Experience the first manned mission to space in this recreation of the Mercury launch.
On May 5th 1961 the first American manned space mission blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Piloted by astronaut Alan Shepard, the 15-minute mission saw Alan reach suborbital flight, test the capsule’s control system then return to Earth before splashing down into the Atlantic ocean. Now, with the Go For Launch: Mercury demo, you can experience the mission yourself in virtual reality.
Developed by Joe Chisholm, Go For Launch: Mercury is a real-time reconstruction of the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission. The final game hopes to include 7 playable missions, with a full-scale recreation of Earth as seen from low orbit, but for now the free Kickstarter demo lets you experience Alan’s epic first mission into space, and it’s really rather inspiring.
After launching the demo a VR-friendly menu appears with instructions for swapping the camera, controlling the module and starting the game. Once you’ve started you’ll find yourself floating above the rocket, hundreds of feet in the air with a low-resolution recreation of Cape Canaveral around you. By tapping the F1 key it’s possible to jump inside the Freedom 7 capsule, which has been recreated in amazing detail. Every button, toggle and switch is present, with a working clock counting down in front of you. Daylight pours in via the two small windows on either side, before the rocket violently takes off skyward, whereby it’s then possible to watch the ground move ever further away, before the inky blackness of space envelopes the craft. The ability to tap the F2 key to watch proceedings happen from outside the rockets is a brilliant touch, not only because it looks and sounds great, but it also prevents you from becoming bored as the craft slowly climbs into space.
After entering space the Freedom 7 capsule detaches from the rocket and then hands control over to you. You’re able to control its pitch and rotation, although this doesn’t have any effect on the outcome of the demo – it’s simply a way for you to get a better view at the Earth below. Not long after control is taken away and the capsule begins its journey back to Earth (an understandably fiery and bumpy ride), before the screen fades to black and you’re returned to the main menu.
Graphically it’s still early days, but that’s to be expected from a Kickstarter demo. External textures and views are blurry, while the framerate can dip when you’re looking at the inside of the capsule. Some rushed animations are also present as the ship rotates in space before coming back to down to Earth. Nevertheless, you’ll still get a great sense of immersion while playing the demo. The sense of scale is spot-on in the capsule, letting you lean forward for a closer look at buttons and toggles, and it’s even possible to lean down and peak out of the window.
At approximately 15 minutes in length, Go For Launch: Mercury is an immersive experience, and one that goes a long way in accurately recreating the original 1961 mission. There’s still a lot of work to be done, however, and that’s where the Kickstarter campaign comes in, where Joe Chisholm hopes to raise £26,000 by May 9th. £8 gets you a free digital copy of the game on release late 2017, while £12 lets you play all alpha and beta releases. If you’re feeling really generous then the top pledge of £1,500 gives you a custom 7” spacecraft name of your choosing, a unique hull decal to match it, credit as an Executive Producer and much more.