Does this helmet prevent you from looking at the face of the new BMW M2?
Indeed, on the face of it, there seems to be a plethora of easy targets to aim for with BMW’s “mixed reality” idea, so perhaps some context would be constructive. At its heart it’s a very simple concept: there’s a genuine BMW M2 – revealed earlier this year – with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six, 454bhp and rear-wheel drive .
There is also a virtual reality headset, which the driver of the aforementioned BMW M2 must wear. Inside this virtual reality headset is a virtual world programmed by BMW M to represent something called “M Town”.
“M Town” has been programmed to fit the boundaries of an actual area – for example, in a car park at, say, the BMW Driving Experience in Munich.
Your mission, if you’re brave enough to choose it, is to drive the real BMW M2 while wearing a helmet that tells your brain you’re in a video game.
I have a lot to say about this idea.
U.S. too. A headset typically reserved for very expensive home gaming setups used in something with very real some answers ? A virtual world named “M Town” for God’s sake? The fact that you’re piloting a very fast, very powerful machine essentially blindfolded around a few cones set up in a damp, gray German parking lot?
TopGear.com probably wasn’t alone in wondering why bother to develop a truly powerful coupe and then shield what the companies like to call “end users” away from the reality of driving.
Exactly. What’s the point?
A pertinent question, and one we posed to BMW M’s Alex Kuttner, the engineer responsible for this seemingly contradictory idea. “Over the past few years we’ve had comments from our fans who said ‘we want to go to M Town, we want to be there,'” he told TopGear.com.
“So I had the idea that we take you to M Town but we also take our cars.”
Does this mean that the virtual world reflects the dream of a BMW M owner?
Again, we asked Alex how he created this digital utopia. “I’m not really sure!” he said with a small laugh. “It was the first image I had in mind when I thought of a futuristic city.”
With skepticism committed to ‘Full’, we ventured into ‘M Town’ and sincerely hoped that a) we’d never have to use that term again, and b) we wouldn’t get into corners so far. invisible from the real world that we would be driving.
Wait, have you driven the new BMW M2?
So short, it barely qualifies as a reader, especially because we were getting very confusing signals in our brains, so you’ll have to wait a bit for TG.com’s full review. But it was enough to experience the concept of virtual reality.
This. East. Great.
Really. It took about a minute in the virtual world to see just how mixed-reality this fantasy concept really is. Video games can be brilliant, and coders and developers spend hundreds of hours tweaking simulation rigs; the feel and response times, agonizing over how realistic they can render the game.
It clears those hurdles all at once, because it’s a real car, driving through a magical world of tokens and virtual skyscrapers and rendered corners. Compare it to a 454hp turbocharged controller.
Like the best VR, there’s no lag in response time, but unlike VR, the actual M2 delivers accurate fingertip feedback, through the seat, through the engine note.
“You can train with it, you can race with it,” Alex tells us. Most importantly, you can just… to play.
Were you afraid that you were, as you say, about to launch yourself into an invisible corner of the parking lot?
Not once. Everything is telegraphed so naturally and it’s so smooth and well rendered, you just want to keep lapping the little section we were aware of.
Which of course is the only problem. Our time was very limited, but after only three short laps and a grand total of less than three minutes of actual driving time, we can declare: this is the best racing game ever made.
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