By, Jim McCauley
If you're fortunate enough to own an HTC Vive and a suitably VR-ready PC powered by a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10 series GPU, you’re not going to want to miss out on NVIDIA’s entry into the world of immersive VR experiences.
Built for the HTC Vive and available to download now on Steam for free, VR Funhouse is a collection of irresistible carnival-themed mini games. Each game is built to take advantage of GameWorks effects and demonstrate how VR experiences can be made even more immersive when advanced graphics, haptics and physics are fully exploited. And crucially, they're a joy to play, providing all the fun of the fair without the pain of having to trudge along to the nearest carnival.
VR Funhouse puts the Vive's motion controllers to plenty of good use. In Balloon Knight you gain a sword in each hand with which to swipe and stab at balloons as they appear. The balloons burst in a shower of confetti that draws on NVIDIA Flow to swirl in the air as you wave your swords around. A light touch will only move the balloons, so you’ll need to make a fast swiping motion to swing your blade and pop them as you’d do in real life.
Moles come in for a lot of punishment in VR Funhouse. Whack A Mole is your traditional game of smacking down subterranean critters with a mallet, while in Mole Boxing you strap on a pair of boxing gloves and try to give them a good pummeling. Thankfully the game's realism doesn't extend to the moles themselves. They look more like corn dogs in crazy wigs that, thanks to HairWorks, behave just like real hair.
In Cannon Skeet you have a pair of guns and 60 seconds to shoot down incoming crockery as it's launched from a mobile cannon, and the destruction is intense. Using PhysX everything you shoot gets smashed to bits, and there's further realistic destruction when stuff hits the ground. You'll also notice a smoking gun effect with every trigger pull. You can almost smell the gunpowder.
Fun with green goo
Switching from real guns to squirt guns, Clown Painter uses NVIDIA FleX effects to create a thoroughly gloopy green goo that you need to fire into clowns' mouths to pop as many balloons as you can within 30 seconds. Or you could just muck around with goo, firing it into the air, or creating a slime fountain with a light touch on the trigger.
Shoot flaming arrows
NVIDIA Flow comes into its own again in Fire Archer, in which you unleash flaming arrows at targets against the clock and make with the burning. The realism extends to the bow action. You need to grab an arrow, notch it, draw and fire, and haptic feedback from the controllers simulates the tension of drawing and firing.
Be a sharpshooter
It's back to guns for the Shooting Gallery. Shelves of breakables await your attention, with lots of PhysX Destruction for everything you shoot. If your system's up to medium quality settings or better, you can also shoot the planks out of the gallery.
The best bit is that NVIDIA is releasing VR Funhouse for free so that everyone can see the potential of 10-series GPUs for high-quality immersive VR. Actually, that's not quite the best bit; what's even better is that the whole thing will be open-source, so that developers can borrow on NVIDIA's expertise and deploy its stunning effects in their own projects. Who said that carnivals were a rip-off?
Sponsored by Nvidia