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Killzone 3 Move preview: Point and shoot


Two months from now, Sony will launch its latest salvo in the first-party, first-person shooter wars, Killzone 3. While we've already taken a look at the game's single-player (in 3D) and multiplayer modes, we've previously only see a brief video demonstration of another one of its bullet-point features: PlayStation Move support.

I spent a good part of the past week playing the latest pre-release version of Killzone 3, examining the ups and downs of using Move (with the companion navigation controller) in place of the standard DualShock 3 controller. After making the initial, somewhat awkward adjustment to literally pointing-and-shooting Helghast troopers, I can say that my experience has ultimately been a positive one.

Gallery: Killzone 3 (12/17/10) | 6 Photos

One of the goals of merging motion controls with the console FPS genre has always seemed to be to bring the experience closer to the quick precision offered with mouse and keyboard controls (as opposed to a gamepad). While playing Killzone 3 with Move does introduce a degree of precision in aiming more akin to mouse control, there's more to it than that.

For one, when you aim using the Move controller, the on-screen gun doesn't follow immediately -- just the crosshairs, which turn red over enemies and yellow when you're pointing at foes that are behind cover. Your gun trails behind the reticule's movement a bit, giving the impression that there's some heft to it; rather than the way it works in, say, Quake, where the gun and crosshairs are always in sync.

The Move is dead-on.

When playing with Move, I actually shot "from the hip" more than I aimed "down the sights" (as I would with the DualShock), primarily because the Move controls are precise enough to do so. Where I'd normally need to aim down the sights (i.e., zoom in) with a gamepad to target specific body parts on an enemy, I was shooting Helghan kneecaps and helmets with ease from the standard, hip-level view with Move. Of course, you can still zoom in with Move as needed -- like when enemies are taking cover -- but that's when the motion-control setup throws a curve ball: The crosshairs automatically "snap" to the nearest enemy when you pull the zoom-trigger on the navigation controller. In fact, the bad guys become framed in a glowing rectangle, and your gun automatically moves when they do, tracking them. It's a lock-on mechanic, and it made the game too easy for me.

While I suppose some players might appreciate this level of aiming assistance, I was thankful to find an option to toggle it off in the pause menu. In addition, there's the requisite sensitivity adjustment, in case the reticule is darting around the screen too quickly (or dragging along too slowly) for your tastes.

Holding down the primary, zigzagging "Move" button allows you to crouch and, when near cover, to stick to it, and I definitely prefer this new cover control to how the mechanic is executed with the DualShock. I was also impressed with how accurately I could aim with the Move when zooming down the sights of the gun, even with the auto-aim assist turned off. It was as if I was shining a laser pointer on my target, and any sense of the gun's momentum that sometimes causes me to "over-aim" when I'm using a gamepad's analog stick was gone. The Move is dead-on.

Smashing in a Helghast's face -- or stabbing him, snapping his neck, and so on -- is equally satisfying and as easy as thrusting the Move controller forward. Actually, "thrusting" makes it sound like it takes more effort than it really does. The Move is excellent at picking up subtle movements, and in this case, a gentle poke suffices for a melee kill. A similarly gentle shake of the Move controller reloads your weapon, so you don't have to take your thumb off the crouch button in order to press the Square-button and pop in a fresh clip (though you can do that).

So, after lots of playing on the Move, I decided to go back to using the standard controller. I have to say, it wasn't easy. While turning the character's head and body is quicker with an analog stick, the Move is much more precise at aiming within the character's current field of vision. I was also now more aware of the (frequent!) times I had to take my thumb off of the right stick to reload with a button press.

While I don't anticipate playing Killzone 3 in 3D, I am now committed to using the Move for my first full playthrough of the game. Not only does its integration seem justified to me, but I'm sold on its improved accuracy and greater sense of immersion over the DualShock controller. Guerrilla Games has shown me that even when a game isn't expressly designed for motion controls, the experience can be heightened with PlayStation Move.

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