Without any shadow of a doubt, the biggest question we received after publishing our PlayStation VR review this week pertained to Cinematic Mode, the feature which allows you to play non-virtual reality games inside the headset on a simulated cinema screen. But what features can you use in this mode – and how do they work?

Because the Cinematic Mode essentially replaces your television, there are no limitations to what you can do while using it

If you haven't already booted into a game when you switch on Sony's cutting edge facemask, then you'll enter Cinematic Mode immediately; the platform holder allows you to browse the console's user interface using the aforementioned virtual screen. By holding down the PlayStation button you can select what size display you'd like: Small, Medium, or Large.

The smallest option feels like a postcard in the centre of the headset, and it's mapped to the motion sensors on the device, meaning that if you look around, the virtual display will follow your gaze. Medium, meanwhile, feels like your standard static cinema screen, while large is so big that it will exceed your peripheral vision. Medium's the default setting, and for good reason.

Because the Cinematic Mode essentially replaces your television, there are no limitations to what you can do here. We didn't try Blu-ray or DVD playback, but both Netflix and the BBC iPlayer (along with any other media apps you use) work without an issue. The same applies to the web browser, and non-virtual reality games.

We played a bit of Street Fighter V on the headset and it worked absolutely fine, running at 60 frames-per-second without any perceivable lag, and correctly simulating the scale of a cinema screen. The problem is that the resolution of the headset – which splits 1080p between your eyes – is not as sharp as what you'll be used to on your HD or 4K television screen.

Sony could have gone the extra mile and rendered a virtual space for you to sit in, but instead you essentially exist inside a giant black hole

And this flaw extends to everything that you choose to do in Cinematic Mode. We booted up the web browser and took a tour of Push Square, and while everything operated fine in virtual reality, we found the text a little difficult to read. Watching television is probably where this feature will excel, but still you're going to make sacrifices in image quality.

It's a little barebones, too – Sony could have gone the extra mile and rendered a virtual space for you to sit in, but instead you essentially exist inside a giant black hole. The 3D audio does function, but not in the same way as in a virtual reality game, because it's merely simulating a single, forward-facing sound bar, rather than a 360-degree stage.

So, if you're thinking of buying PlayStation VR as a kind of personal display, we wouldn't recommend it. It's good that the Japanese giant's included the option, and some of you may get use out of it for Netflix and other media-based apps, but for playing non-VR games, it's not a particularly amazing solution. It's the true virtual reality experiences that you'll want to own this accessory for.


Will you be using Cinematic Mode on your PlayStation VR headset, and what for? Is this feature a major selling point for you, or are you buying the headset primarily for its virtual reality functionality? Take a seat in the back row via the comments section below.

[via bit.ly]