Joystiq Impressions: Multiplatform games on Sixaxis

Zack Stern
Z. Stern|11.07.06

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Joystiq Impressions: Multiplatform games on Sixaxis

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
, Need for Speed: Carbon, and Tony Hawk's Project 8 are being littered across every current console in addition to the next-gen systems. (Wii gets Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam instead of Project 8, however.) While you can now buy these games for the fad-lacking, buttons-and-thumbstick systems, the titles are being tuned for Wii and PS3 motion-sensitive controls. At the Sony Gamer's Day last month, we saw how the three games use the Sixaxis controller.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Need for Speed: Carbon will add the simplest motion controls, augmenting the traditional game design. In the playable parts of Marvel -- which felt a lot like the old X-Men arcade game in a good way -- controller movements charged superpowers or interacted with the level. I thought this use of the motion control was passable but didn't add too much to the game. The game rep said that these and other techniques would be more integrated into the game in later levels.

Need for Speed: Carbon didn't have any motion controls on display, but it looked and felt good, racing down a mountain at night with my headlights pointing the way. I grew skeptical of its motion controls, however, while talking with one of its developers.

The motion-sensing option in Carbon -- which can be turned on or off -- will create a a way to steer even more. When you're driving with the thumbstick -- which is always used -- but need to corner slightly tighter, a twitch of the controller will turn the car even more. I can't figure out why someone would play with this activated instead of having the thumbstick mapped to the car's full range of motion. Maybe it will just be fun to twist the controller for a tighter turn. But this motion-sensing implementation reduces the range of the thumbstick control in order to add it back to the motion-tracking side.

Of the three, Tony Hawk's Project 8 will best integrate motion-control. This method of play will also be optional -- you can opt to play with only the buttons and thumbstick -- but Project 8 seems to give new ways to play the game without sabotaging old techniques.

Project 8 will let players steer with Sixaxis movements, but the game demo was most interesting when tilting the controller for tricks. The Neversoft developer, who had clearly spent a lot of time playing the game, used the controller to balance and lean on the skateboard during tricks. When jumping, he flicked the controller to kickflip and rotate the skateboard in any direction. These controls looked like they'll add more depth to the title, although I'm sure they'll take some practice.

Project 8 struck the best balance of the three, giving something new with the motion tracking without sacrificing established control schemes. We expect a lot of gimmicky Sixaxis -- and Wii -- games, but sifting through those initial releases may yield deeper, new ways to play.

See also:
Joystiq hands-on: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Wimote vs. Sixaxis, Round 1: Downhill Jam vs. Project 8
Wii impressions: Tony Hawk Donwhill Jam
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