went to the moon and placed our footprints there, but other adventures will take you to Mars and Europa (one of Jupiter's 53 moons). Unlike the Doctor Who VR video game, this interactive multi-user game is meant to be free-roaming and above all, educational. While we were on the "moon," we were handed a screen that mapped out constellations for us from the moon point of view. Inside the space capsule, without individual fingers, we could attempt to pick up coffee mugs and throw stuff, but the gravity wasn't the same. You don't get to plant a US flag on the moon, but maybe you'll meet one of the Rovers on Mars. 

You have to love the Deadquarters at SDCC. They have a Hall H panel, but if you can't make it because of the legendary long lines into H, you can get "The Walking Dead" or "Fear The Walking Dead" experience at their activation which always comes with extras. Last year, it was a AR game app. This year, it was a demo of a yet-to-be-released game: "The Walking Dead Onslaught."

We had just survived the scenario of a wintry wandering through Whisperer territory--Walking Dead will surely give whisperers a bad name. After slipping on "ice" and weathering "snow" while holding on to a rope and avoiding the Walking Dead and the Whisperers, we arrived ready to battle instead of run from the Walking Dead but in VR. Survios ("Raw Data" and "Creed: Rise to Glory") puts you inside an original story where you can assume the role of your favorite survivor from the TV series and hopefully, you will survive the relentless Walker threats.

The game demo took place in a snow-free ice-free climate. You have to walk or run which is accomplished by moving your arms back and forth. At first, I was equipped with a sword and there is a trick to turning the blade the other way. The game has a "progressive dismemberment system." That means that Walker limbs can be removed at the joint and a proprietary "gore mesh" creates realistic wounds anywhere on the Walker's body. The mechanics of the VR measures how hard you slash, so if you want to disable and stop the Walkers, you have to put in some force. You apparently can also restrain and grab Walkers, but I didn't try that. 

Although I'm a pacifist in real life, I hate those VR experiences where even though you're carrying something like a flashlight, when some spook or demon surprises you, you can't bash it in the head in self-defense. From experience I know that my actions need to be bigger because most games are developed for your average-sized man. This might have been a small problem with this game by Survios. I also step in to slash hard and put the full force of my weight, but at another game, I was told wrist action can help fool the system. When I changed my weapon to an automatic handgun, I did have problems reloading and that got me killed twice. With some practice, that is a problem that could be resolved and I'm pretty much okay with killing zombies/Walkers because it's about survival and self-defense. Other things that might take some practice--shooting the gun while running.

"The Walking Dead Onslaught" will be released in Fall 2019 for the following platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PS VR. The price and number of players were not yet set.

I don't know if the "Dark Knight Dive" will ever be available at your local iFly locations, but it was well worth the wait. I've already had the normal iFly experience because I've always dreamed of flying and so I was confident going in. What you need is some good core muscles, good posture in the air and trust in your spotter. While the normal iFly experience usually only has one spotter, this one requires two. As you wait to suit up, administrators, including Lucius Fox from the Wayne Enterprises, will come and tell you how important your work is and that this flying suit is part of a new product. You suit up in special jumpsuits with the Batman logo. After a test run, you'll don a special black helmet with black bat ears and a spandex pocket that holds the VR mask over your eyes. You eventually won't be able to see the sides of the iFly wind tunnel, but become part of this reality where you swoop, swerve and dive through a colorfully animated world to ultimately save Gotham. 

This is a breathtaking amazing experience for all those who have ever dreamed of flying. IFly has many different discounts (military, first responder, teacher, senior, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) and is a great group activity (five people).

Jana Monji

Jana Monji, made in San Diego, California, lost in Japan several times, has written about theater and movies for the LA Weekly, LA Times, and currently, and the Pasadena Weekly. Her short fiction has been published in the Asian American Literary Review.

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