The Sharpshooter is a simple kind of thing. Slot the Playstation Move motion peripheral into the barrel and the navigation peripheral into the forward grip and you have a plastic gun to strike fear into the hearts of… well, NES Duck hunt aficionados.
I shouldn’t be hasty though. The Sharpshooter is the last word in motion shooter controllers for this generation. It’s quicker and more accurate than Wii MotionPlus, and more comprehensive and precise than Kinect could ever be. But is it as good as a conventional controller?
Tough question. The Sharpshooter’s biggest weakness is, unsurprisingly, turning corners. We played two shooters with the device last night; the first person Killzone 3, and a third person shooter that we cannot yet talk about (look out for our hands-on preview in a few weeks).
The two games had different control schemes, which is always a hassle, and it’s a good deal worse when you’re also learning to use a new peripheral. The ergonomics of the device don’t help, though. A lot of the controls do not fall readily to hand, and a few are downright awkward. That said, the peripheral itself is well shaped, and can be used comfortably for extended periods of time. The adjustable stock allows it to rest comfortably against your shoulder, and its weight never becomes burdensome.
The biggest issue isn’t a problem with the Sharpshooter itself, and isn’t really the fault of Move either. It’s to do with using a pointing device to turn corners. The idea is to move the targeting reticle close to the edge of the screen, at which point the view turns in that direction. Moving the pointer further that way causes it to turn more quickly, and to stop turning, the pointer must be moved back towards centre screen. It’s not particularly natural, and requires more precise movements than a simple thumbstick. While playing some Killzone 3 skirmish mode against bots, I kept wishing for a second thumbstick for moving the view, so I could use the gun purely for fine aiming within the screen. Different games will of course be calibrated differently, which I expect will be rather annoying.
Fine tuning the tolerances and sensitivity will probably reward those who can be bothered, but one wonders whether most players will bother. Core gamers are those most likely to dick with the settings, but they’re also likely to stick with controllers rather then spend money on a device that offers no advantage in multiplayer, and may in fact confer a disadvantage. Time will tell, and I’m ready to be proven wrong on that. The fact remains though, that it makes much more sense for on-rails shooters (ala Time Crisis).
Interestingly, the Sharpshooter worked really well in conjunction with a 3D television. The 3D felt much more natural than when playing with a controller, and refocussing on the foreground HUD in Killzone 3 was much easier than I remembered.
Is it worth buying? I have yet to see New Zealand pricing, but it’s about $40USD, which at today’s exchange rates seems quite reasonable. no doubt there’ll be all sorts of package deals going as well. If you already use move for playing shooters then the Sharpshooter can only improve the experience. It has a slightly gimmicky novelty appeal too, it’s more _fun shooting dudes with a gun in your hands. But for most gamers I suspect a controller is the easier and ultimately better option.
Listen to tomorrow’s podcast for more criticism, speculation and praise, as well as Wugga’s impressions.