New interactive attraction at GameWorks tests your nerves — and your aim

You’re bouncing along a remote mountain road at night when, oh no, a zombie outbreak occurs.

Luckily, you’re packing a light gun. So, as you bump and jump and swoop along those treacherous mountain road turns, you can play supernatural gunslinger and shoot the zombies — and not those blank, slow-moving zombies, either; these freakishly athletic zombies would score at least a bronze at the Olympics — as they leap at you.

Sure, it’s a far-fetched scenario, but one that seems surprisingly realistic — at least if startled jerks and loosed screams are any indication — with “Zombies!” as presented by the just-opened XD Dark Ride at GameWorks at Town Square.

The attraction opened Dec. 23 at GameWorks, 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 171, and GameWorks Las Vegas general manager Mike Laudizio says the new ride has been drawing enthusiastic roller coaster/video game enthusiasts ever since.

Laudizio says it’s the first XD Dark Ride installation in Southern Nevada and it’s “definitely amazing. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.”

GameWorks representatives saw a version of the ride last year at a game convention, Laudizio notes. “When we tried (XD Dark Ride), we were completely blown away and said, ‘We’ve got to have this.’ ”


 


GameWorks Las Vegas’ XD Dark Ride — the attraction was created by a Canada-based company called Triotech — can accommodate as many as eight riders at a time. Players can choose from among a roster of 5- to 7-minute-long games that currently include “Alien Asteroid,” “Forbidden Mine,” “Pirates,” “Gigamon” (which has a Godzilla-type scenario) and “Zombies!” which Laudizio says is the most popular game so far.

Players don 3-D glasses and strap themselves into seats that will rise, fall and jerk back and forth in sync with the images displayed onscreen. Then, after a quick round of target practice to familiarize themselves with their light guns, players enter their scenario.

The animation is surprisingly detailed, from the smoothly moving creepy things that seem to leap off of the screen to the raindrops that seem to be falling in the theater. In addition to the movement offered by the seats, Laudizio says such touches as a breeze and lighting and sound effects add layers of realism to the simulated experience.

After each game, top-scoring players’ photos and scores are posted, and Laudizio says all-time leader boards also are maintained.

The games offered here will change out occasionally to keep things fresh for local players, Laudizio says. “As the technology gets better, so do the games.”

The universe of players here seems to include fans of both roller coasters and gamers of just about any age.

“We get a very diverse group of folks playing the game,” Laudizio says. “Really, for everybody, the key is to pick the adventure that resonates with you.”

Kenneth Foote-Smith took in a game of “Alien Asteroid” with his brother Hamilton, 8, while visiting town during New Year’s weekend.

“It was a lot more interactive than I expected,” he says. “And I think it’s a welcome change to the arcade scene. I think it’s going to bring a lot of new customers back to arcades.”

Tom Chen, visiting from Hawaii, played a round of “Zombies!” with his family, and was that a frightened scream of surprise that could be heard during the game?

“Yeah, my wife,” Chen says, smiling, while admitting that one or two of the surprised utterances could have come from him, too.

“It’s probably the most encompassing (game) as far as a CGI (computer-generated imagery) game experience and, of course, the game play all together in one,” Chen says. “I think it’s the most creative thing I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s really exhilarating,” Chen adds. “That’s how I’d describe it.”

Jaimesen Mapes, director of marketing at Town Square Las Vegas, welcomes the GameWorks addition.

“We’re very much a family-friendly destination,” he says, and XD Dark Ride “provides more opportunities for families in the Las Vegas Valley to be able to experience the entertainment options we have.”

Laudizio says there are no age restrictions for playing the games, although he does note that some of the scenarios may be a bit too intense and realistic for younger kids.

“We caution parents to think about it like a video game,” he says.

XD Dark ride at GameWorks is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Each round of play costs $7 (or 28 GameWorks credits).

Laudizio’s own favorite scenario? “My favorite is the zombies,” he says. “The way the game combines the motion with the wind, the sound, the movement, it just feels so real.”

Read more from John Przybys at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com and follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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