A Shooter’s Guide to PlayStation Move

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The PlayStation Move PS3 motion controller is off to a solid start. It’s not selling like hot cakes or anything like that, but it’s far from the ‘me too’ failure Sony haters would like to make you think it is.

Thus far, the only problem is that, like the launch of any new piece of gaming technology, there just haven’t been very many great games to play with the thing. There are a lot of cool games to pass the time while developers fully embrace the technology — actually greater quantity and quality than most video game hardware launches, I have to say — but very few games leave you saying to yourself, “now that’s why I bought a Move!” Sony and some third parties have done a commendable job updating previous titles with optional Move support, but in many cases these patched titles treat Move play as more of a fun secondary option to toy with rather than an integral gameplay component. Heavy Rain got it right, and so did MAG, as I’ll talk about shortly.

The outlook for Move in 2011 is already extremely bright as more and more games are launching with proper day-one implementation (de Blob 2, Top Spin 4 and Killzone 3 of late, and PlayStation Move Heroes and SOCOM 4 are just around the corner). But for the time being, the pickings are somewhat slim if you are in search of a truly defining motion control experience…unless, of course, you are a fan of shooters!

One genre the Move has already hit the bull’s eye on is the shooter, both traditional FPS and light gun (and third-person if you want to include Resident Evil 5, but I haven’t been able to get my mitts on a Gold Edition copy to test that one yet). Currently, there are five Move shooter titles to choose from, and amazingly each game has something unique to offer, and is a worthy addition to any PS3 user’s Move arsenal. In this guide I will take you through these five games along with a pair of peripherals dedicated to enhancing Move gunplay, and hopefully by the end you’ll be properly equipped to begin blasting away on your PS3.

Ready… aim… fire!

The Shoot (Publisher: SCEA, Format: Blu-Ray, Price: $40, Source: Copy provided by publisher):
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Of the available Move shooters, The Shoot is the entry level ‘casual’ game designed for mass appeal. It succeeds at that, and is also good arcade fun for more skilled players thanks to its ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ play style.

The Shoot is a glorified shooting gallery. You are pulled along on rails through five movie sets — western, robot invasion, mobster, deep sea and haunted house — and must please the director by performing well for the camera. This entails shooting at cardboard cutout enemies that pop up and flood the screen from all sides, with a premium placed on hitting consecutive targets so you can increase the combo multiplier and pile up higher point totals with each shot fired. Misfiring or taking damage drops the multiplier, though, so this is not a game that allows you to bullet spam your way to a high score.

And that’s the fun of the game. You can instantly pick it up and play through much of the content with little experience or skill, yet more seasoned players can keep coming back to master each movie, top their previous high scores, earn shinier medals, and scour each stage for hidden puzzle pieces that unlock additional challenges.

Modes include a career mode taking you through a progression of the five movie themes, each film split into four scenes amounting to around 20 minutes of play time. Individual scenes can then be replayed in Score Attack mode by one or two local players, and by collecting the hidden pieces and completing each movie’s jigsaw puzzle you gain access to a Challenge Mode.

The Shoot also uses the Move in some interesting ways. Beyond the basics of pointing and shooting, there are three power-ups to activate through different controller gestures — do a full-body 360 or twirl the controller over your head to turn on a slow motion effect, point towards the floor and fire for a screen clearing attack, and point towards the sky and fire to enter rapid fire mode. And there are also times where you need to pump the wand up and down to propel a mine cart, and tilt left, right and down to dodge and duck incoming fire.

Overall, the controls are effective, but show the lack of polish found in many launch lineup games. For basic use, the Move fires with good accuracy. However, when quick strikes between multiple targets are necessary, there is a slight tracking delay that can throw off your reaction time. So instead of feeling like you can aim and shoot on a dime like a gun, it feels more like you are guiding a cursor across the screen to your target. If you can live with that quirk, The Shoot is a real blast.

Time Crisis: Razing Storm (Publisher: Namco Bandai, Format: Blu-Ray, Price: $40, Source: Copy provided by publisher):
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For the best all-in-one package of fun, value, and pure light gun shootery goodness, Time Crisis: Razing Storm is the easy choice. Not only is it an affordable $40; it’s also a collection of three individual games, each one providing a different take on arcade rail shooter gameplay (they even have seperate HDD installs and trophy lists).

