Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Killzone 3 Will Be A Blast, No Matter HOW You Play It

Let's see now: so far, I've played demos of Killzone 3 in 3D with a Dual Shock 3, in regular HD with a Dual Shock 3, in HD with the Move/NaviCon combo and in HD with the upcoming Move Sharp Shooter peripheral and each time I'm floored by what Guerrilla can do with the PS3. Alright, Sony, you can stop now. I'm sold...AGAIN. Hell, I was sold months ago when I saw the E3 demo running in not quite fully optimized 3D because I "got" what the team at Guerrilla were trying to accomplish with the narrative (as well as all that wonderful tech they're wisely hoarding to themselves).

An updated demo of the game along with Sony's new Move Sharp Shooter attachment were drawing lots of attention at Sony's Holiday 2010 event last week and after watching a few editor types fumble away with the peripheral, I was wondering if this was yet another game that was going to be sunk by a well-intentioned but flawed one-use controller. Then I got the chance to try the thing out for myself and found out it's actually quite remarkable once you get a feel for the peripheral.

The Sharp Shooter's design, by the way, is genius. The Move wand fits in the stock's front and the Navigation Controller rests below it at an angle that's comfortable to hold and makes character movement easy as pie. As the event was so busy, I didn't get a proper tutorial, so I was (duh) actually relying on the buttons on the Move controllers for reloading and a few other functions for a few minutes until I got to the jet pack sequence. While trying to figure out which buttons to press so I wasn't holding the gun in an awkward position, a SCEA rep pointed out a few VERY helpful buttons on the gun I'd overlooked that had me flying much better than my initial attempts. Other handy buttons such as the reload placed logically on the bottom where you're supposed to slap in that fresh ammo (D'oh!) and a rate of fire switch where it would be located on an actual automatic (nice!) made me respect the Sharp Shooter a lot more as a way to play the game.

After the Revelation of the Obviously Missed Buttons Due to Over-Excitement, things went MUCH smoother. As I wasn't able to tweak the sensitivity settings, I asked and was told that the game will have a number of adjustment options for Move as well as standard controller support (as it should). While definitely accurate (and perfect when popping out from cover using short, controlled bursts to take out enemies) and a ton of fun to use, turning with the gun was a bit too loose for my tastes. In a few tense firefights, it was possible to end up pointing at the ground, sky or AI partners instead of a bunch of Helghast sending hot lead into one's face and body. I initially guessed the setting was intentionally tweaked this way because using the Move and Navigation controller alone with the game is fluid and makes things almost too simple at times. well, not THAT simple, given the AI's penchant for shooting at you while you're trying to enjoy how smooth the game is with motion control.

Of course, for some Wii-only gamers out there grumping on about Sony "ripping off" the Wii (*yawn*), they want to see both Killzone 3 and the Sharp Shooter fail hard. I say grow up and learn to appreciate more games on as many consoles as possible. Yes, that Sharp Shooter may have a slightly familiar color combination, but it's FAR from a NES Zapper. Go place the blame not on Sony, but on the laws that state fake guns sold in the US need to look like toys, not real guns. Sony being out of ideas for what colors to use on a new controller? Er... right. As to the fluidity of the Move versus the Wiimote, why shouldn't the PS3 have great games that play as well or better than the games on your console of choice? At the end of the day, it's not even an arguable point if all you want to do is see ANY developer or publisher fail at what they're trying to do with motion control on any platform.

Given that there have been a number of solid Wii shooters that make excellent use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuck (as well as a bunch of games that don't), it's a no-brainer that Guerrilla as well as other shooter developers would have been looking at those games (good and bad) as a bit of a reference point. Pretty much anyone who can hold a PS3 controller, Move/NaviCon setup or Sharp Shooter can jump right into the game without spending too much time floundering around and that's what it's all about.
If you're part of a multi-console household, you already know this and you should be excited to get your hands on any solid shooter on whatever consoles you own.

As for the "hardcore" shooter fans out there who refuse to budge on their Move hatred, listen up. The important thing here for FPS fans to realize, particularly those of you who think motion control is a gimmick you don't need at all, is that it's NOT mandatory. Read the first sentence of this article again, then pipe down and actually try the game at some point with the Move or Sharp Shooter. You'll see that this isn't Duck Hunt 3D or a simplistic rail shooter with wildlife popping up for easy pickings every one point six seconds. Guerrilla KNOWS what they're doing and Killzone 3 will absolutely rock no matter how you play it. Opinions are fine, but when you're ill-informed (and absolutely wrong), it's time to sit down and listen for a change.

Anyway (steps off soap box), in addition to what's looking like a healthy-sized single player campaign and the obviously "going to be HUGE" multiplayer stuff in the works, SPLIT-SCREEN co-op play is also in the game. I heard this amazing news a few days after the event and after confirming it, I had to shake my head in disbelief before cracking up for a good two minutes or so. Whatever is in the water over at Guerrilla Games needs to go to other PS3 developers or anyone else making games for any platform. The team is definitely dedicated to given PS3 owners something to remember and everything I'm seeing makes Killzone 3 a more than worthy sequel as well as what might be 2011's first big shooter in a year that's going to be packed with them.

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