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Preview: Omega Agent

Most of the software revealed for Samsung’s Gear VR thus far has been delivered with a concerted effort to establish the device as a comfortable virtual reality (VR) experience. It’s surprising then that Omega Agent was offered as part of this initial software cascade as, despite being enjoyable and very much polished, Fireproof Games’ Gear VR exclusive was anything but comfortable.

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Simulator sickness. Of the nearly 30 software titles that VRFocus has experienced on Gear VR, Omega Agent is one of only two that have encountered this infamous issue (the other being James’s Legacy: The Prologue). It’s easy to see how, on paper, the videogame would be a fine and welcoming challenge for VR: played from a first-person perspective, you are a secret agent strapped into a jetpack and challenged with taking down UFOs in a stylised but dense cityscape. The problems don’t arise until you actually sit down and play the videogame yourself.

Omega Agent uses a bluetooth control pad. The left analog nub controls your direct movement while your head controls your viewpoint. So far, so good. Buttons to shoot and change weapon, boost and brake. So where’s the problem? The right analog nub is used to turn your jetpack. You can only realign your trajectory with the right analog nub. This itself is not an enjoyable experience even at a slow pace, let alone when shooting high above the skyscrapers and chasing down one of the enemy craft.

Of course, this is how first-person experiences are traditionally controlled: left stick for movement, right stick for headlook. However, in VR things aren’t quite so simple. You can forgive Fireproof Games for wanting to free the player’s head movement from a direct control system – this, after all, is one of the advantages of VR – but not taking into account the issues that arise from the use of an analog stick in this manner is incredibly short-sighted. In VRFocus‘ experience with Omega Agent, turning quickly became an unwanted problem, hamstringing the ability to takedown enemy craft.

It’s surprising such an issue has been ignored as elsewhere Omega Agent is an impressively presented demonstration build. The visual design is simplistic but well presented, the weaponry the player has at their disposal is entertaining and the attention to detail – including a bobblehead figure of the Queen wearing an Oculus Rift on the menu screen – is nothing short of endearing. Hopes remain high, then, that Fireproof Games will take on board the commentary from this month’s IFA and find a way to overcome simulator sickness in Omega Agent.