Razing Storm is the newest entry in the Time Crisis series, and therefore is the centerpiece. It’s a very different animal from previous installments as well, steering away from the usual stop-and-pop cover-based shooting in favor of a new and more modern offensive mentality centered on blazing through large enemy waves, confronting huge bosses, and causing mass environmental destruction. Your only cover is a portable shield you can pull up at the press of the Move button.

It is also a full-featured game on its own, consisting of a traditional arcade mode for one or two players, a 6-hour first-person shooter campaign similar to that of Time Crisis 4, an 8-player online battle mode using the same FPS controls of the story mode, and a Sentry Mode in which up to four players take turns trying to get the high score shooting inmates attempting to escape in a prison riot.

Also included on the same disc is a re-port of the Time Crisis 4 arcade mode, which upholds the series’ shoot-and-duck brand of skill and reaction based shooting, and a port of the swashbuckling shoot-’em-up Deadstorm Pirates, a wickedly fun bullet-spam romp that lays on the campy charm and old-school challenge of classic Japanese arcade light gun games.

Collectively, the three titles are such a perfect fit because each one presents distinct gameplay characteristics in stark contrast to the other two. Namco Bandai implemented the controls with great care, too, going so far as to support optional schemes for the DualShock 3 and the GunCon 3 controller that came bundled with Time Crisis 4 years ago (and yes, you can mix and match different control methods for multiplayer). Razing Storm‘s full FPS modes still control like ass (rail shooters simply were not designed for 3D freedom of movement), but the remaining modes as well as Time Crisis 4 and Deadstorm Pirates fire dead on point with impeccable precision.

Dead Space: Extraction (Publisher: EA, Format: PSN Download, Price: $15, Source: Purchased by reviewer):
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I already expressed my love for Dead Space: Extraction back when it first came out on the Wii. It was a spectacular achievement in on-rails shooter design, and now it’s even more spectacular on PS3.

That’s right! Extraction has been ported over to PS3 with full Move support, available as a pack-in freebie with Limited Edition copies of Dead Space 2 and a $14.99 standalone download on the PSN Store. I already owned the Wii version, but when the PSN version dropped I didn’t hesitate to make the upgrade. It was well worth it!

The PS3 version is identical to the Wii version in terms of content and gameplay, but the revamped HD graphics really do bring greater depth and immersion to the game’s bone-chilling atmosphere, particularly the improved lighting and particle effects. The Move technology is simply more reliable as well, so homing in on swarming Necromorphs works like a charm every time.

The one downgrade is the emergence of an odd glitch in which an enemy will get stuck in a wall or behind a door, making them impossible to shoot. And thus the rail scripting shuts down and leaves you helplessly starring at an empty screen. When this happens, the only fix is to restart the entire level — and I had this happen to me twice just as I was about to finish a stage. It’s just a weird bug, because I never encountered it in all my time with the Wii version. Thankfully, it’s a rare occurrence.

Three control configurations are available: DualShock 3, Move by itself, and Move with Navigation controller. Obviously, the DualShock method is the least desirable, while the Move and Navigation is the optimal choice for its weapon quick-swapping courtesy of the Nav controller’s D-pad. But the targeting is smooth and intuitive with or without the Nav, and actions such as reloading, telekinesis, stasis, melee and alternate weapon fire (twist the Move sideways to activate a gun’s secondary mode) are effortless to perform using only the Move. Drop in / drop out two-player co-op is also supported, and both players are free to use their controller of choice.

Honestly, I have come to prefer Extraction over the core Dead Space series, as its combat focus on dismembering Necromorphs is so well suited to light gun play since you are rewarded for targeting specific body parts and dispatching foes with skill and accuracy. Yes, it’s on rails, which I know is something modern gamers have a tough time comprehending. But the emphasis on narrative immersion and haunting atmosphere elevates Extraction above all other light gun shooters. This is without question a standout Move release.

MAG (Publisher: SCEA, Format: Blu-Ray and PSN, Price: $30, Source: Copy provided by publisher):
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Much like Quantic Dream overhauled Heavy Rain when patching in post-release Move support, SOCOM maker Zipper Interactive went back to the drawing board when arming MAG for the Move invasion. In fact, Zipper reworked the game so much, that it was relaunched as ‘MAG 2.0’.

