With 3D glasses around my head and a big, plastic, fake assault rifle in my hand, I did something that seasoned gamers might consider sacrilege: I played Killzone 3.
Understand, Killzone is the Playstation 3’s answer to Halo. It’s a loud, violent shoot-em-up against enemies with gas masks and glow-in-the-dark eyes, and a multiplayer mode with all the classics, like capture the flag and team deathmatch. And with the Playstation Move stuffed inside a $40 gun-shaped accessory, Killzone 3 is also Sony’s attempt to prove that motion control is for serious gamers, too.
But really, it’s not. Playing Killzone 3 with the assault rifle peripheral was a blast, but it was also an entirely different game than the one you play with plain old thumbsticks.
With motion controls enabled, Killzone 3 felt like an arcade game, with quick, twitchy shooting instead of tactical precision. Aiming with the rifle can be cumbersome, because you’re adjusting position relative to crosshairs on the screen, so the game gives you a generous helping of auto-aim when zooming in on the enemy.
I also found that my spatial awareness was off, partly because you have to turn away from the screen to rotate your character, and partly because the familiar first-person shooter tactic of circle-strafing was a lot tougher with a gun in hand (and rightfully so; I don’t think the army teaches sidestepping in boot camp.)
The result is a game that feels a bit messy, but not necessarily in a bad way. Because I didn’t quite trust my own abilities, I spent much of the demo at a CES press event hiding behind cover and pressing forward with extreme caution. The sense of persistent danger for which Killzone is known really shined through with the extra baggage of the assault rifle peripheral. The payoff comes when you fire the thing.
The rifle controller also turned my left arm into a limp noodle. Only after the demo was over did the Sony rep say that I really should’ve been shooting from the hip instead of holding it at shoulder level. Thanks, guy.