Inside Pulse 12

Movers and Shakers: Sharpshooter

Playing Killzone 3 with the Move controllers it quickly became obvious that while you could play using a wand in one hand and the navigation controller in the other, it seemed like the game was really begging to be played using some kind of gun. In fact in the lead up to the game’s release many of the previews showed off just such a gun. So when KZ3 came out and Sony’s gun was not on the market, well, lets just say I was very disappointed.

But that was then and this is now. SOCOM 4 has released, and so too has that nifty looking gun I saw in those previews. The Sharpshooter was built and designed to allow a wand and a navigation controller to be inserted into it. The wand goes in the business end of the toy gun, and the navigation controller goes below it where one might find a handle attachment for better control of your gun.

Upon opening the box I was pleasantly surprised to see the build quality. The Sharpshooter feels substantial, not overly heavy but certainly not flimsy. When you then add both of the Move controllers to the mix it begins to feel like it was designed to do something useful and real in this world, not just allow gamers to go “Pew pew” for hours at a time. I got the impression that it could easily pass for an MP5 submachine gun if it were painted black and all the goofy toy bits were removed. Lets just say I expect some set designer in Hollywood is going to put some of these to good use one day.

Anyway, onto the business of how the thing works. The Sharpshooter has a button for just about every function included on the Move. Some, obviously, are just the buttons found on the actual controllers you insert into the gun, but others are not. You will hardly ever touch the Wand while playing games with a Sharpshooter. The only buttons you have to press on the wand are Start and Select, as there were no buttons included for them. The trigger is the T button you find beneath the wand, and under the trigger is a Move button. Within easy reach of your trigger finger on either side (the Sharpshooter does not discriminate between lefties and righties) you will find a square and a triangle button. Two tiny square and triangle buttons. They’ve even gone and included something of a safety button, which prevents you from pressing the Move button (but not the trigger, strangely). And on the grip above where your thumb would normally rest you find a switch that changes your gun’s firing mode between automatic, semi-automatic and single fire. This is not a button found on the Move, obviously, but it does work if the developers program it in. There are also two separate ways to reload your weapon included directly on the gun. Below the spot on the gun where you would load the ammunition is a button labelled RL which will reload your gun. And secondly, and to be honest much more usefully, the navigation controller can be moved forward and back like one would reload a shotgun.

The navigation controller is used quite heavily. All of the buttons are available to be pressed and games like Killzone 3 and SOCOM 4 will force you to use them. In SOCOM 4, for example, L1 is used to stare down the scope of your gun on screen. There is no other X or O button on the Sharpshooter so if the game requires you to press those that is where you will be pressing them.

I’ll go on to some of my experiences playing while using it. I tried Killzone 3 first, and from the get go the game felt strange. As the Move is acting like the second analogue stick you are forced to turn your entire body in order to move your field of view. And as there is no strap included with the gun you cannot rest the gun on your shoulder like you could with a real weapon, or like a guitar controller even. Soon after I started playing I found myself getting tired of holding the gun. It’s not unique to the gun though. I had that problem without the gun while playing Killzone 3 with just the Move controllers. After a few nights I found myself getting used to the controller, taking rests every so often when it started to become noticeable that I was tiring.

After a little while playing Killzone 3 I decided I should try SOCOM 4. Almost immediately I felt more at home using the Sharpshooter with SOCOM‘s third person camera view than I ever did while playing KZ3. And it wasn’t just the change in camera that helped either. SOCOM uses the L2 button to allow much easier movement on the camera using the gun. Instead of having to move the gun all over the screen to get your character to look around, you merely hold onto the L2 button and tilt the controller in the intended direction. It’s doesn’t completely solve the issue but it’s a valiant effort which I can work with.

So well built is the Sharpshooter that some things are noticeably absent. Why can I not plug a USB chord into it to charge the two controllers stuck inside it? They certainly aren’t difficult to take out, don’t get me wrong, but since you’ve got some wiring in there anyway, why not pop a USB adaptor in there and save me the hassle of having to pop them out to recharge? I mentioned previously that there is no shoulder strap for the gun. I don’t understand that. Is it a safety thing? Are they legally not allowed to include one?

Other issues I had with the gun basically come down to how the Move is integrated into the game. In a game like SOCOM where you are never doing anything other than running around shooting people, you can get used to it and it works pretty well. In Killzone 3 however, where you are often thrown into a vehicle and asked to pilot it, the controls just don’t work. OK they are functional, but by no means do they work. In an on rails shooter where there is no requirement for you to have any control of the camera whatsoever the gun will be brilliant.

The biggest problem with the Sharpshooter is the 2D nature of how one interacts with these games. If you were fully encompassed in a hologram somewhere, playing games, it would be completely natural to turn your body to look around, but since you aren’t fully engulfed, being forced to act like you are is just down right awkward. Once you learn to overcome the awkwardness the experience can be quite entertaining.

The best there is? Yes. The best there was? Yes. The best there ever will be? I hope not. This Sharpshooter is worthy of your attention if you’re really into these sorts of games, but if you don’t already have a Move I can’t really justify spending 120 bucks on the full deployment pack that Sony is shipping SOCOM 4 with. Hopefully more games get released that support it, justifying my expenditure. Also lets hope developers work on what Zipper Interactive got right in SOCOM 4 camera movement wise, because that’s clearly the way to go here.

Tags: