Viveport Review: HELI
Tour New York City from hundreds of feet in the air without spending a Big Apple price.
By Desmond Madison, Greenlit Content
After nearly 400 years of development, the New York City skyline is one of the most recognizable sights on Earth, hosting several of the tallest buildings in the world. With nearly 6,000 high rises and several of the largest and most iconic suspension bridges ever constructed, a birds-eye view of Gotham is something that tourists pay a heavy premium for, should they ever be lucky enough to see its unforgettable cityscape. Helicopter tours are often booked months in advance, and cost from the several hundreds of dollars and into the thousands for a premium experience. The developers at GAROU want to help change that forever, and their impressive VR debut, HELI, gives virtual tourists a ride they won’t soon forget.
It’s important to remember that HELI is an app, and not a game experience. It’s meant to simulate in extreme detail an absolutely stunning recreation of a helicopter tour around New York City. The first portion of the app is the Guided 360 Tours of New York. These are based on high quality 360 video recordings that play around your helicopter for the duration of the flight, and take you to iconic locations like Central Park, the Manhattan Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, and the World Trade Center. You’ll circle each iconic location in 360 degrees and get an amazing birds-eye view of all of the cars, boats, people, and even animals going about their daily lives down below. It’s an incredible sight, and well worth the simulated feeling of seeing it from a virtual helicopter.
The next portion of the app is the actual helicopter simulation that allows you to take the controls of the chopper in a 3D rendered city instead of 360 video. While your motion controls will adjust the altitude and direction, this isn’t a full on simulation ready to let you fly anywhere or crash into anything. It’s a relatively basic and relaxing on rails flight experience that allows you to tour something of a model version of NYC with only the iconic locations textured in, like the Empire State Building and Times Square. The rest of the city is a blank white slate of geometry, and it remains unclear if GAROU plans on finishing the impossibly daunting task of texturing the entire metropolis.
Ultimately, HELI is a virtual tourism application that gives you a stunning look at one of the most famous places on Earth in a way that’s memorable, and makes for an impressive addition to the roster of First VR Experiences. It’s definitely worth checking out, whether you hope to visit NYC one day or even live in the Big Apple right now.
HELI is available on Viveport.