Drive a 4x4 through the jungle or have a laser shootout - all in VR
With Dubai hosting Games13 from September 26-28, the Middle East’s biggest video games show, the city’s affiliation to gaming is unquestionable. This event will see industry mammoths Sony Playstation, Microsoft Xbox, Capcom, Disney Interactive and SEGA exhibiting their wares, proving the big guns will be out in force in a bid to showcase their latest gaming technologies to the fans. It’s not all just about computer games though, cinemas in the city now offer 6D shows and there are various 3D experiences and rides across Dubai.
Yet for all of the hype, 3D technology and virtual reality is not new. Back in 1994, Nintendo released its Virtual Boy – a headset which created a computer- generated world of red and black. But the gadget flopped, with gamers complaining of a lack of motion-tracking and feedback. With both the new Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox utilising motion tracking – a technology which has its roots in virtual reality – it’s clear that the science is gradually filtering through to consumers. And let’s not forget that pioneering 3D movie Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time. So it’s obvious there’s an appetite for new, enhanced forms of entertainment. With that squarely in mind, we round up a selection of the virtual reality experiences on offer in the city.
Storm-G This bobsleigh ride adds the extra dimension of spinning you 360˚ as you twist and turn through the mountain course. You’ll find yourself sledging down the slopes at eye-watering velocity as the high-definition graphics on the large screen quickly transport you to a world where you reach speeds of up to 120kmph. If that doesn’t get the adrenaline pumping, you’re made of stronger stuff than us. Dhs25. Sun-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. SEGA Republic, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.segarepublic.com (04 448 8484).
iPILOT This commercial flight simulator is so realistic that real pilots use it for training. So if you’ve ever dreamt of flying your own passenger jet, this is about as close as you can get without flying an actual aircraft. You get the chance to control the complicated instruments of a Boeing 737 with the assistance of a qualified instructor, giving you an insight into the complexities of the industry. With more than 24,000 airports from around the world featured, you get to take off from you desired destination and best of all, it doesn’t matter if you crash. Dhs299 for 15 minutes. iPILOT, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (056 738 7444).
Wild Jungle A 4x4 jungle experience, the ride involves a nail-biting succession of hair-raising scenarios. Highlights of the Indiana Jones-style romp include reversing at high speed as boulders hurtle towards you, near misses with other cars, crashing through the dense jungle and our personal favourite – a rope bridge, which inevitably collapses. And if that isn’t enough excitement for you, the experience climaxes with your 4x4 taking off (like they do). With the simulator moving suddenly in all manner of directions, we think it’s about as close as you can get to playing Indy during an afternoon at the mall. Dhs25. Sun-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. SEGA Republic, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.segrepublic.com (04 448 8484).
XD Dark Ride This ride at Magic Planet describes itself as a 7D adventure. As well as state-of-the-art 3D graphics, other 4D effects include motion, wind and light. The motion platform has seating for eight people and can replicate an impressive 2Gs in acceleration. There’s a large library of games and movies available for the experience, from a robotic cowboy adventure game called Los Banditos to everyone’s favourite – a good old- fashioned zombie romp, complete with gore, guts and enough scares to make even the bravest gamer flinch. Dhs50 for 10 video games and rides. Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Magic Planet, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.theplaymania.com/magicplanet (04 341 4444).
Laser tag If you’re the sort of person who feels like letting off a bit of pent-up aggression, what better way is there than gathering a selection of your nearest and dearest together so that you can shoot them with lasers at Thrill Zone. With over 3,000 square feet to chase or hide from your combatants, you strap on your special vest, which can detect when you’ve been shot, and head out with the simple objective of accumulating as many points as you can. The experience is heightened through the use of aggressive techno music, UV lights and fog in a volcanic rock and jungle-themed space. The game accommodates up to 20 people, split into two teams for a 15 minute battle – bring it on. Dhs55 per person. Thrill Zone, Oasis Centre Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road, thrillzoneuae.com (04 388 3551).
6D cinema This 3D theatre at Thrill Zone exposes you to the environmental elements, blasting you with rain, wind and fog. With the latest audio and visual technology, your seat also moves around, giving you that extra sense of realism. With five viewing options lasting five minutes each, you can opt for Island Coaster, a fairground ride based on an island, Happy Feet, which involves penguins, Future Bikes – a space-age city adventure on flying motorcycles or Lost World, a prehistoric dinosaur adventure featuring a tyrannosaurus rex and pterodactyls. And if none of the above work, you can go try an intergalactic science fiction adventure with Space Race. Dhs25 per person. Thrill Zone, Oasis Centre Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road, thrillzoneuae.com (04 388 3551).
The ST-2 shooting simulator This simulator helps participants develop their target and shooting skills. Effectively recreating realistic visual environments, the simulator also uses diagnostic tools to provide feedback on how to improve different aspects of your technique including hit position and gun movement. The experience covers a whole wealth of shotgun disciplines from skeet, double trap, sporting clay and trap shooting, rabbit, duck, grouse and pheasant hunting. If you’ve got ethical issues with shooting animals then you can hunt a variety of game from moose and red dear to wild boars and brown bears in pixelated form, without harming any real wildlife. The simulator also offers adjustable target speeds and trajectories, so if you’re a bit of a John Wayne sharpshooter, you should still find it a challenge. Dhs120 for 40 minutes. Open daily 8am-11pm. The Meydan Hotel, Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba, www.meydanhotels.com (04 381 3405).
SAM PuttLab Technology in the city is not always about providing thrills and scares. At Emirates Golf Club, motion sensors are utilised to improve your game. This clever putting analysis device accurately measures all aspects of your technique and is one of the most advanced training systems of its kind in the world. The system uses state-of-the-art ultrasound technology and specialist mathematic algorithms to provide detailed feedback on various parameters from rotation and swing duration to impact and rotation. This data is then transferred to a computer via a USB so that your instructor can tailor you training strategies to improve on any specific weaknesses. With easy to understand graphical reports and 28 different parameters examined, this equipment can be used both inside and outside and offers a multi-dimensional view of your putting. Dhs230 for 30 minutes. Open daily 6am-10pm. Emirates Golf Club, Emirates Hills, www.dubaigolf.com/emirates-golf-club (04 417 9999).