We are fortunate to be New Yorkers. The world envies us for the countless famous sights and entertainment at our fingertips. Now we have something new to be envied for. Video games and motion pictures are the world’s most financially beneficial form of entertainment, so it is no surprise that these two giants have found a home under the same roof.
Located in Manhattan on 33rd street and 2nd Avenue, AMC Loews’ Kips Bay Theater has installed their very own virtual reality gaming booths in the building’s lobby, and it is only the second location in the entire country to do this. Called IMAX VR, this new section allows visitors to experience their favorite films in a whole new way. In order to experience this for yourself, all you have to do is order a ticket—just like you would for an ordinary movie—then after filling out and signing a release form you are good to go. An AMC employee will guide you to your chosen game from a current list of Eagle Flight, The Mummy Prodigium Strike, Raw Data, The Walk, Life of Us, Paranormal Activity, Star Wars: Trails on Tatooine, and John Wick. Once you arrive, you will be placed in a small cubicle-like area in which you may walk freely around. And then a headset is placed over your eyes and headphones are situated over your ears—depending on the game—you are given a plastic firearm or controller for each hand. I played John Wick during my review, a game that puts you in the shoes of the franchise’s titular assassin (Keanu Reeves) as hordes of thugs attempt to take you down in a flurry of bullets.
Once the headset is placed over your eyes, a rooftop encompasses your entire vision. Initially, it can be become disorientating due to the new reality now surrounding your line of sight, which allows for movement in full 360 degrees while maintaining the virtual world around you. This allows you to lean, walk, and even duck during gameplay. As I began to be overwhelmed by a particular batch of enemies, I crouched and in doing so hid behind a wall in-game, shielding me from incoming fire. It is a truly remarkable feeling, dissimilar to anything I had interacted within the gaming world prior. Not only is the headset astoundingly responsive to your movement, the controller is also swift and flawless in its precision. No matter where in the game world you aim, the IMAX VR recognizes it with ease. In no time at all I was ducking and waving, performing quick, rapid busts of fire, and flooring bad guy after bad guy. And like an old-school arcade machine, you can even enter your initials if you would like to compete for the high score.
This is an extremely enjoyable experience that cannot be understated except for one sizable downside: the price. To play these games it can cost up to the value of a regular movie ticket for what equates to only about 8-10 minutes of gameplay. Only the weight of your wallet can tell you if balancing on a tightrope among the New York City skyline in The Walk or fending off throngs of evil robots with a friend in Raw Data is worth the few minutes of unique pleasure. Whether or not it is for you, there is something pleasing about knowing we are one of the only cities in the world that has access to this entertainment milestone.
Photos by Dean Moses