Between the new skill tree and economy systems, the increased level cap, and yes, the addition of Move controls, MAG is a very different game than it used to be. Yes, it is still the same 256-player tactical shooter it’s always been, but the structure has definitely changed. Obviously, there was an audience of purists who didn’t approve of so many drastic changes, but personally, I think everything Zipper has done has made MAG a more well rounded game. The community isn’t nearly as booming as it once was, but there are still plenty of loyal soldiers ready to fight by your side.

The new Move controls specifically — that’s what we’re here to talk about after all! — work beautifully. Since MAG is a competitive online game, there is a learning curve to endure, as veteran players hand you your ass while you become acclimated with motion control over analog sticks. You also may have to spend some time adjusting rotation and pitch speeds, scope sensitivity, and dead zone size, and experimenting with different combinations until you find a suitable configuration.

Once everything clicks, I actually think MAG‘s Move controls are the tightest of the lot. In my case, I chose the pre-set ‘Competitive’ control setting, and I was floored by how smoothly and accurately I was able to line up shots. Learning to make quick turns while maintaining stable camera orientation is tough initially, but becomes easier with practice.

Thankfully, Zipper didn’t get too ambitious as far as adding unnecessary waggle gimmicks. You do jab the Move forward to knife strike, but other than that everything is controlled by buttons. The T trigger fires, the Move button changes weapons, L1 on the Navigation controller enters iron sights view, L2 cycles through secondary gear, and so on.

The one caveat to using Move in MAG has to do with the PlayStation Eye. While playing online, the Eye’s built-in microphone functions as your mic for voice chat, and since the Eye has to be above or below your TV, it is close to the speakers. If you have the volume too loud, the mic picks up the audio and causes an echoing effect in the ears of your squad mates — I haven’t heard it, but I’ve been booted from one match because of it and had other complaints. Playing with headphones is an easy workaround, but there shouldn’t need to be a workaround, period. And as far as I can tell there is no option to disable the Eye’s microphone during play.

If you’ve been playing MAG since the beginning and are comfortable with a DualShock, the new Move configuration will likely feel too foreign to win you over. But if you are a retired vet looking to rejoin the war or a new recruit entirely, get yourself a Move and give MAG a shot.

Killzone 3 (Publisher: SCEA, Format: Blu-Ray, Price: $60, Source: Copy provided by publisher):
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Killzone 3 is Sony’s first ‘core’ PS3 exclusive to launch with day-one Move support, and you can tell Guerrilla Games worked hard to ensure that the motion control interface made a strong first impression. It certainly does just that, and only performs stronger over time.

Aiming with the Move is buttery smooth once you get into a groove, and when in iron sights or sniper zoom you can nail head shots with remarkable precision. The weapons do, however, feel somewhat floaty moving around the screen, so you don’t feel the same tactile attachment to your guns that you do when using a DualShock.

Latching to cover is as simple as holding down the Move button, after which you can peek around corners with nudges of the analog stick and tap L2 on the Navigation controller to zoom in and out before blasting away. Guerrilla got a bit more creative with gesture commands as well. You thrust the Move forward to melee, as expected, and to reload you give the Move a quick twist and watch as Sev pops in another clip. I’m always afraid of motion control gimmicks, but this alternate method does make reloading feel more natural and intuitive than reaching for a button.

Sometimes you’ll also have to rotate cranks or plant explosives by tilting the Move — but this works no differently than the Sixaxis functionality of similar actions that were implemented back in Killzone 2.

Like MAG, there is a learning curve to work through if you are an experienced console FPS player with analog stick play ingrained in your brain. But the process isn’t nearly as demanding in Killzone 3 since you aren’t forced into competitive play to learn the ropes. You can spend time in the offline Botzone until you are comfortable and have tuned the deadzones, turn speed and cross-hair sensitivity to your liking. Then, you can unleash your Move skills upon Helghast in the campaign — and then, when you think you are ready, you can take the fight online and compete against other live players without feeling at a disadvantage.

