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Next-generation simulation games bring thrill of extreme car racing, high-speed flights to your own home

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 September, 2015, 9:43am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 March, 2016, 5:33pm

We may never get to pit our golfing skills against Tiger Woods, or get behind the wheel of a Formula One car in a grand prix. But everyone can enjoy the next best thing, without leaving home, thanks to the new generation of simulated gaming hardware and software.

According to www.thehomegolfer.com, one of the best golf simulators for 2015 is the OptiShot 2, released this year. The compact, briefcase-size simulator uses the latest in analytic and shot-tracer technology with an easy-to-use interface for a closer-to real life golf experience. It’s compatible with Mac (for the first time) and Windows.

Multiple high-speed sensors calibrated to each club track every shot before, during and after ball contact, and provide feedback. You can even partner with playing buddies anywhere in the world.

SkyTrak has also unveiled its latest technology, the Personal Launch Monitor. Combined with an app and iPad, the Wi-fi-enabled simulator captures ball speed, launch angle and more to project the ball’s flight on a virtual golf course. It offers challenges such as closest to the pin and longest drive and, via integration with mobile golf game WTG Golf, players have the option to enter virtual tournaments, and challenge other golfers.

The companies claim their technology will help lift your game. That may be far from a given, but there’s no doubting the convenience of playing 18 holes on the world’s most famous courses any time of the day or night, in any weather, without leaving the comfort of your living room.

For petrol-heads, apps such as Extreme Car Driving Racing Simulator 2015 may give a taste of the on-track action, but racing simulators can put you in the driver’s seat. Designed for home use, the Motion Pro II from CXC Simulations has next-generation technology that lets you feel the power, by transferring physical data from the track into real force on the steering wheel.

Home flight simulator games have come so far they’re even being touted as training tools. Microsoft claims that 80 per cent of trainee airline pilots surveyed have used its simulator, Flight. Now aspiring aviators also have Virtual Pilot 3D – which enthusiasts hail for its realism – but some go to the extreme of building their own cockpit. You can build a whole fuselage with Simkit’s full-size Cessna mock-up, the TRC 472F, the only drawback being that it might be bigger than your Hong Kong flat.

A slew of games are designed to bring out your inner home decorator. Design This Home – a hugely popular social iOS game – puts players in charge of a virtual home, with six possible floor plans. They then proceed to decorate the house with more than 500 different items of furniture, décor and fixtures.

Home Sweet Home lets you play at being an actual designer, crafting interiors based on clients’ instructions, then using the virtual money earned to work on your own (virtual) home.  With Home Design Story, players start off small, and as their designs take off, are granted bigger spaces with more decorating options. Home Design 3D Outdoor & Garden allows your design creative juices to flow outdoors.

Virtual reality (VR) is just in its infancy, but promises to transform gaming forever. Like the Oculus Rift – the next generation of consumer VR gaming –  which through custom display and optics technology enables virtual worlds to be explored with superior visual clarity, and integrated audio.  Simply slip on the headset – more like a baseball cap than the bulky contraptions of old – and feel like you’re truly there.

The Oculus Rift is slated for release in spring 2016. The company hints that it sees VR input evolving and coming in different forms “depending on the experience you want to have in virtual reality” – so buckle up, there is much more to come.