There are lots of ways to experience the world – through travel mostly, but there’s also an abundance of videos, photos and real-life accounts from people who travel to interesting places across the globe. However, you can’t exactly write a travel review about another planet, and even though people (especially eccentric billionaires) are looking towards traveling to other planets, like Mars – we’re pretty much sticking to Earth at the moment. That doesn’t mean you can’t still find out what it would be like to walk on the surface of a planet like Mars through the marvel of technology. Indie developer, Alan Chan has created a VR experience centered around this exact experience with Red Rover.
Using terrain data and images from NASA’s HiRISE Mars orbiter, Chan as rendered a realistic virtual version of the terrain on Mars and puts you in a land rover to explore the surface. This isn’t a game, however, but rather a simulation of what the surface of Mars would look like on ground level. So if you’re looking for a game, then this one is probably not for you. Because even though there’s some exploration involved, Red Rover doesn’t really focus on these mechanics nor the reason for exploring the planet. You simply get to explore for the sake of exploration and discovering something new.
Which means that while you get to drive a rover around on Mars, the experience isn’t very engaging beyond staring at the area around you. Plus it’s also pretty limited in the sense that the Mars in Red Rover isn’t an open world area that you can travel around in however you want. Rather, the experience has you teleporting from one 5km x 5km area to another, where you can drive around to your heart’s content – so long as you don’t mind sticking to the borders.
Check out my gameplay video:
If you’re a space geek, then Red Rover will be an amazing experience for you because it sticks to a realistic depiction of what the red planet looks like. Red Rover even has a controllable day/night cycle so you can check out what the planet looks like during the eerie hours before dawn. However, the overall experience can seem lacking if you’re looking for an engaging time where you get to interact with anything besides the rover. Though it can also fly and the physics in the game were very life-like which made it a fun excursion. Red Rover also has no goals to achieve. Though there are some markers to reach around the areas you travel to, they don’t actually lead to anything you can interact with and so seem rather pointless in the end.
So the point here is to simply enjoy something that you’ll otherwise never get to see in quite the same way. Since virtual reality allows us to truly experience something whereas flat pictures simply don’t give the whole sense of scale and immersion. But you know this, of course. Which is why Red Rover doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. If you’re looking to see what another planet realistically looks like from ground level then this will certainly do it. Just don’t expect any aliens to shoot at or strange new things to discover. Unless you count Mars as strange and new – which I do.
Humans will probably visit Mars one day, but for now, we have simulations like Red Rover to show those of us who likely won’t be making the trip, exactly what it will be like.