I’ve played through the campaign twice — once with a DualShock, once with the Move — and spent many hours with both setups in multiplayer, and frankly I can’t settle on a preferred method because I enjoy both so much. It’s all a matter of mood really. If I want to feel more involved in the game, I’ll pull out the Move and go to town. But if I’m in a bit of a lazy daze, I’ll kick back in my chair with a DualShock and let my fingers do all the work.

And that’s the beauty of what Sony has provided PS3 players with PlayStation Move. Unlike other motion control systems, there are core franchise games like Killzone 3 that give you the chance to experience the best of both worlds…and the choice to pick one over the other.

Read my full review of Killzone 3 to see why you should be playing it, regardless of control choice.

Shooting Attachment (Manufacturer: Sony, Price: $20, Source: Accessory provided by publisher):
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Released at launch to augment simple shooter games requiring only the Move itself, the Shooting Attachment turns the wand controller into a futuristic-looking laser pistol — only it doesn’t shoot lasers! At only $20, the price seems right, and overall the attachment works as advertised.

To use, you simply slide the two release latches on the side to remove the top cover, and then you drop the Move into the exposed cavity and replace the lid. Then, instead of pointing the Move and tapping on the T button to fire, you are able to aim like using a real firearm and pull on the pistol trigger to get a more authentic light gun experience.

Having the feel of a gun in your hands allows for steadier aim and improved accuracy, so in that regard this is a useful accessory. But right now, the Shooting Attachment only works with The Shoot and Time Crisis: Razing Storm, and in Time Crisis, as was the case with the oddly-designed GunCon 3 that came bundled with the original PS3 release of Time Crisis 4, it’s a bit awkward having to hold such a small pistol with two hands — one hand around the grip and the other on the side so you can reach the Move button to enter cover and reload.

So in the end, the Shooting Attachment is a friendly companion accessory to go with a copy of The Shoot, and that’s about it.

Sharp Shooter (Manufacturer: Sony, Price: $40, Source: Accessory purchased by reviewer):
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Released more recently in accompaniment with Killzone 3, the Sharp Shooter takes the Move’s shooter capabilities one step further than the Shooting Attachment, upgrading your light gun arsenal from a dinky toy pistol to a mack-daddy assault rifle, complete with pump-action reloading, extendable shoulder stock for maximum comfort, repositioned Square and Triangle buttons on the sides of the rifle just above the trigger (they are on both sides to accommodate righties and lefties) and a two-trigger design that puts the firing T trigger in close proximity to a relocated Move trigger so when you grab onto the grip your index finger and middle finger naturally fall into position over the two.

To use the Sharp Shooter, you insert the Move into the barrel following the same steps as the Shooting Attachment and pop the Navigation controller into the angled handle resting just below the barrel. This configuration is ergonomically awkward at first — and you will feel the burn in your hands and forearms until you’ve built up enough muscle memory. But it does become surprisingly comfortable over time. Plus, you can always play seated and use a foot stool to pop your knees up as an arm rest.

The Sharp Shooter delivers sturdy build quality and rests in your hands with just the right heft to improve balance and stability. The repositioned buttons really do make a huge difference in playability, too. Time Crisis actually benefits the most, because you can finally fire and duck/reload with comfort as opposed to using the GunCon 3 or Shooting Attachment.

But there are a few minor drawbacks. For one, the reloading mechanism so far only works in Killzone 3 — pumping the handle serves as an alternate trigger in the other games. Certain actions within each game, such as turning cranks in Killzone 3 and shaking the controller to light up a glowworm in Dead Space, also perform clumsily with the added size and weight. And I also wish the controller provided repositioned Start and Select buttons, because when you need to pause the game in the heat of the moment you have to reach up to the very tip of the barrel and slide your fingers around until one falls into the Start button divot on the side. By the end, you’ll have shifted the controller around so you can see what you are doing, and then when you come back to the game your perspective is all discombobulated.

Although double the price, the Sharp Shooter renders the Shooting Attachment obsolete. The Sharp Shooter performs the same job better, and also does a whole lot more. At this time, the Sharp Shooter is officially only compatible with Killzone, Dead Space and Time Crisis, but it definitely improves performance in The Shoot and MAG as well, even if features like the pump-action reloading aren’t supported. If you take your Move shooters seriously, you should never enter a firefight without the Sharp Shooter cocked, locked and ready to rock!

Have a specific question about a game or accessory covered in this guide? Ask away in the comments!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!