Enter another world at Zero Latency
You’re on an elevated brick path walking through an ancient alien world, where humpback whales float by beneath … wait, now they’re above you. As you come to the end of the path, another platform rises from the bottomless blue and provides an extension in another direction, but as you continue on the path it twists, and you twist with it, without falling into the abyss below. A friendly looking frog sits at the corner of one path. It seems like virtual reality, like everything else here, but when you reach out to touch it, you feel wet skin. You look up and suddenly realize the sky and drifting clouds are now below you.
Physical existence is turned upside down at Virtual Reality Powered by Zero Latency, the otherworldly venue in MGM Grand’s arcade lounge Level Up. The twisting paths and floating whales are part of tropical-themed “Engineerium,” one of three environments offered. The undead run amok in “Zombie Survival,” where you and your team take up arms and build safety barriers to ward off an unrelenting assault of animated corpses. “Singularity” brings virtual realists into a darkened, outer space military research station populated by robots and homicidal drones, with VR gravity boots enabling players to navigate the narrow hallways.
Zero Latency opened its first venue in Melbourne, Australia, in 2015 and has since expanded into eight more, with eight arenas in the U.S. The Vegas version, a 2,000-square-foot arena that looks like a small, spotless warehouse with a grid designed on the floor, opened in September. Up to eight people can be accommodated and the environments can be accessed solo, but Zero Latency is optimally experienced with at least three or four people. The immersiveness is enhanced when friends point out the sense-of-wonder features of “Engineerium” to each other, or have each other’s backs during a zombie attack.
Gear consists of a backpack that holds a high-performance gaming computer, a headphone and microphone unit, a headset and a weapons controller for the zombie and killer robot worlds. It’s a comfortable set-up that’s quickly forgotten once inside “Engineerium.” Exploring its whimsical exoticism is good practice before the more kinetic action of “Zombie Survival,” where an apocalyptic landscape is beset by hordes attacking from all sides. They do their best to break down the barriers before being taken down with one of four ammunition options—or taking a player out of the game momentarily.
The 30-minute shootout is fast moving and can leave players, who must be 13 or older, mildly breathless. The system is designed to minimize motion sickness, and, although eyeglasses can’t be worn with headsets, the lenses can be adjusted to effectively correct and minimize vision impairment. Attendants are on hand to assure guest safety, but unobtrusive virtual warnings keep guests from veering off-course into actual reality walls. But there are no warnings about feeling as if you’re going to fall off a platform into the abyss of “Engineerium” or be overtaken by the final wave of giant zombies. It feels real, but you’re guaranteed to survive.
MGM Grand, 10 a.m.-midnight daily, $50 per person for a 30-minute session, 13+ with adult 21+ until 9 p.m., 21 + after 9 p.m., inside Level Up. 702.891.7974